8 Tips for Healthy Eating on a Budget

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To celebrate National Nutrition Month, I wanted to focus on eating healthfully. Many folks don’t feel that they can eat healthy food because it is too expensive. Here are 8 tips that you can use eat healthy and save money.

Compare unit prices

One of the ways I shop for bargains is by comparing unit price. It allows you to compare foods that are the same product, in different sizes. The unit price is the cost of an item per unit of measure. So, let’s say you are buying olive oil. Brand A is 7 ounces for $5.99, and Brand B is 9 ounces for $6.79. In this example, the unit price for Brand A is $0.85 per ounce and Brand B is $0.75 per ounce. You should choose Brand B, even though the total cost is more, because it is 10 cents less expensive per ounce than Brand A.

You can find the unit price on the price tag. It is usually located to the left of the actual price per item, in smaller font. Here’s what a typical unit price looks like:


Buy in bulk

Sometimes it is less expensive to buy a lot of an item. For example, nuts tend to be less expensive if you buy a big bag rather than a small bag. The same goes for whole grains like rice and quinoa. Check out the unit price to be sure you are getting a good deal. And, buy in bulk only the things that won’t spoil quickly—spices, nuts, and grains tend to be shelf-stable items, which could save you money over time.

Cook as much as you can.

Buying unprocessed food and cooking it yourself not only is a healthy choice, but it also can save you money and time. According to ABC News’s “Real Money” challenge, ordering out not only saves you money, but it actually can take less time to cook a meal than order and pick it up. Need help getting started? Michael Pollan has a great resource list for beginning cooks on his website.

Plan Ahead.

When you plan your weekly menu ahead of time, you can be strategic about your grocery list for the week. Buy ingredients for the week that can be used in multiple recipes. If kale is on sale at the store, you can buy a bunch to stick in an omelet for breakfast, drop in soup at lunch, or sauté as a side item at dinner. For example, last Monday, I made tacos with sautéed grass-fed ground beef, onion, garlic, canned tomatoes, cumin, and oregano (with a side of roasted cauliflower). I mixed that same beef on Tuesday with black beans and leftover cauliflower for an enchilada filling. And, the leftover enchilada filling (beef, beans, and cauliflower) was sautéed with brown rice on Wednesday and served with a side of greens.

Keep your eye out for sales.

If you can, plan to keep your fruits and veggies flexible. It’s easy to swap broccoli for roasted cauliflower as a side dish, if cauliflower is on sale. And, packing a pear instead of an apple for lunch might make sense if pears are on sale this week in the produce aisle.

Make a grocery list, and stick with it!

I can’t tell you how many times I have cleaned out my fridge at the end of the week to discover a slimy vegetable that I had forgotten to make! Having a menu plan with a corresponding grocery list will prevent you from buying too much, and ending up with spoiled produce at the end of the week.

Get creative with leftovers.

Plan for leftovers to minimize food waste. For example, if you cook a chicken on Sunday night, you can use the leftover meat to make other dishes like chicken soup, chicken salad, or even chicken burritos!

Buy frozen fruits and veggies

Some frozen fruits and vegetables can save you a bundle. Be careful to look at the unit price, as some fruits and veggies can be more economical than others. Frozen mixed vegetables can save you prep time. On busy weeknights, mix frozen mixed Asian vegetables in a wok or skillet with a misting of olive oil (I use Misto Oil Sprayer), 1 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. Add tofu, canned salmon, nuts, or cooked chicken. Serve over brown rice.

How do you eat healthfully on a budget? Let us know by commenting below!

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