grocery list with kitchen items to help eat healthy on a budget

How To Eat Healthy on a Budget

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Want to eat healthy but are nervous about your budget?

I completely understand.

When I first started eating better, that was my first concern.  Money is a big deal, especially when you don’t have it.

However, I realized in comparing my food bills from a year ago to now, I have spent over $4000 less than I was in food.  That includes groceries, eating out, restaurants, side trips to Walmart and gas station for snacks, delivery, etc.

That is a ton of extra money. Yes, I know, we ate out and snacked A LOT. Most people do and don’t even realize it!  We didn’t!

And you know what?  I no longer have to go to the doctor every three months for tests and medications, so I am saving money there too.  In one year, my medical costs went down by $2800! Which means we saved $6800 last year in all! By choosing to switch my brands, I saved in medical costs and future medical issues.  That right there is priceless to me.

Most people don’t realize what they eat can affect their health.  But it can.

So when you calculate your food costs, make sure you include your medical costs in in there too!

There is a reason why leading scientists are saying food can heal!

So how can you save money like I did? Let’s jump in.

Want to watch the video version of this post?  Check it out on YouTube!

1. Stop Eating Out

Eating healthy isn’t as expensive as you think.  Once you start making meals at home and quit eating out, that is a major savings right there.  Aaron and I were getting fast food or delivery at least 2-3 times per week.

That’s anywhere between $20-80 over what we could have spent per week!  When we started eating at home, we realized it only cost us between $3-5 per person each meal, which was much better.  And want to know what the most interesting part is?  We eat mostly Organic, Free Range, and Pasture Raised foods.

I know, it was a shocker to me too.

We quit grabbing snacks, soda, and coffee each day from the gas station and started packing lunch and snacks for work.

100% of our meals are from our kitchen, saving us anywhere between $60-120 per week.  We didn’t even realize how much we were spending!  It really adds up!

Want some ideas of budget friendly meals?  Check out My Recipes!  Each recipe I make is usually about $3-5 per serving or less.

2. Eat Food Without Artificial Ingredients

Okay, you have seen me talk about this in nearly every single article I have wrote and was a major feature in my Why Your Food is Making You Sick (and Fat!) and How to Lose Weight When You Have Chronic Pain.  This is for a reason!

Want to know why you are hungry all the time?  Because you aren’t eating actual food!

Artificial Ingredients are basically fillers, not food! Your body requires food with nutrients to work.

Many people are scared to start eating healthy because it is more expensive. But if you look at it as you won’t be eating as much, that means you will limit the amount of extras you get when grocery shopping, because you don’t need them anymore!

This will even out your grocery bill, or like in my case, save you a ton more money!

Example:

???????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????? $????.????????: extra calories that add no nutritional value. Your body won’t use the calories, so it will store as fat, and you are hungry not long after eating it so will need something else to eat soon, which will add to cost of this item.


????????????????????????????- $????.????????: You are full for hours and you not only added fiber to your diet, but added many other vitamins and minerals too! Your body will use up the nutrients in the avocado, so will use it as fuel and less likely to store it.

When you look at the big picture, healthier is much cheaper.

When Aaron and I switched to the brands without the chemicals and artificial ingredients, we not only lost weight and felt better, but we were also less hungry.  We didn’t change what we were eating, just the brands!

Our grocery bill went way down because we didn’t feel the need to eat as much.  Snacking?  Don’t need to.

Because we aren’t hungry all the time anymore.

3. Stop Drinking Soda

Soda is dangerous.

It bewilders me that people know this and still give it to their kids.  I’m not just talking about the sugar either, although that is a category all on it’s own.

The high fructose corn syrup and other chemicals make this a breeding ground for diabetes, obesity, ADHD, learning disorders, mental disorders, cancer, etc!  I wrote an entire article about it, because it is that scary of an ingredient!

Think you are safe by drinking diet soda?  Think again.

The artificial sweeteners in that do the same thing to our body as regular sweeteners.  Not only that, artificial sweeteners turn into formaldehyde when absorbed by the body.  That’s the stuff we pump into dead people.  Sounds yummy, huh?

Why are we still paying $5 a 12 pack and drinking this?

Once you cut out soda, you are saving so much money.  There are alternatives you can drink instead.

You can drink water with cucumber. lemons, or strawberries to give it flavor.

You can use Stevia in water.  Stevia is a natural sweetener.  It’s not sugar and is not artificial.

If you go through Vitacost and buy Stevia flavored drops, put it in water, then you get water flavored like soda!  My husband, Aaron, didn’t like the taste of water, so we did it that way. We bought the SweetLeaf Root Beer Flavor from Vitacost.  We would put it in either carbonated water or in regular water.  It enhanced the taste of both.  One bottle lasted longer than 6 months for us and cost less than $10 total.  Now, Aaron doesn’t even need the flavoring to drink water.

Progress!

4. Use Same Ingredients for Different Meals

When I do my recipe posts, you can see there is a theme in the order I post.  My Sweet and Spicy Chili and my Healthy Southwest Lasagna use some of the same ingredients.  My Homemade Ranch Dressing, Jalapeno Ranch Chicken, Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza , and Buffalo Ranch Chicken Pasta all use my ranch dressing.

This is on purpose.

I can chop all veggies at once, or make the dressing, on a Sunday night, divide them up, store, and have quick access to the ingredients for the next few days. This cuts my preparation time in half during the week so it is a major timesaver.

This also saves me a lot of money. I used to buy ingredients and half of it would go bad before I could use the rest of it.

Being able to plan the meals to where I can use the whole onion, pepper, or dressing ensures nothing is wasted or goes bad before I get to it!

The trick is to find what is on sale, and buy it. Meat and poultry can be frozen, so it’s easy to always stock up on that when it is on sale.  Find which produce or dairy is on sale that week and you can easily plan your next few meals based off that!

5. Buy More Poultry

You cut costs a lot by eating just poultry, instead of beef or pork.  Beef and pork are not necessary in your diet.  The smartest minds in America at Harvard made up a healthy food pyramid that will surprise you.  This food pyramid tells you to limit red meat, because it is actually not necessary for us to survive and can be bad for us in large amounts!

You will find most of my recipes are either chicken or turkey based. That’s because it’s not only healthier, but it’s cheaper!

Honestly, I like it much better too.

I go grocery shopping and don’t even miss beef or pork. These might be in my diet every once in awhile, but like Harvard says, it’s not necessary.

Since I buy my poultry organic, I will usually buy it at Fresh Thyme or Costco, because they have it the cheapest.  If you do not have those stores near you, and still want Organic chicken, or chickens that weren’t pumped full of hormones, I recommend to go to Whole Foods or another healthy type grocery store.  Sometimes Walmart and Target carry organic produce, but I believe it depends on the store because i haven’t seen it at every one.  Target’s is a little more pricey from my experience.

Why Should You Buy Organic, Free-Range Meat and Poultry? 

Because you don’t have to worry about food borne illnesses as much with organic.  It is more nutritious than factory farm chicken because chickens are in their natural habitat and eating foods their body can naturally process.  Factory farmed meat and poultry can be fed anything from candy to dead animals to feces (I’m not joking). What they eat gets passed to you.

If you want to read more on how gross factory farmed animals are, here is a report by the CDC.

If you are interested in learning more, I also highly recommend if you have Netflix to watch the documentary “The Magic Pill”.  It talks about how food can heal. They mostly focus on the Keto diet, but there is a really good segment in the middle about factory farming vs free range organic animals and what makes it so different.

6. Buy Healthy Non-Perishables Online!

I will typically buy all my healthy non-perishables online.  Why?  Because I save money that way!

Here is what I do most of the time:

  1. Make a grocery list for the next two weeks.
  2.  Go to Ebates/Rakuten through this link
  3.  Sign up with your email address.  They may ask for your address so they can pay you, but that’s it!
  4. Once you are signed up, search for Vitacost  (Vitacost is a part of Kroger and offers foods for every diet imaginable at affordable prices.)
  5.  Usually it will come up with an entire list of promotions for that store.  If you find any promo codes that will be relevant to your order, make sure to write it down or “copy” it!
  6.  Click the “Shop Now” Link
  7.  It will come up with a tracking number and take you to the store’s website.
  8. Go ahead and shop as normal! Vitacost is fantastic because they allow customers to rate their products. Afraid to try something new? Look at the reviews! Most of the stuff on there is great and they let you search by specific diet you are on, which makes it even better! FYI, Simply Organic is my favorite brand to buy from there. They are cheap, healthy, and all their products taste fantastic.  I also buy all my spices from there because they are super cheap!
  9. Once you complete your order, go to the shopping cart and enter any promo codes you wrote down (sometimes they will accept more than one!).  If you have over $50 in your cart, they will give you free shipping too!
  10. Check out and your order will usually be to your house in about 2 days and you don’t have to pay extra shipping to get it that fast!

To sum up, I buy all my non-perishables by going to the store’s website through Ebates.

I not only get cash back on my purchases, but Ebates/Rakuten usually gives me promo codes for a percentage off my purchase too.  After it’s all said and done, I spend much less on my non-perishables doing it this way.

I like deals.  I use Ebates for all my online shopping (including Christmas shopping!) and I have gotten back over $900 in cash back over the years! They just mail a check to my home every 3 months!

UPDATE FEB 2020-

Since I have Amazon Prime now, and they have started delivering non perishables to my area, I have started using them to order all my non-perishables a lot more.

I love using them and their prices are really great.  In some cases, they are even cheaper than Vitacost!

I still use Vitacost every once in a while, because they have some brands I really like that Amazon doesn’t, so will usually order those separate.  I just am now starting to use Amazon a little more for my groceries.

However, I do highly recommend both for buying non-perishables.

If you don’t have Amazon Prime, I highly recommend it, because their prices on groceries and the free shipping alone make it worth it.

Click here to try Amazon Prime for free for 30 days, to test it out to see if you like it as much as I do!

Eat Healthy For Less

So as you can see, there are some secrets I use to eat healthier without killing my finances.

I had to shop around at multiple places to find who had the best deals at the best prices.  I love Ebates/Rakuten and Vitacost for giving me a great way to save money on my healthy non-perishables.

Fresh Thyme has really great sales on their produce and meat/poultry.   Walmart is beginning to jump in on the healthy food market and is starting to offer a lot more organic options at reasonable prices.

You may spend more if you go organic for meat and poultry, but once you start eating it, you will buy less of it due to not being as hungry, and you will save a ton of money in medical costs down the road!

You will also more than make up for the costs by not eating out and getting the cash back and coupons on your non-perishables.

Not to mention, you will feel great physically and mentally.

You just can’t put a price on that.

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2 thoughts on “How To Eat Healthy on a Budget”

  1. I’m definitely going to check out #6 and look for better deals online. Do you have any experience with Amazon-related food partners/programs?

    My fiance and I are slowly moving our budget to meal delivery services instead of groceries per say and eating out. It’s a 30-day experiment were trying.

    The article was great though!

    1. Thank you very much for your feedback! I unfortunately do not have any experience with Amazon Fresh because they do not deliver to my area (I wish they did!). I have ordered some non-perishables online from Amazon that is in their general search section, and I had no issues and the prices were decent. So far I have found Vitacost, Thrive Foods, Brandless, and Butcher Box deliver to my area and their prices are very reasonable. I found Vitacost is my favorite for the non-perishables. Their prices can’t really be beat for organic products and organic spices. Sometimes I also use Walmart for online ordering and just go through Rakuten so I can get cash back on my order (I actually do that for Vitacost too).

      I haven’t tried actual meal delivery services yet. My husband and I discussed those a while ago, because I plan to try all of them next year sometime and write a review on each of them and keep track on if they cost us more or less than what we spend now.

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