10 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget ...

Let’s see… you have your new shoe budget, your dining out budget, your vacation plans budget… but what about your budget for healthy eating? Sadly, it’s lacking right now, but sweetie, I can help. First of all, I’m a first-rate cheapskate, and second, I’m a big fan of healthy eating! So if you’re wondering how to eat healthy on a budget, keep reading! Here are 10 easy ways to eat healthy on a budget.

1. Know the Toxic 12

While you may have your heart set on budgeting for healthy eating by buying only organic foods, that’s not always necessary — there are plenty of foods that we peel (like oranges and bananas, for example) so it’s perfectly safe to eat the non-organic version. It’s important, though, to know which organic foods will get you the most safety for your food budget buck, and these foods, which are clearly unsafe to eat unless they’re organic, are known as the Toxic 12 (or the Dirty Dozen). They are: apples, celery, bell peppers, strawberries, peaches, grapes (imported), kale (and spinach and lettuce), cucumbers, blueberries, potatoes, nectarines, and green beans.

2. Clip Coupons

It’s not just sugary cereals and fattening processed foods that make the coupon lists these days — even the healthiest of health foods are showing up in the Sunday circulars. Clip these coupons and save money on organic cereals, low-fat dairy options, and more. Some stores double or even triple manufacturer coupons, which is definitely a right step in the direction of budgeting for healthy eating!

3. Watch for Sales

I love sales… so I compare all of my local grocery and health food stores to see who has my favorite products on sale, and which stores have sales on the products I’ve been dying to try. One of the best ways to eat healthy on a budget is to know which stores have which sales, and when. Keep an eye out for sales flyers and announcements in-store, too.

4. Visit Farmer’s Markets

Simply put, there’s no better way to eat healthy on a budget than to spend a chunk of your money on healthy fresh fruits, veggies, dairy and meat from your local farmer’s market… or to grow your own! And here’s something I just learned from a local apple grower: though most small farmers can’t afford to be certified by the USDA as “organic,” a lot of them are… just ask!

5. Buy in Bulk

What happens when your favorite stuff is on sale? You buy it, a lot of it, as long as it keeps. I do this with yoghurt and cheese, since both freeze beautifully. Another option: check the local Costco to see if they have your favorite healthy foods in bulk, and if so, stock up!

6. Carry the Card

Most health foods stores and even local grocery stores have frequent-shopper cards, rewarding you for your loyalty with money off or points for purchased that you can accumulate and spend. Anyone wondering how to eat healthy on a budget needs to get one of these free cards from all of their local stores.

7. BYOB

That’s right: bring your own bags! Most health food and even some chain stores will reward you with money off your bill when you use your own totes to cart your items home. My local grocery takes 5 cents off my bill for every bag I use… which is only 25 cents per trip, I know, but after a year, I’ve saved $20, even after you consider the cost of the bags.

8. Go Vegetarian

Let’s face it: meat is expensive! Why not get your valuable protein from a source that’s just as healthy, but that costs a lot less? Beans, chia seeds, quinoa, and soy are all excellent sources of protein, and they’re far less expensive than beef, pork, and chicken. They’re also a lot healthier for you, too, being dramatically lower in fat and cholesterol. Even if you only go veggie for one dinner a week, you’ll save money and eat healthier.

9. Skip the Soda

Soda and other sugary drinks are not only disastrous for your health, they’re also pretty pricey. Delete them from your diet and you’ll notice a drop in your weight and a very closely-related drop in your junk-food spending. Hooray!

10. Stop Buying Fast Food!

Okay, I know fast food SEEMS cheap, but it’s really not, especially when you opt for their healthy fare, like salads and grilled chicken. Stop investing parts of your food budget on fast food… and cook at home instead! This is, perhaps, the best tip for eating healthy on a budget.

See? Eating healthy on a budget doesn’t have to be hard, and it doesn’t even have to cut into your new shoe fund, either! I’ll bet you were already using some of these tips without even knowing it! Which of these ways to eat healthy on a budget do you find most helpful? Or do you have any other ideas to add to my list? Please share!

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