Sunday, April 29, 2012

Eating Healthy on a Budget

I have always been a number cruncher, especially around food and grocery stores. Growing up in a family-owned grocery store has definitely taught me a great deal about prices of food items and how to fit the healthy ones into my diet. It is a common misconception that a healthy diet has to be expensive. I want to show you that it's possible to eat a diet, full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins on a budget, it just takes some planning.

First of all, know how much you can spend per week on food. This is your weekly food budget. This will be different depending on the amount of people in the family and your current financial status.

A good place to start when preparing a food budget is to cut back on unnecessary purchases.  Do you need that soda, those chips, or snack foods? These are "empty calories", foods with little or no nutritional value. They add up fast on a grocery bill and that money could have gone towards nutritious foods, like fruits and vegetables.

Meats and protein foods are often the largest portion of the shopping bill. This is one reason why I endorse Meatless Mondays, not only are they nutritious, but they cut down on how much meat you have to buy! Eggs are a great source of protein and are budget-friendly...experiment with breakfast burritos, quiche, or egg salad.

Here are some money saving tips!

1) First of all, limit your dining out.
  • Whether its fine dining, appetizers, or takeout... your wallet and your waistline will thank you.
2) Take advantage of the weekly specials
  • I cannot stress this one enough. Plan your meals with the specials in mind. Buy yogurt, cheeses, meats, produce, when they are on sale.
  • Stock up on pantry items. When these items are on sale I grab a few extra...Whole grain pasta, brown rice, peanut butter, cereals, olive oil, tuna, oatmeal, beans, canned tomatoes 
 2) Make a shopping list and stick to it
  • Sit down and plan at least a few days worth of meals. Look at what you have in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry and write your shopping list.
3) Buy seasonal produce
  • Know when produce is in season (list to come soon). It will taste better and it will be cheaper. If you can't buy fresh fruits and vegetables, then frozen is your next best option! 
4) Buy meats and seafood on sale
  • Look at the price per pound when buying fresh meats or fish. Often the family size is cheaper by the pound. 
  • Stock up on your favorite meats when on sale (I always grab extra boneless, skinless chicken breast when its on sale). Cook what you need and freeze the rest in individual baggies, it should last up to 3 months!
  • When buying ground beef or turkey, try to buy 90% or better. If your budget doesn't allow that try draining and rinsing the meat after its cooked, this cuts a tremendous amount of the fat out.
  • Often frozen fish is cheaper than fresh, and its just as good for you!
5) Avoid or limit buying convenience foods
  •  Convenience foods (prepackaged rices, pastas, boxed or canned meals, TV dinners) may be tempting due to their ease, but they are expensive and are packed with preservatives and tons of sodium. 
6) Buy generic products
  • Many generic products are just as nutritious as their name-brand counterparts and they taste just as good!
7) Visit the bulk section
  • You can save some major money in this department, especially on your whole grains (quinoa, barley, brown or wild rice). Compare prices for pastas, rices, dried beans, flours, dried fruits, nuts, and spices!  
8) Get creative with your leftovers
  • Food that spoils or gets thrown out is like money out the window. Buy only what you think you will need.
  • When I plan my week of meals I try to do "Planned leftovers" so that meat or grains from the night before can be incorporated into a new meal. For example: cooked meats or grains can be incorporated into a salad, pasta, soup, or casserole and you no longer have the dreaded "leftovers".
  • I always cook extra chicken breast so I have lunch meat for the week (much cheaper than deli meats, plus its lower in sodium!)  
9) Use coupons whenever possible
  • Be sure that the items you are purchasing are actually something you need or will use, otherwise its just wasted money.
10) If possible, grow your own vegetables and herbs!
  • Fresh vegetables right off the vine always taste better and can really help you save! Dry leftover herbs at the end of the season instead of letting them go to waste!


  1. Thank you for the great tips. We have been using similar tips when grocery shopping and I'm finding that our kitchen has better food in it.

    I look forward to learning more.

  2. This is your every week food price range. This will be different based on the number of individuals in the family and your present financial position.

  3. Thank you for the great article, i stumbled upon it while looking for ‘eating healthy on a budget’.

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