The cost of healthy eating can seem intimidatingly high sometimes. With buzzy superfoods from flax to acai, goji berries to coconut oil, and cacao to cashew butter costing a pretty penny, eating healthfully can feel like a prohibitive club to which budgeted babes don't belong. But we're here to remind you that's not the case—and that some of the healthiest food in the world comes super-duper cheap. Keep scrolling for the foods to reach for when you're strapped for cash but don't want to compromise health.
Other than ramen (which is definitively not healthy), there's a reason broke college kids rely on rice (more on that later) and beans: They're delightfully inexpensive and insanely healthy. Whether kidney, black, or our favorite kind—big and creamy white cannellini beans—they're packed with protein and fiber, with 0% fat. They make a versatile base to all kinds of bean salads and bowls. A serving costs less than 60 cents, and beans can be bought in bulk or in bags to save even more money than you would on the canned kind.
Can't afford a $9 acai bowl at the bougie health spot down the street? Don't worry—rolled oats are your friend. A 1/2 cup of oatmeal—which contains heart-healthy fiber and can help lower cholesterol in addition to keeping you full for hours with very little fat—costs 13 cents a serving.
Brown rice doesn't get enough credit in the shadow of its cooler cousin quinoa. The filling, low-cal, low-fat food is a great whole grain to serve as the basis for a meal (an Asian rice bowl with tofu and kale, black beans with eggs, you name it), and costs just 17 cents per serving.
Oranges are one of the most inexpensive fruits on the market. They boost immunity with their daily value of vitamin C, contain 3 grams of fiber per orange, make a great snack any time of day, and cost about 40 cents.
Canned tuna is an inexpensive health food staple. It's versatile (tuna salad, tuna sandwich, tuna casserole, tuna on crackers—sky's the limit), has a virtually indefinite shelf life, is nonfat and rich in omega-3 fatty acids, has high protein and few calories, and costs 70 cents a can.
Kale certainly needs no introduction, but it is nice to remember that despite its popularity and appearance on the menu of every trendy restaurant ever, kale is one of the cheapest produce items at the grocery store. A cup of the nutrient-dense green stuff delivers vitamins K, A, and C; iron; magnesium; and more and costs about 40 cents.
Though it depends on the type of vegetables you get (mixed, green beans, peas, carrots, etc.), a cup of veggies from a freezer bag costs around 25 cents. It's by far the more economical option than fresh veggies, and the bonus is they don't go bad. Use them for stir-fries, soups, egg scrambles, and side dishes.
Lentils are possibly the cheapest healthy food in the world. They cost just 10 cents a serving(!) and are as crazy healthy as they are crazy inexpensive. A cup of cooked lentils contains 17 grams of protein, 15 grams of fiber, and just 230 calories.
Watermelon costs around 20 cents a cup and is high in antioxidants and water content, so it's low in calories. Just don't buy the pre-cut version, which spikes the price considerably.
What are your favorite inexpensive healthy foods? Share them in the comments below! And click here for a budget-friendly healthy cookbook.