Member Comments for the Article:

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Save Money Without Sacrificing Quality


11/11/2012 3:53:51 PM

I really agree with the list of cheap and quick meal types, like soup and pastas. I use those all the time. I found that the hardest part of eating healthy on a budget was taking the time to plan meals and find recipes. That's why when my husband got laid off, I decided to start sharing our weekly menus and recipes on my blog. It takes the hard planning out of the equation.
8/21/2012 7:35:45 AM

The problem that most people are not getting...there are many of us out there that can only afford to drive to the grocery once a month. Right now things are so bad, I'm going to try and go 2 months. It costs $3.00 in gas to go to and from the store once! Many of us are that budget conscious! So going to the store twice a week, every week or even every other week is out. Most fresh fruits and vegetables don't last that long...lucky if they are good for 3-5 days. So we must purchase foods that will keep for up to one month. Powdered milk and eggs are helpful. I freeze what I can for meats and fresh produce. And I freeze my bread. But there's only so much freezer space too. And "no" I can't afford to have a spare freezer...even if I could, I couldn't afford to run it. Please understand that we know how to eat/what to eat...but the economy is that bad for some of us. Also, I really don't eat that bad, but I wish I could have more fresh produce on a regular basis. Thank you for listening.
8/17/2012 9:17:46 AM

If you're living on a tight budget with a family, consider basing your meals on generic brand, filling frozen veggies: think green peas, carrots, etc. I'm lucky to have a WinCo in town where I can get a pound of frozen veggies for $0.88! It's really helped cut down my grocery bill. To pack in more protein, you can always add in beans, eggs, or canned fish for a reasonable price. And rice is a super healthy way to round out your starches and fiber. It's tough, but the extra time you put in searching for coupons and bargains will pay off. In the long run, I've found that I save money buying the most unprocessed foods! (dried beans, dozen eggs, frozen veggies, rice, quinoa, etc.)

If you live in a small town with limited fresh options, again, frozen fruits/veggies are packaged at the peak of freshness and nutritional value - it's much better than buying a can of most likely-BPA lined canned fruits/veggies. Plus you avoid the added salt and sugar in those foods. Here's an article that talks about it:

Basically, the heirarchy for produce is fresh, then frozen, then canned (in order of frequency of eating). I eat frozen vegetables fairly often, though (college student with a low-paying internship, paying two rents right now because of an out-of-state internship, living in California - it makes healthy living a challenge, but I feel good about making good choices!)

I hope you can find reasonably priced frozen veggies at your grocery stores - I've found that generic brands are significantly cheaper than the name brand frozen veggies - again, at $0.88/lb, it's definitely a bargain!

Hope this advice is helpful :)
8/17/2012 8:57:17 AM

NTAR2200's SparkPage
So many great suggestions! Thanks. For me personally i keep a stock of dry, frozen and canned essentials, and try to save money by buying small amounts of perishable/fresh goods as I need it. I used to waste too much money by throwing out "ungood" stuff... I know this might not suit a larger family scenario though...
8/17/2012 7:56:28 AM

I live in a VERY small community where "organic" anything will have you paying at least .25 more per pound than regular. Also, because we're a small town, even though our Wal-Mart, who boasts they have the "freshest" produce, give a container of strawberries one full day in your fridge and you're most likely going to have some moldy ones. Sure! People say "eat rice". Okay, but rice, even brown rice, is pure starch and then you have to have something to eat with it.

I try to eat healthy as much as I can, but buying healthy, "organic" food for me and my son with an income of under 20k/year doesn't work so well sometimes.
8/17/2012 7:50:10 AM

Hello my name is marqwela and I am at a point in my life that I need help in planning meals for my family on a 420.00 grocery budget. I am a mother of four and married.I desire to release this weight off of me but is it possible on the budget that I am on and plus come up with creative ideas to fix. Do anybody run into this problem or can help me with a successful menu plan for a month. Please I need help.
8/1/2012 11:53:23 AM

Oh, I forgot to add. From that class, I learned a few great tips. First of all, don't buy spices in the spice aisle. Check the mexican foods area - there is a brand of spices that sells in plastic bags instead of those little bottles. It's WAY cheaper than the ones in the little bottles. Also, check out $ stores for pasta and beans, again there is a Mexican brand that is super cheap. I just bought a bag of little star shaped pasta for 50 cents. Perfect for soups and stuff. We also check with friends and neighbors who have fruit trees. I have volunteered to clean off their patios, lawns, etc from fallen fruit in exchange for some of the ripe fruit from the tree. I must have gotten 100s of dollars worth of figs over the years from a guy two blocks down. All I have to do is get the figs off his sidewalk in front of his house and then he lets me pick all I want. He doesn't even like figs! Last year, I traded some of the figs for zucchini my friend in the next town over grows.
8/1/2012 11:43:52 AM

15 years ago, I taught at a school that qualified as 95% free and reduced lunch. There was a special grant for a nutritionist to come in and show families how to cook healthier foods, instead of buying pre-packaged convenience foods. Part of the grant required that a certain percentage of school staff attend as well. One of the "ah-ah's" of this class was that buying "real" foods, like veggies, rice, etc. that you actually had to prepare made the family's food budgets go further than buying the "cheap" pre-packaged stuff. One mom shared that she could get 2 or 3 bags of food that would last about a week, instead of the 1 bag of convenience food that lasted a couple of days for the same amount of $. One of the keys in this class was that many of the adults in the families had been foster kids and never learned how to cook healthy foods. They were just used to buying pre-made stuff.
10/9/2011 1:37:44 PM

We have cut cable and our cellphones down to 1 line (making it our "landlline"! I A good source of fresh veggies and fruit is our local Farmers market where I buy organic at a good price. In our area there are 3 within a 10-20 mile radius. Usually at closing time the prices go down. As gparents raising 2 gkids with ADHD we cutting out sugars and artifical sweetners, fats and salts and are on an extremely limited income. This falll we are planting a raised plot garden with veggies and flowers. Most of the plantings will come from seedlings or seeds purchased at the famers market or traded for. The kids are leaning composting in school and are building the garden. Also we have been buying seeds on sale and starting them at home. I wll let you know how our garden grows but it is a start for a winter garden/project. Luckily we also have Asian makets in the area were we shop for seafood and fruit at good prices. There are few if any resource for gparents raising gkiks that this venue is very helpful. I also make all our lunchs for work and school to help save.
10/1/2011 2:36:44 AM

When I have the time, I like to make breakfast & lunch ahead of time to save some on meals... especially during the summer, I buy 2-3 baskets of berries, melon, pineapple, and 2-3 other kinds of fruit - peaches, apricots, mandarins, mangoes, whatever's in season - cut them up as soon as I brought them home and divide the fruit salad among 7 tupperware containers. Then I'd make some sort of pasta/grain salad (pasta salad, tabbouleh, etc.) or hearty soup and divide it among 7 more containers. Usually eat the fruit salad with a banana and either oatmeal or low-fat yogurt & granola to hold me over until lunch (oats/granola are much cheaper from the bulk bins) and pair the salad/soup with a simple sandwich, wrap or leafy salad. Freezing your own fruit is super cheap when it's in season - I just got done freezing a dozen huge organic mangoes I got for a dollar each a few weeks ago, now they're already back up to $3.99! Stuff I consume on a daily basis usually come from Costco so I'm getting a deal on a case instead of getting them everyday from the store - but I have to avoid the temptation to buy the tub of chocolate caramel macadamias every time *drool*
7/27/2011 7:55:47 AM

My family eats pasta that incorporates legume flour. (A popular brand is Barilla Plus) It's much higher in protein than regular pasta and doesn't taste as different as whole wheat pasta. It's more expensive but still much less expensive than meat.
5/9/2011 8:21:49 PM

really excellent suggestions!!
4/18/2011 10:40:12 AM

CWELLS67's SparkPage
I totally hear the budget issues. Here's how I get around it - I go to the local Asian markets and buy frozen on sale. If you have one near you, Asian market produce is often cheaper and fresher than the American grocery stores, and you can try some different fruits and vegetables as well.

I am always looking on my grocery stores' websites to see what is on sale that week to consider purchasing. When there is a sale on frozen veggies, I make space in my freezer and buy what I can. I am also a huge fan of soups and casserole-type dishes so I can have leftovers for several days or put stuff in the freezer.

I hope that helps!
4/14/2011 2:51:24 PM

CAPARSLEY1's SparkPage
AJWHITTI...We sound like we're exactly in the same boat. My husband is in sales, and paychecks are either bad or really bad. Rarely are they good. Not only am I trying not to sacrifice my health by buying the processed foods, but I'm seeing weight gain in my children, and I absolutely do not want them to develop bad eating habits, like myself!! Staying away from processed foods is a MUST for me and my family. I have to make it a priority! I, personally, decided to give up my second favorite thing next to food! CABLE!! LOL This helped me make a little more room in our budget. Maybe you've tried everything and there is nothing else left to do...believe me I'm there too!! It angers and frustrates me that everyone screams, "eat fresh, eat organic" but hardly make it accessible, nor economically "friendly". This article, although great, is not really giving me any ideas I'm not already doing....but the idea here is to train your mind and your body to stop cravings, or to "feel full"and you cannot do that with processed foods. And usually, I have found that processed foods lead to higher food consumption which also is not "economically friendly". Although a bag of chips may last a week (not in my house, but maybe someone else's ;) ), so will a head of lettuce when used for sandwiches, or the occasional side salad. Which one will leave you and your family feeling full or satisfied? A bag of chips eaten, will lead to another bag of chips opened, and if you're like me, maybe in the same day. But rarely is a head of lettuce, solely consumed, going to lead to another head of lettuce opened in the same day. One thing I am working on training myself to think (and not always successful, but someday I will be) is not, "what do I FEEL like eating", because the answer will always be pizza and a Dr. Pepper, BUT instead I ask myself "what will fill me up" , or "hold me over until dinner?" The answer is NEVER anything processed! Lastly, another thing that has helped me out, is getting familiar with sites like Passion for Savings, and Hip2Save. So many great ideas for families on a budget!!
4/14/2011 12:11:23 PM

SROBERTS82's SparkPage
I saved money by learning to cut up a whole chicken. The store frequently has them on sale for 79c a pound, and I will buy a couple and cut them up and freeze the parts in dinner size packages. Then I take the backs and leftover bones and use them to make stock, which I also freeze. I use everything except the skin and fat! My freezer is always full of chicken for less than I can grow my own!

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