Healthy Eating on a Budget

Healthy Eating on a Budget - croppedDo you find yourself saying “It’s too expensive to eat healthy?” Grocery items can add up quickly while trying to plan healthy meals for your family, but with these tips from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), you can save money and eat healthy at the same time!

  • Plan: Before you head to the grocery store, plan your meals for the week.  Include meals like stews, casseroles, or stir-fries, which “stretch” expensive items into more portions. Stick to your grocery list and don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry.
  • Get the best price: Check the local newspaper, online, and at the store for sales and coupons. Ask about a loyalty card for extra savings at stores where you shop. Opt for store brands when possible – you will get the same or similar product for a cheaper price.
  • Compare and contrast: Locate the “Unit Price” on the shelf directly below the product.  Use it to compare different brands and different sizes of the same brand to determine which is more economical.
  • Buy in bulk: It is almost always cheaper to buy foods in bulk.  Smart choices are family packs of chicken, steak, or fish, and larger bags of potatoes and frozen vegetables.
  • Buy in season: Buying fruits and vegetables in season can lower the cost and add to the freshness. 
  • Go back to the basics: Convenience foods like frozen dinners, pre-cut vegetables, and instant rice, or oatmeal will cost you more than if you were to make them from scratch. Take the time to prepare your own – and save!
  • Easy on your wallet: Certain foods are typically low-cost options all year round. Try beans for a less expensive protein food. For vegetables, buy carrots, greens, or potatoes.  As for fruits, apples and bananas are good choices.
  • Cook once and eat all week: Prepare a large batch of favorite recipes (double or triple the recipe). Freeze in individual containers.  Use them throughout the week and you won’t have to spend money on take-out meals.
  • Get your creative juices flowing: Spice up your leftovers – use them in new ways. For example, try leftover chicken in a stir-fry or over a garden salad, or to make chicken chili. Remember, throwing away food is throwing away your money!
  • Eating out: Restaurants can be expensive and offer higher calorie foods than what you can make yourself at home. If you reduce eating out by one or two times a week, you can save about $15-$25.
  • Check out the following resources:
    • My Plate features practical information and tips to help Americans build healthier diets. My Plate is designed to remind Americans to eat healthfully.
    • Recipe Finder contains over 600 low cost, nutritious, and delicious recipes that include nutritional information and cost per serving or per recipe.
    • Food Network has a page specifically on budget-friendly healthy dinners to assist you in making low-cost, nutritious dinners.
    • Eating Well has a page dedicated to healthy budget-friendly recipes. They also have a link for you to download a free budget dinner recipe cookbook!

With these cost-saving tips and recipe resources, you’ll be able to stick to that ever-so-important budget while providing nutritious meals for you and your family.