When you want to eat healthy but not blow your budget, try these 10 practical ways to eat healthy on a budget. Simple tips to save money AND time with the best cost-efficient grocery staples and meal planning hacks.
Throughout the years I’ve thought of myself more of a kitchen ninja than a master cooking pro. Despite these perfectly-cured photos you see here on my site, the real food scene looks more like this:
…prepping dinner with a kid begging for my attention or baby on my hip
….rushing to get food on the table before baseball
…throwing together something on the fly because I have no groceries
Food isn’t always pretty and what’s on our plates doesn’t always make sense, but I make it work.
And like thousands of other families, I try to make sure we’re eating things that are nutritious but that won’t cost me our life savings at the grocery store.
I share my random made-up meals often on Instagram, but the other day I was thinking how helpful it might be to post a roundup or ways families can eat really healthy and limit processed food without having to spend a ton or money or time prepping.
The problem is, most tips like this that already live on the interwebs seem to have a fundamental flaw which is.…
Time Saving Tips
If you want to save money, you need to sacrifice your time OR the quality of what you eat.
How about different advice than cutting coupons (who has time for that?!), buy only organic produce and only on sale (in a perfect world), or meal plan beforehand (thanks captain obvious).
Instead, I wanted to give you 10 practical ways to heat healthy on a budget.
So let’s dive in!
10 Practical Ways to Eat healthy On a Budget
I can’t start this list without mentioning the Ultimate Meal Hacking Playbook that has LOADS of tips just like this and more – to help you save money and time in the kitchen. It’s loaded with my favorite cooking hacks and some simple recipes you can make over and over. This FREE ebook is yours by clicking HERE.
Tip#1: Chickpeas and black beans
My pantry has at least 3 cans of chickpeas and black beans at all times. These easy staples help add some ‘girth’ to any meal on the cheap – not to mention a great source of protein and fiber!
I often add black beans in tacos or soup, with mixed roasted veggies, or served as a side with a little butter. Chickpeas are fantastic in vegetable-based soups, in salads, or Greek-inspired bowls with rice, olives, and cucumbers.
Tip#2: Frozen Organic Blueberries
Spoiler alert – I don’t buy everything organic (GASP!). But when it comes to berries, we’ve all heard they can be one of the most pesticide-laced produce items out there. Buying frozen organic blueberries are so much cheaper than fresh, and used in a variety of ways.
Blueberries are such a great source of antioxidants, so I really prioritize them in our diet.
Frozen blueberries are often used in oatmeal, chia seed pudding (like this blueberry pie chia seed pudding), in smoothies, folded into baked goods, and on their own (eat ‘em straight with a spoon!).
Bonus tip: Kids love yogurt packets, but I’m not a fan of the sugar content! Instead, I save the blueberry juice and mix it in with plain yogurt. Sweeten just a tad with raw honey or pure maple syrup and you’ve got kid-friendly yogurt that looks just like the overly sweetened, sugary kind!
Tip#3: Pork Butt or Pork Shoulder
There’s nothing like cooking up pork butt/shoulder and using it for leftovers all week long (or freezing for later). This cut of meat is SO cost efficient too.
I like to make my pork in the Instant Pot or low and slow in the crockpot, then I’ll let shred it, let it cool, then refrigerate for meals later in the week. Some examples are:
- tacos mixed with taco sauce or tomato-based salsa
- mixed with BBQ sauce over coleslaw for sandwiches or stuffed in cooked sweet potatoes
- sprinkled with balsamic for salads or just by itself
- mixed with ranch and roasted veggies for a ‘hash’
- soups with broth, green chilis, lime, and salsa verde
Tip#4: Magnetic Refrigerator List
Anytime I make a ‘stocking up’ kind of grocery run when meat is on sale or Costco isn’t a zoo, I quickly jot down everything I just bought that goes in the refrigerator or freezer on my trusted magnetic note pad on the side of the fridge.
This helps me SO MUCH keep track of what I have so nothing goes bad, and I can effectively make simple meals on the fly that look like this:
Don’t underestimate chicken breasts, steamed broccoli, and a side of honey mustard! Simple meals can always be accomplished when you know what’s in your fridge.
Be sure to cross off each item after you consume! This is one of my favorite organizational tips included in 10 practical ways to eat healthy on a budget.
Tip#5: Ditch pre-made salads
Now I’m all about convenience mmmmk? But those pre-made salad kits are blowing your budget. It’s so much more cost effective buy separate elements for salads. And it takes just a few minutes to throw together a bomb salad – I promise.
Here’s how I do it the most basic way – lettuce, fruit, protein, crunch.
- Chop 1 head romaine
- Add fruit for sweetness like chopped apples, halved grapes, or blueberries/strawberries.
- Throw in leftover meat (or deli meat)
- Add some crunch with sliced almonds, walnuts, or pistachios
- Serve with dressing and add any other veggies like cucumbers or peppers if ya have them!
Tip#6: Use every and all leftovers
I save everything. I mean EVERYTHING. Don’t underestimate the power of saving that one cob of corn, the 1/2 cup of browned ground turkey, or those few strips of bacon.
Here some ideas how you can reinvent and reuse leftovers
- throw leftover ground meet or bacon in scrambled eggs the next the morning
- add roasted or steamed veggies in soups or stews
- shred leftover chicken for a variety of reinvented recipes like THESE
- leftover fruit or raw veggies are great additions to salads
- for the most perplexing leftovers, I simply add a condiment like ranch, pesto, or BBQ sauce and throw in any sort of hash with beans or rice to make it work!
Tip#7: Make your own granola
I knoooooow I promised these tips wouldn’t be a time suck but let’s get real, store-bought granola that’s actually a decent brand not loaded with sugar or junk is spendy. It’s actually very simple to make your own granola (with an oat base OR grain free nut-base) at home.
It’s really just mixing a few things together, spreading on a baking sheet, and baking for a few minutes. Let cool and viola.
Tip#8: Rice in Instant Pot
My life was forever changed when I got my Instant Pot (so much that I created an entire recipe guide for it HERE). And once I started making rice in my instant pot to add to meals so my hungry, bottomless pits could be satisfied, my life (and pocketbook) changed for the better even more!
It’s so simple to add 1 cup of rice + 2 cups of water to an Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes (then quick release). I use that perfectly-cooked rice for burritos, added to broth-based soups, as a side, in stir fries, or as a base for protein+veggie bowls. Any leftovers are refrigerated and used to add to any other meal later in the week!
Tip#9: Frozen Veggies
There’s just nothing like the convenience of having pre-chopped veggies in your freezer to use any day ya need ‘em.
I’m a big fan of buying frozen stir fry veggies to add to chicken and rice for simple stir fries (add coconut aminos/soy sauce and rice vinegar for flavor and BONUS if you have canned pineapple or mandarin oranges – my kids love that).
Other frozen veggies that are a staple to mix into a variety of meals are peas, carrots, and cauliflower. These are great to use in hashes, stews, or cooked and coated with salt and butter.
Tip#10: Know Cheaper Protein Sources
Piggybacking a bit on my third tip, but but knowing foods with high protein that won’t break the bank is key. Yes, I’m all about eating organic chicken breasts and grass-fed beef, but when ya need something little easier on the wallet, here are some great and affordable protein sources:
- canned tuna
- lentils (you even find these pre-made in a bag or can)
- tofu (this is one I always buy organic – but even then, is very cost efficient)
So there you have it! My tried-and-true, 10 practical ways to eat healthy on a budget.
Be sure to snag your free copy of the Ultimate Meal Hacking Playbook and check out my other posts with helpful meal planning tips: