Wondering if it’s possible to eat healthy on a budget?It absolutely is! You just have to know the little shortcuts to keep you within your means.
I often get asked how I am able to keep up with meal planning + sticking to healthy eating week after week. It’s like any habit! The longer you repeat the behavior over + over, the more it just becomes part of your routine + who you are.
Every Sunday morning at 7:00am I sit down + plan our family’s meals for the week. Then, I create a focused grocery list + off to the store I go! I don’t even think about it anymore. My husband knows Sunday mornings I do this + he handles the baby so I can get it all done.
But, meal prepping + creating a grocery list are only 2 small tips.
In today’s post, I am sharing 17 ways to eat healthy on a budget [plus, I am sharing a free grocery list of healthy options for you to download!].
1. COOK YOUR MEALS AT HOME
This is the #1 tip I can give you to eat healthy on a budget! Eating out is so dang expensive + 90% of the stuff out there can be made way healthier if you prepared it yourself.
Anyone can cook + can find the time! It just comes down to you prioritizing that it’s important. You don’t need to make elaborate meals at all. Learn to love batch-cooking simple meals for multiple days + schedule this time in your weekly calendar.
2. PLAN YOUR MEALS IN ADVANCE
Meal planning is also a must-habit you need to create to eat healthy on a budget. I plan my meals an hour before I shop every week to make sure my family has what they need to eat healthy, nutritious meals all week long. You can even do this monthly + plan for all 4 weeks to cut time/thinking!
PRO TIP: I keep a running list in my phone of meals my family loves that are super easy/healthy. I also have a Pinterest board of healthy recipes to get inspiration from.
3. CREATE A FOCUSED GROCERY LIST
Once you have all your meals planned, creating a grocery list is a must. I call it a focused grocery list because you should be only putting things on there you actually need for your recipes/snacks + staples you are out of [spices, olive oil, etc].
I created a focused grocery list that has space for you to quickly list your meals/snacks + build a list of ingredients next to it. The list is broken up into areas of the grocery store for easy planning.
- Click HERE to download your free focused grocery list!
4. STICK TO THE LIST THE BEST YOU CAN
The easiest way to eat healthy on a budget is to do your best to only get those ingredients. Don’t get enamored by the new items, shiny signs, or sale items that seem like suchhhh a good idea. They add up + most are probably not good for you!
I like to use the rule of 5. I allow myself to get up to 5 small things off of the list. BUT, they shouldn’t total more than $15 in food. This is great if you have a little wiggle room. If you don’t, then ditch this idea!
5. BUY YOUR FRUIT + VEGGIES FROZEN
FROZEN? Yes! Most times your fruits + veggies will be $1-2 cheaper than if you bought them fresh. Best part is… they’re more nutritious frozen!
That’s because they’re frozen at the highest point of nutrients. The longer they’re exposed to air, the more nutrients evaporate into the air. So, frozen = cheaper + healthier!
6. BUY IN SEASON OR LOCAL
It’s no secret that fruits/veggies in season are much cheaper. That’s because they’re being made in larger quantities when in season + are cheaper for stores to purchase. So, definitely take advantage + learn to love seasonal produce.
Also, buying local can be a game-changer if you’re looking to save money with produce. A lot of local farms offer up to half the price of stores. Some places even do food shares with other people to lower the cost!
7. PURCHASE WHOLE, REAL FOODS
In general, if you’re looking to eat healthy on a budget you want to focus on getting food in its most natural state. That means steering clear as much as you can from meals, snacks, + sides that are already put together for you for convenience.
For example: buy cheese in a block + shred it yourself vs getting it in a package + all the salad ingredients instead of a ready-made salad.
8. CHOOSE HIGH QUALITY, GENERIC BRANDS
A great way to eat healthy on a budget when food shopping is to not always go for the name brand option. Many times, they up the prices not because of the quality, but because they know people will spend extra for their name.
Most times, the generic brands of food have almost identical ingredients. So, the cheaper makes sense! But, always look at the ingredients list just to make sure. Many times I realize the generic tastes the same—or better!
9. BUY LESS MEAT + CHEAPER PROTEINS
Opt for lower quality meats to eat healthy on a budget. Don’t be afraid of fats! Fat doesn’t make you fat. Calories do. Many fatty, tough meats have tons of nutrition. You just have to cook them right so they taste good!
To save some money, do your best to choose cheaper meats, ones that are on sale [stock up!], or choose other protein options. For example, beans, legumes, tofu, eggs, quinoa…
10. BUY IN BULK WHEN THE PRICE IS RIGHT
Now, this one can be a tricky tip because it could get you in hot water. Be very careful! Buy in bulk:
- for foods that you eat very frequently,
- can store for months without it perishing,
- or things that you can freeze.
DO NOT buy in bulk just because something is on sale + you thinkkkk you might eat it one day. That’s how you can really waste money. Use this tip for staple items only.
11. DON’T GO SHOPPING HUNGRY
When I go food shopping hungry I almost always make rash decisions + end up buying extra things I don’t need [that I crave in the moment]. Usually, it ends up being $10-20 extra for things I don’t really need.
So, I recommend going grocery shopping right after you have a meal or having a quick protein-packed snack right before heading there so your hunger pangs aren’t making decisions for you!
12. LEARN TO LOVE YOUR FREEZER
If you have space, I highly recommend getting an extra freezer! Yes, it costs money for a freezer. But, over time you’ll save because you’ll be able to freeze meats + other foods you find on sale for months at a time.
The freezer is a great option for freezing leftovers you never got to eating + having space for all those bulk-deals you find once in a while.
13. STOP PURCHASING WATER + DRINKS
If you haven’t already, it’s time to buy a reusable water bottle! First of all, it’s better for the environment. Second of all, buying water bottles adds up like crazy over time.
In general, do your best to ditch buying any drinks you don’t absolutely need for dietary/medical reasons. If you’re trying to eat healthier, you should be mainly just have water, coffee, + tea. Spice up your water with a some fruit or lemon/lime juice! Very cheap to do that.
14. PLANT AN HERB GARDEN AT HOME
Herbs + spices [especially fresh ones] can be super expensive at the store. Especially if you’re looking to buy organic.
A simple way to eat healthy on a budget is to plant your own at home. You can even get creative + find ways to grow them indoors during the cold months so you can save year round!
- Related: 12 HEALTHY FOOD SHOPPING TIPS
15. DIY AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
It will require a little extra time each week. But, if you can find it, I highly recommend DIY anything you usually buy pre-made. It’s not only cheaper, but healthier!
Examples: hummus, nut butters, salad dressing, salsa, bread, quiche, salads, etc.
16. CHECK YOUR INVENTORY + STAY ORGANIZED
A common reason people tend to overspend is they buy things they think they need, but already have at home. A simple way to prevent this is to make your list + quickly check your pantry, cabinets, fridge, + freezer before food shopping.
This will require your spaces to be organized! Do your best to go through your items once every 3 months to throw out items that have expired. Get bins + labels to group similar items together for easy grabbing + viewing.
17. CHECK FOR COUPONS + USE A REWARDS CARD
These might seem simple. But, coupons are still a thing! You can find them in your weekly newspaper. But, most coupons you can just get online now at the retailer’s website.
There are also so many apps these days that you can use to find deals here + there. Also, make sure you take advantage of any rewards cards the store is offering + are using credit cards that give you cash back for groceries [my Chase Freedom card does that!].