How to eat healthy for little money

Healthy meals can often seem unattainable when you’re on a budget, especially with the current cost of groceries. While things like packaged vegan snacks and lean cuts of meat are certainly pricey, there are plenty of ways you can make healthy meals without breaking the bank. After all, a cheap diet doesn’t have to be a bad diet.

Here are some of our top tips to help you eat healthy on a budget, with advice from registered dietitian nutritionist Frances Largeman-Roth and registered dietitian Jen Scheinman.

plan your meals

Someone fill out a meal plan


Planning your meals is one of the best ways to save money on your purchases, according to Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, nutrition expert, mother of three, and author of the upcoming Everyday Snack Tray (Revell, Nov 2023).

“When you go to the grocery store with a set menu and shopping list, you’re less likely to buy unnecessary items that could add to your grocery bill or spend money on takeout that is generally less healthy than cooking at home.” says. saying.

By planning your meals in advance, you can stick to your list and avoid unnecessary purchases. Largeman-Roth recommends packing some food and snacks when you have time, whether it’s on the weekend or early in the morning. It’s okay to leave some leeway for some meals to account for changes in your schedule. This can also help you avoid food waste.

Cooking at home

two friends eating together

Monkey Business Images/

“With so many ready meals readily available, it can be tempting to save time by taking advantage of this convenience, but it comes at a cost,” said Jen Scheinman, RD & Nutrition Affairs Manager for Timeline Nutrition. “There’s a substantial margin on these meals, so cooking from scratch is a much better option in terms of cost savings and better nutrition.”

Learning to cook simple, healthy meals at home is often cheaper and healthier than eating out. You can control ingredients and portion sizes, and you can also save money by buying ingredients in bulk to use multiple times.

Eating healthy at home doesn’t mean you get stuck with boring and tasteless meals. You can make healthier versions of your favorite restaurant dishes that are still cheaper than eating out. Even if every dinner isn’t necessarily “healthy,” you’ll know exactly what’s going on in your body.

Buy in bulk

Someone buys rice in bulk.


Buying items like grains, nuts, and dried fruits in bulk can save you money in the long run because you’ll often pay less per ounce than buying smaller quantities. Look for the bulk food sections at your local grocery store or check with online retailers.

Buying healthy foods in bulk when you have the opportunity can also be helpful for people who live in a food desert or don’t have easy access to fresh, healthy food, explains Scheinman.

Costco and Sam’s Club are two popular stores that sell items in bulk. These places can help you save a lot of money on many items, including healthy foods and even appliances to help you prepare that meal.

If you’re only buying for one or two people, buying in bulk may not help. You don’t want to end up buying too many produce or fresh foods at once and having them go bad before you can eat them. Buying in bulk is often the most effective for families.

look up sales

Coupons at a grocery store

Monkey Business Images/

Check the weekly ads and promotions at your local grocery store to find out what healthy foods are on sale. You can also take advantage of coupons and rebate offers to save even more money. When you find a healthy food deal that you use often, you can stock up and save money in the long run.

“Sales are also a great time to stock up on more expensive items like fish or meat to keep in the freezer,” Scheinman said.

Don’t forget to check out store rewards programs. Many stores offer members-only coupons and sales, and the programs are often free. Ask a cashier about any rewards program on your next shopping trip.

Stock up on affordable food

A woman shops at the supermarket


There are many foods that are healthy and affordable if you know what to look for. Largeman-Roth suggests stocking up on items like canned grains, pasta and beans, which will last a long time in your pantry and can complete any meal.

Largeman-Roth also advises not underestimating the importance of high-quality snacks that keep you full throughout the day.

“My last snack staple is Kemps® Smooth Cottage Cheese, which is a new cottage cheese blended with real fruit, combining the high protein and nutritional value of traditional cottage cheese with the taste and texture of yogurt,” she said. “Perfect for kids and adults!”

Having tasty and filling snacks that keep you satisfied will help you not snack mindlessly throughout the day and save you money on those extra snacks.

Buy frozen food

A man shopping for groceries

Frozen fruits and vegetables are often cheaper than fresh produce and are just as nutritious, says Largeman-Roth. They are also convenient in that they can be stored for longer periods, reducing food waste. The average American household wastes about 250 pounds of food each year—that’s a lot of money! Buying frozen food will keep things fresh longer and help you avoid throwing anything away.

“I love having frozen vegetables stocked in my freezer,” Scheinman agreed. “This way, there’s no chance they’ll go bad, and they’re cut, prepped, and cooked, so all you have to do is reheat them.”

The same goes for frozen meat, including chicken, pork, and fish. As long as you avoid breaded meats, you can get essentially the same product in the frozen aisle as you can in the meat aisle for much more money. To thaw meat before cooking, simply place it in a covered container in your refrigerator overnight.

Freeze your leftovers

Frozen food in the freezer

Tanya Kim/

Your freezer is one of your best resources when it comes to eating healthy on a budget. It can help reduce food waste, as you can save and use any excess food for future meals. This can help you save money by not having to throw away food that could go bad before you can use it.

“Almost anything can be frozen, including bread, tortillas, meats and more,” Largeman-Roth explained. “Be sure to store pantry items properly in airtight containers to maximize freshness.”

Plus, freezing leftovers can save you time, since you can simply reheat them for a quick and easy meal later, which can be especially helpful on busy weeknights when you don’t have a lot of time to cook.

Use cheaper protein sources

Rice, beans and lentils

Lyudmila Zavyalova/

Protein is essential to a healthy diet, but it can be expensive. Some of the most expensive protein sources include red meat, shellfish, and some cuts of poultry. However, there are plenty of cheaper protein sources that are just as nutritious, including lentils and canned fish like tuna and salmon.

Scheinman recommends that every household have plenty of beans in the pantry, as they are excellent sources of fiber-packed protein and healthy carbohydrates. All of these options are often lower in cost and can be purchased in bulk, making them a great option for anyone looking to eat healthy on a budget.

Plant-based protein sources like tofu and tempeh can also be a great way to get protein while incorporating more vegetarian meals into your diet and saving some money.

Use generic brands

A couple of grocery stores together


Using generic brands can help you eat cheap and healthy food by lowering the cost of your grocery bill without sacrificing quality. Many generic brands offer the same quality and nutrition as their brand name counterparts, but at a lower cost.

When buying generic brands, be sure to read the labels to ensure you’re getting a product that meets your nutritional needs. However, in many cases, generic brands can offer great value while still providing the nutrients you need to maintain a healthy diet.

In conclusion, eating healthy on a budget is possible with a little planning and effort. By using these tips and tricks, you can save money while maintaining a nutritious and balanced diet.

Source link

James D. Brown
James D. Brown
Articles: 8618