How to Buy Healthy Food on a Budget

We’ve all heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” Consuming a consistently, healthy diet can appear to be out of reach or too expensive when many specialty health foods tend to come at a higher price point. Here a few tips and ideas for how to make good purchasing decisions and buy healthy food on a budget!   Tweet This!

The budget balancing act reminds us that, most of us are not made out of money.  Drive-through restaurants provide foods that are generally inexpensive, yet often unhealthy, and serve large portions. Additionally, healthier food options and “health food” store prices typically cost more.

Maximize your dollars and your meal.

Let’s address some main areas that will help you create a healthy, balanced diet:

  • Lean proteins
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Healthy fats
  • Complex carbohydrates

1) Buy whole foods.

Whole foods, such as produce, dairy/eggs, and meat and seafood are typically found along the perimeter walls of the grocery store. Steer clear of the interior aisles, as those areas are primarily packed with processed, packaged foods that are generally more expensive and less nutritious. Purchasing foods in season, specifically produce, is another great way to help maximize your grocery budget and support a balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.   Tweet This!

2) Buy in bulk.

Utilizing the bulk section at grocery stores (minus the candy), or investing in a wholesale membership, can help maximize your budget over time. This is especially true when buying whole grains, nuts and seeds.

3) Plan your meals.

Take an inventory of your pantry and make a comprehensive shopping list before heading to the store. A few minutes of planning can help you avoid impulse buys from the frozen novelties aisle or buying a duplicate of something you already have at home.

4) Give in to generic and store value brands.

Generic and store brands typically offer similar quality as the (more expensive) name brand, and sometimes even use the same ingredient suppliers.   Tweet This!

5) Don’t be afraid of frozen food!

Frozen fruits, vegetables and meat have a longer shelf life than their fresh counterparts, but with many of the same nutrients. Letting your fresh food spoil before you get a chance to use it can wear a big hole in your pocket!

6) Portion control can help in many ways.

While it may seem like you are rationing food to yourself, portion control can help to ensure that you are not overeating. Thoughtful meal planning that includes careful portion control can also help to extend the use of your food purchases.   Tweet This! Just because you made the most delicious super fruit salad with kale, quinoa and grilled chicken breast, doesn’t mean you need to indulge and consume a 2,700-calorie meal. Instead, ration the dish over several meals. And, as a bonus – enjoy a healthy lunch throughout the week!

7) Simplify your diet.

Inequity in nutrition costs causes a big problem for many, especially when access to nutritious, healthy food is geographically limited for some. Healthy food shouldn’t be a luxury item. Simplify your diet by making lean protein, fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates the foundation of your daily meals.   You don’t need to be “rolling in the dough” to enjoy a healthy meal at dinnertime. It all comes down to choices.   Tweet This!

Spoiler alert! You may find that self-control is indeed the key to keeping your body – and your wallet – happy and healthy for the long haul.   Tweet This!


Resources

  1. org/live/food/healthy-diet/what-do-food-labels-really-mean
  2. usda.gov