Whole Foods isn’t necessarily known for its budget-friendly options. But the good news is, if you’re strategic about what you buy, you can actually come away with some really affordable — and healthy — picks. Here’s what dietitians recommend picking up this fall if you’re on the hunt for affordable, versatile and fall-friendly choices.
365 PUMPKIN PUREE
“Pumpkin puree is the easiest way to add some fall flavor to many dishes including soups, oatmeal and smoothies,” says Emily Zorn, a registered dietitian and health coach. “It’s packed with antioxidant vitamin A to keep you healthy throughout the fall.” At Whole Foods, it’s just $1.59 per can.
“Spaghetti squash is a great fall option, and the season typically begins in the early fall and runs throughout the winter,” notes Leah Kaufman, a registered dietitian. “It’s packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, manganese and vitamin B6. Kaufman also loves that it’s a great low-carbohydrate alternative. “You can make so many different meals with this type of squash, like taco boats or spaghetti with meatballs.”
365 FROZEN ORGANIC SWEET YELLOW CORN
Frozen corn kernels are a lot more convenient, and often more budget-friendly than corn on the cob, according to Lauren Pimentel, a registered dietitian. “They’re high in fiber and resistant starch, which both slow digestion and keep you full longer.” Pimentel suggests adding frozen corn to chilis and soups.
365 FROZEN ORGANIC RICED CAULIFLOWER
“Most Americans don’t eat enough vegetables, so finding easy ways to add them to meals is key,” notes Lindsay Hazard, a registered dietitian. “Frozen riced cauliflower is easy to add to smoothies, sauces, mix into soups, stir-fries, mix with rice; the possibilities are endless.” Cauliflower is high in fiber, vitamin C and vitamin K, can promote digestive health, and is a good low-carb alternative. At Whole Foods, a 1.5-pound bag is $2.99. “Frozen vegetables are not any lower in nutrients than fresh vegetables, so keep frozen riced cauliflower on hand when you need to add a vegetable to a meal,” Hazard suggests.
“As a registered dietitian, recommending protein bars is difficult because many of them are highly processed and packed with added sugar and fat,” Kaufman says. “However, Perfect Bars are one of the brands that I like to recommend to my clients as they’re made with real ingredients and contain no artificial flavoring.” They come in at $2.49 each, and the brand recently came out with a pumpkin pie flavor — perfect for fall.
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LEAN GROUND BEEF
When the weather turns colder, we tend to crave heartier meals. Red meat is sometimes a debated topic, but Kaufman recommends it in moderation for its iron content. “Many of us are iron-deficient and are not even aware of it, so adding lean beef into our diet on occasion is beneficial to our health.” Lean ground beef comes in at $6.99 per pound at Whole Foods.
365 ORGANIC CANNED RED KIDNEY BEANS
Kidney beans are another great low-cost fall option that can be used for many different dishes, clocking in at just over a dollar. “Many times you can buy premade chili at the supermarket, but you can also make your own at home, which tends to be the healthier choice,” Kaufman explains. “You can choose to make it vegetarian and pack it with different types of beans that can be purchased at a low cost, or add in ground beef or chicken.”
At Whole Foods, you can get a 3-pound bag of sweet potatoes for less than $3. “They have lots of fiber, meaning they will keep you full in between meals, and their high levels of vitamin A promote good vision and eye health,” Pimentel says. “Try baking them and topping the flesh with a sprinkle of cinnamon. You can also chop them up and add them to a fall stew.”
A bulk bag of apples is always less expensive than buying them individually, and you can grab a tote of in-season apples at Whole Foods for $1.29 per pound. Apples contain soluble fiber which is great for your digestion, Pimentel notes. “They’re also a good source of vitamin C, making them a great boost for the immune system. Try pairing a sliced apple with 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter for a balanced, filling and delicious fall snack.”
“Brussels sprouts are another fall food that can be relatively inexpensive since they are currently in season,” Zorn says. You can pick them up at Whole Foods for $2.99 for 16 ounces. “Try cutting them in half and roasting them with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. This is a delicious way to get a boost of vitamin B6, which helps support the body’s immune system.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you know what to look for, there are lots of affordable options at Whole Foods. Fresh in-season produce, frozen produce, meats and pantry staples are all solid picks.
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