eat healthy limited budgetMike wrote a great post last week on how the income gap truly is affecting our eating habits and our health.  People with a limited food budget often feel they have no control over what they eat, and that they have no choice but to buy unhealthy foods.  This is a myth.  Although eating healthy does indeed take effort, you can eat healthy on a limited budget.  Here are some ways you can eat healthy without draining your bank account.

Eat Healthy on a Limited Budget

Plan Around the Sales

We all have heard that menu planning is a vital key to a low grocery budget, and both Grayson and I can testify that it’s true.  Our family of six spends between $400-$500 dollars a month on groceries, and Grayson’s family of three spends less than half of what we spend.  One way you can spend less and still eat healthy is to plan your menu around the sales.  Is chicken on sale this week? Then pick up a package of chicken, and serve several meals that include chicken.  You can do homemade chicken noodle soup, chicken stir fry, or chicken and steamed vegetables.  Scour the sale ads each week and plan your meal menu around what’s both cheap and healthy.

Learn to Cook at Home and Cut Down on Processed Foods

Processed foods are easier, I get that, and there’s nothing like a box of processed macaroni and cheese to soothe your carb cravings.  However, those processed foods and the chemicals they contain aren’t the best choice health wise, and you can make homemade macaroni and cheese for the same amount of money – if not cheaper – than the processed food counterpart.  And yes, the kids will get used to it.  My kids have been eating homemade macaroni and cheese for so long now that they refuse to eat the boxed stuff.   Another money saving tip that will better your health: stop buying pop, chips and other processed snacks, and trade them in for healthier choices like some veggies and dip.

Learn Not to Waste Food

Waste not, want not, as the old saying goes.  The average family wastes a whopping 25% of the food they bring into their house.  How much of your food budget would that add up to?  There are ways, however, to cut down on food waste and save your budget in the process. Got leftover chicken?  Turn it into a chicken casserole by mixing it with noodles, some veggies and a can of cream-based soup.  Make smaller portions so that food waste isn’t an issue, or bring the leftovers to work for lunch and skip the trip to McDonald’s for a meal deal.  When vegetables are getting near throwing-out time, make up a quick veggie soup or casserole, or chop them up and freeze them to be used in another meal later.  Make a commitment in your home that food will not be wasted, and save yourself a good chunk of change in the process.

Learning to eat healthy on a limited budget does take work, but it can be done if you’re willing to put in some effort.  Make a commitment today to assess your grocery spending and see where you can make changes that will not only save you money, but help you to eat healthier in the process.

Image via SodexoUSA, enhanced by me!

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25 Comments

  1. Learn not to waste food is what I teach to my kids. I instill to them that value whenever possible. It’s really important I believe that kids know how to give importance to blessing they receive like food.

  2. Cooking for yourself is a huge way to not only save money, but save calories. I use Pinterest all the time to find healthy and affordable meals, and there are numerous options out there. You just have to invest the time and energy to find them.

  3. Also, try to prioritize vegetarian dinners once in a while. Remember, meat is expensive! Subbing in a protein-substitute like beans or tofu can go a long way to cutting prices. Also, when you do have a meat dish, consider things where meat is not the central part of the dinner. Think less steak and potatoes and more beef slice stir fry. You still get the delicious flavor of meat, just cut with veggies, carbs, etc.

    1. Awesome tip, Taylor! Beans are a terrific source of protein and super cheap. We always do our casseroles and stir fry meals with half the meat the recipe calls for, and then we add more veggies and/or pasta. This works wonders on our budget.

  4. I am always amazed at how much food we waste in the country. That is something we’ve done much better with over the last few years. A little planning goes a really long was as far as shopping and reusing leftovers. I probably only cook two days a week, but I cook lots on those days and it carries us through the week. Not liking to cook is no excuse!

    1. That seems to be a great way to spend less on groceries: I know Grayson and his family do it that way too. We cook most days, but we make sure that at least one or two dinners each night consist of the previous days’ leftovers.

  5. We try and eat less meat – it’s cheaper to eat vegetarian and can be really healthy too 🙂 I also try not to waste anything, though I’m guilty of salad stuff going off.

  6. You make a great point. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. We eat very healthy (kind of) and our food budget is low because we cook at home. When you cook at home, you know exactly what you’re putting into your food and your body.

  7. Sorry. I disagree. For the truly poor, the only food choices are carbs. Pasta and rice and potatoes. Meat, chicken and any protein other than beans, as well as fruit and vegetables are largely out of reach. And while working two jobs just to pay rent and taxes, who has the time to make wise shopping and cooking choices. It is no wonder that as America gets poorer, it is also getting fatter.

    1. I have to disagree, my friend. 🙂 Knowing what we feed our family on each month I know it can be done. You work two jobs, but most people don’t, I”m sad to say. I’ve seen this over and over in my different works with the “poor”. I have a plethora of healthy meals that I serve our family of six for $5 and under, lots in the $2 and $3 dollar price range. Too many times we go to the processed convenient meals, but they really aren’t any cheaper at all.

  8. These are great tips! Eating healthy on a budget takes time and planning, but the reward of taking care of your health is well worth it. We’re all for home-cooked meals and reducing food waste!

  9. I used to waste a ton of money on food. Now I’m doing a lot better. What saved me a lot of money was cutting out the processed snacks, and not buying a lot of bread. I never eat the bread in time, so I’ve switched to pasta and rice. Doesn’t spoil as fast, and really cheap to buy in bulk. a $20 bag of rice will last me 2-3 months.

    1. It’s amazing what you can learn and do with a little effort, isn’t it? Every time we go over on our grocery budget, it’s because we’ve been buying too much in the way of processed snack foods.

  10. I think the biggest one here may be not wasting food. That’s a way to save the money before you even spend it. We waste A LOT of food here in America. It’s sad, really!