Eat Healthy on a Budget

Use these tips to shop smart and save on healthy foods.

1 / 7

Eating healthy food and preparing your own healthy recipes doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. It’s a matter of knowing where to look, when to shop, and which products give you the most nutrients for the lowest cost. No matter your budget, healthy eating is possible with these money-saving tips. 

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

Make a Shopping List

2 / 7 Make a Shopping List

Impulse purchases can throw off your diet and your budget. You’ve heard it before but it bears repeating: make a shopping list and don’t deviate from it. Check the circular before you hit the supermarket and plan meals around healthy sale items you may not otherwise be able to afford, like wild salmon. Another trick: Pay with cash. Paying with cold, hard currency feels more tangible than swiping plastic; this alone can help rein in spending.  

Go Meatless

3 / 7 Go Meatless

Beans, eggs and other legumes are not only good sources of protein, they’re healthier and less expensive than animal proteins. On average, one pound of ground beef costs about $4.50 while a pound of dried beans costs roughly $1.50 per pound. Plant-based protein also doesn’t contain the artery-clogging saturated fats found in red meat and processed meats like hot dogs and bacon, making it far better for your overall health.     

Buy Frozen Vegetables

4 / 7 Buy Frozen Vegetables

Frozen vegetables are typically harvested at peak ripeness and frozen within a few hours. This preserves the nutrients and taste of the veggies—making them just as healthy as buying fresh. Always choose frozen over canned veggies, which can be packed with sodium. Another perk of buying frozen versus fresh? Your produce won’t spoil as quickly, saving you money.   

Canned Fish

5 / 7 Canned Fish

Canned fish, like chunk white tuna and salmon, is high in protein and omega-3s—the good-for-you fats—and typically more affordable than fresh seafood. Canned fish also has a longer shelf life, so you can stock up when it’s on sale and eat it months later. Opt for canned fish stored in water; it has less fat than fish stored in oil.

Farmer's Market Produce

6 / 7 Farmer's Market Produce

Fruits and veggies bought at the farmer’s market are richer in vitamins and nutrients—and flavor—than what you’ll find in the produce section of your grocery store. Why? Locally grown produce is picked at the peak of ripeness. Produce found at the supermarket is typically picked before it’s fully ripe and left to ripen in a truck as it travels long distances to the store. In season, many locally grown fruits and vegetables—like zucchini and squash—are a better buy as well. Stock up when you have the chance and freeze some of your bounty. You’ll be able to enjoy favorite fruits and veggies, out of season, at no additional cost.  

Stick to the Outer Aisles

7 / 7 Stick to the Outer Aisles

Focus on shopping the perimeter of the store. The center of the store is filled with highly processed items—mostly, from a nutritional standpoint—junk food.  If you need basics like mustard or flour, look at the top and bottom of the shelves, which is where you’ll find less-costly generics.  And if you think shopping on Monday gives you the freshest picks, think again. Shipments arrive on weekdays, meaning that foods bought on Monday were likely sitting there over the weekend.

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