Eating healthy is one thing, but affording it is often another. Many healthy cookbooks and cooking shows offer up yummy healthy meals, but many ingredients are out of the price range for many Americans. Healthy food can be expensive – but it doesn’t have to be. You need a game plan for the grocery store, coupons, a grocery list, and the knowledge what you need to buy to save funds while eating healthy. Below are some of the healthiest, and affordable, foods that are widely available in or supermarkets.

Fruits & Veggies

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This is a given, but we don’t need to rely on expensive fresh fruits and veggies all of the time. If something is out of season it can be expensive, and some foods are expensive regardless. Canned fruits and veggies are a good start, because there is little preparation to heat them on the stove or microwave. Be sure that there aren’t any added salts or sugars, because this can jack up calories. While some veggies are okay to eat frozen (corn, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) others are better cooked when fresh, such as squash. Water-heavy veggies tend to mush when frozen, so these are best bought fresh.

For fruits, make sure that the canned varieties are in their juice or water, and not syrup. Also, be sure that any frozen fruits are also free of sugar. Many fruits, from melons to berries and peaches are found frozen, and these are often cheaper than buying the fresh varieties. This helps you speed up smoothie making in the mornings.

Lean Protein

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Lean meats do not have to be expensive – if you know where to look, and what to look for. Buying in bulk is usually the best way to buy ground hamburger or chicken. Eggs – while expensive – may be found cheaper at your local farmer’s market or farm. Canned tuna is also a great way to get lean protein, and many times there are online or newspaper coupons available.

Dairy

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Dairy can be found on sale from time to time, and if you are looking for yogurt, there is usually a brand on sale. Make sure to look for “low fat” or “fat free” varieties, and when organic is on sale, get it! Check your newspaper, because coupons are usually available for cheese, yogurt, and kefir.

Bread

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Whole wheat rules! Just be careful, though, as some brands add in extra sugar to mask the strong whole wheat taste. Store brands offer whole wheat bread, so if you are in need of saving cash, just buy the store brand. The same goes for whole wheat tortillas and English Muffins.

Pantry Essentials

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Whole wheat pasta, low fat soups, and low fat crackers can help you get by on a budget. Every store offers up store brands of these goods, and coupons are found for name brands often. Egg noodles are also a way to stretch your dollar, and can be added into most casseroles that call for noodles. Low fat and fat free dressings – as well as packets of Ranch Dressing dry mixes – are good for salads, dips, and marinades. These can last a long time, so stock up when they are on sale.