March 21, 2017 5:00 pm

Researchers are further analyzing participants’ diets to determine the best real-world strategies for eating healthy on a budget. “Not all fruits and vegetables are equally expensive,” says study co-author Anju Aggarwal, PhD, acting assistant professor of epidemiology. “So instead of buying the most expensive fruit, maybe you buy bananas and oranges. Maybe you start eating more whole grains, and you eat less fat and sugar.”

“As long as you know which food groups to pick from, how much to eat, and how to cook it, you can improve your diet without increasing your costs,” she adds.

Related article: 10 Reasons Why You Should Eat More Asparagus

To get you started, here are some budget-friendly kitchen staples that only taste like a million bucks.

Extra-virgin olive oil

A staple of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is rich in healthy fats linked to a reduced risk of heart diseasetype 2 diabetes, and stroke. You can cook with it, or drizzle it over fish, pasta, and vegetables.

Cost per serving: 15 cents


A bottle of this natural sweetener can last years. Sweeten homemade marinades and salad dressings, or incorporate it into homemade baking. Or, incorporate it into your beauty routine: Beauty uses for honey include zapping zits, softening hair, ditching dark under-eye circles, and more.

Cost per serving: 31 cents

Canned chickpeas

Not only inexpensive, chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) are a great source of protein and fiber. Toss them in salads, mix them into salsas, or blend them into hummus. Or get creative with this recipe for high-protein chickpea waffles.

Cost per serving: 40 cents


A cup of cooked quinoa sets you up with 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and just 222 calories. Adding quinoa to your diet is easy—use it in place of white rice for a more nutrient-packed dish.

Cost per serving: 65 cents

Related article: 12 Healthy Eating Hacks Nutritionists Use Every Day

Organic eggs

In just one egg, you’ll get 6 grams of waist-slimming protein for just 70 calories. And though nutrition experts used to warn that eating too much dietary cholesterol would spike blood cholesterol, in recent years, they’ve changed their tune. No time to whip up eggs every morning? Make these frittata muffins Sundays for a workweek full of healthy breakfasts.

Cost per serving: 30 cents


They’re cheap, available year-round, and can serve as a natural sweetener in smoothies, plain yogurt, and homemade breads. Plus, a medium banana boasts 12% of your daily value of potassium, 3 grams of filling fiber, and and nearly 20% of your daily value for both vitamins C and B6. This avocado banana bread recipe is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Cost per serving: 29 cents

Fresh garlic

Garlic lets you flavor dishes for no additional calories, fat, or sodium. For added convenience, buy chopped, jarred garlic.

Cost per serving: 13 cents


This condiment is packed with the immune-boosting nutrient selenium. It also contains turmeric, a spice with cancer-fighting properties.

Cost per serving: 4 cents

Related article: 5 All-Natural Sweeteners That Are (Somewhat) Healthier Than Sugar

Balsamic vinegar

Vinegar boosts blood flow by opening up blood vessels. It also adds flavor to food for virtually no calories.

Cost per serving: 39 cents

This article originally appeared in Health by Amanda MacMillan.