Eating healthy is important throughout life, but perhaps especially so when you're working to sustain your life and the life of your growing baby! Eating healthy doesn't have to be expensive, even though it is generally thought to be. You can eat healthy during pregnancy on a budget -- even a very tight budget. We've prepared a list of the most key healthy foods that deliver the most critical nutrients during pregnancy and how to get them cheaply.
General Tips for Buying Healthy Foods Cheaply
- Fresh fruits and vegetables are cheapest when in season
- Buy in bulk when possible
- To get the best deals on prices, shop big box discount stores, like Walmart; warehouse wholesale club stores, like Costco or Sam's; discount supermarkets, like Aldi's; or a farmer's market or roadside stand.
- Limit canned goods, or at the very least, check the label. Canned goods often add excessive salt or sugar and are not the most healthy options. When buying canned, choose low sodium and items packaged in natural or fruit juices when possible.
- Frozen fruits and vegetables are healthy and cheap!
Essential Pregnancy Foods on the Cheap, Listed by Nutrient
Garbanzo beans (aka "chickpeas"), pinto beans, lentils, black eyed peas - canned (cheap) or dried (cheapest)
Broccoli - fresh (cheap) or frozen (cheapest)
Asparagus - frozen (cheaper)
Spinach - fresh or frozen (cheapest)
Brussels sprouts - frozen (cheapest)
Romaine lettuce - full head (cheaper) instead of cut leaves
Fortified foods also can be a good source of folic acid. Check for amounts on the label. Your best bang for the buck will be with fortified rice and enriched spaghetti/pasta.
Dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese - off brands (cheaper), block cheese (cheaper), yogurt tubs (cheaper) instead of cups
Leafy greens like collards, kale, and spinach - frozen (cheaper), full head (cheaper) instead of cut leaves
Soybeans (edamame or tofu)
Sauteed or steamed leafy greens like kale, or mustard or turnip greens
Black eyed peas - canned or dried (cheaper)
White beans - canned or dried (cheaper)
Oranges - fresh (cheaper in season, from Jan to April) or canned (cheaper, year round)
Spinach - fresh or frozen (cheaper)
Kidney beans - canned or dried (cheapest)
Beef - ground (cheapest)
Clams, mollusks, mussels, oysters - canned (cheaper)
Chicken - whole, bone-in thighs, drumsticks
Turkey - ground (cheaper)
Tuna - canned (cheapest)
Enriched breakfast cereals - look for high iron grams on the label
Enriched egg noodles
Almonds - buy in bulk
Peanut butter - look for varieties without added sugar or high fructose corn syrup
Oils - extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, butter (cheaper)