How to eat healthy on a tight budget

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How can I afford to eat healthy if I’m on a budget? That’s a question that many people are having to ask themselves. Food has gotten so expensive, and if you don’t know how to shop smart, you will risk wasting so much money on food.
In this article, you will learn some tricks and tips on how to save money on groceries. Not only will you and your family be able to eat healthy on a tight budget but you will even be able to put money back into your saving account.

When I first wanted to get my family to eating healthily, I was so discouraged because of the high food prices. I thought there was no way that my family could start a healthy diet and stay within our budget, but I was determined and had to find a way to feed my family healthy food and save money on groceries.
Through trial and error, I’ve found incredible ways to shop cheaply and feed my family healthy food. And the money that I’ve saved from my groceries has helped me put them into our savings account.

17 Tips on how to eat healthy on a tight budget

A pinterest image titled 17 Tips on How to eat healthy on a tight budget

1- Know what type of diet you want to follow

It’s important to know what type of diet you want to follow before you make a plan. I do not mean that you should follow a strict diet; I am talking about looking at your eating habits. Then decide what to change, add or remove from your pantry so you know what kind of food you need to spend your money on. This will make it easier for you to budget.

2- Set a weekly budget

Most importantly, know your monthly grocery budget, break it into a weekly budget, and stick to it.

By far, the easiest way to set a weekly food budget for my family is this trick I learned from funcheaporfree.com. I have practiced their method for a long time now, and I love it. I do not have to sit down each month to figure out how much money to spend on food because I have a set amount each month. Sometimes I have to adjust it a little bit depending on holidays and celebrations, but it pretty much stays the same. 

Here is the easiest way to set a weekly budget:

Jordan Page from funcheaporfree.com says: “The standard I’ve always suggested is $100 per person in your family per month. Whether it’s a newborn, a teenager, or an adult, each person living in your house gets that same $100 every month. This starts at $300, so whether you’ve got 1, 2, or 3 people living at home, you still have $300 for the month. If you have a family of 4, then your grocery budget for the month is $400.” 

Now, once you have set and understand your family budget, you break it down by week, not by month.

 So, for our family of 7 it’s $700 a month, then we divide it by however many weeks there are in the month. If that month has four weeks, then we end up with $175 per week.

$700 is our family’s monthly budget, $175 is our weekly budget.

Please read this article if you want to know more about how I keep my grocery budget under $100 per week for our family of 7. 

Do you want to know how to keep your weekly food budget under $100?

3- Create a menu plan to help you eat healthy on a tight budget

Meal planning or menu planning lets you visually prepare what you like to eat and cook. You write down what you’re going to eat for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner for the week or the month; then you set your budget around the prices that each meal costs, so that makes you stay within your finances.

Meal planning is the best way to stock up a pantry and eat healthy on a budget.
Start with menus that you know you love and eat, so you do not waste food and money.

 

4- Create a shopping list

A shopping list helps you to stay within your budget. It enables you to know what you really need, so you will not spend too much time at the grocery store wondering what you need to buy. The more time you spend at the store, the more money you will pay.

Here is a free shopping list printable for you, and you can also have my free pantry, fridge and freezer inventory lists. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do.

5- Don't buy everything at once; gradually build your pantry

The longer you live in one place, the more the amount of food you have will grow, so do not purchase everything at once. You have to gradually stock up your pantry so you will not get burned out or unnecessarily waste money. And as your pantry grows gradually overtime, you will organically gain an individualized understanding of what works best for you, what your food budget will be, and what kinds of food need to be included in your pantry.

6- Shop at a cheaper store

Shopping at a cheaper store will save you so much money. Health food stores are expensive. You can get the same quality and same variations at a more affordable store.
Shop at stores like Walmart, Winco, Aldi, Fry’s, or a Dollar store. Whatever cheaper stores that are near you.

7- Order your groceries online

Ordering your groceries online can save you tons of money and save you time.
The best thing about ordering your groceries online is that it makes it so easy to stay within your budget, it saves you from impulse buying, and makes it easy to see and remove things from your cart if you have too much. It’s hard to do that when you are at the store in person. And you can track your spending and what you’ve bought by looking at your previous purchases. I really like that part!

A picture of a shopping cart to help you eat healthy on a tigh budget

8- Only shop once a week

Shopping once a week and sticking to one or two stores where things are affordable will help you save tons of money. Not only will this prevent you from impulse buying, but it will save you on gas and time.
Rather than running to the store for one thing, substitute a missing ingredient for something else. If you don’t have enough ingredients to create a specific recipe, then make a different recipe. Leave that recipe for when you have all the ingredients.
Hence, only go when it’s an emergency, such as needing baby formulas, diapers, or medicine.
Shopping only once a week might be difficult at first, but if there’s a will, there’s a way.

9- Buy store brands

Store brands are cheaper than brand-name products. But my advice for this is to not purchase a lot at first, only buy one or two to see if you like it. This way, you will not waste your money, and you’ll only have what you love to eat in your pantry. You can save so much money by buying store brands, especially if you want a healthy diet.

10- Shop what's on sale and in season

You can save so much money and can stock up your pantry fast when you buy what’s on sale and in season.
When things are on sale, buy 2-3 extras, so you have them when they were cheap, and you wouldn’t have paid full price next time you need them. Also, you are slowly stocking your pantry without going over budget.
When fruits and vegetables are in season: buy some, then freeze the rest so you can save them for later.

11- Don't buy premade food; Make them yourself

Pre-packaged food is more expensive. When it makes sense to make it, make it yourself. Pre-packaged foods like a one-pot meal, pre-seasoned meat, or energy balls are so easy to make.
You will save money if you make yours and you will learn a new skill. Plus, you will know exactly what you put in your food. Making things yourself helps you build your pantry and increase your pantry staples.

12- Buy food that will last for a long time

Food like grains, flour, canned food, and dry spices can last a long time. You must have those in your pantry in case you ever need to dip into your emergency food storage. Make sure to check the expiration date when you plan to store food for an extended period.

13- Don't buy at eye level

When you’re at the store, don’t buy at eye level. The store puts a higher price on the products that are on your eye levels. It’s a marketing strategy. But if you look down and compare prices, you will see that the ones that are down below are much cheaper.

14- Don't buy refrigerated plant-based milk or juice

Things are a lot more expensive when they are refrigerated. You can buy plant-based milk or non-refrigerated juices, and they are way cheaper. You can just put them in the fridge once you’re home.

15- Buy day-old bread, fruits, and vegetables

Yes, stores reduce the price of fruits, vegetables and bread when they are not up to the grocery store’s standards anymore. There is nothing wrong with them; sometimes, they’re bruised or look a little old. But they still taste very good.
When the fruit and vegetables are not super pretty to be on the shelves anymore, the store sells them for very cheap.
You have to use and eat these fruits fast, though… maybe use them for smoothies, or you can just freeze them, too.

Price reduced fruits to help you eat healthy on a tight budget
A picture of a price reduced bread to help you eat healthy on a tight budget

16- Buy price reduced meat

Stores will lower the price of the meat when it is closer to its expiration date. There is nothing wrong with meat that is close to its expiration date; you just need to cook it immediately or freeze them. The store needs to make ways for new products, so they sell the meat for very cheap. It’s the perfect way to stock up your freezer with meat.

Stores will put yellow stickers on meat that is discounted, so be sure to look for the yellow stickers.

Note: wholesale stores do not do this; only regular grocery stores do.

an image of a price reduced steak to help you eat healthy on a tight budget
an image of a price reduced meat to help you know how to eat healthy on a tight budget

17- Don't go shopping hungry

Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry. You tend to make mistakes when you go to the store on an empty stomach. You buy things that are already cooked and sometimes not healthy.
Not going shopping hungry will be good for your wallet and your health.

In conclusion, that is how I feed my family healthy food and still manage to stay within our budget. I have a set amount of how much food my family needs to spend each week. By budgeting my groceries weekly, not monthly, it’s much easier to control the money and your spending. Then I use those 17 tips that I mentioned above to help me save money on my groceries. It was a little tricky at first, but it got easier once I knew what to do. 

 

Have you guys used any of these tips before, or what tricks do you use to eat healthy on a budget? Please drop your comments below. I would love to hear from you!

 

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As someone who carefully watches every penny I appreciate all of your great tips! Oh, and I love your downloadable list templates.

Amy

These are such great tips! I think there is often a misconception that its expensive to eat healthy but it really isn’t at all. I think its actually cheaper.

Kayla

Good ideas for everyone to keep in mind! You are a star for feeding a family of 7!! That takes a lot of work and planning, so good job to you! One more helpful thing for me (as a vegan who eats a lot of produce!) is using a produce delivery service, like Hungry Harvest or Imperfect Foods. Hungry Harvest, in particular, is really inexpensive and I highly recommend them. Unfortunately, they’re in a limited geographic area. Thanks for the tips!

Kimberlie

I was practicing some of the tips you shared, but found several others I can use to help save while eating healthy such as buying day old bread and reduced price meats. Thank you!

Melissa

Great points! The markup I’ve seen from pre-cut produce is huge! Cutting up your own produce is so much more cost-effective. I like to do it all at once so nothing goes to waste in the back of our produce drawer!

Jenae

These are such good tips! Shopping lists are a must for me, if feel lost in a grocery store without one.

Angie

Great tips! We don’t really budget but we probably should follow some of these tips because sometimes things go bad fast. We are OK with store brands. And lately have done some online grocery delivery orders. I love that convenience.

Gregory Halpen

This is amazing! Being on a fixed income, I’ve learned a little how to shop smart. Your advice is great because I’m always needing ways to save money. thank you for sharing your wisdom!

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