There is a common misconception that it is not possible to eat healthy on a budget. However, that is not necessarily true. How expensive or affordable healthy eating is, depends on how you implement it. If you tend to go for highly processed, exotic, or trendy foods, then it is likely that your grocery bill will be high. These products are often more costly and, although they are frequently marketed as such, a lot of the times they are not the best choice for your health either.
However, if your diet is mostly made up of unprocessed, local, and seasonal products, then eating healthy is possible on any budget. Potatoes, whole grains, dried legumes, rice, bananas, oats, and frozen fruits and veggies are some of the healthiest and cheapest foods, and you can make wholesome, tasty meals with them.
So in this post, we’ll take a look at 10 super easy ways to eat healthy on a budget that will surely help save you money.
Let’s get started!Summary: How expensive or affordable healthy eating is, depends on how you implement it. If your diet is mostly made up of unprocessed, local, and seasonal products, then eating healthy is possible on any budget. Potatoes, whole grains, dried legumes, rice, bananas, oats, and frozen fruits and veggies are some of the healthiest and cheapest foods available .
- 1. Buy legumes and beans dried instead of canned
- 2. Buy fruits and veggies frozen instead of fresh
- 3. Enjoy home-cooked meals instead of going out to eat
- 4. Always carry a piece of fruit or a homemade snack with you
- 5. Take advantage of sales
- 6. Buy in bulk
- 7. Plant a garden
- 8. Go shopping shortly before closing time
- 9. Write a shopping list and (strictly) stick with it
- 10. Avoid brand-name products
- Here's a quick summary of how to eat healthy on a budget
1. Buy legumes and beans dried instead of canned
Sure, dried legumes require a little more effort (they have to be soaked and cooked), but ultimately will save you so much money. Plus, you can easily save time by batch cooking larger quantities and then freezing them in smaller portions.
2. Buy fruits and veggies frozen instead of fresh
From a financial perspective, frozen fruits and vegetables are fantastic! They are super affordable, and you are not paying for parts of the plants that are inedible. (So, when you buy frozen pineapple, it is already peeled and had its stem removed.)
Moreover, you save time because the product is already washed and ready for use.
Every once in a while, seasonal local produce may be cheaper fresh than frozen. In that case, you can purchase fresh food in larger quantities and freeze it yourself.
Great about frozen fruits and veggies is also that they retain nutrients well since they are frozen right after being harvested. Fresh foods (when not local or in season) may lose nutrients during transportation and storage.
3. Enjoy home-cooked meals instead of going out to eat
This tip can save you tremendous amounts of money. Preparing your meals is so much more affordable than eating out. Plus, you always know what is in your food (and what is not). Also, don’t worry, there are plenty of recipes that are easy to make and require little time.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
4. Always carry a piece of fruit or a homemade snack with you
When you are out and about, it can easily happen that a wave of hunger strikes you, which can make it very tempting to buy something on impulse or worse, make you hangry! 😉
Therefore, it is a good idea to always carry a snack with you. Not only will this save you money, but it is also beneficial for your health because -let’s be real- when you’re at a store hungry, chances are you’ll opt for the not-so-healthy choices.
5. Take advantage of sales
Stores have sales going on all the time. These can save you lots of money when used wisely (aka don’t buy something you don’t need just because it is on sale).
Sales are ideal for storage-friendly items that you use all the time, like rice and legumes, as well as fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. When the price of these items is reduced, you can purchase them in larger quantities and keep them stored in your home. This way, you don’t ever have to pay the full price.
If you want to be a super saver, you can plan your meals according to what is on sale. If zucchinis are on sale this week, cook a zucchini meal, like zoodles.
6. Buy in bulk
Usually, the more you buy, the lower the price. So choose the largest size available. If available to you, buying staples in bulk is another great way to save some cash. Again this tip is excellent for storage-friendly items or products you can freeze.
If you have the opportunity to buy wholesale, definitely take advantage of that too because those stores offer extra-large packages or bulk dispensers. Moreover, wholesale stores may also have great deals on other foods like fruits and veggies, so be sure to check those out as well.
7. Plant a garden
Growing your food has many advantages. It is cheaper, healthier, and fresher (thus more nutritious). Plus, gardening is great for the body and the soul.
Naturally, not everyone has space or time to put in the work for a big garden. But even a few plants on the balcony or a small garden can make a big difference that is health-promoting and rewarding.
Here's a great guide for starting your garden.
8. Go shopping shortly before closing time
No, I don’t mean running into the store 2 minutes before it closes🤦🏻♀️. However, often fruits, vegetables, and baked goods are available at a reduced price in the hour(s) before the store closes.
Thus, adapting your shopping routine may help save some additional cash. Although the applicability of this tip always depends on the store and how busy it is. And in the US, where many stores are open 24/7, this tip may not be relevant at all.
9. Write a shopping list and (strictly) stick with it
Impulse buys can really drive up your expenses. Maybe it is just a dollar or two here and there, but that adds up quickly, making it harder to eat healthy on a budget.
So, before you go shopping, write down a list of everything you need and stay determined to only buy what is on that list. This will prevent you from buying things you may want but don’t actually need.
Moreover, you will never come home from the store again, realizing that you forgot to grab something important.
10. Avoid brand-name products
It is no secret that food from popular brands often cost a lot more than store brand alternatives, even though the quality is usually very similar.
Actually, in Consumer reports tests, it is not uncommon that store brands get better ratings than the more expensive ones. So, give no-name brands a try, and if you like them make the switch.
Alright, you just learned 10 quick and easy tips that will help you eat healthy on a budget. Start implementing them and you’ll be sure to reduce your expenses. I know applying them has helped me save a lot and made eating plant-based on a budget so much easier 😌.
Here's a quick summary of how to eat healthy on a budget
What your favorite way to save money when you shop for groceries?