Can I really eat healthy on a tight budget?
Eating healthy on a budget is one of the biggest concerns. There are many people who are on a very limited budget and I hear that they can’t afford healthy food.
So what I wanted to do is give you some ideas on how to eat healthier and be able to buy healthier food on a budget! I actually asked quite a few friends for their insights on what they do as well to cut costs for healthy food.
This will take a little soul searching probably as well. You’re going to have to really think about what it is you spend your money on, where you can cut back, so if eating healthy IS a priority, you will be able to do it. And that’s another thing, I’m not saying this is going to be easy. But if you’re serious about eating healthy, you DO need to make it a priority.
First let’s talk about some things in the grocery store that may (or may not) be on your shopping list that you can switch out to make “room” for some healthier items.
Things to move OFF your grocery list:
chips / crackers
pop / premade juice
prepackaged meals, processed meals
Other places where you can save money:
Cut the cable! If you think this isn’t practical, it is! We haven’t had regular cable in over 5 years!! We only get basic channels and pay $15/month. Just recently we purchased an Apple TV (one time fee) and will be getting EITHER Netflix or Hulu Plus for only $8/month!
Eating out!!! I’m not saying this will be easy, but you CAN do it! This is a huge expense!
Getting coffee / fancy drinks at Starbucks, Panera, etc
Cell phones!! Get the basics!! This will be REALLY tough especially if you’re use to getting the internet on your phone. However, that data plan is a $30/month!!
How often do you buy new clothes? Shoes? Toys for the kids?
Here’s my video on what we did when living on a tight budget.
So what should I buy at the Grocery Store?
First step – every time you go to the grocery store, buy one new fresh ingredient.
Buy fresh fruits and vegetables they are “expensive” as buying canned fruits and vegetables. For example, don’t buy the baby carrots. But the carrots in the bag. Then you’ll have to skin and cut them but you get twice as much for the same, if not cheaper price!
Buy in season fruits and vegetables. MUCH cheaper!
Buy a whole chicken put in the crockpot and get at least 3 sometimes 4 meals out of it.
Watch this video by Dani Johnson. She goes around the grocery store and gives some great tips on what to buy and what not to buy!
Dry beans instead of canned. You have to prepare them, but you’ll save a ton, they’ll make a whole lot more, and they’re full of protein.
Lettuce for salad – stay away from prepacked salad. Buy leaf or romaine lettuece and cut it up yourself.
Other options besides a Grocery Store
Go to the local Farmer’s Markets when in season.
Use product co-ops. This allows you to buy your meat directly from the packing facility, cheaper and better quality. Try Bountiful baskets $15 … Tons of fruits and veggies.
Trader Joes can be very affordable even with the organic foods.
Try the More-With-Less Cookbook (World Community Cookbook). That cookbook is one of the best I have, if not *the* best. It’s environmentally conscious, it stretches a pound of meat for an entire meal for a family, it is loaded with fruits and veggies and grains. And with some tweaking, can be modified for special dietary needs. I love that book!
I really like the website 100daysofrealfood.com also just plan your meals for a week or so. I personally I will buy a whole chicken put in the crockpot and get at least 3 sometimes 4 meals out of it. I think it has a lot to do with planning as well.
10 Tips for Saving on Grocery Bills
Recipes you can try to keep cost down & have left overs
Southwest Veggie Taco
Quick, Simple, Easy, Healthy Chicken Quesadillas
Chicken, Rice and Beans
Salads with a variety of toppings!
Southwest Black Bean Wraps
Egg Tortilla (don’t knock it until you try it!)
Butternut Squash Chili
Healthy Chili Recipe
Other thoughts and suggestions from friends on how to cut cost.
Martha – I have another great one…pasta alternative…spaghetti squash (cut in half, clean out seeds, sprinkle with nutmeg or cinnamon then bake with a little water in pan cut side down 350 degrees for 45-60 mins). Then take chicken (herbs of any kind and some basil- bake at 350 degree for 30 mins). When squash is done, shred with fork. Put chicken on top, cover with sauce and any veggies u like. I used peppers and gluten free marinara.
Karen – I only shop the outer circle of the grocery store. If its in the inner aisles… its processed. My family food bill eating fresh fruits and veggies isn’t higher than when I included processed food. (for ex: a bag of chips run about $3.00. instead I buy a container of berries for the same price. With portion control, the container lasts just as long as chips would have… and so on. The money output is the same but the food is so much better.) And eating out? Typical restaurant servings are to big for one person!! (7oz steak for example). My adult daughter and I order one entree and split it. Perfect portions! And thus, healthy choices ARE cheaper dining out as well. Win! win!
Kelsie – love when people say this. I go to the store for a weeks worth of healthy food it costs me less than 100 bucks- fruit, veggie, oats, grains, yogurt, eggs, chicken etc
I go to the store for the stuff I don’t eat and the kids and hubby do and my bill is 300 bucks… Cereals, cookies, pizzas, juice, crackers, cheese etc…
It is purely just an excuse to not do it. Even if you bought all organic food for a week- if you got only what was good for you and great staples to make meals … It is still cheaper
Sarah – I’d focus on meal planning and how much $ they throw away in junky leftovers. Or talk about portioning. I would bet lots of $ is being spent on too big portions. Also reminding ppl that variety and novelty lead to over eating. The same well planned meal every single day for lunch is going to trim their waist and budget!
DeMichelle – We live on a budget as most do. Eating healthy is expensive but small trade offs help. Don’t buy processed foods. Pick meals that don’t require weird exotic spices or oils. Eat more veggies and fruits than meat (meat is expensive). Good luck.
Martha – If they have $10, they can get enough for a great meal!!! Chicken, veggies of their choice and chicken broth. Bake at 350 for 30-45 mins, until done. You can even add rice (brown of course!) if you want, all under $10!!
Alison – Beans…dry, in the bag, good solid fiber/protein source and cheap…poor mans meat, plus it’s very versatile.
Jenny Kanieski – If you want to give them a tip to try out to start slow, recommend they get a bag of frozen chicken breasts. I use them all week – bake them with spaghetti sauce on top, or salsa, or chop veggies & wrap in foil & bake an hour at 350. Options are endless…and you can chop it & throw in in salads and casseroles, too. Just making one change a week like that can make it seem less overwhelming.
Mari – Yes, eating healthy is a little pricey….but how much do you spend on junk food, fast food, etc? I honestly think we have saved a good couple hundred dollars by not spending money on nothing but junk when we would go shopping. We are buying healthier foods which go a lot further.
Hopefully this gives you some new ideas to start eating healthier on a tight budget!