Milk (Fresh, Fortified): 18 cents per serving Consider buying low-fat or skim milk, which provide similar amounts of calcium and vitamin D without the added saturated fat found in whole milk.
Cheddar Cheese: 34 cents per serving Sharper cheese has more flavor so you use less.
Brown Rice: 23 cents per serving Brown rice costs slightly more and takes longer to cook than white rice, but it has more flavor and nutritional value.
Grits: 19 cents per serving Whole grain grits are higher in fiber, which can help improve digestion.
Quinoa: 54 cents per serving To cut quinoa’s bitter taste, rinse with a mesh strainer. Also, try adding a spoonful of coconut oil or lime juice to cooked quinoa as it cools.
Canned and Frozen Produce
FROZEN FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Frozen Plantains: 39 cents per serving Frozen produce, usually less expensive than fresh, is often picked at peak ripeness to preserve its nutrient value.
Canned Corn: 50 cents per serving Canned vegetables, such as corn and tomatoes, are good options if low in sodium.
Eggs: 14 cents per serving (for Grade-A) Eggs are a good source of protein with about six grams per serving. Add a poached or fried egg over vegetables for taste and protein.
Peanut Butter: 19 cents per serving Peanut butter is easy to work into meals and snacks: Spread on apple slices in the fall, or mix with soy sauce and sriracha for a peanut noodle sauce.
Beans: 38 cents per serving (dried, any type) Pinto and black beans can be very affordable if you cook them yourself — soaking, boiling, then simmering until tender — but this takes time. Canned beans can be cooked quickly and are less expensive than other protein sources.
Chicken Stock: 72 cents per serving Cook rice, quinoa, and grits with chicken stock instead of water for a richer flavor. You also can use beef or vegetable stock.
Garlic: 2 cents per serving A head of garlic is less expensive than minced garlic that comes in a jar but has a shorter shelf life.
HERBS AND SPICES
Cayenne Pepper: 3 cents per serving
Cumin: 3 cents per serving
Curry Powder: 6 cents per serving
Having a few basics on hand such as cayenne pepper, ground cumin, and curry powder, or a mixture can help spice up plain dishes. Though herbs and spices can be pricey, the seeds are inexpensive and easy to grow — and gardening is a good outdoor activity for families.
Lemon Juice: 4 cents per serving
Lime Juice: 4 cents per serving
These juices can mimic the taste of salt, without the added sodium.
Canola Oil: 5 cents per serving
Olive Oil: 10 cents per serving
Vegetable Oil: 6 cents per serving
Which oil to use depends on what you’re cooking. For baked goods, a neutral-tasting vegetable oil is best. For savory dishes, the earthy flavor of olive oil could enhance your meal.
Note: Price per serving is estimated using data from the 2017-2018 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Food & Drug Administration, AmazonFresh Grocery, Giant Food #0378 in Washington, D.C., and Harris Teeter at Carolina Colours Towne Center in New Bern, N.C., and is therefore subject to change.
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