If you want to eat healthier but don’t want to spend half your paycheck at the grocery store every week, I have good news for you. You can eat healthier and save money doing it.
It’s certainly not easy, though, especially when you can hit up the McDonald’s drive through and feed a family of four for under 20 bucks. But these tips will show you how to kill two birds with one stone… so you can eat better and keep a little of your hard-earned cash in your pocket.
First, let’s look at why healthy food is generally pricier.
Why Is Healthy Food More Expensive?
This is a tough question, and I could give you a very long-winded explanation about the perils of the food industry. Here’s the Cliffs Notes version instead: we have a food system in place that makes unhealthy, highly-processed junk food and fast food more affordable than fresh, healthy foods.
This is detrimental to our collective health because when you don’t have a lot of money to spend, you’re probably going to look for the cheapest, most convenient food possible to feed your family.
Not to worry, because you can still “beat the system.” Here’s how.
How to Eat Healthy on a Budget
1. Shop locally
The absolute best way to eat healthier and save some cash is to buy food from farms close to where you live. Locally-grown produce is delicious. It’s cheap. It’s healthy. It’s better for the environment. And it supports small farmers in your local community. Check out Local Harvest to find a farmer’s market near you.
2. Eat your beans
Beans are one of the most affordable, nutrient-dense sources of protein and fiber. Plus, they’re super cheap (just make sure you go with the salt-free versions if you’re buying canned beans).
Next time you’re at the store, load up on some garbanzo, black, kidney, navy, white, Lima, or pinto beans and eat them as a snack or as a side with lunch or dinner. Here are three of my favorite ways to eat beans:
- Combine black beans with a diced avocado, some minced onion, lime juice, and minced jalapeno.
- Combine garbanzo beans with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and sea salt to make a delicious homemade hummus dip.
- Combine pinto beans with cilantro, corn, and Italian dressing for a tasty side dish.
3. Grow your own
Another great way to eat healthy for cheap is to grow your own food. Even if you don’t have the space or sunlight available to have a garden outside, you can grow fresh herbs and lettuce in your windowsill. Try some fresh herbs like basil, thyme, oregano, dill, cilantro, marjoram, mint, and sage. All you need to get started is a few seeds packets, containers, soil, and water.
4. Shop the sales
This one may seem simple and obvious, but plenty of folks fail to take advantage of buying healthy food on sale.
Here’s how to do it: check the ads each week at several grocery stores near you and look out for sales on more expensive healthy foods like chicken, fish, dairy, and nuts.
5. Buy in bulk
This one goes hand-in-hand with shopping for sales. One of the easiest ways to save money on your food bill is to scoop up larger quantities of healthy foods like nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats and dairy products.
6. Don’t be everything organic
Organic food is healthier for you and the environment… but it’s much more expensive then conventionally grown produce. Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group has identified a list of fruits and vegetables that are the most and least contaminated. Check out this list of the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen.”
These are six of the easiest ways to eat healthy for cheap.
Now let’s hear from you… what are your favorite methods for saving money on healthy food?
Here are 9 healthy snack ideas that will satisfy your hunger between meals while keeping your diet on course: 9 Healthy Snack Ideas to Keep Your Diet on CourseFeatured photo credit: A doctor taking a piece of a pie chart via Shutterstock