From Dunkaroos and Doritos to Chips Ahoy and Cheetos, there’s no shortage of cheap snacks at the grocery store. However, if you want to stay the course toward better health, you need to refocus your efforts on buying the most nutrient-dense options you can find. And contrary to popular belief—not all health foods are extremely expensive. In fact, there are countless cheap healthy snacks you can keep stocked in your fridge and pantry at all times.
In fact, some of the very best foods for your figure cost less than a dollar per serving. We’ve done the math and studied the nutritionals for you so you can enjoy each and every one of the cheap healthy snacks below without a second thought.
Cost: 59 cents per fruit
One medium banana has just 105 calories, 14 grams of naturally occurring sugar and provides 3 grams of satiating fiber, making it one of the healthiest cheap snacks on the market. Bananas also a great source of belly-flattening nutrients like potassium and prebiotic fiber, which helps to feed good gut bacteria and improve digestion.
2. Honeydew Melon
Cost: 65 cents per cup
Honeydew is packed with stress-fighting vitamin C; and thanks to its high water content, it has a diuretic property that helps banish bloat. Even better: A cup of the refreshing, juicy fruit only costs 65 cents! No fattening bag of chips can claim that!
3. Cottage Cheese
Cost: $0.52-$1 per ½ cup serving
Sick of yogurt? Pick up some cottage cheese. The cheap healthy snack is a good addition to your diet because it’s high in protein and light in the calorie department. It’s also considered a complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids your body needs to function properly and build metabolism-revving muscle.
Cost: 62 cents per cup
Not only are nectarines easy on the wallet, like other stone fruits, they’re also a potent source of phenolic compounds that can fight against belly fat. Gobble one up as a healthy on-the-go snack. They taste the best—and are the cheapest—in July and August.
Cost: $0.13-$0.19 per ½ cup serving
If you’re an avid ETNT reader you already know that we can’t say enough good things about oatmeal. Thanks to its high fiber count, it can help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. It’s also reallyinexpensive. Mix a half cup of the stuff with some water or milk and zap it in your office microwave to have a mini-meal on your desk in just minutes. Or if you have time, make a batch of overnight oats. Vending machine cravings, you’re goin’ down!
6. Greek Yogurt
Cost: $1 per 5.3 oz serving
Nutrient-dense Greek yogurt is as buzzed about as any pop culture icon, with some brands boasting their own pop-up shops in Manhattan. But does it have the staying power of, say, Beyonce? All signs point to yes. Good Greek yogurts are low in sugar, high in protein and creamy enough to make you think they’re sinful, making this weight loss staple a perfect snack to quell that angry 3 p.m. hunger.
Cost: $0.75 cents per small apple
For just 75 cents a pop, an apple a day can keep the doctor away—at least if you keep the peel on. While traditional advice for saving the skin was based mainly on its fiber content (an average apple provides 4.5 grams), there’s a growing body of research to suggests it’s actually the polyphenols in the peel—non-digestible compounds capable of doing everything from increasing sexual pleasure to reducing cholesterol—that are responsible for the apple’s doctor defense. But the health a-peel doesn’t stop there: Cutting edge new research suggests that polyphenols can also promote the growth of friendly bacteria in the gut that aids rapid weight loss.
8. Bell Pepper
Cost: $0.73 cents per cup
When they’re still in one piece, bell pepper isn’t exactly an easy thing to snack while on-the-go—but if you cut the veggie into slices and throw them in a sandwich bag, you have yourself a vitamin C- and fiber-filled snack for just under a buck! And get this: A study in Nutrients indicates that vitamin C helps muscles process a fatty acid called carnitine that’s essential to muscle growth and recovery. Sounds like a good reason to nosh on the crisp veggie to us!
9. Whole Almonds
Cost:52 cents per 1 oz serving, (Blue Diamond Whole Natural Almonds, from Walmart)
If you keep just one snack in your bag at all times, make it almonds. The small but mighty nut is filled with a winning combination of satiating fiber, protein and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that keep you feeling full.
10. Baby Carrots
Cost: $0.40 per cup
Since they’re filled with water and fiber, carrots are one of the most satiating veggies in the supermarket. But that’s not the only reason to add them to your flat belly eating plan: Carrots also carry a hefty serving of vitamin A and beta-carotene, which makes them ideal for staving off metabolism-slowing inflammation.
11. In-Shell Pistachios
Cost: $0.50 per 1 oz serving
“We keep pistachios in ample supply at the ranch,” says The Biggest Loserdietitian Cheryl Forberg. “Not only are they satisfying, heart-healthy snacks, they also aid weight loss. Studies suggest having to manually remove the shell helps people eat more mindfully and slows the rate at which they nosh, helping to reduce portion size and calorie intake.”
12. Hard Boiled Eggs
Cost: $0.13 per egg
According to the USDA, a dozen eggs now retails for $1.66, which works out to be just 13 cents an egg. Considering the primo protein source is filled with health-improving amino acids and a fat-fighting nutrient called choline, we’d say that’s a pretty good deal. Boil up a dozen at the start of the week so you have an ample supply of hard-boiled eggs to last throughout the week.
Cost: $0.21 per cup
Good news budget-conscious dieters, this red-hued fruit can help melt your love handles! How? Eating watermelon improves lipid profiles and lowers fat accumulation, thanks to the fruit’s high concentration anthocyanin, a compound that calms the action of fat-storage genes, say University of Kentucky researchers. Watermelon can also help reduce post-pump muscle soreness, helping you get back to your workouts sooner rather than later after a grueling Crossfit class.
14. Red Grapes
Cost: $0.72 per cup
Like watermelon, red grapes add fuel to your flat-belly fire because they contain anthocyanin. Pop a cup of ’em in the freezer so you have healthy snacks on hand whenever a craving for something sweet and refreshing strikes.
15. Pumpkin Seeds
Cost:$0.49 cents per ¼ cup serving
Rather than pump yourself full of Pringles, grab a handful of pumpkin seeds. “Pumpkin seeds are a great source of minerals; they’re lower in fat than almonds, and they offer antifungal and antiviral properties,” says Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson Angela Lemond. One ounce contains more than eight grams of protein and is also high in iron, potassium, and zinc, a mineral that provides a natural jolt that can help you maximize your gym time.
Cost: $0.75 per cup
Believe it or not, an entire cup of cucumber slices has just 16 calories! And normally we’d say that’s not nearly enough calories to keep you full and satisfied but the veggie is about 95 percent water, so a cup full may actually be able to tide you over!
17. Organic Popcorn Kernels
Cost: 20 cents per 2 Tbsp unpopped
While a serving of Skinny Pop will cost you about 80 cents per serving, a serving of organic kernels, which you pop yourself at home, is a quarter of the cost. Don’t want to dirty up the stove to whip up a batch? Make your very own low-cost microwavable popcorn. Here’s how: Add your favorite popping kernels to a small paper lunch bag (which costs about 2 cents a piece) and fold the top down a few times. Then, zap it in the microwave until you hear only a few pops every five seconds.
18. String Cheese
Cost: $0.25 per stick
Each 80-calorie stick of this protein-rich, healthy snack has a fifth of your day’s calcium intake. Aside from keeping your bones healthy and strong, research suggests that the mineral can help fight fat because it has a high “thermic effect”—in other words, you burn more calories digesting calcium-rich foodsthan you would if you ate something with the same number of calories, that doesn’t have the nutrient. Who knew?!
Cost: $0.42 cents per 100 calorie pack (from Vitacost.com)
If you’re sick of snacking on nuts every time you crave something crunchy, buy a pack of frozen edamame. A 100-calorie serving has 11 grams of soy proteinand six grams of belly-filling fiber.
20. Peanut Butter
Cost: $0.59 per pack
Ounce for ounce, peanuts are a fantastic high-protein food. On the run? Rip open the top of the squeeze pack and eat the nut butter right from the pouch. For more of a sit-down snack, smear some of the flavonoid-packed spread onto a 59-cent banana.