Eating Healthy on a Budget

Hey guys,

I wanted to start a post about buying healthy food on a budget. I'm a dad of two amazing kids and happily married to my high school sweetheart. The battle is buying healthy food on a budget. I've recently talked to several families about this and they expressed their desire to shop healthy, but they end up going to several stores which takes too much time.

How do you shop healthy on a budget?


  • ExRelaySprinter
    ExRelaySprinter Posts: 874 Member
    Will keep an eye on this post, as i'm very interested to know as well!
    "Good quality" fresh fish, meats and veg are pretty hard to find cheap here in the UK.
  • lorib642
    lorib642 Posts: 1,942 Member
    My husband does most of the shopping so I don't know, but make it a priority. He gets distracted by sales for junk food we don't need.
  • MissLakeTime
    MissLakeTime Posts: 59 Member
    Here are some ideas:
    One thing I do is buy a bag of frozen chicken breast tenders and I can make many meals out of it. You can make salads, wraps (buffalo chicken), put a slice of provolone cheese on a cooked chicken breast and have it with some spaghetti sauce, et. cWatch sale ads for produce, etc.. Wal-Mart price matches. A friend of mine last week told me about the website They combine all ads in your area and then you can take it to Wal-Mart and price match.
    Make soup or chili and eat leftovers.
  • FaithfulJewel
    FaithfulJewel Posts: 177 Member
    Someone (I can't remember who, but they're wonderful as a result) posted this link the other day about cheap, good, food/recipes

    Doesn't 100% work for me being UK but it is a brilliant read.
  • ExRelaySprinter
    ExRelaySprinter Posts: 874 Member
    Someone (I can't remember who, but they're wonderful as a result) posted this link the other day about cheap, good, food/recipes

    Doesn't 100% work for me being UK but it is a brilliant read.

    Oooh, thanks for the link. :drinker:
    I'll have a read of that later.
  • Mr_Knight
    Mr_Knight Posts: 9,532 Member
    Rice + Lentils + whatever vegetables are in season and cheap.

    Doesn't get much more nutritious than that, it's dirt cheap, and trivial to cook.
  • TeaBea
    TeaBea Posts: 14,517 Member
    This thread had some good ideas.......

    There was a cookbook idea....I'll post back if I can find it.
  • Lizzy622
    Lizzy622 Posts: 3,705 Member
    I plan my weekly meals around my pantry and weekly sale circular. We also have cut down on meat considerably. When I started weighing my food I realized we were eating huge meat portions. I buy my spices and shelf stable items ( like dry beans) in bulk online. I have actually cut my food bill since we eat less meat and rarely eat out.
  • Need2Exerc1se
    Need2Exerc1se Posts: 13,576 Member
    People on this site have various definitions for "healthy foods" so without knowing yours:

    Dried beans are probably always going to give you the best nutritional profile for your buck.

    Eggs are usually affordable, as is canned tuna, and frozen white fish such as tilapia or pollock.

    Frozen fruits and vegetables are usually a fraction of the price of fresh vegetables and many times have a better nutritional profile since many vitamins are lost when exposed to light. Also, produce picked before ripe and allowed to ripen during transport will not have the same nutritional profile as produce allowed to ripen before harvest. \

    Clip coupons and buy whats on sale then plan your meals around it, rather than planning meals first then buying items not on sale to fit your menu.

    Grow as much of your own produce as possible.
  • Dustinsteven22
    Dustinsteven22 Posts: 277 Member
    Great ideas! I also buy frozen chicken breast because we can make several meals out of them! The challenge is getting my kids yo eat healthy!
  • AlyRoseNYC
    AlyRoseNYC Posts: 1,075 Member
    When something is on sale for a really good price, I buy in bulk. If it can be frozen, I'll freeze it. I very rarely buy anything full price.
  • PLAID1977
    PLAID1977 Posts: 70 Member
    Do you have an Aldi in your area? I have cut my food expenses in half by shopping there first. There are only a few of our "staples" that I now need to go to the regular food store for. Aldi has tons of fresh, even organic, produce, lean protein, dairy etc. I'm hooked!
  • Lizzy622
    Lizzy622 Posts: 3,705 Member
    Great ideas! I also buy frozen chicken breast because we can make several meals out of them! The challenge is getting my kids yo eat healthy!
    If they see you eating it, they will follow suit. Some things we had to introduce several times(they had to at least try a bite), but now my children eat just about everything.
  • ExRelaySprinter
    ExRelaySprinter Posts: 874 Member
    Do you have an Aldi in your area? I have cut my food expenses in half by shopping there first.

    There's one pretty close to me, but i normally tend to go to Morrisons.
    Yeah, ...will have to pop in and have a look!
  • onefortyone
    onefortyone Posts: 531 Member
    I've found that it costs the same to have healthier eating habits (or even saves you money you'd usually spend at the drive thru or restaurants). If you buy meat/cheese on sale and produce in season, and watch your portions, your food will go further. Salad dressing takes us forever to get through now that we only use 1-2 tbls at a time. You do have to make a conscious effort to 'buy less' at the grocery store too. Choose smaller packages of food (a lot of meats are packaged 1-2lbs or 3-4lbs, so dig around in the case), stick to 4oz of meat (each) per meal, and see what's on sale before you go shopping.

    Meal planning has always been my friend too, to save money. Got chicken, but no potatoes? Got a jar of spaghetti sauce but no noodles? Spending ages discussing what to eat and nothing seems to work so you just go out to eat? That scenario has been 90% eliminated in our household :) check through your fridge/cupboards/freezer to see what you have and base meals around that, and only buy what you will need for those meals.

    The foods we have 'taken off' our shopping list have also saved us money - cereal and cereal bars, bags of chips and chocolate, bacon ($5 a pound!), sodas, juice, etc.. We replaced them with more bread & eggs for breakfast and fruits/veggies for snacks, and a giant pitcher with a filter for nicer tasting tapwater.

    And we did most of this stuff BEFORE deciding to lose weight just to save us money, so our budgeting lead to healthier eating. So good luck!
  • HeidiCooksSupper
    HeidiCooksSupper Posts: 3,831 Member
    The freezer, even if it is just a little one, is your friend. Get in the habit of buying things like meat on sale, dividing it into meal-sized portions, and freezing it. This also works for beans, rice, and a variety of other things you can cook in bulk and then freeze for those quick supper nights between soccer and a recital, etc.

    Make sure to look at the weekly flyer of your chosen grocery store and buy when things are on sale. For example, we like to have a bottle of barbecue sauce on hand to put on some of the pulled pork or chicken I made up for the freezer. This past week, the sauce we like was BOGO (buy-one-get-one-free) so I bought two bottles even though there's an almost full one in the fridge. With two bottles on the shelf at half price, I won't need to buy it again for weeks.

    When you see something like big trays of chicken parts or London broil or whatever meat on sale, buy it, divide it up and freeze it.

    When big winter squash are on sale, cook it up, mash it, and freeze it.

    Anything, other than salad veggies, that you will use and would buy at full price can be bought ahead in "mini-bulk" and stored or frozen. Many of these things will be delivered to your house at a price cheaper than you can get in the stores from vendors like Amazon or even Walmart. You can avoid shipping costs from big box stores' online sites by picking up at the store.

    We save on a variety of things we would buy anyway by ordering online. You need to do a bit of price comparison but it does work well. We even get our cat food by the case alternately from Amazon or Walmart depending on who has it cheaper.

    You may consider making bread. Bread only requires 4 ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast. Yeast is cheapest by the pound and keeps for years in the freezer. Start with "no-knead" bread and you can teach the kids to do it.
  • drepublic
    drepublic Posts: 180 Member
    Stick to the basics and do not eat out: Meats (Chicken, Roasts), Carbs (Oatmeal, Sweet Potatoes, Rice). Cook in bulk and freeze the rest into prepared meals.

    I buy chicken 6 lbs at a time, Oatmeal 10 lbs at a time, Sweet potatoes 5 lbs at a time. Pay attention to the price per lb/serving on what you buy.
  • Actually_Mike
    Actually_Mike Posts: 61 Member
    I buy all our meat in bulk (usually go saturdays since the "managers specials" tend to be there, cook it all on sundays (during football!), weigh everything out and toss in the fridge. Oatmeal will go a long way. Rice is also dirt cheap (really convenient if you have a rice cooker - just throw the rice in and walk away. I buy frozen fruits and veggies from the dollar store (try it out, they have name brand stuff in my store!) mainly for smoothies. Frozen/steamed veggies are also around $1 per bag. We also do all our shopping at Wal-Mart, they are super cheap, take competitors coupons, and if you download their App, there's a thing called savings catcher where you scan your receipt and they will check other stores, if a lower price is found, it's loaded as an eGift card which you can "cash" out any time you want. Good luck!
  • FindingAmy77
    FindingAmy77 Posts: 1,267 Member
    the biggest thing that works for us is to make a meal plan for one to two weeks then I do an inventory of what I have on hand already and then I make the shopping list. I do not deviate from my list. I try to buy in bulk packages of meat so that it can be used for two to three different meals, I buy all generic or store brand (if you watch hows it made ever- you will know its the same products as most name brands), I plan for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners and even desserts for the entire week. this cuts down on a lot of added costs just by not impulse buying in the store. I am a shopping cart Nazi when I go there. Nothing gets past me if its not on the list. If it does I get it out in the check out lane before it rings up. (my hubby is always trying to slip at least one past me). I look for recipes that call for the least amount of ingredients but will fill us up and also taste good. Yes, it can be done. You just have to put a little time into it instead of sitting mindlessly in front of the tube, you can go check out a recipe site for few minutes. I use my crock pot. I pre make the meals occasionally too by having the ground beef already cooked, the vegies pre cut, etc. I freeze all leftovers. I portion out just enough for anyone who is eating and if there happens to be any left over in the pan, I immediately put it into a freezer container and put it away Before serving the plates. This way nobody can over eat and also I can break out with it at a later date like it was just freshly made. I started doing this when I got sick of constantly throwing out the leftovers that were turned into mystery food in the fridge after who knows how long. Now I don't throw that much away at all and it comes in handy when the grocery budge is low and all I got is some leftovers and my creativity for the day.

    Those frozen chicken packages are not that expensive and can make quite a few meals. I also freeze a lot of my fresh vegies and fruits, just not the watery ones like melon or lettuce. Most can be frozen (you can blanch them first if you prefer or just use a nice freezer container) again: I got sick of throwing out vegies or fruits gone bad too many times. now I don't. You can go meatless sometimes if you make it tasty. Nobody will really know if you get creative. Like a delicious eggplant or zucchini lasagna or vegie stif fry with rice,

    you can skip the sugary drinks and encourage more water drinking. you can not purchase any chips/crisps and go with carrot sticks instead. they are much cheaper and last longer. SHop at the dollar store for some things too. That's all I got for now.
  • Sabine_Stroehm
    Sabine_Stroehm Posts: 19,268 Member
    Rice + Lentils + whatever vegetables are in season and cheap.

    Doesn't get much more nutritious than that, it's dirt cheap, and trivial to cook.


    or meat+veg

    or quinoa+veg

    or or or.