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Nutrition, Everyday Support

Dear Iris: Budget-Friendly Foods

Dear Iris,

What foods can you suggest that don’t cost so much but are still good to eat when you have cancer? I’m told to eat a lot of fresh vegetables, fruits, and foods like salmon, but all that stuff is so expensive. What’s worse is when I do spend money on those foods and then they rot in my fridge. Any ideas for more affordable foods that still have an anti-cancer benefit?


Dear D,

Thank you for reaching out with such an important question. Many people going through cancer treatment face the challenge of balancing the high cost of food with wanting to buy the most nutritious food they can. To help with this, here are some budget-friendly foods that tend to cost less and stay fresh longer:

  • Legumes: All types of beans, lentils, and chickpeas (dried or canned) are usually more affordable and richer in fiber and protein. Legumes are perfect for meal bases. You can also roast chickpeas for a great crunchy snack.  

  • Frozen Produce: Frozen vegetables and fruits can also be less expensive and last longer than fresh. Frozen produce also has high nutrient content since it’s picked and frozen when it’s at peak ripeness. Frozen produce works well for smoothies, soups, and stir-fries.  

  • Canned Fish: Canned salmon, sardines, and mackerel offer a more affordable alternative to fresh fish while still providing beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. 

  • And when you do have fresh produce that’s starting to turn, check out Food Waste Feast. This food blog and related cooked, Perfectly Good Food,” provide fabulous recipes to cut down on food waste

These are just a few options. For more ideas, please check out our article on "Top Cost-Effective Food Choices."

By incorporating some of these affordable and nutritious options, you can hopefully eat more of what you enjoy while spending less. If you have more questions or need further assistance, feel free to schedule a session with our Dietitian/Nutritionists.

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Stephanie Meyers, MS, RD, LDN

Senior Registered Dietitian and Licensed Nutritionist

Iris Oncology

Stephanie Meyers is a Senior Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist at Iris Oncology with 25 years of experience delivering compassionate and evidence-based nutrition care to those affected by cancer. She’s the former Nutrition Manager at The Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies and Healthy Living at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and presents seminars worldwide on mindful eating, family nutrition, and cancer survivorship. Stephanie is also the author of, End the Mealtime Meltdown: Using The Table Talk Method to Free Your Family From Daily Food Struggles and Picky Eating and the founder of Families Eating Well, a nutrition practice helping parents coach healthy eating skills in kids. 

This article meets Iris standards for medical accuracy. It has been fact-checked by the Iris Clinical Editorial Board, our team of oncology experts who ensure that the content is evidence based and up to date. The Iris Clinical Editorial Board includes board-certified oncologists and pharmacists, psychologists, advanced practice providers, licensed clinical social workers, oncology-certified nurses, and dietitians.