Eating Healthy on a Budget

Eating Healthy on a Budget

I know most people think that eating healthy or organic is more expensive, but you really can do it on a budget.  Here are some tips I have learned along the way.

1.  Meal planning is key.  If you have a set list and some meals in mind, you will be less likely to splurge on cravings.

2.  Try to buy foods from the bulk bins.  Not only are they usually cheaper, but you can only buy what you need.  They are also great for trying new foods so if you end up not liking what you buy, you are not stuck with a large amount.

3.  Eat more meals at home.  Lets face it, convenience foods are not only more expensive, but they are usually chock full of unhealthy additives.

4.  Ditch the canned beans for dried ones.  You will need to soak them overnight and then boil them a bit before you use them, but they taste so much better!  Plus, you will not get all the extra sodium.  You will be surprised at how much “cleaner” they will taste.

5.  Check if there is a local co op in your area.  We use Bountiful Baskets.  There is even an option to upgrade to all organic.  I was amazed at how much produce we got for our $25

6.  Try to buy produce that is in season.  For android users, there is an app called Seasonal Harvest Lite that is free and if you plug in your location, it will tell you which fruits and veggies are in season.  I think there is one for the iPhone too.

7.  “Like”  your local grocery stores on Facebook.  They will most likely alert you to sales going on.

8.  Bring a set amount of cash with you that you cannot go over.

9.  If you see a more expensive item go on sale, buy in bulk at that time.  For example, our local Sprouts puts the raw almonds on sale for 1/2 off about once a month.  I try to stock up then.

10. Love your crock pot.  Crock pot meals are not only easy, they are often inexpensive to make.  You can make a large batch and freeze what you don’t eat right away.

This is just a small list of things you can do.  I plan on updating it as more things come to mind.  If you read this, feel free to add your own!

55 thoughts on “Eating Healthy on a Budget

  1. Use leftovers! My husband takes leftovers for lunch at work instead of convenience foods or fast food. Whenever there is more than we care to eat right away, we freeze what we can, and the rest can be added to stews.

  2. Also buy store brand organics and browse through the store circulars for sales and coupons. You can usually find these online before you shop. Makes meal planning and list making easier.

  3. I like to do double duty meals or even triple duty meals. One day we may have a pot roast, and then the next night we’ll have veggie beef soup. Or, one day I’ll make a chicken and the next day well have BBQ chicken sandwiches for lunch and chicken noodle soup for dinner :)

  4. Get a pressure cooker for those beans, you will be able to make fresh beans and soups in record time! Also don’t be afraid to call some organic companies and ask for them to send you coupons. Edens and Amy’s and Alvarado St. Bakery are just a few who I know will send you some! I but all my dry goods at vita cost, they are way cheaper than my local grocer and co op. Some things I will buy bulk on amazon too.

      • My Naturopathic doctor advised against cooking beans in a pressure cooker, as the procedure destroys the nutrients that are the most valuable in beans. It was a bummer as I love my pressure cooker, but I trust her so I stopped.

  5. I love your article. I especially like your point about the beans. I do this every week. I would also add “grow your own herbs”. For example, growing basil is really easy and if you like pesto, you can make your own regularly, especially if you use walnuts or pecans instead of pine nuts which are so expensive. During the summer, grow as much produce as you can.

    • That is a great suggestion. We did, in fact, grow a bunch of herbs and produce this summer in pots. We plan to have a little garden this spring, but it will be our first time doing so. we have very little space in our backyard because our pool takes up most of it.

      • A garden doesn’t have to take much room. I have a 5×5 area where I planted broccoli, tomatos, lettuce, garlic, zucchini, cucumbers, green and red peppers, arugula, watermelon…. And I’m sure a couple of things I don’t remember off hand. Alot of produce can be grown in pots as well. Enjoy your garden!

        • Thank you! We ripped up some shrubs in about a 2 x 8 plot that we hope to fill with lots of good food in addition to doing the pots again. Looking forward to teaching my daughters the value of growing your own food. Non GMO seeds of course!

          • I heard about a very neat trick when you have limited space…. Fill a very large burlap/canvas/feed sack with dirt and stand it upright. Cut small slits in it and plant your seedlings around the sides of the bag…. Lots of plants in a small space by being able to plant vertically!

          • Great tip! I have also thought about taking some of the plastic tubs we have in our garage and filling them with dirt to use them for pots.

        • I know that Burgess Catalog for plants & flowers … will tell u what will go good in pots… becareful some dont do well in pots…. also…pepper plants do well … i tried those last year … but didnt produce too well….

  6. I have different veggies almost every day and on Saturday, I put them together with broth and noodles rice or barley to make soup for easy weekend eating or for the following weeks lunches.

    • That’s great. We try to meal plan everything out and also use everything. Whatever is on it’s way to going bad gets thrown into a soup. stir fry, smoothie or my tube fed daughter’s blend. It is a shame knowing so many folks throw food away.

  7. I made the most simple meal of organic black beans and organic rice seasoned with organic lime juice, cumin, a dash of hot sauce, fresh organic cilantro, and a sprinkle of cheese and it was SO good! It probably cost a whole 30 cents to make, if that, and filled me up. It may not have been the most fancy of meals, but I was happy with it!

  8. Do you always buy organic fruits/veggies or go without what you wanted if its not available organic? I have organic fruit boxes every week that come in and I order our meat from tx bar organics. Closest whole foods is 2 hrs and our Kroger doesn’t carry much organic…. Looking for ideas..

    • I get the organic basket from the co-op every other week. Last time I went to Kroger, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they have bumped up their organic line. May be worth checking again. I usually try to by seasonal fruits and vegetables organic because they will tend to be cheaper. There are just some foods that I will not buy conventional. I try to stick to the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen lists. Hope that helps a bit.

  9. Thanks for this article! I know that Kristina from Fully Raw recommends calling your local grocery stores to see if they will give you a deal on purchasing bulk amounts of produce. I am seriously considering doing this, since we are trying to go more raw and healthier in general. Bulk amounts of produce would be perfect for those who love to juice and make smoothies too!

  10. I’m late to the party here, but FREEZE PORTIONS. Freezing things in usable single serving or single meal amounts makes them so much more accessable. I use ziplock baggies for rice, refried beans, lentils, soups, everything … just press out most of the air while sealing, roll the bags into neat packets, slide into a larger freezer bag, and label. I even set up foods that take awhile to cook, like brown rice. I make the whole lb. of rice when I cook some, and set up the rest in 1 cup servings in the freezer – takes 2 minutes in the microwave later on – just peel off the bag and toss into a microwave safe bowl (or add a tad of water and thaw on the stovetop – still faster than making it from scratch). I also do homemade mac n cheese this way, because the kiddo never wants to wait an hour for lunch, nor do I want to spend an hour making a single serving of mac. Make a bunch and freeze the rest into useable portions … saves a ton of money, no more waste!

    • Great suggestions! I do that already. That makes it so easy for me to grab a box and throw it in my husband’s lunch. We don’t waste any food around here. We even roasted the girls Halloween pumpkin after the holiday was over. Needless to say, we were swimming in pumpkin for a long time! :)

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  12. These are all great ways to save at the grocery store. Thank you for sharing your tips with us during our Friday Facebook Community Party. As always, we love your recipes and tips.

  13. All of these are great tips, Melissa!

    I bring my own lunch to work as well. I usually pack an organic apple or banana for a snack and then a “big” bowl of salad + protein. This week it has been a base of kale + a few peas + a few brussel sprouts + a protein. Monday, it was an omelet. Tuesday, it was tuna. Today, it was chicken. Yum!

    I also bring fresh herbal tea I make at home – or either I make it right here in the office. And I bring plenty of water as well.

    I make a fresh smoothie every morning and bring it – that’s my breakfast while I’m doing daily tasks preparing to open the office.

    It works out great! I’m always well nourished and satisfied and never have the need to run across the street and grab a candy bar or other junk. Yay!

    I’m loving your blog, by the way. :-D

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  15. Hi Melissa, I am hoping that you can help me with a few grocery items. I found grapeseed oil at a local health food store, but it is not organic and it is expeller pressed. Would you recommend that I order online or would this oil be suitable? I found some organic avocado oil that said it is “refined for high heat”. It was more expensive so I decided to wait. I read your cooking oil post which sent me looking for these oils. Also, when looking for eggs, I was overwhelmed by the different options sold at Fred Meyer under the brand “Simple Truth”. There was “Natural Vegetarian Fed”, “Natural Cage Free, Grain Fed”, “Natural Cage Free, Omega-3″, and “Organic Cage Free”. The organic eggs are the most expensive, which is fine if it’s needed but I wasn’t sure how the others seemed…And finally, I know that you don’t eat chicken either, but if you don’t mind my asking, I have one final question. The chicken is the same “Simple Truth” brand. The organic free range chicken said “no antibiotics ever, no added hormones, organic vegetarian feed, and no preservatives”. The other chicken was “Natural” with “no antibiotics, no added hormones, 100% vegetarian diet, and raised cage free”. Do you see a big difference between the two types? The only reason I ask these questions is because of course the cost is different between the certified organic vs. “natural”. Thanks so much.

    • I’d be interested in the answer to your question about “chicken.” Right now, I buy the certified organic, as I am concerned that the “no antibiotic added” would just be a gimmick to mislead consumers in thinking the chicken was raised without antibiotic. I don’t think antibiotics are added during the packaging process, see what I mean? I do find that a bit confusing too…

  16. Whole Foods Market’s store brand is called 365 and is usually way cheaper than the other brands. Also, every product is Non-GMO Project verified! Not all are organic though

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  18. Just be sure to check the 365 brand (or any other inexpensive brand) to see if it’s a product of China. I prefer to avoid those. Too many problems with quality, toxicity, etc. The “Florida Sun” pine nuts are an example. Deceiving. Check all pet foods and snacks as well. Happy shopping and thanks for all of this great info!

  19. Thanks for all you tips, I’m just starting out and was feeling a bit overwhelmed of how and what to buy. Where do you find the bulk bins in the grocery stores? I have a Kroger near me and I’m not sure if I’ve seen them there or not.

    • I’m not sure if Kroger has them. If they do, it will be in the Natural Food section. Whole Foods, Sprouts and Natural Grocers have items in bulk. Also, if you have a Costco near you, they have great deals on dried goods as well.

  20. Do you ever grind your own flours? I’m most interested in making my own oat flour. I have Bob’s Red Mill organic old fashioned oatmeal and a Ninja, can this be used to make flour?

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