The general opinion is that it costs more money to eat healthy than it does to buy a bunch of junk food. Which can be true. But as I said in this post about how being cheap can cost you more money, buying healthy food can be affordable too. You just gotta be strategic about it! 🙂
Your body is amazing – think about all of the wonderful things that it does for you. You have to learn to respect it and treat it as the amazing thing that it is. Buying healthy foods doesn’t have to be challenging or expensive. Just follow along, grasshopper.Buying healthy food can be affordable too. You just gotta be strategic about it! Click To Tweet
Here are some tips for planning healthy meals on a tight budget:
Cook your meals from scratch.
Okay, so realistically, we don’t have time to make every single thing from scratch. But make your meals at home! You could also set aside one day to do batch cooking so you don’t have to spend so much time cooking every night. Just try not to eat out more than once a week.
Make a game plan – er, meal plan.
Before you go to the grocery store, make a meal plan. First, shop your kitchen. Take a look in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry to see what items you already have. You should be able to at least come up with a few meals this way. Building a meal plan around these items can save you a lot of money. If you still need to come up with some meals, then write down some healthy recipes and base your grocery list around them. Try to plan meals that use some of the same basic ingredients so that you can save even more. You can use the worksheets in my Eating Healthy on a Budget workbook, if you’d like – just enter your info into the form at the end of this post! When making your meal plan, remember to think about your schedule and figure out whether you need to find quick and easy recipes! Meal plans are meant to save you time as well as money.
Save money at the grocery store.
There are tons of general ways to save money at the grocery store, just find out which ways are best for you. I could go on and on about how to save money on groceries. But instead, here are some very helpful posts about this topic:
- 15 Ways to Save Money on Groceries
- The Top 5 Smart Ways To Save Money On Food
- What to Buy and When: A Month-to-Month Guide to Sales Cycles
- Best Apps to Save Money on Groceries
- 15+ of the BEST Grocery Budgeting Tips EVER
Try out the store brand organic section.
Brand name organic food can be ridiculously expensive. I usually shop at Kroger, and their “Simple Truth” organic brand is amazing – even though it can still be a little bit pricey. I want to remind you that even if eating organic food seems great, don’t do it if you can’t afford it. No matter what you hear, non-organic produce is still a healthy option. And there’s no reason to buy something that you can’t afford. But if you’re determined to eat organic foods, try out the store brand.
Healthy foods to buy on a tight budget.
Here are some healthy foods that you can buy on a tight budget. Try to plan some of your meals around these and you’ll save a ton of money, while eating well.
– Frozen veggies
– Frozen fruit
– Canned tuna
– Cottage cheese
– Greek yogurt
– Popcorn (the kind you pop yourself!)
Related reading: 13 Tips for Buying Inexpensive Produce (+ an in-season produce chart)
Be sure to plan for snacks too.
Keep quick and healthy snacks around so you’ll be way more likely to choose them over potato chips or candy bars. Spend one day a week meal prepping your snacks for the week. This doesn’t have to be complicated – there are plenty of really easy and healthy snacks to choose from. Here are 5 helpful posts with ideas to get you started:
- 21 Easy Meal Prep Snacks
- Weekly Snack Prep: Healthy and Easy Ideas
- 26 Insanely Good Snacks You Can Make Ahead And Eat All Week
- 9 Packable Nutrient Dense School Snacks (good for adults too!)
- Five 21 Day Fix Snacks
Drink more water.
Drinking nothing but water is ideal, but it’s probably not realistic for some people (I need my coffee!!). So try to at least drink more water than anything else. Water is pretty friggin’ cheap, considering it’s basically free. Well, I used to buy bottled water but now I just drink tap water out of a Brita pitcher. If you do this and cut back on the other drinks that you buy, you’ll be healthier and wealthier. *thumbs up*
DIY your staples.
If you’re like me and you always need ranch dressing around for certain foods, learn how to make a healthy version yourself. This goes for all of your must-have condiments and dressings – and other things too, actually. Not only is this healthier, it can be cheaper too. Just do a quick search for these recipes on Google or Pinterest and you’ll find ’em, I promise!
Re-purpose your leftovers.
Some people actually plan for leftovers in order to save money. If you ever have leftovers but you don’t like the idea of eating leftovers, you can always re-purpose them for dinner or for lunch the next day. Here’s a list of 65 healthy meals you can make from leftovers.
Plant a garden, if you can.
I love gardening – it’s relaxing for me. I know this isn’t realistic for everyone – maybe you don’t have time, or a big enough yard, or something. But if you can, you may want to learn about gardening. This can save you literally so much on money. You’ll basically get all of the veggies (and/or fruits) your heart desires, in exchange for time and patience. Plus, you can learn to can your veggies. And you can make your own spaghetti sauce, tomato juice, pickles, etc.
Some meal ideas.
There are tons of places you can find healthy meal ideas and recipes. You can search on Google or Pinterest. Here are some other places with cheap, healthy recipes:
- Healthy slow cooker recipes
- Healthy budget slow cooker recipes
- 400+ healthy recipes (that won’t break the bank)
- 88 cheap and healthy lunch and dinner recipes
- 35 quick and healthy breakfast ideas for busy people
- 56 cheap and healthy breakfast recipes
7 extra tips:
1. Farmers markets are awesome.
Buy your produce from your local farmer’s market. This can save you a lot of money, help out the environment, and support your local farmers. Plus farmer’s markets are fun! (Or is it just me? *ahem*)
2. Freezers are helpful.
If you notice a sale on a healthy item, go ahead and stock up – as long as you can freeze it. Certain things (like potatoes) don’t freeze well; they’re weird when you cook them after they’ve been frozen.
3. Slow cookers are amazing.
Use a slow cooker to cook at least some of your meals. Not only does this save you a bunch of time, it can save you a bunch of money as well. Slow cooker meals are super easy and they can be super-duper cheap as well.
4. Bad food is okay (sometimes!).
Nobody eats healthy 100% of the time without ever eating one unhealthy thing. If someone tells you that they do – they lyin’. Sometimes we eat fast food, sometimes snack on potato chips, sometimes we eat a candy bar. And it’s okay to do this sometimes; the point is, you can’t eat like this all of the time and expect to be healthy. So don’t beat yourself up for getting a cinnamon roll from that cafe you went to. Just try to do better.
5. Keep a list on your refrigerator.
We keep a list on our refrigerator to keep track of things that we’re out of. This makes things so much easier because you don’t have to sit down and remember everything that you need. When you’re in the kitchen (or wherever) and notice that you’re out of something, just write it on the list.
6. Creating a “staples” list also helps.
Having a list of your staples makes things so much easier too. If there are things that you always buy when you go grocery shopping, just always keep a list of them to save time and energy. 🙂
7. Go-to lists of meals are cool too.
I keep a recipe notebook with all of our favorite recipes in it. Whenever I find a new recipe that we like, I add it to the notebook. This makes meal planning super easy! You know that your family loves all the recipes in the book, so you can just refer back to it if you’re in need of ideas.
Question: Do you have any tips for eating healthy on a budget?
P.S. – Enter your info into the form below + get instant access to this free mini-workbook! 😉