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8 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

eating healthy on a budget

Recently, we have all experienced the additional strain increased grocery prices have put on our wallets. To cut down on costs it can be tempting to sacrifice food quality and feel like we cannot afford nutritious foods. Eating healthy on a budget is quite a challenge.

But fueling your body properly is a priority for feeling your best. Thankfully, with a few tips and some extra planning, we can do what we can to stay on budget while still eating healthy foods!

Incorporate Beans and Whole Grains into Your Diet

Beans and whole grains are a cheap and easy way to get some good nutrients and healthy fiber in your diet. They are super budget-friendly, with a bag of dried beans or brown beans usually costing around 2 dollars. They will give you many servings for meals!

Consider making a bean-centered dish a couple of times a week instead of meat. You can even stretch meats a little further by incorporating beans as additional protein in a dish.

Eat Seasonally for Your Budget

Produce is often better priced when it is in season. Sometimes you can even purchase large amounts from local farmers for a discount. Eating seasonally is also great to encourage diversity in your diet, which is beneficial for digestive health.

Local produce can contain more nutrients since it does not lose nutrients in transit and it is picked when it is ripe and at its most nutritious. With the nutritional value being at its maximum, and transportation costs being lower, this is a key way to eat healthy on a budget.

Prioritize Buying the Dirty Dozen Organic

If buying all organic feels overwhelming and is too hard on your budget, prioritize buying organic produce that matters most. Things like bell peppers, strawberries, apples, pears, celery, and tomatoes are important to prioritize purchasing organic, as they are the most contaminated by pesticides.

You can find a list of the Dirty Dozen here.

Other produce, especially ones with thick skins such as avocados and oranges are not as important to buy organic. These types of produce are known as the Clean 15.

By balancing which produce to buy organic and which you can purchase non-organic, your healthy eating habits won’t hurt your budget so much.

Make Weekly Meal Plans

By planning out your meals for the week and making a grocery list off of those recipes, you can avoid excess or spontaneous spending.

Make a commitment to stick to your list before you head to the store. And when you are there, walk right past that big display of seasonal Little Debbie’s! Both your wallet and your body will thank you.

You can also meal plan with the things you already have in your pantry to use. You can also base your meal planning around the sales flyer of your favorite grocery store.

When planning, anticipate making extra portions of your dinners to freeze or use as lunches during the week. This helps you to eat healthily and stick to your budget by avoiding eating out or buying pricy frozen meals. And it really makes the work you put in to prepare a nutritious meal go the distance!

Purchase Frozen Berries and Veggies

Buying frozen produce can help stretch your grocery budget while still eating healthy. Frozen products are often cheaper than their fresh counterparts when they are out of season.

Producers freeze fruit when it is ripe. This means it contains more nutrients than fruit picked when unripe that has to travel a long distance. Frozen fruit is also more nutritious than fruit the producer has ripened artificially.

This makes frozen berries a great option for smoothies or adding to your oatmeal to still get in antioxidants in the winter. Frozen veggies can also make it convenient to add veggies and nutrients to a meal.

Make Some of Your Own Staples

You can save some money without sacrificing food quality by making some of your own nutritious staples at home. Things such as bone broth, yogurt, sauerkraut, and even baked goods such as bread are cheaper when made at home.

At the grocery store, bone broth can cost from 4-8 dollars per box. But at home, you can easily make a large amount in your crockpot or instant pot using leftover bones and veggie scraps!  

If your lifestyle permits the time, pick up learning how to make a new thing or two. Check out resources like Pinterest for ideas on how to make these staples.

Snack Smarter to Eat Healthy on a Budget

Skip spending a bunch of money on snacks that are processed, high-calorie foods with little nutrients. These snacks often have lots of unhealthy additives and inflammatory oils, too.

Instead, eat whole foods that you prep for the week. Cut up veggies such as carrots and bell peppers with some hummus to make cheap, nutritious snacks.

Plan ahead. Instead of looking towards the vending machine, try bringing bags of nuts, homemade trail mix, or cut-up fruit with you to work.

You could even pre-portion a tub of Greek yogurt into little jars and top it with fruit and honey. This will save lots of money over the pricy, sugar-laden yogurt cups.

Shop at Discount and Wholesale Stores

Sometimes it can be helpful to check out a discount grocery store, such as Aldi or Lidl, and get as much as you can from that store. Then only get whatever specialty items that you still need from a larger grocery store or specialty health food store. This will help you find healthy food to eat while sticking to your budget.

Wholesale stores such as Costco or Sam’s Club also have great prices on products that you buy in bulk. Costco has been getting lots of healthy items in the last few years at a great price compared to high-end grocery stores and health food stores.

Some of my favorites to stock up on are chia seeds, nuts, frozen berries, bone broth, almond flour, avocado oil, grassfed butter, canned tuna, and cheeses. I also like to buy value packs of meat and separate them out to freeze some for later on.

Final Thoughts on Eating Healthy on a Budget  

I hope you find these tips helpful. I know it is a challenging time for everyone right now. We are all doing our best to keep ourselves and our families nourished without breaking the bank.

Take what works best for you and your individual circumstances and needs. Try to incorporate positive habits slowly. And give yourself grace as creating healthy habits and good money habits can be a difficult but very rewarding process.

Shannon Stephens from Health Whipped Up is the author of this guest article. She is training to be a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner so she can better pursue her passion to help people find nourishment amidst their busy lives. She is also a mom to an adorable toddler boy. When she’s not chasing after him, you can find her in the kitchen baking gluten-free sourdough goodies, whipping up healthy meals, enjoying some quiet yoga, or learning more about gut health!

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