Healthy eating on a budget!

Eating healthy on a budget can be really hard, especially if you’re paying for rent, gas, and other necessities. However, it can be done. The first step to successfully budgeting a healthy meal is to just create a game plan for your groceries. Research and look up tips for healthy, low-cost meals and master the skill of finding the best deals on items.

Shopping smart is the key to eating healthy on a budget. Realizing that the “unit price” is the better option for you can be beneficial in the long run. Reading each food label can also help make decisions easier when being mindful of healthiness. Each aisle of the grocery store has deals and discounts. Finding those will also benefit anyone on a budget. Preparing healthy meals can be easier by using kitchen timesavers. This makes it easier because you can make meals faster and more efficiently. Looking up new recipes to try can also help make things less complicated. Plus, this can bring a family together by introducing new things to meals.
There are plenty of budget-friendly recipes to choose, from a slow-cooked beef stew to summer chicken spring rolls; there are a variety of healthy recipes that factor in a budget. There are other options such as a grilled salmon, avocado salad and pesto chicken kabobs.

There are even tofu stir-fry options for those who are vegetarians. Making menus for every 2-weeks is also a budget-conscious habit that can save money and benefit health-wise. Keeping grocery and pantry staples lists are also great ideas in following a budget. Referring to the ChooseMyPlate model can also be informative on which food groups are needed in each meal. Utilizing your resources such as SNAP-ED and FNS can also help save money and accomplish healthy meal preparation.



Taylor is a student intern working with EFNEP at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Pitt County Center.



Go Meatless for Good Health

Going meatless at least once a week can help improve your health. Red and processed meats, which is high in saturated fat, may increase your risk of developing chronic diseases. Try replacing meat with high fiber alternatives such as beans and lentils (among other foods). Visit for more information. Going meatless one day a week gives you a chance to explore new recipes. To help get you started, check out this vegetable chili recipe that is healthy and tasty.

Vegetable Chili Boat

Serves 6


2 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 cup Fresh onion, peeled, diced
1/2 cup Fresh green bell pepper, seeded, diced
1/2 cup Canned low-sodium pinto beans, drained, rinsed
1/2 cup Canned low-sodium kidney beans, drained, rinsed
1 cup Canned low-sodium black beans, drained, rinsed
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/3 cups Canned low-sodium diced tomatoes
1 cup Low-sodium chicken stock
1 dash hot sauce (optional)
1/4 cup Canned low-sodium tomato paste
18 Low-sodium tortilla chips (about 3 oz)
1/4 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded (1 oz)
1/4 cup Low-fat mozzarella cheese, low moisture, part skim, shredded (1 oz)


1. Heat canola oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and green peppers. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Add beans and stir to coat. Add chili powder. Stir. Cook for 1 minute for flavors to blend.

2. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, and hot sauce. Bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and mix well. Cook uncovered for an additional 10 minutes. Bring to a rolling boil for at least 15 seconds. Reduce heat to low and simmer to keep warm.

3. Combine cheddar and mozzarella cheeses (the cheese is a garnish).

4. Place ¾ cup chili in a bowl. Top with 3 chips and sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of cheese blend. Serve hot.


¾ cup provides:
Legume as Meat Alternate: 1 oz equivalent meat alternate, ¼ cup red/orange vegetable, and ¼ cup oz equivalent grains.
Legume as Vegetable: ¼ oz meat alternate, 1/8 cup legume vegetable, ¼ cup red/orange vegetable, 1/8 cup other vegetable, and ¼ oz equivalent grains.
Legume vegetable can be counted as either a meat alternate or as a legume vegetable but not as both simultaneously.