Eating Healthy on a Budget

Stephanie Specht's picture
By Stephanie Specht on May 25, 2015

We all know that we should eat healthy to maintain our ideal weight, but did you know that eating a healthy diet also increases your chances of living a long and good-quality life?

“Making the commitment to eat a healthy diet will help you not only feel better, but you will look better, function better and live longer,” explains Don Mankie, R.D., a Carilion Clinic dietitian. “Consuming a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and lean protein foods, as well as drinking plenty of water and exercising, are key to maintaining a healthy weight and keeping disease at bay.”

Many people think that to eat healthy you have to spend more money at the grocery store, but according to Mankie, that is not the case. Below are his top 10 tips for eating healthy on a budget:

1. Plan: Before you head to the grocery store, sit down and plan your meals for the week. This is a good time to search for quick and easy recipes online. Stews and stir-frys are great options to bulk up on vegetables and protein, plus you can double the recipe and freeze some for later.

2. Make a list: After you have planned your meals for the week, make a grocery list according to a set budget and stick to it. Avoid any aisles in the grocery store that don’t include items on your list.

3. Hit the sales: Check your local grocery store for sales and don’t forget your coupons.

4. Buy in-season: Choose fresh fruits and vegetables that are in-season, since they are usually cheaper and fresher as well.

5. Look for canned and frozen: Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are great, healthy options too. They are sometimes cheaper than fresh foods and you can buy these items in bulk to stretch your grocery budget. When buying canned items, always opt for low-sodium or no-salt added versions and fruits that are canned in 100 percent fruit juice.

6. Avoid convenience items: Pre‐cut fruits and vegetables are convenient but they also cost more. Buy fruits and vegetables in their simplest form and spend a couple of hours on Sunday prepping for the week to save money.

7. Stock up on staples: Purchase items such as canned fruits and vegetables, dried beans and pastas in bulk. Having these on hand in your pantry can make putting a week-night meal together a snap.

8. Buy store brands: Look for the store brand since they are often cheaper than name brand items.

9. Don’t waste food: Fruits and vegetables don’t always last long, but instead of throwing them out, add any leftover vegetables to soups or casseroles, and overripe fruit is great for smoothies and baking.

10. Start a garden: Plant a small garden in your back yard or try container gardening. It is a great way to save money, get the entire family involved and you won’t be able to beat that fresh picked taste! Now you are ready to eat healthier and save some money.

For more information on healthy eating and nutrition, talk to your health care provider.