Just a heads up — Wellness Bum is reader supported, which means that we may receive a commission if you make a purchase using links within this article from qualifying purchases. It never affects your price or what we pick to recommend.
If you are wondering if you can eat healthy on a budget, the answer is yes! Healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive. It simply takes proper planning and some key insider tips.
For me, eating healthy as I possibly can is important, so I know how daunting of a task it can be if you are looking for ways to stretch your food budget. It’s definitely not impossible to eat healthily, no matter what kind of budget you have. Hey, we all can’t afford goji berries or pricey oak milk every week, and that’s totally normal and OK!
So if you’re wondering how to eat healthy on a budget, keep reading! I’m sharing with you eight ways how to eat healthy on a budget and putting them into action in your grocery routine this week.
1. Buy Local
If you have access to a local farm or farmer’s market, then you already have a running start on ways to stretch your food budget. Forget organic for now, and concentrate on buying local. This is one of the best ways to improve the nutrition of your diet and your budget all in one step. The great thing about shopping for fresh produce at a Farmers Market is that you are not only eating local but getting the opportunity to talk to the growers and team connected with that particular stand. So, why skip organic and simply focus on local? Here’s something I learned from a local grower: though most small farmers can’t afford to be certified by the USDA as “organic,” a lot of them are… just ask!
2. Forget THE ORGANIC OBSESSION
Should you be buying organic? While buying organic is important for you and the economy, it can be hard to do on a budget. I suggest comparing prices of organic versus conventional at a couple of stores local to you. If organic items are only pennies more, feel free to splurge, but if not it’s okay to consume conventional in a pinch. There are also plenty of products that you can be skipped all together like bananas and avocados. According to USDA data, organic foods have fewer pesticide residues than conventionally grown produce.
Organic agriculture aims to preserve natural resources, support animal health and welfare, and avoid most synthetic materials. It’s not just a philosophy; the USDA regulates the organic industry with strict standards. The soil where crops are grown must be inspected and shown to be free of most synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, and the crops cannot have been genetically modified. Animals raised on organic farms receive no antibiotics or growth hormones, are given feed that has been grown organically, and are able to roam around outside. Processed organic foods must not contain synthetic additives.
The USDA then certifies organic crops, animal products, and processed foods. Only foods that are 95% organic can carry a “USDA Organic” seal.
Because of their thick skin, these are generally fine. Keep reading to learn more about the Toxic 12… these are the ones that you could consider buying organic when possible.
3. KNOW THE TOXIC 12
While you may have your heart set on budgeting for healthy eating by buying only organic foods, that’s not always necessary. There are plenty of foods that we peel—like avocados, oranges, and bananas—so it’s perfectly safe to eat the non-organic version. It’s important, though, to know which organic foods will get you the most safety for your food budget buck, and these foods, which are clearly unsafe to eat unless they’re organic, are known as the Toxic 12 (or the Dirty Dozen).
These Toxic 12 are apples, celery, bell peppers, strawberries, peaches, grapes (imported), kale (and spinach and lettuce), cucumbers, blueberries, potatoes, nectarines, and green beans.
4. SHOP ONLINE
One of the best ways to stretch your budget further is to consider buying all your vitamins and supplements online, along with some items like protein powder, grains, nuts, seeds, and even superfoods if you can afford them. I like websites such as Vitacost, Amazon,and my personal favorite – Thrive Market, just to name a few. You’ll pay almost 20%-25% less than you will in stores, if not up to 50% less with site sales.
5. KNOW YOUR STORE SALES
It’s not just sugary cereals and fattening processed foods that make the coupon lists these days — even the healthiest of health foods are showing up in the Sunday circulars.If you really want to save money, be sure you know what days of the week every store near you releases their store sales ad. Even Whole Foods! This will help you plan what you buy from each store, so you can easily wait to buy an item if you know it will be on sale in the next few days. Some stores double or even triple manufacturer coupons, which is definitely the right step in the direction of budgeting for healthy eating!
6. DON’T BE A SNOB TO FROZEN
It makes me cringe when I see or hear people passing judgement on buying frozen. Frozen fruits, veggies, and leafy greens are all packed with nutrition, so don’t snub them as being inferior. These will help stretch your budget further since many are cheaper per serving and you don’t have to worry about them spoiling before you use them. Frozen spinach, carrots, peas, berries, and veggie mixes are all great places to start. One of my favourite things to buy are frozen strawberries because they are grown and picked in season and their peek meaning you can enjoy frozen strawberries year-round in smoothies or in recipes like this yummy Strawberry-Chia Jam recipe.
7. AVOID BOXED ITEMS
Most items in a box at the store promise you a host of health benefits that you’ll also pay for. Even healthy, trendy items like quinoa and chia seeds can be pricey and not budget smartly. If you’re low on cash, buy from the bulk section and don’t forget that oats and flax work just great with no quinoa or chia needed.
8. RE-PLAN YOUR MEALS
One last tip to consider is that you may have to re-plan your meals to be more budget savvy. Remember, you don’t have to go gourmet in the kitchen when the basics work just fine and taste great too. These small ways to stretch your food budget further aren’t rocket science, and I promise anyone can do them, no matter what type of budget you have. I love looking on Pinterest for ideas and use Sakara’s Eat Clean Play Dirty cookbook for a lot of my recipes.
Do you have a tip to stretch your food budget while still eating healthy?
I'm an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200), offering guidance to high achievers in aligning their lifestyle with well-being through daily wellness and self-care routines, promoting balance and harmony. Join me at Wellness Bum for tips on living well, and consider subscribing to my newsletter or booking a coaching session.