10 cheap and healthy foods that last a long time

Plenty of healthy foods that have budget-friendly price tags and a long shelf life.


Healthy fare gets a bad rap for being too expensive, but there are plenty of good-for-you foods that have budget-friendly price tags and a long shelf life. And you don’t need much time or talent to turn these into great meals.

1. Dried beans and lentils

Average price: Under $2 for a 1-pound bag

Beans and lentils are a great source of affordable protein, fiber and all kinds of vitamins — and they’re easy to prepare if you’ve got a pot, water and a sprinkling of salt. Buy them from the grocery store by the bag and they’re much cheaper than canned beans, and you can get about 12 servings per bag.

2. Brown rice and other whole grains

Average price: About $2 (depending on where you purchase) for a 1-pound bag

Eating brown rice and other whole grains like buckwheat, quinoa, and barley is a simple way to up your fiber intake and feel full without spending a lot of money. Like beans, you can heat grains up in a pot of water with salt. Then just add butter. If you eat it often enough, buying in bulk can save you even more money.

Dry pasta made with whole grains can be a great option, too.

3. Frozen vegetables

Average price: $1.25 to $2 for a 1-pound bag

Opting for frozen veggies is one of the most affordable ways to consume more produce, especially during the winter months when prices tend to rise. They're nutritious, too, and you can defrost them in the microwave or on the stove in minutes.

4. Peanut butter

Average price: $2 to $3 for 16-ounce jar

Full of healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats, potassium and protein, peanut butter is a cheap, healthy, and versatile staple. (In moderation, of course.)

5. Canned tuna

Average price: $0.82 to $1.50 per 5-ounce can

Looking for more protein and omega-3 fatty acids? Canned tuna is a good, long-lasting option.

How cooking at home can save money and still be fun

Video by Courtney Stith

6. Eggs

Average price: $2 to $3 per dozen

Eggs are another great, cheap source of high-quality protein that can last in your fridge for about a month. Scramble them with vegetables for a quick meal.

7. Whey protein

Average price: Around $20 for a 2-pound tub of generic brand

Whey may seem an expensive ingredient, but when you consider the amount of protein packed into one container (about 20-25 servings), it’s much cheaper than meat. Specialty brands drive up the price, though, so stick to generic if you’re on a budget. And it can stay good for over a year if properly stored at room temperature in a cabinet or your pantry.

Use it in shakes, sprinkle it on oatmeal or mix it into a yogurt for a protein boost.

8. Apples

Average price: Around $1.57 per pound, depending on variety

Apples are surprisingly hardy fruits, making them an ideal snack to have stored in your refrigerator year round. Though some varieties can be pricey, they’re relatively inexpensive compared to other fruits and vegetables. Slice them up and eat with peanut butter for a healthy, filling snack.

9. Carrots

Average price: Around $0.74 per pound

When properly stored, carrots can stay fresh for a while. To get the most bang for your buck, make sure you buy whole, unpeeled carrots; baby or pre-shredded carrots can cost twice as much. You can eat these raw or cooked.

10. Garlic

Average price: Around $2 per pound

Stored as a whole head in a cool, dry place, garlic will last for up to six months, so there’s no need to worry that you won’t use it before it goes bad. It's an easy, affordable, and healthy way to add more flavor to food.

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