Can You Eat Healthy on a Budget?

by Patti Croft January 24, 2022

We have made it into the new year, and many people have made more resolutions to get healthier. For some, that can get a little confusing because of finances, careers and the overall busyness of life. Many people want to do better but don’t know how they can.

The good news is that you don’t have to make elaborate meals that cost a fortune. We’ve gotten led to believe that eating a nutritious diet will cost too much, so it’s easier to eat processed junk. Food marketing campaigns thrive on deceiving people. Can you eat healthy foods and stick to a budget? Let’s explore this a little deeper and find out what you can do to start this year off the right way!

1. Make a List

How often have we heard that we shouldn’t go to the grocery store when we feel hungry? If you don’t make a list and stick to it, you can get overcome by all the different foods you see. It’s easy to grab something here and there and think nothing of it. Then you get home and wonder why you bought so many extra items.

A great way to make a list is to think of the foods you eat all the time. Get those and stick to the ones that you know are healthy. Look at your meal plan for the week and get everything you need to make those. Having what you need on hand will keep you from making unexpected trips to the store.

2. Plan Your Meals

We mentioned that sticking to a list of ingredients for weekly meals helps avoid extra store runs. Some people go through the week having no idea what their meals will look like from one day to the next. That can cost a lot of money along the way because you may succumb to eating out several times. Many families spend almost half of their total budget on food. Much of that goes toward eating out. Even fast-food places can cost more than you think.

When you plan your meals, you see the average of how much you will spend. It also helps to have ingredients on hand to make a meal fast without any hassle. If you do not have time to prepare lunch and dinner, that’s okay. You can always take a healthy shake with you for a nutrient-dense meal on the go.

3. Cook at Home

When some people think of meal planning, that means something in a box heated in the microwave. If that describes you, the chances are good that you are eating tons of processed carbohydrates. Many of these come loaded with artificial flavors and colors that can wreck your health.

Many people eat that way because they think they don’t have time to cook. Honestly, we live in a chaotic time. We all have busy lives, and many of us have kids with activities that keep us on the go. We get tired and want to eat something quick.

You can save time and still cook a nutritious meal for your family. Do not sit in a long line at a drive-thru, waiting for something in a sack that is not real food. When you cook at home, you spend less than a third of what you would eating out! The best thing is that you load your body up with tons of vitamins and nutrients it needs. Cooking your meals can be fun and delicious and doesn’t take a lot of fancy equipment.

4. Stock up on Staple Sales

When you need to eat on a budget, always check for sales. Grocery stores run weekly specials, and many times you can find foods to stock in your pantry. There are items you might want to keep stocked all the time. You can find healthy canned goods that you can have available for easy meals.

You can get things like frozen vegetables, tomatoes, and fish. These items are not only healthy but can last a long time. You won’t have to worry about them expiring before you can eat them.

Look for deals on eggs. Organic is best, but if you cannot afford that, get the best you can. There are many different brands, and some are inexpensive. Eggs are nutrient-dense and can get used in many recipes but are also great on their own. You can also buy frozen berries to make a smoothie. Frozen fruit may cost less than fresh, but it still has tons of vitamins and will last a long time. You can add some collagen for an extra health boost.

5. Make Some Swaps

We often hear how we need to eat organic, grass-fed meats. That is true, but not all of us can afford that. So find a local farmer or farmers market where you can try getting a quarter of a cow.  This allows you to get better quality (no hormones, no anti-biotics), without the price that grocery stores charge for organic. 

Also, swap out proteins. Steak is incredible, but it can also be pricey. If it costs less to get hamburger meat, get that. As mentioned above, when you find a sale, stock up on items you need. That goes for proteins as well. If chicken is on sale this week, get some to put in the freezer. You can do a ton with it, and you don’t have to buy chicken breasts. Many times, legs and thighs may be more affordable. You can still make healthy meals with that, and it won’t take long to cook.

If you cannot afford probiotic-rich foods, consider taking a supplement. You can find quality probiotics for around a dollar a day, and these are crucial for many people with gut issues. Another way to get probiotic-rich foods for dirt cheap is to make your own fermented foods. 

<<Download the free Fermented Foods in Your Kitchen e-Book>>

6. Learn to Love Leftovers

Some of us are picky eaters. Many people throw away leftovers rather than save them. That wastes a lot of money! When you make large portions, you will have additional meals for the week. That can help your budget and save you time. It removes a lot of stress from meal planning when you know you can warm something healthy up and have it ready in minutes. Getting more of certain foods can be crucial once you find out what nutrients your body needs most. You may be missing out on essential vitamins and minerals that will help you thrive.

7. Shop the Perimeter

By now, you know that the healthiest foods are around the perimeter of the grocery store. Get whole foods that haven’t gotten processed. Many foods that are in their natural form are less expensive. Most food companies won’t tell you this because it could hurt their profits. When foods don’t have to go through processing, they tend to be cheaper per serving.

There are a few items that you can get on the inside aisles. Things like olive and avocado oils have good fats and make incredible salad dressings. They are also healthy cooking oils. Look for sale prices on these. Don’t buy the first bottle you find because often you can get the same quality for a better price.

8. Buy Frozen Foods

Sometimes meal planning calls for foods that may not be in season. Frozen fruits and vegetables last a long time and are very healthy. They may cost less than fresh produce, especially items out of season.

You can get large bags of frozen foods and use them as needed. When you get these quantities, you get more bang for your buck. Since they last a long time, you can use them for many meals, which will save you money. It is also a great way to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet. 

9. Pack a Lunch

Most of us get up in the mornings and feel that we are running as soon as our feet hit the floor. Mornings can get hectic. That is why we must make time to get lunch ready for the day. You can pack a lunch with healthy meats and veggies. You can also alternate that with nuts and yogurt and some healthy cheeses. If you are trying to stick to a low-carb lifestyle, you can make nutritional shakes that support your diet and stick to your budget. These have tons of health benefits and still cost less than eating out every day.

Lunches do not have to get overwhelming or complicated. They also don’t need to cost a fortune. When you don’t pack your lunch, you leave yourself vulnerable to vending machines and fast-food meals that get expensive.

10. Shop Online

You may not always find the best deals at your local grocery store. Shopping online can save you time and money. You don’t have to buy meal delivery services that can cost more than you can spend. Look for items you use all the time and check for discounts and online specials. Many functional medicine doctors offer quality supplements and food items you can trust. You can see a list of ingredients before you buy anything.

Many online stores have specialty items the local stores won’t have. Instead of getting expensive sports drinks loaded with sugar, you can get an electrolyte drink that is healthy and costs less. Electrolytes are crucial for wellness, but you want to get them from reliable sources that don’t use unnecessary ingredients.

Bonus Tips

  • For a nutrient powerhouse, add some fruits and greens powder to a smoothie to get extra servings of superfoods!
  • Buy in bulk!  Consider adding an extra stop to your weekly (or monthly) shopping trips. Bulk stores like Costco or Sams Club carry many natural food items that can keep you eating healthy on a budget.
  • Grow a garden. Even if you don't have a ton of yard space, planting a few tomato seeds in a pot can cost you pennies, but reap tremendous produce.  Growing your own vegetables can be an amazing learning experience, a budget-friendly activity, and provide the most delicious produce you can get.

Cut Out Complication

If you’ve been struggling to eat healthy on a budget, don’t listen to the fake marketing telling you it’s not possible. Big food companies want you to keep eating their processed foods, so they spend billions of dollars making their fake foods look good. They also lose money when you get smart and realize you can eat healthy foods that won’t break the bank.

Eating a nutritious diet on a budget doesn’t have to get complicated. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with all the negativity out there. Once you know better, you can do better. True wellness comes when you give your body what it needs to thrive and remove the things that keep you sick. Tune out the nonsense and get busy planning your healthy transition today. You can do this!

References :

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/19-ways-to-eat-healthy-on-a-budget#The-bottom-line

https://www.valuepenguin.com/how-much-we-spend-food

https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/ag-and-food-statistics-charting-the-essentials/food-availability-and-consumption/

https://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/food-companies-trick-consumers-eating-unhealthy-products-132949611.html

https://extension.usu.edu/nutrition/research/does-healthy-eating-cost-more

https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/how-food-manufacturers-trick-consumers-deceptive-ingredients-lists

https://www.heart.org/en/news/2020/03/27/eating-well-can-benefit-both-your-health-and-your-bank-account

https://theconversation.com/myth-healthy-food-is-more-expensive-than-unhealthy-food-101213

https://plutusfoundation.org/2020/healthy-eating-budget/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24309174/

https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/grocery-store-tour-shopping-the-perimeter

Patti Croft
Patti Croft

Patti Croft is a Certified Health Data Analyst with a thirst for all things natural and holistic. Coupled with her MBA, Patti uses her skill set here at NuVision Health Center to dive into the research. Her expertise is in taking complex medical data and delivering it in a way that readers can understand and implement into their lives.



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