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10 Cheap & Healthy Whole Foods That Fill You Up

Updated on July 23, 2018
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Crystal is a content writer who helps emerging entrepreneurs obtain the resources and guidance needed to launch successful blog businesses.


Food is essential for everyone, no one will argue with that. Whether you’re in debt or trying to save money, out of all the things you can let go of, you still have to buy food.

One myth about healthy whole foods is that it costs more, that’s why those with lower incomes tend to buy more processed unhealthy food than those who are not. I say, that’s not necessarily true and if you do the math, over time in financial and health costs, processed food costs more. I think if it’s the case that those with a lower income buy more unhealthy food, I’ll say it’s due more to access than costs. Also that process food can be addicting, regardless of your socioeconomic status.

So the point is, you can still eat healthy effortlessly and save money.

Below is a list of 10 whole foods that are healthy. When you consider how filling they are and how much you can get for your money, they're cheap. Most of them are highly accessible, especially if you live in a town or city.

Brown Rice

Brown rice is the perfect everyday choice. I can find a 50 pound bag of Tsuru Mai brown rice at my local international food store for around $40, which lasts several months (with me consuming it daily).

Brown rice is not only healthy because it’s not refined like white rice, but it’s an excellent gluten free staple for bulking up meals.

My suggestion: Rice bowls with your favorite vegetable, bean, and meat, and filling for burritos and tacos.



Whether Russet, sweet, red, purple, or yellow, potatoes offer a lot of variety in terms of flavors and textures, both sweet and savory. Most of all, you can get a lot for only a few dollars. I can usually get a 5 pound bag for around $4, which lasts me a couple weeks (with me consuming it almost daily).

My suggestion: mashed, baked or oven fries with rosemary, garlic, and a little salt. No oil needed—bake them on wax paper or foil. Also perfect for soups and stews.



Oatmeal is another great gluten free whole food. It’s high in soluble fiber and you can get it in it’s natural form as steel cut oats, which has a nutty texture, or in it’s rolled form, which has a more smooth texture. Either way is good, it all comes down to your preference.

You can easily purchase oatmeal in the large bulk tins at the grocery store, or in smaller canisters. I pick up a 24 ounce canister for $2, which lasts me for about a month (but I don’t eat it daily).

My suggestion: Steel cut oats with cinnamon, chia seeds, and raisins (no added sugar needed). Can also try bananas with dark chocolate chips.



Corn is a popular choice when it comes to filling up, even more than potatoes. You can make a lot of things with corn, from bread and chips, to cereal and soup. Corn is pretty inexpensive, I know in the summer months or in its peak season you can get several ears of corn (ten) for $1.

You can also buy corn from the large bulk tins, such as dry kernels for popping. If you’re on a tight budget, focus on fresh corn (frozen second) to get the most in nutrients. Stay away from highly processed corn products, such as chips, since they usually contain other unhealthy ingredients and the nutrients have been reduced though heat and other processing.

My suggestion: Stir fry vegetables and air popped popcorn with nutritional yeast



You can be extremely creative with beans if you have an interest in anything culinary. From lentils and chickpeas to black beans and black eye peas, beans are very filling as they are a cheap food to buy. I found a 20 pound bag of dry black eye peas for $20 online, which is more than enough to last me half the year (consuming it daily).

Beans are also great when you want variety in your everyday dishes or when you’re looking for a no fail dairy alternative.

My suggestion: Hummus and your favorite beans in rice, pasta, soups, and salad dishes. Also as fillings for burritos and tacos, and vegan burgers.



Similar to bananas, plantains can be eaten green, when they’re not sweet (with sauces and stews) or yellow, when they’re sweet (baked). When they’re yellow, they’re great baked or fried (though I recommend baking them to keep them healthy) and eaten plain or with spices, cinnamon and/or sugar.

You can find plantains at most grocery stores where they sell bananas. They’re usually larger and not bundled up like bananas. I buy them for about $1.66 a pound and they’re extremely filling like potatoes.

My suggestion: Sliced plantains with red pepper, ginger, and salt or plain cinnamon.



Watermelon is filling because it has a high water content (92%). It’s the perfect alternative to sugary drinks and ice treats during the warm months of the year. Watermelon helps keep you hydrated and is high in vitamin A and C.

You can get watermelon fairly cheap. I know grocery stores in my area sell 5 pound watermelons for $3. For smaller sizes, I can get them for under a $1

My suggestion: Watermelon juice and popsicles.



Just like beans and corn, nuts are another versatile food that you can easily get in bulk. I recommend sticking with raw nuts when possible because they’re low in AGES (Advanced Glycation End Products), which accelerates aging, inflammation, and a host of other problems, such as acne. I urge you to look further into this if you’re interested.

Nuts are a popular alternative to dairy free diets, and you can find nearly every dairy replacement with nuts, such as milk, ice cream, cheese, and yogurt. Try to limit yourself with these process foods since they often contain other ingredients that are not natural and healthy. If you can make your own (i.e. almond milk), that is best.

I can buy a pound of nuts, such as almonds, for a $1 at bulk food stores (i.e. Costco and Sam’s Club in the United States).

My suggestion: Almond cashew milk or adding crushed almonds to fruit smoothies.



Bananas are the perfect cheap healthy food that’s portable and fills you up fast. I add them to my green smoothies to bulk them up and it keeps me full for a good 3 to 4 hours.

A perfect solution to curing a sweet tooth, bananas can be substituted as a sweetener for shakes, smoothies, even some baked goods. It can even be made into pudding or frozen and blended to make ice cream, another alternative for dairy. It freezes well so this is one whole food you can stock up on for later use.

I can get a pound of bananas for less than a dollar (even organic!) at the grocery store. Eating a banana a day can cost you pennies to the dollar.

My suggestion: Nice cream (blended frozen bananas) with your favorite toppings.



Here’s another dairy alternative! Avocados are the perfect replacement for butter, because it has a similar taste and consistency that works well as a spread or dip. You can eat avocados with rice cakes, crackers, chips, and bread.

I can get an avocado for $1 each, sometimes even less if there’s a sale. Even half an avocado, about the size of a small grapefruit, can make a snack or a meal very filling.

My suggestion: Avocado sandwiches (just the avocado, not toasted, with wheat or grain bread).

These whole foods are highly versatile and offer a lot of options and room for creativity with your meals and snacks. As you focus on these foods when you shop, you’ll see less money leave your wallet and your health improve, which is essential to living life at its fullest.

Be creative and discover how many dishes, snacks, and drinks you can come up with incorporating these foods.

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© 2018 Crystal


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    • LifeEdit profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from United States

      Thank you RTalloni--I'm glad you enjoyed my suggestions and also that you agree with me :)

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Enjoyed looking over your suggestions. Cheap and healthy wins over trendy and convenient every time!


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