More Health:

October 23, 2023

Tips for healthy eating on a tight budget

Healthy Eating Nutrition

Content sponsored by IBC-Native-091523-EatHealthyBudget

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As the cost of living continues to increase, maintaining a healthy diet may seem like an unaffordable luxury — especially if you’re already on a tight budget. But eating wholesome meals doesn’t have to be expensive — and it’s essential to your health! Here are some tips for prioritizing a nutritious diet without breaking the bank.


The key to eating well on a budget is planning out your meals and snacks. Your plan should cover at least a week, but it can run several weeks with a little extra effort up front. Build your meal plan around foods that you already have, as they cost nothing, and foods you can buy inexpensively. Check store sales and see what foods you have — or can get — coupons for. If you don’t have store discount or bonus cards, be sure to sign up for them to get additional savings on different items each week.

Don’t be afraid to use the same ingredients in multiple meals. For example, if there’s a good sale on chicken cutlets, you can use them to make fajitas or grilled chicken to put on top of salads for dinners. You can also make them into chicken salad for lunchtime sandwiches.

Once you’ve finished creating your meal plan, it’s now time to make a shopping list. This will help you avoid impulse purchases by keeping you focused on only buying the things you came for. To help you resist that temptation even more, don’t shop on an empty stomach.

Picking your store

If it’s not too inconvenient, use more than one store. Different stores may have different items on sale. Also, discount grocers and/or dollar stores may have cheaply prices staples such as canned chicken, tuna and vegetables, coffee and tea, and eggs and cheeses, as well as vegetable oil and spices.

If you live near a farmer’s market, try going there for fresh produce. If you go near the end of the day, you may be able to talk some of the merchants into giving you a discount on items they otherwise would have to pack up or throw away.


Look for produce that’s in season and grown locally. It may be cheaper and slightly more nutritious because it reduces the amount of time from when it’s picked to eaten.

Also, consider buying frozen or canned produce. Large bags of frozen vegetables can be inexpensive and provide servings for multiple meals. Avoid products with unhealthy additives such as salt, oils, butter, and sugar.

If you have space and time, you can save even more money by growing your own produce. Many fruits, vegetables, and herbs can grow in pots outdoors or indoors near a well-lit window.

Other tips

When you buy frozen or canned produce, consider purchasing store brands. They often are cheaper and just as good as name brand products. That’s also true for vegetable oils, dairy products, and many other items. To see which brand is cheapest, use unit pricing, which usually tells you an item’s price per ounce.

Whatever you buy, check its “sell by” or “use by” date to make sure it’s as fresh as possible. This will help make sure it's nutritious. With that said, sometimes items are marked down because they’re near their “sell by” or “use by” dates. Most stores have several shelves of these in one place, and they can be good bargains. Just make sure you use them quickly. Stores may also have discounted produce or meat that’s fine if you use it soon.

For snacks, pick ones that aren’t highly processed and/or salted. A bag of apples may be more expensive than a bag of potato chips, but one apple likely will make you feel as full and is much more nutritious. Unsalted nuts and popcorn also are better choices than chips and pretzels. You can pay less for nuts by buying them in bulk. That’s also true of many staples, including beans and grains.

Speaking of beans, they’re a good alternative to meat for both your health and your wallet. They’re also very versatile and can fit into soups, salads, and main dishes. When you do buy red meat, look for leaner and cheaper cuts.

After shopping

After you get home, store perishable food in the refrigerator or freezer immediately. If you bought a lot of fresh food, such as meat, poultry, or fish, divide it into meal-sized portions and freeze it.

When you put food away, make sure the food with the earliest expiration dates is the most accessible so you can use it first.

With planning and some effort, you can eat healthily on a tight budget. And it not only will make you feel better mentally and physically, but it also will give you a sense of accomplishment.

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