Eating Healthy on a Budget

By Richard Asa @RickAsa
July 05, 2017

Planning your grocery list and buying in bulk are just two ways to accomplish eating healthy on a budget. Learn about more ways to eat healthy cheap.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to eat healthy if you follow some time-honored tips.

The biggest mistake you might make is assuming that healthy food is expensive food. Eating healthy on a budget is possible, according to a recent study, and cheaper food may be just as good for you.

“We often ask how consumers process information about what they should eat,” says Kelly Haws, a professor of marketing at Vanderbilt University and co-author of the study. “The truth is, we give them a ton of information — and they don’t process it all.”


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Buying organic produce is another way to eat healthy, but a Consumer Reports investigation found that some non-organic food is very in low pesticides — and cheaper. Such foods include avocados, onions, and corn.

But even if you buy organic, you can save money by buying store-brand organic and buying healthy food in bulk.

Don’t by tempted into buying processed foods because they say “healthy” or “natural” on the package. Look, instead, for a short ingredient list, which usually means foods are less processed and more wholesome.

The second biggest mistake you might make is how you use the food you buy. On average, a family of four throws out $1,500 of food in a year. You can save money by simply thinking about what you’re going to buy and how you’re going to use it.

Buying in-season produce means you’ll eat cheaper, fresher fruits and vegetables. Save overripe fruits and vegetables in the freezer, and use them later for smoothies or breads. Imperfect vegetables are great for making soups says.

Other clever ways for eating healthy on a budget include planning your meals, sticking to your grocery list, cooking at home, cooking large portions and using the leftovers, not shopping when you’re hungry, buying whole foods, buying generic brands, and avoiding junk food.

More tips include stocking up on sales, buying cheaper cuts of meat, replacing meat with other proteins, buying frozen fruits and vegetables, and packing your own lunch.

Start collecting coupons, and take advantage of money-saving downloadable apps for your smartphone.

If it’s the right season and you have the space, grow your own produce. It will not only be cheaper but also taste better and be more satisfying on your plate.

Another way to save money in the big picture is to join a community supported agriculture group, or a CSA. You buy a share of a local farm’s produce up front and get a box every week. You save money only if you eat everything in the box, however. If you’re single, you might be able to get a half share or split a full share with a friend.

A similar approach is to join a food co-op. It’s a great way to get fresh food and support your community. If you do join a co-op, make sure it's convenient, or you might end up spending more for your food if the co-op is not close to home.

Try ethnic markets for some deals. Many people think of them as specialty stores, but they stock items in bulk that serve their customer base.

If you just don't have the money and are finding it hard to put healthy food on the table, check out the Supplemental Nutrition Food Program (or SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. It’ll help you buy items such as fruit, vegetables, bread, cereal, meat, fish, poultry and milk.

Also, visit your local farmer’s markets. They are sprouting up all over, supplying locally grown produce you can buy.

If you have children under 5, check out the Women, Infants, and Children (or WIC) program. WIC provides supplemental foods to low-income pregnant, breast-feeding, and postpartum women, and for infants and children up to age 5.

Eating healthy on a budget is very possible. You just need a plan, some common sense, and know where to go.


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April 09, 2020

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN