How to Eat Healthy on a Budget
Eating healthy isn’t always easy or cheap but it is 100% worth it! And it is possible to eat healthy on a budget!
I spent years being an “extreme” couponer. I didn’t care about ingredients or quality. All I cared about was price.
And although it was nice to save money, in the end I paid a hefty price when it came to my health. I was diagnosed with Hashimotos in early 2018. I’m not sure what role my terrible diet played in my illness but I definitely know it didn’t help things.
Since my diagnosis I’ve been healing my body naturally with vitamins, exercise, essential oils and food. But like so many of you, I don’t have as much money as I would like to spend on healthy, organic food.
But guess what? You don’t have to go broke eating healthy. You just have to be a little more strategic about how you shop.
Don’t get me wrong. Eating healthier is going to cost more. But nourishing your body with healthy food is an investment.
- An investment in you.
- An investment in your future.
- An investment in your health.
I truly believe you can either pay now at the grocery store or pay later in medical bills.
But it is possible to eat healthy on a budget. I hope the tips below help you fill your kitchen with real, organic, whole foods without breaking the bank.
15 Tips to Help You Eat Healthy on Budget
1 | Use Coupons
Back in the day when I was a couponer there was rarely coupons available for organic, non gmo foods. But a lot has changed since then. Because the demand has grown for organic, clean foods there are many coupons available for these types of foods now. I always check Coupons.com before I leave for the grocery store. You can also have the Sunday paper delivered to your door for more coupons. And one of my favorite ways to score high value coupons is emailing my favorite brands and telling them how much I love their products. Often the brands will respond with coupons via email or postal mail.
2 | Use CashBack Apps
If you aren’t using cashback apps, you are missing out! Cashback apps are similar to coupons but instead of cutting them out and redeeming them at the grocery store, you instead download the app, log in, select you favorite offers (example: $1 cashback on milk), buy the item and upload your receipt to the app. The money will then be added to your account which after a minimum threshold is met you can transfer to your Paypal account.
My favorite cashback app is Ibotta. I’ve made close to $150 with it. And they’re constantly offering bonuses to help you to earn more.
When you use both these apps in conjunction with coupons the savings add up fast!
3 | Use CashBack credit cards
I love my American Express Preferred card. It gives me 6% back on groceries. That’s huge! You’re lucky to get 1% to 3% with most other cards and that’s being generous. The American Express preferred card does have a $95 annual fee but the card pays for itself within just a few months.
Think about it. If you spend $700 on groceries every month, you’ll earn $42 in rewards. You’ll have your annual fee paid back in 3 months or less. And every month after that your reward dollars will go straight to your pocket.
You can also earn 3% cashback at gas stations and 1% cashback on everything else. It’s my favorite credit card. I’ve earned over $250 cashback this year and we still have 4 months left before the year is over. And I rarely use it for gas because I have another card that gives me 5% back on gas.
Oh and I almost forgot about the offers. Every week American Express gives you different offers you can add to your card. In the past I’ve received $20 off a $60 Costco purchase, $20 off a $20 Amazon purchase, $10 off a $50 grocery store purchase and so many others. These offers really help when your trying to eat healthy and save money.
Use this link to apply for an American Express blue Preferred card and you’ll receive a bonus $300 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Blue Cash Preferred Card in the first 3 months of card membership.
4 | Grow Your Own Food
Not only will growing your own food save you money but the food will be so much fresher and yummier that you’ll never want buy store bought fruit and veggies again. I’m a huge advocate for backyard gardening. I believe there are so many benefits to gardening that go well beyond growing fresh food. But I digress. Let’s just talk about the cost effectiveness for a minute.
You can buy a tomato plant for around $3 that will yield up to 10 pounds of tomatoes. The same with a zucchini. $3 for 10 pounds! That’s 30 cents a pound!!!! That is unheard of at the grocery store. Especially for organic produce.
You might have to spend time in your garden and your water bill might be a bit higher than usual but even still your going to be saving a huge chunk of money. Especially if you freeze or can your surplus. I plan to write a lot more about gardening so stay tuned for that but for now check out this article to help you get started.
5 | Buy In Bulk
You almost always save money when you buy in bulk. The price per pound or ounce is usually significantly lower than when you buy the same item in smaller quantities. Costco and Boxed.com (more about Boxed.com below) are my favorite places to shop for bulk items.
A few things I like to buy in bulk are snacks like chips and fruit snacks, meats, veggies, coffee and so much more. The trick is only buying what you can eat before it goes bad. Unless you can freeze it or preserve it via some other method.
And remember buying in bulk doesn’t always guarantee a good deal. Make sure to compare prices per pound or ounce to the smaller packaging.
6 | Meal Plan
Meal planning is essential to not only eating healthy but saving money while eating healthy. Never go to the grocery store without a list in hand. Plan your meals out ahead of time. Check to see what items you already have in your pantry and fridge that you can utilize for the upcoming weeks meals.
Meal planning and buying in bulk sorta go hand in hand as well. If you can meal plan for the next two weeks or better yet the next month you might notice your going to need certain foods in large quantities. You might as well buy those items in bulk if they’re going to be cheaper.
7 | Shop Online
I love shopping online for groceries. Not only can you save money but you can also save time. Things like organic snacks and condiments can be crazy expensive at your local grocery store. I guarantee you can find them a lot cheaper if you buy online. My favorite places to buy groceries online are Amazon, Thrive Market, Vitacost and Boxed.com.
Amazon is great for organic fruit snacks and popcorn. And I almost always buy my protein powder on Amazon. They always have the best deal. And if you’re an Amazon prime member you can get your groceries delivered to your door in 2 days or less.
Boxed.com is similar to Costco except they don’t sell perishables and there isn’t a fee to shop there. They carry mainly items in bulk. Again it’s one of my favorite places to buy snacks and condiments. When I shop there I almost always buy Clif Zbars for my kids, organic ketchup, almonds, and trail mix.
My favorite place to shop for groceries online is ThriveMarket.com. They have great prices, amazing customer service, fast shipping and a large variety of different products. I’ll be writing a full review of Thrive Market soon.
If you want to know more about Thrive Market you can read my full Thrive Market review here!
8 | Use CashBack Websites
But basically you can earn cash back for purchases made online. So if you decide to take my advice from the last tip and shop online for some of your groceries make sure to sign up for Rakuten (formerly Ebates) Or TopCashBack. Currently on Rakuten you can earn 7.5% cash back on purchases made at Boxed.com. You can earn 7% cash back on purchases at Vitacost.com via TopCashBack. But keep in mind the cash back amounts fluctuate from day to day and from week to week.
9 | Shop Sales
Earlier I mentioned that back in the day I loved to coupon shop and there is still a part of me that hates paying full price. Although, I make eating healthy a priority now I have to confess I almost never pay full price. I can’t stand buying something if it’s not on sale. Instead, what I do is go through the grocery store sales ads for the current week and plan all my meals and snacks around what is on sale. If it’s not on sale than I don’t buy it unless it’s something we absolutely need.
10 | Shop Around
I will sometimes go to 2 or 3 different grocery stores for my shopping, not counting online shopping. And that’s because there are somethings that are on sale at one store that are not on sale at another. And like I mentioned in the previous tip, I strongly dislike paying full price for anything. It takes a little more time and effort but it can really help you stretch your budget when your trying to eat healthy and save.
11 | Buy In Season Produce & Freeze
Produce that is in season is going to be significantly cheaper than produce that is not. So try to only buy fruits and veggies that are in season. Buy more than you need for that week and freeze the rest for later. You’ll save a lot of money this way.
12 | Stop Eating Out
Eating out isn’t cheap. Especially if you’re trying to eat healthy. Try to cut back on eating out as much as possible. Making your own meals will save you so much money and your meals will probably be so much more healthier too!
13 | Dont Buy Prepackaged Foods
Prepackaged items like bagged salad are more expensive than if you just bought the lettuce and other ingredients and made the salad yourself. The same with cut up veggies. Your’e paying for the convenience. I know how nice it is to buy cut up fruit that’s ready to eat but buying items like that are a sure fire way to blow your grocery budget. I know it takes more time but skip the prepackaged foods and your wallet will thank you!
14 | Stop wasting food
I read an article the other day that said 50 percent of all produce in the United States is thrown away. Can you believe that? Another article I read said 150,000 tons of food is thrown away in the United States each day. When you waste food, your essentially throwing your money away. Only buy what you’ll actually eat. Freeze and can whatever you can’t and don’t forget to eat those leftovers!!!
15 | Try Generic Brands
If you’re the type of person that only buys name brand foods you need to knock that off asap. Now don’t get me wrong, not all name brands or generic brands are created equal. Some cheaper, generic brand are low quality and filled with yucky ingredients. So read the labels. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover some generic brands have the same ingredients as your favorite name brand products! And they taste good too! And they’re usually significantly cheaper!
Final Thoughts About How To Eat Healthy & Save Money
When you’re trying to eat healthy on a budget it might feel like there’s a constant battle between time and money. And that’s because there is. You’ll either spend more money (buying prepackaged foods, eating out, neglecting coupons, etc.) so you can save time. Or you’ll spend more time (cutting coupons, making meals from scratch, preparing grocery lists, etc.) so you can save money.
Thats just the way it is. You have to decide what’s most important to you and your family.
But whatever you do do not forsake healthy eating for time or money. It’s just not worth it.
I had to learn that the hard way. Don’t let that happen to you.
You only get one body and you have to take care of it. And that may require sacrifice.
Not only do I use all of the tips and tricks above but I’ve also cut back on spending in other areas of my life so I can increase my grocery budget.
Healthy eating is a top priority in our home and worth every penny! It’s made such a huge difference in not only my physical health but my mental health as well.
If you have any tips for how to eat healthy on a budget please share them below!
And don’t forget to……….
- Sign up for Ibotta
- Sign up for CheckOut 51
- Sign up for Rakuten – Earn $10 bonus
- Sign up for TopCashback – Earn $10 bonus
- Apply for American Express Preferred card – Earn $300 bonus
- Try Thrive Market – Get 25% off first purchase