Eating Healthy on a Budget

hand picking peppers at grocery store

Eating healthy on a budget may seem difficult but it can be done. With a little knowledge and practice you can eat healthy without blowing your budget. Below are some tips and ideas for how you can choose healthy foods on a budget:

  • Shop and Prepare at Home – The best way to save money and eat healthy foods is to shop and prepare the food yourself. However, to eat healthy on a budget at home still requires a strategy to purchase healthy low-cost foods. The first step to successfully prepare a healthy low-cost meal is to plan your grocery list.
  • Plan Your Meals – usually for a week at the time. Choosing budget-friendly recipes with healthy ingredients that are easy to prepare. Check out our other blog posts for healthy, low cost meals. Try cooking large portions with inexpensive ingredients which can save both time and money. Use leftovers for lunches or to make stews and casseroles.
  • Be a Smart Shopper – Make a grocery list that only includes the ingredients you need to prepare the meals and stick to it when you go shopping. Only purchase what you know you’re going to use so you don’t end up wasting a lot of what you buy.
  • Look for Discounts and Special Deals – Finding the best deals can help anyone on a budget. You can save by stocking up on your favorite products or staples when they’re on sale. Just make sure the food doesn’t expire soon.
  • Don’t Shop When Hungry – Being hungry causes you to stray from your grocery list and buy things you don’t need on impulse. Eat a healthy snack before you go shopping.
  • Choose Whole Foods – brown rice or bags of peas are less expensive than buying unhealthy processed foods. You can also buy whole foods in larger quantities which makes them cheaper per unit.
  • Buy Store Brands – Store brands are often of equal quality as the name brands but are just less expensive.
  • Avoid Junk Food – Soda, crackers, cookies, prepackaged meals and processed foods offer little nutrition, often have unhealthy ingredients and can also be very expensive. By not having unhealthy foods you can use the money saved to buy healthier items.
  • Buy Cheaper Cuts of Meat – use these in burritos, casseroles, soups, stews or stir fries. You also might consider eating less meat and replacing it with other proteins. Protein sources such as eggs or canned tuna are inexpensive and nutritious.
  • Buy Produce in Season – this can be more economical and nutritious. When produce is not in season may be better to buy frozen fruits and vegetables. You can use only what you need and keep the rest for later.

There are a lot of foods available that are inexpensive and healthy. You can prepare many delicious and inexpensive meals by using eggs, beans, seeds, frozen fruits and vegetables, cheaper cuts of meats and whole grains. These foods taste great, are nutritious, and can be less expensive. Try adding these foods into your daily routine to save you money and help you eat well this month!

James Wynne – EFNEP Intern

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Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

North Carolina State University
Agricultural and Human Sciences Department

Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES)

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