From Dunkaroos and Doritos to Chips Ahoy and Cheetos, there’s no shortage of snacks at the grocery store. However, if you want to stay the course toward better health, you need to reinvent your definition of a mini-meal.
Not only can thinking outside of the cookie aisle help you lose weight, it can also save you a ton of money. Yes, that’s right: Despite conventional wisdom, when done right, healthy snacking can help you keep your hard-earned cash in the bank. In fact, some of the very best foods for your figure cost less than a dollar per serving.
We've done the math and studied the nutritionals for you so you can enjoy each and every one of the below without a second thought. And before you head to the store, be sure to read these 50 Best Supermarket Shopping Tips Ever—eating right has never been so easy!
WHOLE FOOD SNACKS
For those times when only something natural and wholesome will do…
Cost: 59 cents per fruit
One medium banana has just 105 calories, 14 grams of naturally occurring sugar and provides 3 grams of satiating fiber, making it one of healthiest cheap snacks on the market. Bananas also a great source of belly-flattening nutrients like potassium and prebiotic fiber, which helps to feed good gut bacteria and improve digestion.
Cost: 65 cents per cup
Honeydew is packed with stress-fighting vitamin C; and thanks to its high water content, it has a diuretic property that helps banish bloat. Even better: A cup of the refreshing, juicy fruit only costs 65 cents! No fattening bag of chips can claim that! For even more ways to beat the bloat, check out these 24 Ways to Shrink Your Belly in 24 Hours.
Cost: $0.52-$1 per ½ cup serving
Sick of yogurt? Pick up some cottage cheese. The dairy-based snack is a good addition to your diet because it’s high in protein and light in the calorie department. It’s also considered a complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids your body needs to function properly and build metabolism-revving muscle. And speaking of ways to make your metabolism soar, check out these 55 Best-Ever Ways to Boost Your Metabolism.
Cost: 62 cents per cup
Not only are nectarines easy on the wallet, like other stone fruits, they’re also a potent source of phenolic compounds that can fight against belly fat. Gobble one up as a healthy on-the-go snack. They taste the best—and are the cheapest—in July and August.
Cost: $0.13-$0.19 per ½ cup serving
If you’re an avid ETNT reader you already know that we can’t say enough good things about oatmeal. Thanks to its high fiber count, it can help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. It’s also really inexpensive. Mix a half cup
of the stuff with some water or milk and zap it in your office microwave to have a mini-meal on your desk in just minutes. Or if you have time, make a batch of overnight oats. Vending machine cravings, you’re goin’ down!
Cost: $1 per 5.3 oz serving
Nutrient-dense Greek yogurt is as buzzed about as any pop culture icon, with some brands boasting their own pop-up shops in Manhattan. But does it have the staying power of, say, Beyonce? All signs point to yes. Good Greek yogurts are low in sugar, high in protein and creamy enough to make you think they’re sinful, making this weight loss staple a perfect snack to quell that angry 3 p.m. hunger. But beware: Not all yogurts are safe for your waistline. To discover our favorite flat belly picks, check out these 25 Best Yogurts for Weight Loss
Cost: $0.75 cents per small apple
For just 75 cents a pop, an apple a day can keep the doctor away—at least if you keep the peel on. While traditional advice for saving the skin was based mainly on its fiber content (an average apple provides 4.5 grams), there’s a growing body of research to suggests it's actually the polyphenols in the peel—non-digestible compounds capable of doing everything from increasing sexual pleasure to reducing cholesterol—that are responsible for the apple’s doctor defense. But the health a-peel doesn’t stop there: Cutting edge new research suggests that polyphenols can also promote the growth of friendly bacteria in the gut that aids rapid weight loss.
Cost: $0.73 cents per cup
When they’re still in one piece, a bell pepper isn’t exactly an easy thing to snack while on-the-go—but if you cut the veggie into slices and throw them in a sandwich bag, you have yourself a vitamin C- and fiber-filled snack for just under a buck! And get this: Studies indicate that vitamin C helps muscles process a fatty acid called carnitine that’s essential to muscle growth and recovery. Sounds like a good reason to nosh on the crisp veggie to us!
Cost:52 cents per 1 oz serving, (Blue Diamond Whole Natural Almonds, from Walmart)
If you keep just one snack in your bag at all times, make it almonds. The small but mighty nut is filled with a winning combination of satiating fiber, protein and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that keep you feeling full.
Cost: $0.40 per cup
Since they’re filled with water and fiber, carrots are one of the most satiating veggies in the supermarket. But that’s not the only reason to add them to your flat belly eating plan: Carrots also carry a hefty serving of vitamin A and beta-carotene, which makes them ideal for staving off metabolism-slowing inflammation.
Cost: $0.50 per 1 oz serving
“We keep pistachios in ample supply at the ranch,” says ‘The Biggest Loser’ dietitian
Cheryl Forberg. “Not only are they a satisfying, heart-healthy snack, they also aid weight loss. Studies suggest having to manually remove the shell helps people eat more mindfully and slows the rate at which they nosh, helping to reduce portion size and calorie intake.” For more of Forberg’s go-to weight loss foods, check out these 20 Best Weight Loss Foods, By the Biggest Loser’s Dietitian.
HARD BOILED EGGS
Cost: $0.13 per egg
According to the USDA, a dozen eggs now retails for $1.66, which works out to be just 13 cents an egg. Considering the primo protein source is filled with health-improving amino acids and a fat-fighting nutrient called choline, we’d say that’s a pretty good deal. Boil up a dozen at the start of the week so you have an ample supply of hard-boiled eggs to last throughout the week.
Cost: $0.21 per cup
Good news budget-conscious dieters, this red-hued fruit can help melt your love handles! How? Eating watermelon improves lipid profiles and lowers fat accumulation, thanks to the fruit’s high concentration anthocyanin, a compound that calms the action of fat-storage genes, say University of Kentucky researchers. Watermelon can also help reduce post-pump muscle soreness, helping you get back to your workouts sooner rather than later after a grueling Crossfit class.
Cost: $0.72 per cup
Like watermelon, red grapes add fuel to your flat-belly fire because they contain anthocyanin. Pop a cup of ‘em in the freezer so you have a healthy snack on hand whenever a craving for something sweet and refreshing strikes.
Cost:$0.49 cents per ¼ cup serving
Rather than pump yourself full of Pringles, grab a handful of pumpkin seeds. “Pumpkin seeds are a great source of minerals; they’re lower in fat than almonds, and they offer antifungal and antiviral properties,” says Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson Angela Lemond. One ounce contains more than eight grams of protein and is also high in iron, potassium, and zinc, a mineral that provides a natural jolt that can help you maximize your gym time.
Cost: $0.75 per cup
Believe it or not, an entire cup of cucumber slices has just 16 calories! And normally we’d say that’s not nearly enough calories to keep you full and satisfied but the veggie is about 95 percent water, so a cup full may actually be able to tide you over! Still hungry? Reach for one of these delicious weight loss teas!
Organic Popcorn Kernels
Cost: 20 cents per 2 Tbsp unpopped
While a serving of Skinny Pop will cost you about 80 cents per serving, a serving of organic kernels, which you pop yourself at home, is a quarter of the cost. Don’t want to dirty up the stove to whip up a batch? Make your very own low-cost microwavable popcorn. Here’s how: Add your favorite popping kernels to a small paper lunch bag (which costs about 2 cents a piece) and fold the top down a few times. Then, zap it in the microwave until you hear only a few pops every five seconds. Eating away your belly fat and man boobs has never tasted so good!
For those times when you want something just a little bit sinful—or simply don’t have access to a fridge or a kitchen…
Horizon Organic String Cheese
Cost: $0.25 per stick
Each 80-calorie stick of this protein-rich snack has a fifth of your day’s calcium intake. Aside from keeping your bones healthy and strong, research suggests that the mineral can help fight fat because it has a high “thermic effect”—in other words, you burn more calories digesting calcium-rich foods than you would if you ate something with the same number of calories, that doesn’t have the nutrient. Who knew?!
SEAPOINT FARMS DRY ROASTED, LIGHTLY SALTED EDAMAME
Cost: $0.42 cents per 100 calorie pack (from Vitacost.com)
If you’re sick of snacking on nuts every time you crave something crunchy, try these dry roasted edamame packs. These 100-calorie packs have 11 grams of soy protein and six grams of belly-filling fiber. For more healthy, protein-filled snacks, check out these 25 Best High Protein Snacks.
Calbee Snapea Crisps Harvest Snaps
Cost: $0.51 per 1 oz serving, about 22 pieces (from Vitacost.com)
A typical chip has 10 grams of fat, but this crunchy all-natural snack has half that amount. Plus, it provides a satiating combination of fiber and protein. Better yet: They’re a proven hit with adults and kid alike (yes, even the picky ones that hate veggies) thanks to their use of tasty flavors and spices.
Kashi Organic Promise Sweet Potato Sunshine Cereal
Cost: $0.70 per cup (from Walmart)
Made with just eight whole-food ingredients, this tasty, low-sugar cereal is one you can feel good about noshing on. Measure out a cup, toss it in a baggie and bust it out next time your stomach starts to growl between meals.
Suzie's Thin Cakes, Corn Quinoa And Sesame
Cost: $0.27 per 3 cakes (from LuckyVitamin.com)
Three of these 4-ingredient “cakes” carries just 38 calories while providing 1.5 grams of protein. Pair them with a pack of Justin’s Almond Butter (see below) for a snack that costs just 86 cents and carries just over 200 calories.
Justin’s Natural Butters Squeeze Packs
Cost: $0.59 per pack (from Vitacost.com)
Ounce for ounce, almonds are one of the most nutritious nuts. On the run? Rip open the top of the squeeze pack and eat the butter right from the pouch. For more of a sit-down snack, smear some of the flavonoid-packed spread onto a 59-cent banana or a few of Suzie's Thin Cakes. And speaking of nut butter, wondering how nutritious your go-to brand is? Find out in our exclusive report, The 16 Best Nut Butters for Weight Loss.
Ginnybakes Organic & Gluten Free Cookie GoPacks
Cost: $1 per cookie (from Vitacost.com)
Not only do these gluten free cookies come in drool-worthy flavors like chocolate chip, coconut oatmeal, and chocolate chip macadamia, a number of them have just 90 to 100 calories! Talk about a sweet, guilt-free treat!
Eat This! Tip
Heads up: These cookies come in packs of two. To keep the cost and calorie count right where you want it, set aside the second treat for later.
Stretch Island All Natural Fruit Strips
Cost: $0.59 per strip
This snack is perfect for kids of all ages—yes, your inner child counts! While Fruit Roll-Ups are loaded with corn syrup, chemicals, and artificial dyes, Stretch Island's take on the snack contains no added sugars and is made solely from a blend of wholesome fruit purees. And bonus: It has just 45 calories and 7 grams of sugar a pop! There’s no question, this snack is the clear winner in our eyes.
KASHI PEANUT BUTTER GRANOLA BARS
Cost: $0.50 per bar (from Walmart)
Whole grains, creamy peanut butter, roasted peanuts and honey join together to create this 140-calorie bar of fiber-filled delight. Unlike the pricier a la carte bars, these guys come in a pack of six, so one well-priced box will last you through the workweek—gotta love that! Oh and speaking of things we’re loving right now, check out these 56 Best Smoothies Recipes for Weight Loss.
SUPEREATS KALE & CHIA CHIPS CHILI LIME
Cost: $1 per 1.5 oz bag (from Vitacost.com)
The main ingredient in this hot and tangy snack is kale, one of the best sources of polyphenols. Not only has the plant-based antioxidant has been shown to boost sexual pleasure by stimulating blood flow below the belt, researchers speculate it may also promote the growth of friendly bacteria in the gut that aids weight loss.