10 Easy Tips To Eat Healthy On A Budget
Is it possible to eat healthy on a budget? It sure is! And whether you’re single, in college, married, a parent or retired, I think most of us would gladly save money. Here are my 10 best tips for making healthy eating more affordable.
When it comes to taking control of your wellness, making a conscious decision to eat healthier is the first step. But once you’ve gotten into the right mindset, and developed some healthy habits, the next challenge is revamping your grocery cart without breaking the bank. Those fresh organic veggies and grass-fed meats can be expensive, after all.
But the truth is, eating healthily and deliciously doesn’t have to be expensive. The key is to hone in on strategic budget-friendly picks, make sure your stocked with the right kitchen staples, and take steps to minimize food waste so you don’t literally end up throwing money away in the form of wilted greens or mushy bananas. Let me show you how in the video below.
10 Tips to Eat Healthy on a Budget
1. Replace some meat with other proteins.
When it comes to buying the healthiest meat, I always suggest organic, pastured, or grass-fed (and grass-finished) options. These are not only better for you, but they are better for the planet. However, stocking up on the highest quality meat will quickly drain your bank account.
My suggestion: Buy less meat, and when you do buy it, buy the good stuff. Then, to supplement your protein intake, hone in on some budget-friendly plant-based sources such as lentils.
When readers ask me for a meatless alternative for my recipes, I frequently recommend lentils. They’re packed with protein and fiber, and taste absolutely amazing in my Warm Sweet Potato Noodles, Cabbage, and Lentil Salad. I often whip up a big batch on the weekend (here’s how to cook lentils) to add to salads and baked sweet potatoes throughout the week.
2. Familiarize yourself with the least expensive cuts of meat.
To further slash your meat budget, get friendly with the cheap cuts! Often, tougher cuts like pork shoulder, beef chuck, and stew meat will be the least expensive of the bunch (this is across the board, even with organic and grass-fed options).
The key to making them delicious? Cook them low and slow in a slow cooker to make them ultra tender. Try my drool-worthy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork recipe to see for yourself.
3. Don’t forget to buy eggs.
Eggs are pretty much the least expensive whole-food source of complete protein you can buy. Even if you pay around $6 for a dozen organic, pasture-raised eggs, that’s just 50 cents per egg.
The best part: They go way beyond breakfast. Whip up some hard-boiled eggs to eat as a high-protein snack throughout the week, or make a dinner-worthy breakfast casserole with leftover veggies and wilty greens that are on the verge of going bad.
4. Shop and Eat in Season.
Not only is in-season produce fresher and tastier, but the abundance of the crop usually drives down prices, making it less expensive. Seasonal produce and trends will vary region to region, but you can research what’s in season in your area ahead of time and plan your recipes accordingly.
If you want to maximize the abundance of in-season produce even more, don’t be afraid to cook and meal prep large portions and utilize leftovers. Creating crock pot, slow-cooker or casserole like dishes such as my Zucchini Lasagna or Chicken Broccoli Casserole is a great way to take advantage of lower, in-season produce pricing. Which, you can then meal prep, and freeze for a rainy day.
5. Snack on walnuts.
If your healthy lifestyle has you noshing on lots of nuts, get strategic about which ones you buy. Per pound, the cost of nuts can vary drastically. Walnuts are often several dollars less per pound than cashews, almonds, and pecans, while containing the highest levels of anti-inflammatory, brain-friendly plant-based omega-3 fatty acids.
And if you have leftovers, toss them on your next salad.
6. Take advantage of frozen fruits and vegetables.
Across the board—both organic and non-organic—frozen fruits and vegetables are less expensive than fresh. They’re also just as nutritious.
In fact, frozen produce is picked at its peak in terms of freshness then immediately frozen to lock in all that goodness. Frozen vegetables like peas, snow peas, and green beans make a great addition to curries, soups, and stir-fries, while frozen fruits like blueberries and mango are perfect for smoothies, oatmeal, and chia pudding.
7. Skip pricey nut milks and make your own.
Most non-dairy milks on the market are mostly water, but they can still cost a pretty penny. Instead, I recommend whipping up your own—and no, it doesn’t require straining with cheesecloth or spending hours in the kitchen.
Two of the quickest varieties are cashew milk and hemp milk. For cashew milk, simply soak 1 cup of raw cashews overnight in a mason jar, drain off the water, then blend with 4 cups water until smooth and creamy.
For hemp milk, blend up ½ cup hemp seeds (a.k.a. hemp hearts) with 3 cups water.
8. Skip the pre-made “healthy” treats.
One of the biggest budgetary downfalls for people just starting to revamp their eating habits: premade “healthy” treats. You know what I’m talking about. Things like grain-free cookies and granola, dessert hummus, protein bars, and coconut milk ice cream.
These, of course, can be incorporated in moderation into a healthy lifestyle, but you’re paying a premium for these products. Instead, make whole, fresh foods your main priority, and when it comes to treats, make your own! Most of my wholesome dessert recipes can be made from ingredients you’d find in a well-stocked healthy pantry.
9. Minimize food waste by taking advantage of your freezer.
How many times have you stocked up on fresh produce only to have half of it wilt or spoil before you have a chance to use it? Food waste can be another huge drain on your bank account, and one of the main ways I minimize that is by taking advantage of my freezer. Honestly, you can freeze almost anything!
- Bananas going brown and mushy? Slice them up and store them in the freezer for smoothies and banana bread.
- Can’t use up those Siete grain-free tortillas fast enough? Store them in the freezer and remove each one individually, as needed.
- Can never go through a bag of organic frozen spinach for your smoothies before it wilts? Literally toss the entire bag into the freezer right after you buy and grab a handful whenever you need it!
- Got way too many avocados that are perfectly ripe? Dice them, toss with lemon juice and store in a freezer-safe bag (they’ll keep for up to 6 months).
- You can even prep then freeze chia pudding with fresh fruit that’s on the verge of going bad.
10. Consider a Costco or Amazon Prime membership.
Some grocery stores specializing in healthy foods can be pricey. Other grocery stores don’t always have the variety you’re looking for. That’s where a membership to Costco or Amazon Prime can come in handy.
Surprisingly, Costco has a huge variety of organic meats, packaged foods, and vegetables—and a yearly membership will often run you $60. Got an Amazon Prime membership? You can save 10% on every purchase at Whole Foods Market, plus get access to special deals at the grocery store.
As you can see, with a few simple tips, some planning ahead and strategic budget friendly ingredients, it’s easy to eat healthy on a budget!
Thank you Lisa for the almond flour recipes. I recently started experimenting with it , more failures than successes, 😂 but I’m not giving up! I love biscotti & am looking forward to trying the cranberry & almond recipe. I enjoy your blog!
Baking is always tons of trial and error, but you’ll get the hang of it :)
youre tipps are much appreciated. But you forgot to mention that one is to safe a lot before using them to buy a large freezer. Mine is small and I hate it, because I can’t even freeze half of what I would like to. Freezing Pre-cooked food or left overs is completely out of sight, as it’s full from the little already frozen stuff.
Second: one needs to save up to buy a good quality mixer. Without it’s impossible to make nut butters, nut milks and yoir chia mousse recipe (thry came out as tossed in).
Great tip Anna! Having a large freezer is definitely key to storing tons of food.
This blog is definitely helpful and informative. Great blog by the way and thanks for sharing these!
I found amazing inspiration that authomaticaly leaded to great transformation in my life style! Thank you for your courageous journey,diligence in researches and elegance in sharing your treasures! I love your recepies(healthy , easy but unique like pieces of art,your style as well as clear and easy to follow instructions! It is a delight even just to watch your videos ! Great work!
I enjoyed your article”buget friendly tips”. It is definitely informative as well as educational al.Learned a few things that I really didn’t know. Keep up the good job, it is great to gain some much needed Iinsight about lower food cost.
Hi Clyde- I’m glad you learned a few new things from this post :) I hope you continue to catch onto new tips and tricks here at Downshiftology!
Your website is great!!!
Your recipes are delicious. I tasted a few of them!
You are helping people to be more conscious about their way of living and I thank you for this.
BUT I don’t understand why you advise people to shop on Amazon. If prices are cut it is because so many employees are underpaid and work in bad conditions.
There are other ways to cut the healthy budget without increasing precarity of others.
Thanks again for everything you are sharing in your website!
Hi Louisa – I’m happy you love my recipes and website! Amazon is a great option for many people, especially those who don’t have access to local stores/markets with the same variety. Many of us live in metropolitan areas (myself included) where we have options, but many people live in rural areas without access to stores but can get Amazon deliveries. It’s just one option, but if you have local merchants you can support, all the better!
Thank you for these great tips and the practical advice!
Could you please advise what food storage bags/ pouches you use in your video for storing & freezing food?
I haven’t seen that in the shops in South Africa but love the idea of not having to use ziplock type bags that must be thrown away :) Thanks, Lindy
Hi Lindy – So glad you enjoyed these tips :) You can find the link to my Stasher Bags in the Shop page on my website – specifically under the Meal Prep/Storage category.
Hi Lisa, I just wanted to tell you how much my family enjoyed your egg muffins. I wanted to try them out first, I decided to just make 6 instead of 12. My husband and I had to leave early for the day. I choose to make the broccoli bacon and cheddar cheese version. I wanted them to be hot for breakfast but didn’t have time to make them all at once in the morning. I prepped the broccoli and bacon in the muffin pan and just sit them in the fridge over night. I used the time bake on to pre heat the oven for 6:00 A.M. All I had to do was add the cheese and eggs. Breakfast was ready by 6:30 I choose to wrap them in tin foil and put them in a plastic bag and a thermal lunch pale to eat later while we were traveling. They were still warm and very delicious by 8:30 when we were ready to eat. Thank you so much for your cooking tips. I love making new recipes and finding ways to make life easier. I ordered a ceramic muffin pan today and am looking forward to making the other versions as well. This will definitely be a favorite on the go breakfast.
Hi Ronda – That is amazing! I’m glad you were able to make these egg muffins for your busy work schedule. They are perfect for on the go and can’t wait for you to try the other flavors :)
I love the idea of making your own milks at home. My son is lactose intolerant and really likes oat milk; but I can’t find a good recipe for one that is comparable to store brands like Oat Yeah. Can you please make a video on how to make oat milk? It would save us easily 6 to 10 bucks a week making our own. Thank you!
Hi Adrian – I actually have that video planned to be filmed soon, so stay tuned! :)
I am forced to use the foodbank which offers very cheap foods and none of the fresh vegetables. They have regular pasta, white rice, cheap wheat bread…all the inflammatory foods one could think of…crackers, cookies, etc. In other words, you get what you pay for. I began adding sunflower seeds to pasta and rice, but I have to buy those separate. Meat from commodities and donations is lunchmeat, burger, turkey and sometimes sausage…chicken is generally dark meat ( my preferred anyway). So, beyond a budget where Id still have a choice, is the foodbank. How do I eat anti-inflammatory??
It’s great that you’re aware of anti-inflammatory foods and I commend you for doing your best! Is it possible at all to work with the foodbank to see if they’re able to carry more produce? I don’t know if they’d be open to purchasing more fruit for instance, if it’s requested. I know many farmers and farmers markets around me will also give away “ugly” fruits and vegetables. If you have any close to you you might want to see if that’s possible as well. :)
My foodbank is strictly donation and govt commodities….we get what’s available. I have learned to add sunflower seeds to pasta and white rice…I get lots of beans too. The meat is usually ok, but bologna is pretty standard. As I research and get creative, I can eat better. Intermittant fasting also helps…my insides rest as the outside works all day. I am also back to work so by the grace of God I won’t need the foodbank anymore. Wish me success…thanks.
Hi, BD, I completely relate to what you are sharing. A thought: If you also receive a SNAP card, they are often accepted at farmers’ markets or green grocers/health food stores. This might be an option to explore. I wish you all the best!
Starting to make a Change/2020 !!
Hi there – Let’s do it together! Stay tuned for tons of new healthy recipes coming in 2020 :)
As always, your videos are chock full of delicious food and great tips. You mention eating budget-friendly walnuts. Do you have any recipes for them as they can sometimes be bitter? Perhaps healthy spiced walnuts or something similar?
Hi Nancy – I do not have any specific walnut recipes yet, but I will definitely add it to my list :)
Love these recipes
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just pay a quick visit this site everyday for the reason that it gives quality contents, thanks
Loved your tips! I try to eat vegetarian about 60% of the time, but can’t seem to bring myself to like lentils. I just don’t like the texture. Do you have any other protein alternatives? Thanks! Side note, I love your channel. Your voice is just very calming and you make everything look easy. :)
Hi Kassandra – If you’re not a fan of lentils, other sources of protein could be eggs, nuts/nut butters, oats, greek yogurt, or quinoa. Hope this helps!
Great tips, Lisa. Another idea is to make use of the browser add-ons like Honey or Camel Camel Camel which show you where the lowest prices are online and can indicate price history or save price droplists for you. Additionally, I always first start looking online by going to Rakuten, formerly eBates the cashback reward site. I often find cashback for the online stores where I buy my supplements and occasionally for items on Amazon. Also, Rakuten can show you cashback offers even for retail stores near you. Thanks for your very good ideas!
Hi Jan – Yes! Using third party apps such as Honey are a great way to save in general :)
Thanks so much again Lisa!! Another top video with loads of tips, the best one… learning that I can freeze my abundance of avocados, yay. Don’t know why I didn’t try this way previously 🤔 As usual you have gone over and above wirh your inspirational advice x
Hi Anita – So happy to hear you found this post helpful :) Freezing avocado is definitely a game changer!
Thank you for such a great article Lisa! I’ve just learnt some new valuable information :)
Ps you YouTube channel is so so good!
Have a lovely day.
Hi James – Thanks so much :)
Valuable Information. Thank You. You make everything you do look so easy!!!
Hi Marian – Thank you! If I can do it, so can you :)
I love leftovers and always make more to eat often and freeze. Soups, stews and coleslaw are good keepers. I like to make big batches of rice, or potatoes and use it all week or even a batch of oatmeal with apples for breakfast.
Thanks Lisa! Even tho I live across the other side of the world in South West England the advice still holds good. Or at least most of it.
And the bonus for me was learning that I can freeze avocados! They have been my problem, going off before I can eat them, but not any more. I freeze everything else – even par-boiled potatoes for my husband!
I usually freeze my bananas to make banana ice cream, it’s the quickest and creamiest ice cream there is.
Keep up the great work!
Hi Carol – Yes! A lot of people don’t know you can freeze avocados, and it is a total game changer :)
Such great tips!! Are those stasher bags? Do you like them, do they keep food fresh?
Hi Pam – Yes! I use Stasher bags to store items in the freezer. I love them and they do keep fresh :)
These are great! I love the tips, especially utilizing the budget saving freezer and frozen foods!
Hi Sara – Thanks so much! You can never go wrong with throwing items in the freezer for a rainy day :)
YES, this blog post is amazing! Walnuts are such a good tip for healthy snacking and I am totally with you on the seasonal produce and the cheap cuts of meat. A great summary – thanks for sharing!
Hi Denisse – Thanks! Hope this post was informational for you :)
Such great tips! May I also suggest growing your own food? It doesn’t take a whole lot fo space to grow some small veggies and herbs!
Hi Pamela – Absolutely! As a matter of fact, I grow my own herb garden :)
Eggs are always on the menu when we are trying to save some money on our food shop.
Eggs are always a winner and a great source of protein :)