Top wallet-friendly picks for healthy food at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and more

Many of us ring in the New Year with the following two resolutions: eat healthy food and cut back on our spending. But often it seems that these two ambitions do not go hand in hand.

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Healthy foods are often more expensive than fast foods. Moreover, nutritious meals tend to take longer—and require more skill—to prepare. Thanks to inflation, the cost of food is rising. For many Americans, cutting back on their grocery bill while trimming their waistline (or achieving any of their nutritional wellness goals) may seem next to impossible.

While none of us can tackle inflation — or make healthy foods cheaper than accessible scrap we can get from a vending machine — we can do our best to shop smart. This means not only getting the most affordable versions of everything we need from the grocery store (a just-appropriate plan), but also expanding our horizons by discovering new food products that are easy on the wallet, delicious and nutritious.

GOBankingRates spoke with several food experts and deals to learn about their favorite healthy yet affordable choices from the places we usually shop, including Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Walmart.

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The type of bars in Walmart

“I love KIND Bars Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt Bars, they are very wallet friendly as well as good for your health,” said Lauren Manaker, registered dietitian. These bars are a good source of fiber, are low in sodium and are made only with healthy ingredients. Many good-for-you bars come at a hefty price, but these bars are modest, yet still nourish the body with nuts, seeds and real dark chocolate.”

Box of 12 KIND Bars Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt Bars goes for $14.22 at Walmart.

Wonton soup with chicken and vegetables Trader Joe’s

“Trader Joe’s Wonton and Chicken Soup is packed with nutrient-dense vegetables like carrots, peas, cilantro, green onions, and leeks—which are found in the vegetable broth mixed with the chicken broth base,” said Jessica Randawa. Owner and chef at The Forked Spoon. “Wonton chicken and chicken soup base provide 11 grams of protein per serving at just 220 calories, and are also relatively high in protein per soup calorie. At $2.79 per bowl, this is a filling, healthy, and easy-to-prepare meal.”

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Almond Butter in Whole Foods

“It’s $7.49 for a 16-ounce container and it’s very rich in protein,” said Tyler Reed, CEO of Personal Trainer Pioneer. “Perfect post-workout snack. Gorgeous with fruit. The apple is my favourite.

Cashews in bulk at Whole Foods

“At Whole Foods, loose cashews can be a tasty and healthy option,” said Michael Jarico, nutrition expert, personal trainer, and co-founder of TotalShape. Loose cashews are rich in magnesium, which helps relieve insomnia, headaches, and muscle cramps, and is also cheaper if purchased from the Whole Foods bulk department.

Trader Joe’s Elote’s Greek Yogurt

“This dip is much healthier than traditional dips like pre-made onion or guacamole dip (and) has significantly fewer calories and fat than other dips, plus the healthy cultures found in Greek yogurt,” said food entrepreneur Annie Singer. and founder of Reciple. Trader Joe’s Elote Greek yogurt is $3.49 for an 8-ounce container. Compare this to the dip you’d find at any grocery store like Tostitos salsa con queso ($4.49) or even Trader Joe’s vegan tzatziki dip ($3.99); it’s a price Great for something a lot healthier than most dips.”

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SunButter at Walmart

“SunButter (roasted sunflower seed butter) is a healthy alternative to peanut butter,” said Liana Werner Gray, health and nutrition coach and founder of The Earth Diet. “It’s excellent for people allergic to nuts as well, or families with nut allergies (about 3 million Americans). Less saturated fat than almond butter and peanut butter, more iron and magnesium and the same amount of protein.”

A 16-ounce jar of SunButter retails for $6.48 at Walmart.

Discover Cuisine Pad Thai Noodles at Walmart

“Discover gluten-free Cuisine Pad Thai Noodles and the type of pasta we dream of in Asian cooking at home,” said Werner Gray. “They’re tender and pliable yet firm and delicious — and made with just one ingredient: organic, non-GMO brown rice. When pasta tastes good, it doesn’t have to contain gluten, as that usually leads to inflammation and bloating.”

Six packs of Explore Cuisine Organic Brown Rice Pad Thai Noodles offer 24 servings and retail for $47.07 at Walmart.

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Whole Foods Organic Berries

“While blueberries are high in disease-fighting nutrients and fats like polyphenols, they are very expensive, which is why many people avoid them,” Garico said. “Stick to the organic varieties to reap the most health benefits and head over to the produce section of Whole Foods, where it’s available for just $3.49 per pint.”

Cauliflower Trader Joe

“At $2.49, the value is hard to beat,” Momsdish founder Natalia Druzhin said. “I find that crunchy frozen cauliflower is much better than fresh cauliflower, so I always like to have four or five bags hanging in the freezer for a rainy day. From quick low-carb fried rice to burritos, it’s a healthy food essential and far more affordable than the varieties sold. In luxury health food stores.

Chicken Trader Go Kung Pao

“My absolute favorite wallet-friendly item from Trader Joe’s is Kung Pao Chicken,” said Drozhzhin. “It comes with two cans of a very tasty sauce that goes a long way. To make the dish extra healthy and filling, I add sautéed bell peppers, onions or even broccoli. For my family of four, this makes for a super easy weekend meal and the perfect topping for a bowl.” Steaming white rice. Last time I bought it, the package was only $4.99 – a killer steal for all the chicken you get!”

Trader Joe’s Bagged Avocados

“I’ve found that avocados from other stores vary greatly in terms of ripeness and taste, (but) avocados from Trader Joe’s always seem perfect,” said Michelle Gibault-Tropp, a registered dietitian and trainer. “I let it simmer on the counter and then quickly put it in the fridge, and it would last for over a week.

“Avocados provide healthy fats that help you feel full. They also have a rich flavor that lets you use less seasoning. (They are) usually about $3 for a bag of five small avocados. A little more for bigger.”

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About the author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles from Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She is a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her first novel of 2013, “Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray” has received letters of praise from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Calvus, and has been published in the US, UK, France and Russia – although no one knows what happened with the Russian version! She has an affinity for Twitter.

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