Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

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These are tough times for many people, especially for those who were already struggling when things weren’t so bad. The cost of living continues to rise, and maintaining a healthy diet on a budget can sometimes seem more and more challenging.

But don’t be fooled! Eating healthy is not complicated, and it doesn’t require lots of money like some people may think. With strategic planning, mindful choices, and a little discipline, you can nourish yourself and your family without breaking the bank. Here are practical tips on how to eat healthy and well while on a budget.

Plan Your Meals and Recipes

This can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. Some people are encouraged by a detailed list of meals that require a lot of effort to make, cook, or bake. Other people get stressed out just from the thought of meal planning. Figure out what works for you. Are you an amateur chef motivated by a challenge? Or are you a food minimalist who wants to eat and move on with the day?

At the very least, it’s good to just jot down your most common meals and then base your  shopping list around that. The key is to realistically examine what you and your household actually eat and then stick to that.

If you’re a recipe connoisseur, opt for recipes that have a lot of ingredients in common. For instance, you have do a lot of different things with chicken or rice. Also consider exploring recipes that freeze well, like soups and casseroles. You can make a large batch of these types of meals and then have then stretch throughout the week. This can save money and especially reduce time spent in the kitchen preparing meals.

Shop Smart

After planning your meals, create a shopping list with the required ingredients. Stick to the list to avoid impulse buys and extra trips to the grocery store. If you shop at a store that offers a bulk section, see if you get any items from for a cheaper price. In most cases, the bulk section will be cheaper per ounce or pound than packaged items. This is especially helpful for items like nuts, beans, and grains.

Eat a snack or even a full-blown meal before shopping to curb impulsive purchases. Shopping on an empty stomach can make everything look tempting, leading to unnecessary expenses. For this same reason, it can be effective to shop with someone, a friend, a spouse, a roommate, a child, a parent, anybody who can help you regain your self-control before you make a purchase that you’ll later regret.

When it comes to convenience foods, just say no! Steer clear of most prepackaged items. They’re usually pricier per ounce or pound and less nutritious than the delicious things you can make yourself. This includes avoiding sodas, chips, and sugary cereals.

Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables can be healthy, cost-effective alternatives to fresh produce if you don’t have access to cheap produce. They last longer (obviously), which allows you to stock up if you find a good deal.

Buy Store Brands

Consider opting for generic or store brand items, especially for things like frozen or canned fruits and vegetables, canned olives, and canned tomatoes. This could potentially save you 20% to 30%.

Shop at Outlet Stores

If you have an outlet store in your area, check it out. These are stores that sell surplus or damaged items from other stores. If you’re lucky, you might find some of your staples at a steep discount. But just like before, don’t shop hungry, and take someone with you! Outlet stores are full of random, cheap products that can tempt you. Keep your shopping restrained to what you normally consume.

Try Growing a Garden

If circumstances permit, it’s never a bad idea to grow your own fruits and vegetables. Even without a yard, you can cultivate herbs, fruits, and vegetables in pots on a patio or a balcony. Staple produce items like tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans aren’t too difficult to grow. Homegrown produce not only saves money but also provides a continual supply of fresh ingredients. Eating food you grew yourself also adds a lot of satisfaction to your meals!

Exercise Discipline and Enjoy Simplicity

This isn’t what many people want to hear, but it’s true: exercise discipline. You might just have to go without some of your favorite food items for a while, especially prepackaged foods and treats. Being on a tight budget can actually be a great opportunity to drop some unhealthy habits and embrace simplicity!

And here’s a fun fact: It’s okay to eat the same thing multiple days in a row! It’s okay to eat the same thing for breakfast every day, or lunch or dinner. It’s even okay to eat the same thing two meals in a row! Fight the urge to feel like you need to diversify your diet. Unless you have specific medical needs, try not to overthink your eating habits.

Eating healthy on a budget is absolutely doable and within your reach. It might take a little stretching and a shift in how you see your diet, but that’s okay!