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How to eat healthy on a budget

alliesmith15alliesmith15 Posts: 1Member Member Posts: 1Member Member
in Recipes
Fresh meat and assorted veggies really add up when you’re on a very tight budget. What does your weekly shopping list look like? What recipes are staples in your rotation that are healthy and affordable?


  • NewMeSM75NewMeSM75 Posts: 966Member, Premium Member Posts: 966Member, Premium Member
    Go for dry beans and instead of fresh vegetables, fresh frozen vegetables are a great choice. Also, make a couple meals from one protein such as chicken. Buy a family size. Cook part of it with seasonings such as salsa and the other part can be totally different such as sweet n sour.
  • JustMeJustEm06JustMeJustEm06 Posts: 132Member Member Posts: 132Member Member
    BDonjon wrote: »
    Aldi. I shop at Aldi and everything else takes care of itself.

    Yas! Aldis is my saving grace with healthy, clean eating. Organic and gluten free options are amazing there. And their fish and meat prices can’t be beat.

    Ultimately, to save money on groceries, I meal plan and meal prep where I can. It’s a bit of work until it becomes routine, but totally worth it. I shop once a week and give myself a budget. So I meal prep within that budget. Aldis absolutely helps with that. I hope you have one near you...! Check out for meal prep ideas. She has some great meal prep recipes and she gives shopping lists. She does “challenges” where she provides two weeks worth of recipes and such. She’s even done freezer-friendly make-ahead deals.
  • hesn92hesn92 Posts: 5,401Member Member Posts: 5,401Member Member
    aldi, meal plan, and don't waste.
    edited December 2018
  • cwolfman13cwolfman13 Posts: 36,173Member Member Posts: 36,173Member Member
    When I was on a really tight budget, I would generally do meat when it was on sale. I also ate a lot of whole chickens or chicken parts with bone in and skin on rather than paying a premium for chicken breasts and what not all cleaned up. Beans and rice were staples. My veggies consisted largely of broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage which are all pretty cheap. Oats were another staple.

    I cooked from scratch most of the time and didn't buy much in the way of food that was already processed and ready to eat. I made a lot of stews and whatnot that would typically last me most of a week.
  • lillyy23lillyy23 Posts: 83Member, Premium Member Posts: 83Member, Premium Member
    I find that frozen veggies are expensive if you buy in bulk though. And the smaller bags they last me only like i sometimes can eat a whole bag for like 2 meals.

    When I was living in a dorm i had like no space in my fridge i had to share with my room mates. so i really had to get smart. I would save those mini ketchups from mcdonalds LOL. But anyways in general I spend like 20-30 dollars a week... only once a month I would spend like 50 bucks maybe to buy things in bulk. Depends how many people your feeding. (this is for 1 single person)

    But I will give you an example, what are the most important things milk, eggs, bread right. so milk is around 5$ here, eggs maybe 2-3$, and bread 2$, and pretty much I would buy 10$ worth of fruits and veggies, here veggies are like 2$/lb. For tomatoes and stff you need to like weigh to see how much 1 lb is, i would say pick out 2-3 veggie items like tomatoes. And that is pretty much it. I will give you a list though. But for the month, I would buy meat in bulk when its cheap and keep it in the freezer and lasts a month. I never bought drinks because just water (healthy) and coffee you can buy once in a while. But if you buy things slowly when you see your running out of somethng that is like more then 5$ then buy that when your doing your normal shopping. you dont have to buy all the bulk items at once -- like oatmeal, seasonings, etc.

    weekly must haves:
    - bananas
    - lettuce/spinach
    - tomatoes
    - brocolli
    - cauliflower
    - carrots
    - onions
    - bread
    - eggs
    - milk
  • amy19355amy19355 Posts: 576Member, Premium Member Posts: 576Member, Premium Member
    Steph38878 wrote: »
    Go for dry beans and instead of fresh vegetables, fresh frozen vegetables are a great choice. Also, make a couple meals from one protein such as chicken. Buy a family size. Cook part of it with seasonings such as salsa and the other part can be totally different such as sweet n sour.

    ^^ This is my approach. I use an electric pressure cooker (instant pot, or similar) for quick processing of large batches that go into my freezer in measured portions.

    Beans, rice and Chicken, eggs, grits, oats, frozen vegetables and fruit mix, canned tomatoes, coconut milk - these are my staples.
    Fresh produce (cauliflower, sweet peppers, kale) and fruit (grapes, apples, pears, berries) are purchased every few days. Milk as needed for making yogurt. Rarely do I buy bread, crackers, chips or cookies.
  • nutmegoreonutmegoreo Posts: 14,048Member Member Posts: 14,048Member Member
    I shop for sales. There are apps that will have all your local flyers, I use Flipp. Most places will price match, so if you screen shot the item, you can usually shop in just one or two places and still get the best deals.

    Meat, I look for the stuff that is expiring in the next day or two and marked down 30%. It then goes straight into the freezer when I get home (except what I will be using before it expires).
  • MeganReid1991MeganReid1991 Posts: 169Member Member Posts: 169Member Member
    So for me meat is the most expensive part of the meal so I try to stock up when it’s on sale. I can get a huge box of chicken breasts for 26.00 and it lasts me a really long time. Same with lean ground beef, or porkchops.
    Also because meat is expensive I try to eat a couple meat free meals a week!

    I buy whatever fresh veggies are on sale that week. So if beans are sale that’s what I eat that week. Also I buy frozen veggies and fruit when there super cheap to keep on hand!

    I buy potatoes & brown rice in bulk to save money.

    I cook from scratch a lot. I try really hard not to eat out because it costs a lot!!

    I really just shop around the sales and buy in bulk when I can. You can freeze so many different types of things.

    I have 6 kids and trust me when I say it’s extremely hard to eat healthy because of the cost but I just do as well as I can. & I think I do pretty well I spend about 600.00 a month on groceries!
  • IsETHomeIsETHome Posts: 237Member Member Posts: 237Member Member
    Multiple stores. I have a veggie delivery each week from local farms, shop at aldi and use Peapod giant online delivery, shop mostly sales & will visit shops for sale items. I plan around sales/seasonal.
  • DevietteDeviette Posts: 741Member Member Posts: 741Member Member
    - Meal plan your meals and only buy what you need
    - Prepare your own veg
    - Buy meat when it's on sale
    - Find out the time when your local store discounts it's food that's near it's sell by date, turn up just after then and find all the discounted foods
    - Learn to use your freezer
    - Remember that eating less=buying less
    - Try the non branded products, sometimes they're just as good as the branded stuff but much cheaper
    - Cook in bulk and freeze
    - Find the cheapest shop in your area
    - Yogurt is a cheap protein source, as are eggs

    Also something to note: "health foods" often have a premium on them. I often find things like nuts or seeds in the baking section for cheaper than they are in the "health food" section. Remember that you don't need to "eat healthy" to lose weight (if that is your goal), you just need to eat less.

    Staples in my house are:
    - Stirfry (normally with prawns, but bacon is a cheaper alternative)
    - Sausages, mash and veg
    - Chili and rice
    - Spaghetti Bolognese
    - Indian Curry and rice (normally with plenty of veggies in the curry)
    edited December 2018
  • smolmaussmolmaus Posts: 441Member Member Posts: 441Member Member
    My staples are broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, 12 eggs, a loaf of bread and a whole chicken. I usually buy brussel sprouts when I can, spinach and mushrooms but they're add-ons really. Tinned tomatoes, a bag of rice and some milk and I'm sorted. Everything is cooked from scratch except bread and if I don't want to pay £3.50 for gluten free bread I can buy a 1kg bag of gram/ chickpea flour for £1.70 and make my own flatbreads for 1/5th of the price. (25g of gram flour, a bit of baking powder and water. Cook like pancake.) Even if you don't have to worry about expensive as heck gluten free products, learning to make bread is a great skill to invest in.

    Cooking a whole chicken in the slow cooker is my favourite money saving tip. When it's fresh I eat the wings and the underneath-y bits (I will strip a chicken carcass like a piranha), use the two breasts for 4 lunches, a thigh or a drum makes 4 dinners and I use the liquid left in the slow cooker for stock. It says serves 4 on the chicken and I'm getting 9 meals out of it which is incredibly satisfying.
  • OddDittyOddDitty Posts: 248Member Member Posts: 248Member Member
    It's an investment but I found the FOOD SAVER to be invaluable. Especially when it comes to meats, fish and poultry. Unless you have a large family, chances are you won't be eating an entire chicken or even an entire chicken breast (if you're only one person). In case you haven't noticed, whole chicken breasts these days tend to be fairly large (6+ ounces, without bone and skin, unless they're cutlets). So if you're only feeding you, or maybe two, why not cut up and save your meat? Believe me, this little machine really does eliminate frost from forming.

    Also, you can buy in bulk and on sale, pre-cook some and save other in its raw state by freezing. I will tell you though, if you pre-cook your meat, make sure to get the freezer bags with the absorbent sealer strip. This way you will be able to stop juices from escaping into the machine.

  • OddDittyOddDitty Posts: 248Member Member Posts: 248Member Member
    By the way, my staples are frozen veggies, eggs, Fage nonfat greek yogurt.
  • DilvishDilvish Posts: 393Member Member Posts: 393Member Member
    Soup. It can be very budget friendly and it is very flexible in terms of adding various proteins. I make a big batch every month and freeze portions for daily/weekly use. I try to change it up every week I'll add spiral whole wheat pasta, the next week I'll add canned tuna or salmon and then maybe some cooked ground turkey. You can add almost anything you want.

    You might get sick of eating it day after day but it's cost effective and healthy...
  • acpgeeacpgee Posts: 3,286Member Member Posts: 3,286Member Member
    There is a show from the BBC called "Eat Well for Less" which has episodes on youtube. The general recommendations are:

    Cook from scratch.
    Avoid anything processed, such as pre-grated cheese or pre-washed bags of salad.
    Stick to supermarket brands for processed foods such as breakfast cereal and condiments.
    Eat vegetarian occasionally.
  • jgnatcajgnatca Posts: 14,420Member Member Posts: 14,420Member Member
    Lots of great ideas above.

    Buy meats on sale and in bulk.

    I have a meatball recipe that can also be used to make meatloaf. There is just two of us but I still buy the family pack of hamburger and I make up all my meatballs and meatloaf in a single session. I freeze the meatloaf raw and cook the meatballs the same day and freeze the precooked meatballs. I then have my own convenience food that I can serve with a variety of sauces.

    Wasted vegetables are not a saving at all so I buy small amounts of the delicate veggies like cucumber, lettuce, and tomatoes. Plan to use up quickly. Sturdy veggies also tend to be cheaper. This is all the root vegetables including potatoes, and cabbage.

    Dried beans and pulses of all kinds are cheaper than canned and with an extra days prep and a slow cooker you can make up a weeks worth of meals.
  • AthijadeAthijade Posts: 1,886Member Member Posts: 1,886Member Member
    - Meal plan
    - Meal prep
    - Shopping sales
    - Only buying meat on sale
    - Frozen veggies (they last longer so less waste)
    - Buy in season for fresh fruits and veggies
    - Buy bulk and then portion it yourself (such as yogurt)
  • EHollander89EHollander89 Posts: 156Member Member Posts: 156Member Member
    Another recommendation to visit Aldi. We have definitely been saving money since we started shopping there, especially on meat. We buy chicken, lean ground beef, lean ground turkey, frozen shrimp, etc. I also check the ads for the local grocery chain in my area for any sales on items we like or brands we prefer. For the most part, we like Aldi brand items just as much as the name brand.

    I always make a list when I grocery shop, and I try to stick to the list as closely as possible. Sometimes there might be a seasonal item that I'll grab that wasn't on the list, but having a list really helps me make sure I get the ingredients I need without picking up a bunch of impulse buys. When I get home, I prep my food. Having a meal plan helps me make the grocery list and then helps me not waste food. We don't mind eating the same food for multiple meals, so that helps us a bunch.

    Our regular shopping list includes: lean meats, cottage cheese, eggs, fruit, veggies, sandwich thins, cheese, almond milk, almonds, rice, and something sweet.
  • rhaiinrhaiin Posts: 618Member Member Posts: 618Member Member
    My grocery trips are usually about $70 a week for 2 people. I could cut that back more if I needed to, but I'm happy with where I'm at right now.

    I also suggest Aldi. It is one of my favorite grocery stores. I get several products from there and then shop the local grocery store ads for good deals on meats and branded products elsewhere.

    You can usually get some sort of cheap meat like a london broil or shoulder roast or pork loin. Beef usually goes into the crockpot with beef broth, carrots, potatoes, celery, onion and herbs. Pork loin also goes into the crock pot, but usually with potatoes and sauerkraut.

    I get boneless\skinless chicken thighs when they're on sale or the family pack from Walmart because its cheap. I'm not big on dark meat, but these work well in curry or chicken noodle (or rice) soups.

    Speaking of soups, they're a easy way to stretch your budget. I make chicken noodle/rice often. If chicken is too expensive, you can make a chickpea & lemon with orzo/rice soup. Basically, you prepare it with chicken broth and some herbs, add a can of chickpeas, rice and a bit of lemon juice. The chickpeas give you some protein but they're pretty cheap.

    Stir-fry is also a cheap and healthy choice. Frozen veggies, whatever meat you have on hand, and some sort of sauce. I usually use soy sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, garlic and red pepper flakes. You can also make eggroll-in-a-bowl. Just cut up some cabbage or buy bagged coleslaw, fry up some ground turkey and add the cabbage, then add soy sauce & Asian spices.

    Some of the healthier things I get at Aldi are their salad, milk, eggs, fruit & veggies, smoked turkey sausage, imitation crab, canned beans, and rice.
    edited December 2018
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