How to Eat Healthy on a Budget

  • Copy by: Abigail Keeso
  • Photography By: LeChing Vuong

If you’ve ever said, “Eating healthy is too expensive!” you definitely aren’t alone. Healthy options always seem to cost more and when you are struggling to make ends meet, even $1 can make a big difference. But the cost of food should not have to come in between you and your health. So here is how to eat healthy while saving your hard earned cash.

Make a weekly meal plan and grocery list.

First thing’s first. Set aside time each week to build a meal plan and grocery list. This will ensure you only buy what you need and aren’t spending money on things that will go to waste. But before you get to work with meal planning…

Look for sales and know what is in season.

Hit up the website of your favorite grocery store to see what’s on sale this week so you can plan your meals accordingly. Consider what’s in season and buy local to reduce cost. If carrots are on sale, plan to make a Creamy Carrot Soup. If apples are on sale, make Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats.

Don’t be afraid of mark downs.

Many grocery stores will have a dedicated area for foods that are discounted as they approach their expiration date. Don’t be afraid of these products! If you are going to freeze or eat it within the next few days, keep that $5 in your pocket and take the deal!

Eat non-animal sources of protein.

Meat can be expensive so stick with non-animal sources of protein like chickpeas, lentils, and beans. They can be used in so many different delicious ways and are super affordable!

Buy nuts, seeds, and spices in bulk.

It’s no secret that you get more bang for your buck when you buy ingredients in bulk. Most grocery stores have a section for bulk foods where you can buy as little or as much as you want.

Purchase frozen fruits and vegetables.

Many fruits and vegetables can be pricey, especially if they are out of season. So instead of buying fresh, buy frozen. Not only is it cheaper, but also if you don’t use it up that week you don’t have to worry about it going bad.

Never underestimate the power of the freezer.

Your freezer might just be the most under-estimated, under-appreciated, and overlooked appliance in your kitchen. Freeze produce before it goes bad—and any leftovers like soup, burgers, or even salad dressings.

Repurpose leftovers and have proper storage containers on hand.

STOP! Do not throw those leftovers in the garbage. Toss them into a container and eat them tomorrow. Get creative with leftovers because let’s be real, eating soggy stir fry isn’t so awesome. Repurpose leftovers by rolling them into a wrap, turning them into a salad, or throwing them into a soup. Use proper storage containers to make leftovers last longer. Mason jars are affordable, portable, and have a great seal to preserve freshness.

Stop buying expensive drinks.

One of the easiest ways to improve your health and save a ton of money is by sticking with drinking water (instead of expensive sugary drinks). Infuse water with berries, melon, cucumber, lemon, or mint to add some delicious flavor.

Stay organized and avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery store.

If you’re smart with meal planning and grocery shopping, you should only need to visit the supermarket once, maybe twice a week. Before you make another trip to the store, ask yourself: Is it really necessary? Keep your pantry, cupboards, fridge, and freezer organized so you know exactly what you have on hand and thus avoid buying more stuff you don’t need. Again, mason jars are great for pantry organization!

What are your best tricks for eating healthy on a budget? Share your tips with us in the comments below! 

  • NattilyDressed

    Solid suggestions! Would love to see some sample (vegan) meal plans with a budget and shopping list. I always have a hard time finding recipes online then translating that into a shopping list because I may only need part of something then it goes bad before I can use it in something else.

    • I can totally relate to this. I used to find I was throwing out food all the time, and that’s why I got into meal planning. I find it helps to plan to make recipes using the same core ingredient. Like if cabbage is on sale, I’ll plan on making a few different cabbage recipes that week.

  • Kristin Otto

    These are great suggestions! I have learned though that shopping for just 2 days or so, and heading to the store multiple times per week, helps me save the most. That way I make sure all of the leftovers are eaten before I cook a whole new meal! Plus this saves me when plans change (which tends to happen at least once per week)!

    • That works too! Especially when you are living alone and cooking for one.

      • Kristin Otto

        I actually think it’s best with 2! I never know how much my husband will eat, how much of the leftovers he will eat, etc. When it was just me I feel I could gauge a little better how much I would be eating 🙂

  • Love these tips! I’ve recently started utilizing my freezer more and it’s such a game changer! Plus, it means you always have the ingredients for a smoothie bowl in the morning 🙂
    xo,
    Lauren | http://www.lakeshorelady.com/

  • HotPotato

    Great post! I tend to be terrible with buying snacks out of convenience. I’ve found that buying healthy snacks in bulk and just throwing them in my bag in the morning keeps me from wasting money on unhealthy snacks.

  • Great ideas! Love the idea of buying in bulk that which you use a lot of and won’t go bad!

  • Maria Browne

    When something is on sale buy and bulk cook and then freeze half. Also spend time cooking rather than using any prepared foods as it is healthier and cheaper. You can even freeze homemade cookies, oat and nut bars, chilli, spaghetti sauce etc,,, Finally roast an extra large chicken at the beginning of the week then use shredded chicken in wraps, sandwiches, soups, curries, tacos, salads and stir fries for the week.