So, you know you want to eat more healthy. But you’re on a budget. Is it even possible to eat healthy foods while sticking to a budget? Is it possible to not spend a fortune each week on groceries? I’m here to tell you that it definitely is possible! Keep reading for my 12 tips for healthy eating on a budget.
Poor nutrition is responsible for so many chronic diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and more. Nourishing your body well can absolutely reverse disease, prevent disease, and help you live a longer, more vibrant life!
Moms are normally the ones responsible for the grocery shopping and cooking in the home. That’s an important job. What we’re feeding our kids while they’re young can impact them for the rest of their lives (I know – dramatic! But so true!). So, it’s important – for preventing disease, creating healthy habits, promoting brain health, and more – to feed our families healthy foods.
12 Tips for Healthy Eating on a Budget
1. Consider Health Care Costs
I understand completely the dilemma. I mean, you can go to Cookout and get hot dogs and fries for the family for around $10. You probably can’t cook a healthy meal for that same price, right? That’s usually right. Cooking healthy meals for the family can definitely cost more than $10. But one thing to consider when you are comparing meals, is the added expense of health care when you’re eating tons of unhealthy foods.
Just think – whenever you take a bite of food, you’re either feeding disease or you’re feeding health. Eating unhealthy, processed foods daily can have a huge impact on your health. It can lead to diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer, and more. And those diseases cost money to treat.
The amount of money that is spent on health care in America is absurd! The United States spends more in health care than any other country, but we are definitely not the healthiest nation.
Avoid having to pay for blood pressure meds, anti-inflammatory meds, cancer treatments, gastric bypass surgery, and more by eating healthy foods and putting healthy habits in place.
You have to eat anyways. It’s not an ADDED expense, like health care costs to treat disease. So why not switch to buying real, whole, healthy foods? Keep reading to see how to keep those grocery bills down.
2. Meal Plan
I’ve shared about this one before here. Meal planning is essential to sticking to both healthy eating and your budget! When you don’t plan your meals, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Like Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.”
So, make a list of what you plan on cooking for dinner each night of the week, as well as what you’ll fix for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. Yes, even snacks should be planned! Here’s some great ideas for heathy snacks.
Use my weekly meal menu planning printables to help you with that!
3. Make a List and Stick to It
Once you have your meals planned, make a grocery list with all the ingredients you’ll need for them. Also list out any extra pantry staples you’ll need and extra fruit, veggies, nuts, etc. for snacks.
Either take your list in the grocery store with you or use it when you order your groceries on your grocery store app (YAY for convenience!). Then STICK TO IT. This is where groceries can get expensive. You roam through the aisles and find more and more things you “need.” Or, if you’re shopping with your kids, they find tons of extra things they “need.”
Tell yourself, if it’s not on the list, I don’t need it. You already took the time to plan out your meals and make your grocery list. So stick to it. Trust the list!
One way to help with that, is by ordering your groceries online. I order through Harris Teeter, drive up to the curb to pick them up, and drive on home. No need to go in the store; so no temptation to buy extra things I don’t need.
4. Focus on Real, Whole Foods
Where healthy eating can get expensive is when you buy “healthy” packaged foods. I put healthy in quotes because foods that are packaged in a bag or box with a list of ingredients are never gonna be as healthy as real, whole foods, no matter what the box says on it.
It might say “sugar-free,” “gluten-free,” low fat,” or “low calorie” on the package. But guess what else is low calorie – blueberries. A dessert that’s sugar free? How about ice cream made with frozen bananas. It’s not totally sugar free. But it’s natural sugar which is SOOOOO much healthier than artificial sweeteners (like aspartame) that are in most “sugar-free” foods and drinks. And don’t even get me started on “low fat.” Fat is a macronutrient. That means our body NEEDS it to survive. Our brain is literally made almost entirely of fat.
Don’t get me wrong. There are definitely packaged foods that are healthier alternatives. I LOVE Justin’s Almond Butter Cups. They’re a much cleaner version of Reese’s. But they’re a treat that I seldomly get. Most healthier packaged foods are gonna cost more than conventional ones.
So, instead, make it simple. Choose real, whole foods. Those are foods with one single ingredient. Bell peppers. Chicken. Apples. Carrots. Walnuts. Foods that are made by God from a plant, not made in a plant.
5. Supplement Meat with Plant-Based Protein
I’m definitely not a vegan. Plants are wonderful and are full of nutrition. But so is meat. Meat has some nutrient content that you can’t get in plants. It contains B vitamins, Vitamin D3, heme iron, and much more protein than you can get from plants. So, I’m all for eating meat that is good quality and raised in good, natural conditions.
But, you don’t have to eat meat for every meal. The cost of meat can really add up!
Thankfully, there are plenty of plants you can get your protein from. Again, they’re not as high in protein as meat and they’re not all complete proteins. But they’ve still got some at a lower price point than you can get from quality meat.
So, help your budget out and have meatless Mondays. Or, add lentils and beans to your spaghetti sauce instead of ground beef. Make a smoothie with hemp seeds, almonds, and chia seeds included.
Or instead of substituting plants for meat, you can add plant sources of protein to the meat to stretch it further. For steak stir fry, use a half pound of steak instead of a whole pound. Then bump up the protein by adding broccoli, quinoa, and mushrooms.
6. Use a Meat Delivery Service
So eating a little less meat can help your budget out, but so can using a meat delivery service like Butcher Box.
When you’re switching to healthier eating, it is important to choose higher quality meat that aren’t filled with antibiotics and added hormones. But when you’re shopping in most grocery stores for quality meat, it can get very expensive. I’ve been ordering meat from Butcher Box for a few years now, and it has for sure saved me money!
You choose the size box that you want – Classic with 9-14 lbs. of meat or Big with 18-26 lbs. Then you choose the cuts of meat you want to include each month. It is a subscription, but you choose when you want to receive boxes. You can always change the date. You aren’t billed each month – just when you get a box.
Besides having amazing quality meat, including grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken, wild caught salmon, and heritage breed pork, the great thing about Butcher Box is they always have deals!
Right now, new members get 2 lbs. of ground beef for FREE for life. So it will automatically be added to every box of meat you get from them. Even current members can add on these great deals. I currently get 2 lbs of ground beef, 3 lbs. chicken wings, and 1 pack of bacon FREE in every box I get!
The price per pound depends on the cuts that I choose. But I’ve figured I spend about $6/lb total on my meat. Which for great quality meat – that’s an excellent deal! That’s including steak, salmon, whole chicken, everything! At my grocery store wild caught salmon is normally $15/lb. So I will take $6 any day!
Here’s a simple way to save some $$$. Eat out less and cook your meals at home. I know, it’s not as convenient. And sometimes I do opt for convenient. But when I go out, I still choose healthier options, like Core Life or Mezeh. But if budget-friendly & healthy is what you’re going for – it’s always best to eat in.
When my family goes out to eat, we spend around $40. And that’s not at fancy restaurants. That’s healthier, but still somewhat fast restaurants.
I can make a meal at home for much less than that.
For example my apple chutney pork chops with roasted Brussel Sprouts costs about $20 to make (where I grocery shop anyways).
When you eat out you’re paying extra for convenience. It is nice having someone else cook for you and clean up the dishes for you! I’m all about having a break from cooking once a week. But to help your budget and your diet, cook most meals in.
To help make it more convenient and to save time, do some meal prep on the weekends. You can also get your hubby or kids to help you cook. That leads to more family togetherness + less time to cook meals! Win, win!
8. Grow a Garden
Another way to save some money on healthy food is by growing it yourself! This is the BEST way to get your food! When you grow your food yourself, you are in control. You can grow your food organically and make sure to not load it up with pesticides and herbicides. And you’ll be able to pick and eat it when it’s most fresh.
Grow a garden with whatever space you have available. Plant a big in-ground garden if you have lots of room. If you’re low on space, make a few raised beds or even grow a few plants in individual containers. Do what you are able to with your space.
Pick your favorite veggies or fruits and grow them from seeds, or, if you don’t have as much of a green thumb (like me!), plant seedlings.
You can cut up and freeze the produce you grow, can it, or use it to make salsa, zucchini bread, pickles, etc. and freeze them for later. That way you can eat off your garden and save money throughout the rest of the year, not just during the summer months.
9. Raise Your Own Chickens
I know this one’s not for everyone, but it is one way to save money on healthy food that you may be able to do. Good quality eggs that come from pasture-raised chickens can be expensive. I’ve seen them around $6/dozen. So if you eat a lot of eggs, try your hand at chicken-raising.
We got our own chickens two years ago, and it’s not as hard as you might think.
Check your city ordinances or your HOA with this. But if you’re able to, this is a great idea! You can get a small, ready-to-put-together coop like this one and pick up a few chickens from Tractor Supply, a local farm store or farmer’s market, or even Facebook Marketplace. The coop I linked can hold 4 chickens.
Figure out how many eggs your household eats in a week and how many chickens you’ll need to produce that many eggs. We currently have two hens, and we’re a little low on the egg-production. We’ll be buying a few more hens soon!
To help keep your eggs high-quality, let your chickens out of the coop to get some Vitamin D and eat some bugs every once in a while. The more sunlight your chickens can get, the more Vitamin D in their eggs!
Not only is chicken-raising fun, but it also saves money on eggs each week.
10. Get Creative with Leftovers
The next healthy eating on a budget tip for you is to eat leftovers! But they don’t have to be boring, and they don’t have to be the same as they were the first time around. Get creative with them!
Mix and match your leftovers or add to them. If you had roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, and roasted broccoli for dinner, use them to make a power bowl the next day for lunch. Shred some chicken and cook some quinoa or black beans. Add your sweet potatoes, broccoli, some fresh spinach, and a sauce or salsa. Voila! A new, healthy meal using leftovers you already have!
You can also throw leftover meat or veggies on a salad, in a stir-fry, or in a soup (with some nutritious bone broth!).
11. Drink Water
One easy way to save some money is by switching what you’re drinking to water. Your kids don’t need to drink juice or even milk (as long as they’re getting enough calcium from foods like spinach, kale, and broccoli). Juice, sweet tea, soda, and alcohol are added expenses, and they aren’t healthy drinks anyways. Switch to drinking mainly water. It has zero calories, no harmful chemicals (as long as it’s filtered), and no sugar.
What it does have is tons of benefits, like better skin, better mood, less headaches, and more energy. Read this post for more on why water is important and tips for getting enough water.
12. Choose Frozen
When you shop for your produce, fresh, organic, local fruits and veggies are BEST. But, they can have a tendency to go bad before you eat them and put a damper on the budget. To save some food waste and some money, buy frozen.
Another great thing about frozen produce, is that it is frozen at the peak of freshness. So it’s still full of great nutrition – almost just as nutrient-dense as fresh produce. But it’s usually cut up and more convenient (yay for convenience too!) and it’s usually cheaper than the fresh version.
I currently can get a 12 oz bag of frozen green beans from my grocery store for $1.19. The same amount of fresh green beans costs $2.50. Over a dollar savings for frozen! Yes, please!
So let’s get this straight. Frozen produce is:
✅Still healthy and nutrtious
Of course, you can’t use frozen veggies for every meal. You can’t make a salad with frozen spinach. But frozen veggies work great when you’re cooking them – sautéing, steaming, or roasting. Frozen fruit is great in smoothies or overnight oats.
Just be sure when you’re choosing produce that the you check the ingredients first. Choose ones that have “green beans” or “strawberries” as the ONLY INGREDIENT. Don’t get ones loaded with salt and sauces. That’s when it gets NOT as healthy as fresh produce.
I hope these healthy eating on a budget tips were helpful to you! Let me know if you apply them and whether they work for you or not. Which tip will you start with today?