How to Eat Healthy on a Budget

Are you trying to eat healthy and finding it can be very expensive? You’re not alone.

When you change your diet from processed and packaged foods to fresh and organic, the food budget inevitably goes up.

So how do you get your fruits, vegetables, and meats while still having money for rent?

Here are my go-to suggestions:

Be realistic with your current budget and prioritize your grocery expenses.

Somewhere along the line, Americans decided to make eating the last thing we worry about spending money on. It also commonly takes a cut when we’re tightening the budget.

To a certain extent, this makes sense. Cut back If you’re eating out all the time. But choosing the canned vegetables over the fresh to save a buck is not what we want to be doing.

how to eat healthy on a budget

Prioritize your food spending and find where else you can make cuts. How much do you spend on TV and entertainment subscriptions? Are there things in your budget that you rarely use but are spending money on?

This can be the hardest step for people, but eating healthy now can make a world of difference in your health status as you age. Not to mention your nutrition is a large piece of the puzzle in how you feel every day.

Want to have more energy, sleep better, and perform better at work? Cleaning up the diet can make that happen.

Shop at stores like Sprouts, Trader Joes, or Costco. Avoid buying organic at big grocery store chains

Trader Joes and Costco are going to be by far two of your best options for eating healthy on a budget. Both of these companies work hard at sourcing products that align with their company values.

They don’t make huge price jumps in the conventional versus organic. In addition, they make a concerted effort to have a plethora of products available.

Buying organic from the grocery store chain is a whole different story. Many of these companies will add two or three dollars to a product with the “organic” label on it- when in fact sometimes the price point for them could be as little as .25 or .50 cents.

how to eat healthy on a budget

 

As a consumer, I tend to be wary of buying “health” food from big grocery stores for exactly this reason.

They jumped on the bandwagon without really seeing the reasoning behind why we choose to eat this way. I don’t want my food to be about the bottom line- I want my food to be about living a long and healthy life.

Look at places online like Thrive Market. While you won’t be getting your produce from them, they do carry a whole host of healthy snacks and other organic products.

If you can, get your produce from a local farm or CSA (Community supported agriculture)

This is, in my opinion, the ideal way to get your fruits and vegetables.

You’ll be supporting local industry, buying seasonal fruits and vegetables (better for you and the environment), and this is the most cost-effective way to ensure you always have fresh produce available.

Google CSA and I can almost guarantee even if you live in Timbuktoo you can find a CSA near you.

Go to farm stands and farmer’s markets. And talk to the farmers if you can. A lot of times they’ll be following organic farming practices but haven’t certified because of the cost. Ask them what they use for pesticide control.

Buy in bulk

This goes back to the Costco trips, but you can also buy in bulk elsewhere too. A lot of stores are starting to carry “do it yourself” areas with all kinds of food such as rice and granola.

Stock up on these and store them in mason jars. This will save on trips to the store, help manage the generation of plastic, and it can sometimes save you big bucks versus buying prepackaged.

Buying in bulk is generally cheaper because it saves the producers packaging costs. You can get a whole array of organic grains, oatmeal, and nuts for dollars cheaper by packaging it yourself.

In addition, check out places to buy meat in bulk. I use a place called SonRise Ranch. Google “Meat CSA” or “half share of cow” to find places that will sell you butchered frozen animal that you can store in a large freezer.

how to eat healthy on a budget

You will save hundreds of dollars buying meat this way. I’ve had a lot of friends who go in on purchasing a half or whole cow and split it up. I also suggest buying whole chickens and turkeys rather than just breast or thighs.

Make your own baked goods and snacks

Stop paying for organic bread and muffins when you can easily make them at home (and make them to your standards!).

I suggest making a weeks worth of snacks while you are doing your meal prep for the week. There are a million different websites for awesome, healthy snacks and baked goods for every level of cooking and baking skill.

how to eat healthy on a budget

You can make everything from cereal to English muffins depending on how much time and energy you have. That being said, it’s a balancing act.

Don’t feel obligated to go complete “Suzy homemaker”. Your time is valuable. Sit down and figure out the cost/time balance before you decide to recreate everything in your pantry from scratch.

Meal prep

Meal prepping is a game changer on so many levels. When you throw a whole chicken in the crockpot with rice and veggies, you:

  • save money by buying the whole chicken
  • get more nutrients by cooking the whole bird
  • save time by having days or a week of meals made in advance

You will have lunches already made for the kids and meals for you at work, not to mention dinner if need be. Meal prepping can be work on a Sunday afternoon, but it will pay off dividends during the week, PLUS save time and money.

Eating healthy can be work- most won’t argue that.

But it pays out tenfold. You eating healthy and feeding your family well will help avoid many preventable diseases.

Your kids will be able to focus in school. You will have more energy and feel better. Your weight will be easier to manage. Nutrition is unarguably one of the fundamental factors to good health. It’s worth prioritizing eating well to maintain your health.

And yes it can be more expensive, but follow these suggestions and you will see that you can manage a food budget and still have some extra left over for other fun things!

Questions? Comment below! And check out my nutrition coaching page if you’d like some more specific help on establishing a healthy diet!

Also don’t forget to subscribe below to my mailing list to receive more articles like this right in your inbox!

 

Shawna Norton
My mission is to help everyone I can become the healthiest, strongest versions of themselves. I am a Crossfit coach, athlete, Health and Nutrition coach, Movement Rehab Specialist, and a grad student completing my masters in Kinesiology with a focus on integrative wellness.

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