10 Easy Tips To Eat Healthy On A Budget
Updated Jan 12, 2020
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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!