It isn't all that difficult to eat a healthy diet on a budget, but the biggest question here is not so much about the budget as what constitutes optimum nutrition. What's considered healthy changes all the time. First eggs were evil, now they aren't; same with fat (as long as it's unsaturated); and it is a fairly sure bet that carbs, once sainted, now tainted, will go the same way.
Author Michael Pollan breaks it down into three simple phrases: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. By food, he means real food that your great-grandmother would recognize as food. In other words, food that is a plant or comes from plants, rather than food that is made in a plant. Unfortunately, manufactured food is cheap. Eating nutritious foods may take a bit more time and effort than stuff that comes in a box, but it's better for you and also budget-friendly. Each of these 26 healthy foods and meals will cost about $1 per serving or less.
How are vegetables good for us? Let us count the ways. They do reduce our risk of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, some forms of cancer, and diabetes. They're the best sources of most of the nutrition that we need daily. They're low in fat and calories, and high in fiber. And they are not too expensive, either. A bunch of spinach, for instance, costs a little over a dollar, so does a bag of carrots. In winter, some vegetables can get a bit pricey. However, in their frozen form, they are just as nutritious as fresh.
The biggest issue with vegetables is access for people who live in inner cities or other areas known as "food deserts," where there are few supermarkets or farmers markets nearby. But community gardens and other urban farming facilities are springing up all the time, and increasingly more people are growing their own vegetables -- by far the cheapest way to get them.