• Tamar Rothenberg, MS, RD

The most and least expensive plant-based foods


A common misconception is that healthier foods such as plant-based foods, are more expensive. But it's simply not true. Some of the most nutritious foods are not only cheaper, but provide more nutrients per dollar than other foods.

The Economic Research Service, an arm of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), regularly estimates the average cost of 156 foods most often purchased. The data was compiled from retail scanners across the country, from drug stores and supermarkets, to larger stores. These are estimated average costs, so prices might be higher or lower, depending on where you live.

Dried beans such as pintos, lentils, and black eyed peas, are among the least expensive foods you can buy, at 0.19, 0.20 or 0.23 cents per 6 ounces. Close to a cup of dried beans will yield two cups cooked. You will now be able to feed a family of two a filling side dish for under a quarter. Yes, that's 0.25 cents.

Understandably, many people don't like the inconvenience of soaking and cooking dried beans. But a can of drained pinto beans, at 0.51 cents, is still a bargain. Most canned vegetables, such as corn, carrots, tomatoes, and potatoes, are priced close to the same as canned beans (some varieties, such as chickpeas, might be higher). For tips on cooking beans, recipes , and more, go to California Beans.

The following are a few of the least and most expensive fruits and vegetables among the most commonly bought foods in the U.S. Note that this is not a complete list. One of the trendiest foods available, the beloved avocado, is among the most expensive, at $2.24 per lb, or close to a dollar for 5 ounces (without the pit and peel).

Choices abound for nutritious, less expensive plant-based foods. In comparison, you can eat 4 ounces of a banana for 0.18 cents, or the same amount of potato chips for 0.27 cents. Based on cost alone, which would fill you up more?

Sources: Economic Research Service, USDA.

#cheapestplantfoods