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The Secrets to Eating Healthy on a Budget 

The Secrets to Eating Healthy on a Budget 

So you want to make an honest go at eating more healthy, but it seems that the effort could be adding to your grocery bill each week. The good news is there are many ways you can save money and still eat whole foods, foods like meat, fish, eggs, nuts, legumes, vegetables and fruits that are processed minimally or not at all. Here are seven tips and seven recipes for eating healthy on a budget every day of the week, to help cure you of your “eating healthy will make me broke” mentality.   

Tips for Saving Money and Eating Right

How much does it really cost to eat a healthy diet?  As food prices rise and the economy slumps this becomes an even more difficult question to answer. But if you’re striving for a healthy diet without breaking the bank, don’t worry: It can be done.  No one should have to spend their whole paycheck on a cart of groceries, so we have a few recommendations for saving money while eating nutritiously.

1. Make a Meal Plan

When you’re eating healthy on a budget, preparing menus and grocery lists ahead of time can keep you from making impulse food choices, which often aren’t healthy.  Plan out one or two weeks of healthy meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Take a few minutes over the weekend to go through your favorite healthy recipes and map out your meal plan. Update your go-to list as you come across new recipes, and don’t be afraid to try new foods. You should also plan out the healthy snacks you’ll eat.

2. Shop When Your Belly is Full

Hunger can make it tempting to add unhealthy snacks to the cart. It’s best to do your shopping after a balanced breakfast or right after dinner or lunch.

3. Buy in Bulk

When fruits and veggies are on sale, stock up, and buy extra and freeze or can them for future meals. Cut up fruits and vegetables and keep them handy in the fridge, or pre-pack individual servings for when you’re on the go. You’ll have ready-made healthy snacks and meal ingredients right at your fingertips. 

4. Look for Local and Seasonal

Seasonal and local produce is usually much cheaper, and farmer’s markets are good places to find what’s current. Farmer’s market produce is also generally fresh because it wasn’t picked before ripening, and then put on a long-distance truck delivery to get to the store. An added benefit is you’ll know where your food comes from and help your local economy.

You can also save additional money by buying local produce in bulk and splitting the cost with friends or family. 

5. Use Coupons and Join Store Rewards Programs

If you use coupons and join store rewards programs, you’ll be more aware of what’s on sale and able to work it into your meal planning. Keep an eye out for specials, and make sure to get store circulars, coupon mailers and email notifications of deals. Stock up on frozen and canned produce when it’s on sale. 

6. Stock Up on Whole Grains

Whole grains — brown rice, farro, barley, oats, beans, lentils, etc. — are a “must-have” on your grocery list. Whole grains are generally inexpensive, and they add substance and nutritional benefits to all kinds of meals. These grains are loaded with fiber and protein, so they’ll keep you and the family full longer, and ward off the hunger pangs that often lead to impulse eating. 

7. Prep Meals Ahead

If your work week is hectic, do your cooking over the weekend and then store the pre-portioned meals in fridge or freezer bins. This is a huge time and money saver, since you can just thaw and reheat hassle-free lunches and dinners.

Sliced Apples and Oranges in Reusable Silicon Bags and a bowl of Strawberries
Bob's Red Mill Rolled Oats

Healthy dinner recipes to make the family happy

Make healthy changes in your dining lifestyle one step at a time. That way you and your family won’t feel blindsided or deprived of your favorite foods if the changes you make are gradual. These seven dinner recipes are a perfect introduction to get the entire family eating more healthy. 

1. Grilled ground turkey burgers

Juicy, tender turkey patties on whole wheat buns make a wholesome and satisfying sandwich. You can add a little kick to the meat by mixing in worcestershire sauce, garlic and grated onion. We especially like to grill the burgers, but you could also fry them in a pan. Ground turkey can be purchased in bulk and frozen as individual patties.    

Ground turkey is a great ground meat to purchase because of its versatility; a wide variety of recipes can be made with it and other ground meats. Consider this meat lover’s garbanzo recipe.   

2. Taco Bar

Who doesn’t love taco nights? Cook up a protein like beans, grilled chicken, ground turkey, or lean beef, and serve along with chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, shredded carrots, grated low fat cheese and wholegrain taco shells or tortillas. You can also put on (picky eaters can leave off) black olives, salsa, avocado and chopped onions. Give this tex-mex taco bowl a try!   

3. Taco Turkey Meatloaf

If you buy a supersized package of ground turkey, you can whip up a taco turkey meatloaf by mixing in cheese, bread crumbs, tomatoes, onion, taco seasoning and eggs with the meat. Plan to serve the meatloaf for tailgating parties, and it’s delicious the next day for sandwiches. Who knows, it may even become a family favorite.  

4. Seasoned Chicken Strips

Chicken is so versatile; it allows you to create a large variety of dishes. It is one of my favorite proteins to serve my family, and I especially like doing chicken breasts.  

Tender chicken strips are moist and juicy and are also delicious as a salad topping. Season the chicken with your favorite spices and seasonings or spread on your favorite sauce after baking or frying, and you’ll have a winning dish that everyone will savor. Kids particularly love chicken strips any day of the week, and they can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.  

5. Sriracha Grilled Chicken Taco Bowls with Creamy Avocado Sauce

There’s just something super-tasty about grilled chicken seasoned with a Sriracha marinade, and plated inside a taco bowl. You can also substitute the seasoning and the topping sauce with any of your choice. Taco bowls are very filling, plus they’re quite inexpensive to make and replicate quickly and easily. 

6. Whole Wheat Chicken and Veggie Pizza

This one is for all you pizza lovers. With its wonderful crust (nutritious since it’s whole wheat) layered with herbed tomato sauce and tasty toppings, it’s a low-fat and delectable main course that encourages my family to dig right in. This is a perfect dish to use up your leftover chicken. Many stores sell balls of pizza dough, which will save you prep time. Roll out the dough and top with tomato sauce, peppers and other vegetables (broccoli is a good choice), seasonings, chicken and the cheese of your choice.

7. Roasted Chickpeas Meatless Fajitas

Meatless recipes are terrific too. Here’s one of our favorites: roasted chickpeas meatless fajitas. It’s a healthy, refreshing, vegan-free fajita recipe for any busy weeknight.  

The bottom line

You don’t have to break the bank to eat nutrient-rich foods. In fact, with commitment and dedication, eating healthy on a budget is easier than you think. Plan your meals, cook at home and make smart choices at the grocery store. These tips will help you succeed, too.

  • Try eating well-balanced vegetarian meals more frequently
  • For any proteins you eat consider eggs, beans and legumes since they are cheaper than meat
  • Don’t let anything go to waste: repurpose and store leftovers
  • Make sure to always use your produce. Integrating vegetables into meals like soup, chili and stir fry is a great way to use up your produce and make the most of the dollars you spend.

Now, let’s get those healthy dinner recipes cooking!  

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About The Author

Wanda Lopez

Wanda Lopez a blogger at heart and shares her insight on all things food, recipes, home décor, travel and more at She’s a passionate content editor and contributor for household brands such as Kraft, Publix, Ford, Best Buy and more--all while balancing work, motherhood and all things in between. An educator and avid photographer, she is in love with design, food and the outdoors.

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