Healthy Eating on a Budget

By Amanda Benson, RDN
Couple looking grocery receipt for healthy eating on a budget - Vitality

Access and cost can often become barriers to incorporating fresh produce into your diet – and while some “healthy” options may cost more, here are a few tips and tricks to help you find ways to include nutritious foods into your daily lifestyle without breaking the bank.

  1. Eat more meals at home and plan them in advance – Effective meal planning allows you to prepare and consume more meals at home, which equates to eating more nutritious foods and an overall healthier diet. In case you missed it, check out my last blog for effective meal planning tips.
  2. Shop fresh in-season produce – Did you know that fruits and veggies cost less when they’re in season? Check out this seasonal produce guide for tips on when to shop for your favorites. If you have access to local farmers’ markets this summer, consider visiting with your meal prep list in hand! Shopping at farmers’ markets are a great way to get in-season produce while supporting local farms. Since you’re removing the middleman, it can also help you save money.
  3. Opt for frozen (or canned) produce when fresh isn’t available – Even when your favorite produce isn’t in season, these options are just as nutritious at a fraction of the cost. Fruits and vegetables are picked and frozen or canned at peak ripeness which allows them to maintain a comparable vitamin and mineral content to their fresh counterparts. Plus, they last longer and are often more accessible! If opting for canned, look for those without added sugar or salt/sodium if possible.
  4. Include more plant-based protein sources – These tend to be less expensive than meat and offer a lot of nutritional bang for your buck. Think beans, lentils, nuts and nut butters, seeds, etc. You don’t have to go completely vegetarian or vegan if that’s not your thing. Simply consider adding more meatless meals to your weekly menu. Check out this list for more tips and plant-based recipes.
  5. Shop conventional, store brand items – Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to buy everything organic. In fact, there is no scientific evidence that organic foods are healthier than conventional foods. If organic options fit within your budget and that’s a priority for you, that’s great! But if not, that’s great too! (Yes, even when it comes to produce.) Furthermore, you can save even more when you shop the store-brand versions of various packaged foods. Spoiler alert: Often they have very similar if not the same ingredients.
  6. Utilize curbside pickup or grocery delivery options – While some of these services may include additional fees, you often end up saving money in the long run as you’ll be less likely to purchase unnecessary items that aren’t on your list. Also, they are a huge time saver which is something you can’t put a price tag on!
  7. Look into other food delivery subscription services that offer healthy options at unbeatable prices, such as:
    1. Imperfect Foods – on a mission to eliminate food waste and build a better food system for everyone, you can save time and money with sustainable, affordable groceries delivered weekly to your door
    2. Thrive Market – buy healthy pantry staples from top-selling brands at wholesale prices, shipped straight to your home on a one-time or recurring auto-ship basis

These are just a few ways to help you save money without sacrificing your health. Looking for some recipe inspiration? Check out these 20 budget-friendly dinner ideas that you can prepare in 20 minutes!

Amanda Benson is a Registered Dietitian and Wellness Strategy Manager with Vitality. She received her BS in nutrition at Michigan State University and completed her dietetic internship at the Medical University of South Carolina. When she’s not chasing around her two young children, she enjoys relaxing with a hot cup of coffee, running, attending concerts with her husband and wine nights with girlfriends.

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