Reviewed by Susan Weiner, RD, MS, CDE, CDN. Updated 7/19/2019.
It can be difficult and costly to eat healthy with diabetes. Things are slowly changing, but some of the healthiest foods are still often the most expensive.
Of course, going organic will also add to your bill, but if you watch out for sales, sometimes the cost of organic produce, can compare to regular produce by just a couple of cents.
Here are ten foods that won’t hurt your budget or your blood sugar.
Eggs are a great, low carb source of protein. And they come with loads of other nutrients. Eggs are one of the most inexpensive diabetes superfoods. Plus, you can make them so many ways. Have them scrambled, fried, or in an omelet. Or, hard-boiled as a quick snack or egg salad.
Canned or Dried Beans
Beans top the list of inexpensive healthy foods. You can buy a can of beans for around a dollar per can. One-half cup of beans provides around 15 grams of carbs, plus protein and lots of fiber. Add beans to salads, soups, tacos, dips or chili.
Canned tuna is another inexpensive lean protein source, full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Buy tuna packed in water and add it to a green salad for lunch. Or mix with a little plain yogurt, mayonnaise, celery, and onions for a quick and healthy tuna salad.
Sweet potatoes do contain carbohydrates, but they are full of good nutrition. They provide vitamin A, potassium, and fiber. Just watch your portion size and count your carbs. A small sweet potato contains about 18g of carbs and 3g of fiber. You can throw a sweet potato in the microwave and have a great side dish in a flash.
Frozen veggies such as green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and spinach are low in carbohydrates and considered “free foods.” They provide a variety of vitamins, minerals, and fiber and are lower in sodium than canned vegetables. Frozen veggies should be a part of your weekly grocery list. They can complete a meal in just a few minutes.
Figure out which vegetables are in season, and focus meals on those veggies. This will save you money, not to mention the fact that seasonal veggies taste better and are full of nutrients. Summertime seasonal veggies include zucchini, tomatoes, and leafy greens. These are all low carb, low calorie, and delicious. Experiment with new ways to cook or grill your veggies.
The same story goes for seasonal fruit as seasonal veggies. Take advantage of the summer months and all the fresh fruit available. Most fruit contains about 15 grams of carbohydrates per 1 cup cubed or about 15 grams of carbs per one small fruit. Be cautious of the sugar content of common fruits and avoid or limit fruits high in sugar such as mangoes.
Peanut butter is inexpensive, low in carbs, and can really fill you up. If you are looking to lose weight, go easy on portion size as the calories can add up quickly. Try spreading peanut butter on a slice of whole-grain bread for breakfast or on apples or celery for a snack.
Yogurt in a large tub is less expensive than buying it in individual containers. Don’t just think of yogurt for breakfast. It can make a great snack with some toasted almonds and sugar-free jelly mixed in. It can be added to tuna, chicken, or pasta salads. Or blend with fruit and top with whipped cream for dessert.
Most everyone knows that oatmeal is a healthy breakfast choice. But oatmeal can be used in many ways. It can be added to dishes such as meatloaf or burgers or any recipe that call for breadcrumbs. Oatmeal is not low carb, but it’s higher in fiber than breadcrumbs and inexpensive too. Opt for steel-cut oats and you’ll get even more fiber and less effect on your blood sugar. You can also replace one-half cup oatmeal, blended until fine for the same amount of white flour in most baking recipes.