Diet plays a key role in mental and physical health, but it’s no secret that eating healthy places more strain on your wallet, especially if you buy packaged foods marketed as better for you. The cheapest source of calories are grains, sugar, ultra-processed foods, and foods high in cheap, unhealthy fats.

At the other end of the spectrum are meat, fish, poultry, and fresh fruits and vegetables that take a larger chunk of your food budget. However, there are ways to eat healthy without breaking the bank and your body will thank you for giving it the appropriate fuel and nutrients. Let’s look at some ways to eat healthy on a budget.

Buy More “Ugly” Produce 

Produce that looks perfect costs more, but ugly produce is just as edible and nutritious and you’ll shell out fewer dollars to buy it. Why not take a closer look at less than perfect produce? Once you chop it into pieces, it looks about the same as prettier produce. You can even find online sites that sell ugly produce at a cheap price and you can order to your heart’s content while saving dollars. You may even find deals on less than perfect produce at your local supermarkets or local farmer’s market. Call around and see what they offer. These days, it’s chic to eat ugly produce.

If you eat well, you can transform your life. - David Wolfe

Stop Buying Beverages 

You might be tempted to buy a single-serve bottle of flavored tea but spending two or three dollars for something that costs only pennies to make is a rip-off. It’s less expensive to brew your tea at home for only pennies per serving, but it’s even cheaper to drink the universal liquid, water.

I used to drink tons of caffeine. Now I make smoothies with frozen berries and Green Vibrance health powder. - Leighton Meester

The same applies to coffee. One way to put a serious dent in your food and beverage budget is to stop by Starbucks for a coffee drink. Keep tabs on how much you spend on coffee and tea at coffee shops and discover how much you can save by ditching the boutique drink habit.

Can’t give up your caffeine fix? Brew your own coffee at home instead. If you like the “frou-frou” drinks, it may be cheaper to invest in a cappuccino maker rather than blowing up to $6.00 a pop at Starbucks. At that rate, the machine will soon pay for itself.

Buy Frozen Produce on Sale 

There’s a common misconception that frozen fruits and vegetables are less nutritious than fresh, but research shows that’s not the case. In fact, they may be more nutritious. Fresh fruits and vegetables are harvested when they’re most fresh and freezing stops nutrient loss. Plus, frozen produce is usually cheaper than fresh and supermarkets put frozen fruits and vegetables on sale periodically. Stock up when there’s a sale and store them in the freezer for up 18 months. You’ll still get your quote of fruits and vegetables and do it in a way that’s gentler on the budget.

Frequent the Bulk Bins 

If you’re trying to eat healthily and save money, the bulk bins are where the action is. Some of the healthiest options in the bulk bin include dried beans, lentils, spices, nuts, and oats. You can prepare dried beans, lentils, and oats in a slow cooker at home with minimal effort or time investment. They’re an excellent source of plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and they’re easy on the budget. Beans, lentils, nuts, and oats are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber and you can buy as much or as little as you want. They’re also a good source of plant-based protein, allowing you to reduce the amount of meat in your diet. Plus, you’ll help the environment by reducing packaging.

Plan, Plan, Plan 

Failing to plan is a leading reason people overspend at the grocery store. Outline the meals for the week and write down the items you’ll need to prepare those meals. Then, stick to the list. If you shop with blinders on at the grocery store and only look at your list, you’ll almost always save money. Be sure to go through your fridge and cabinets when creating your list. One mistake people make is buying more items they already have. If you need inspiration for healthy meal planning, check out sites like Pinterest, a haven for healthy recipes, and healthy blog sites. Also, don’t clip coupons that offer savings on junk food. When you’re eating healthy, that’s not the kind of food to stock your fridge and cabinets with.

The Bottom Line 

Don’t let a tight budget keep you from eating healthy. Eating a nutrient-dense diet is an investment in your long-term health. If you don’t eat right now, you could pay for it later with your health. You’ll feel and look better too if you supply your body with high-quality nutrition every day.

 

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