Here Are Some of the Best Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget

If you frequent trendy vegan restaurants or shop at high-end health retailers, you know that eating healthy can get expensive, fast!

But it doesn’t have to.

With a little planning and forethought, you can enjoy healthy eating without breaking the bank. Indeed, research from the Harvard School of Public Health found that healthy eating costs just $1.48 more a day than consuming less healthy foods.

That said, healthy eating on a budget does require effort. You’ll need to be both creative and willing to do without some conveniences.

Here are tricks and tips gleaned from health- and budget-conscious experts to help you save money without skimping on your enjoyment of food – plus some delicious, nutritious, and affordable recipes!

Healthy Eating 2

6 Top Tips for Affordable, Healthy Eating + Recipes!

  1. Start Eating Meals at Home

Eating home-cooked meals is one of the best ways to affordably enjoy healthy food. That means switching from eating out to eating in, packing a lunch, and bypassing the prepared foods section of the market.

It’s all about planning. Decide what you’d like to eat during the week and make a well-thought-out list of food items to buy at the grocery store. People who shop in grocery stores typically spend less than buying online, research suggests (although there are some online deals to be had).

Use ingredients that are called for in several recipes to ensure you’ll use what you buy. Keep in mind that your leftovers from dinner can make a great lunch the following day.

Find recipes online. Ask friends for ideas. Choose dishes that can last for a few days like a healthy turkey chili or a killer-tasting hummus.

Beware of over-shopping. A study in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics found that a typical American household wastes about 32% of the food it buys! Buy perishables for a few days at time to reduce the likelihood of food going bad. Also, remember to shop after you’ve eaten. You’ll be less likely to over-shop on unnecessary food items.

  1. Go Big on Whole Grains and Beans

Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and oats – and all types of beans such as pinto, black, lentils, white, soybeans, and garbanzo beans – deliver nutrition and value in spades.

They’re loaded with fiber and nutrients and are very versatile when it comes to recipes. They’re filling, delicious, and inexpensive. Use them in salads, casseroles, chilis, soups, dips, and your favorite recipes. Save even more by buying them in bulk.

Choosing to consume more whole grains and beans (as well as tempeh and tofu) in place of some meat-based meals is generally more economical and healthier too.

  1. Choose Frozen and Canned

You don’t always need to go fresh with your fruits and vegetables; frozen and canned options are money-saving, healthy choices too.

Frozen fruits and vegetables are often picked at peak ripeness, and some comparative research to fresh produce shows they’re just as nutritious (and sometimes more) in nearly every instance. They’re typically available in resealable packaging, allowing you to use what you need and store what’s left.

Just be sure you choose plain frozen vegetables (without salt, sauce, or butter) and plain frozen fruit (without added sugar or syrup). Frozen fruit and frozen spinach are great to have on hand to use for smoothies. Frozen vegetables are wonderful for casseroles, soups, and quiche.

When choosing canned fruits and vegetables, again, be sure it has no added sugars, syrups, or sauces.

  1. Take Advantage of Coupons, Sales and Membership Rewards

You can cut your grocery bill by using coupons, taking advantage of specials, and through rewards memberships. Coupons are excellent if you have a planned out shopping list as they’re typically for specific items. There are some apps you can download that will give you access to grocery store coupons online and in-store in your area, too.

Shop at grocery stores that have frequent sales and specials on select items. Pay attention. Since meat, poultry, and fish are among the most costly items – get them when they’re on special and freeze what you aren’t ready to use.

You will often find fruit and vegetables in season on special. (Avoid buying foods that are out of season. They usually don’t taste good and will cost you more!)

Don’t forget, you can get savings anytime at most every store by buying their generic offerings rather than brand names. Of course, buying in bulk will usually save you money as well.

Enroll in rewards programs at any grocery store you frequent. Big box membership discount stores offer excellent food savings if you have a big family.

  1. Don’t Always Go Organic

To avoid the higher cost of organic produce, be choosey about what organic items you buy. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) tests levels of pesticides on produce each year and rates the worst (the Dirty Dozen) and the best (the Clean Fifteen). You could buy conventional for the clean fifteen and only buy organic for the dirty dozen only.

Alternatively, shop at a local farmer’s market, which often offers seasonal produce grown without pesticides (albeit not certified organic) at good prices – especially if you go at the end of a market and negotiate.

Although it isn’t an instant solution, consider growing some of your own produce such as carrots, zucchini, lemons, avocado, and tomatoes. You can’t beat the price or quality.

  1. Switch From Processed to Whole Foods

Snack foods or fast foods are usually high in sugar, refined carbs, unhealthy fats, and salt. They may provide short-term comfort, but come at a high cost to your health and pocketbook.

Start choosing whole foods instead. Load up with whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, lean poultry, low fat dairy, and fish, etc.

Spend an hour on a Sunday prepping healthy meals for the week. Choose to make a healthy salad or sandwich from home for lunch instead of going through the drive-thru, eating out, or getting a prepared foods item. Instead of grabbing something from the vending machine, choose a satisfying and low-cost, nutritious snack (such as apples and almond butter or hummus and veggies).

Healthy, Affordable Recipes

Simple Homemade Hummus

Make this at the start of the week. Use it in sandwiches and for snacks. It’s better than anything you could buy at the store and much less expensive!


  • 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (about a 15-ounce can)
  • ½ cup tahini
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 medium-to-large clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon Real Salt
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • sprinkle of ground paprika and a sprig of parsley to garnish


  1. In a high-speed blender (or food processor), add in the chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and salt. Use the blender baton to blend until very smooth, adding water as needed to blend, and/or to reach your desired consistency.
  2. Enjoy a heaping spoonful on a plate, topped with garnishes and served with warm sliced pita and veggies. Transfer the remainder to a sealed storage container and refrigerate. Will last up to a week!

Tana Amen’s Healthy Turkey Chili

Cook this up on a Sunday and enjoy throughout the week or store a portion of it in the freezer to enjoy later.


  • 1 lb lean ground turkey (free-range, hormone-free, antibiotic-free)
  • 1 tablespoon refined coconut oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (optional – it’s very spicy!)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 small can Ortega chilis
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1-2 teaspoons Real Salt
  • 3 cups diced tomatoes, fresh or organic canned (no salt added variety)
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup bell peppers chopped
  • 2 cups celery chopped
  • ½ cup zucchini chopped
  • 2 cups kidney beans cooked and drained (use canned if you don’t have time to cook beans)
  • 1 cup black beans or chickpea beans cooked


  1. In a large saucepan or pot, brown turkey meat in refined coconut oil over medium heat. Crumble turkey and break apart as much as possible. Add onion and stir for about 2 minutes. Meat should be lightly browned.
  2. Add garlic, jalapeño (if using), chili powder, Ortega chilies, oregano, cumin seed, salt, and tomatoes. Mix thoroughly until spices are well blended with meat (about 3 minutes).
  3. Add broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Dish out 2 cups of chili mixture. Put about 1 cup of chili at a time into the blender. Add ½ cup bell pepper, 1 cup celery, and ¼ cup zucchini, and purée. Repeat with other cup of chili and the rest of pepper, celery, and zucchini. Pour each mixture back into the remaining chili pot. Adding the puréed vegetables not only makes the chili tasty, but is a great way to add fiber and vitamins without overcooking.
  5. Add the beans. Stir thoroughly and heat through on medium-low, about 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Tana Amen’s Chicken Rainbow Quinoa Salad


  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds or ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 4 green onions chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper thinly sliced
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 cup garbanzo beans rinsed and drained (always soak overnight and cook thoroughly; only use canned beans in a pinch)
  • ½ cup fresh basil chopped
  • 3 cups chicken breast baked or grilled chopped, hormone-free, antibiotic free, free-range


  1. Rinse quinoa well. Combine quinoa with 2 cups water in a medium pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. In a small bowl, mix olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix quinoa, pomegranate seeds, green onions, yellow pepper, baby spinach, and garbanzo beans.
  4. Stir in basil and toss with prepared dressing.
  5. Top with chicken.
  6. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Enjoy these affordable, healthy recipes!


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*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This content is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute for medical or healthcare advice from a physician, nor is it intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before beginning a new health regimen.

Kim Henderson