Good Food on a Tight Budget

Big food still-life

The Environmental Working Group continues to be a leader in providing quality information to the consumer regarding health issues and

environmental resources. They have recently released a list of healthy foods that you can eat on a shoestring budget. EWG assessed nearly 1,200 foods and hand-picked the best 100 or so that pack in nutrients at a good price, with the fewest pesticides, contaminants and artificial ingredients. Broken down into seven categories, EWG lists the best foods in each.

  1. Fruits: These fruits pack the most nutrition for the lowest cost, are low in sugar and toxic pesticides and have plenty of vitamin C, fiber, folate and potassium. Aim for two servings daily. See complete list.
  2. Vegetables: These vegetables pack the most nutrition for the lowest cost. Seven out of 10 of us don’t eat enough vegetables. For the best balance of flavors and nutrition, eat a variety of vegetables. Aim for three servings daily. See complete list.
  3. Grains: These foods pack the most nutrition for the lowest cost. They contain fiber, important nutrients like B vitamins and iron and are low in added sugar, so they fill you up without that groggy feeling. See complete list.
  4. Proteins: These proteins pack the most nutrition for the lowest cost and provide a balance of healthy fats and essential minerals like iron. Eat something from the “beans and more” list at least once a week. See complete list.
  5. Dairy: These dairy foods pack the most nutrition for the lowest cost. They provide calcium, protein, potassium and vitamin D without a lot of sugar or unhealthy fats. See complete list.
  6. Cooking Fats and Oils: These oils have the most nutrition for the lowest cost. Try cooking with the oils listed here to get a healthy dose of omega-3 fats and the antioxidant vitamin E. See complete list.
  7. Staples and Spices: These items appear frequently throughout recipes and are great to have on hand to create tasty, low cost home-cooked meals in a flash. See complete list.

EWG’s “Good Food on a Tight Budget” booklet comes with the top tips for healthy eating, quick lists of best foods, tasty recipes and easy tools for tracking food prices and planning your weekly menu (a key step to cutting costs!). Click here to print your own book.

Variety is important for your health and happiness. These lists are a good start, but try other affordable foods, especially those from the fruit and vegetable aisles.

Can’t find something on the list? Ask the store manager to stock it. If enough customers ask for something, stores often try to provide it.

Are you concerned about genetically engineered foods? Many haven’t been tested for long-term safety. The EWG is working to get these foods labeled so you can make informed choices. Learn more at


About Michael Dolor

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