Eating healthy doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. Your number one tool in getting proper nutrition on a budget is planning. Find recipes, prepare your shopping list, set your budget, and set aside the time to cook. The tips and resources below can help you achieve a healthier, more nutritious diet within any budget.
Save While Eating Healthy
- 20 Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget: From buying in bulk to buying in season, these general tips will help you change the way you approach buying healthy food.
- I’m Poor but Want to Eat Healthy: This “Nerd Fitness” article breaks down inexpensive, healthy foods by category, from vegetable to protein and even organic options.
- 15 Ways to Save at the Grocery Store: These are rules that help you stay within your budget once you’re at the store, including not shopping on an empty stomach!
- Sample Menus: These sample menus give you an idea of how much food you can really eat while still staying within a calorie (and financial) budget.
- Good Food on a Tight Budget: This printable eBook helps you with its step-by-step guide from planning the grocery trip to keeping track of your price per meal.
- Beginner’s Guide to Couponing: You can save a lot of money using coupons with this multi-part article series that helps you get started.
- Extreme Couponing 101: Here is a 6 step guide on how to coupon as well as some more advanced tactics to save on prescriptions and other personal expenses.
Recipes Part 1
- 20 Budget-Friendly Organic Meals: If you’re focusing on buying organic, use these inexpensive recipes to make the most of your purchases.
- Cooking for One: Sometimes cooking for one can seem more expensive than cooking for four, especially when you’re trying to eat healthy. Here are some helpful hints.
- Recipes and Tips for Thrifty Meals: This PDF from the USDA provides an excellent all-in-one resource from shopping and budget tips to easy, healthy recipes.
- Recipes for Healthy Living: From the American Diabetes Association, these recipes are low glycemic index. You can even sign up for free recipes and meal plans.
Grow and Preserve Your Own Food
- How to Save Money Growing Food: This article from Forbes provides a personal story on how one couple saved money by starting their own garden.
- 3 Gardener Design Secrets: Learn some tips and tricks on how to start your own garden in your backyard from experienced home gardeners.
- Community Supported Agriculture: Support your local farmers and get the freshest produce by becoming a member of a CSA near you.
- Local Harvest: Find local farmers and ranchers in your area who provide fresh fruits, vegetables, grass-fed beef and more at the best prices.
- Backyard Chickens: If you go through a lot of eggs, consider raising your own chickens. You can’t get any fresher or cheaper.
- National Center for Home Food Preservation: Here you’ll find dozens of articles on how to start preserving your own foods through canning and other preservation methods.
- Preserve Meat by Curing and Smoking: If you find a great deal on meat, consider buying it in bulk and preserving it for later.
Recipes Part 2
- Feed 4 for $10: From Cooking Light, this article gives you 104 recipes for meals that can feed a family of four for ten dollars or less.
- Healthy Dinner Under $3: From Better Homes & Gardens, here’s a list of 37 super cheap but healthy dinners, including quesadillas and pastas.
- 400 Healthy Cheap Recipes: These inexpensive meals require 8 or fewer ingredients and take less than 20 minutes to prep. Best of all, there’s every meal from breakfast to dessert.
- 5 Cheap Meals for Large Families: When you have to cook in bulk, it’s even more important to find meals with inexpensive ingredients.
Tips for Eating Healthy Within a Budget
As we mentioned, your best bet is to approach this healthy lifestyle change with as much planning as possible.
Find recipes that use similar ingredients. For instance, one night of spinach pasta and one lunch of spinach and chicken can use the whole bag of spinach. This prevents waste and keeps you from having to buy a lot of ingredients each week.
Use coupons when possible. However, know that most coupons tend to be for processed foods. Coupons on frozen pizza are not going to help too much with a healthy eating plan. Instead, try to focus on coupons for items like milk or yogurt.
Also try to focus on buying in-season. If you really need an out-of-season vegetable or fruit, check the frozen food aisles. Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked and flash frozen at their peak ripeness, so they’re often even better than produce shipped halfway around the world.
Shop locally when you can. If there’s a farmer’s market nearby, check it out. You can also check for co-ops or community gardens where you can get some great deals on fresh produce.
There are also co-ops in which a group of people go in together on a whole grass-fed cow. This cuts the cost per pound drastically compared to store prices. However, you’ll probably need an extra freezer in the garage to store all of the meat. A typical steer can weigh over a thousand pounds.
Consider starting your own garden, or at least preserving fresh foods that you buy in bulk at a great discount. Both of these approaches can save you plenty of money, but you’ll have to invest in getting started at first. After your initial investment, your only cost will be time.
One of the quickest ways to save a lot of money is to simply cut out all outside eating. You might want to set aside one day a week to cook in bulk. Freeze meal portions that can be microwave-ready. That way you’re never stuck with the feeling that you need to pick something up on the way home.
Avoid driving around town to get the best deal at different grocery stores. Oftentimes, you’ll end up spending more in gas and time than the savings is really worth. Pick one store with a great rewards program or club savings card and stick with it.