Quantcast

Eat Healthy on a Budget

How to find good-for-you options that don't squeeze your wallet

Tamar Leak Suber | 10/29/2013, 6 a.m.
You do have inexpensive, healthy food options. Thinkstock

A common school of thought in the nutrition game is that healthy food can be had, but at a premium. A quick stroll down the aisle of any Whole Foods can confirm that notion, but a bit of shopping diligence can produce a cart full of produce and other healthy options with minimal impact on your wallet.

Try a co-op. One cost-effective thought not yet mainstream method of shopping for healthy fare on a budget is to peruse a food co-op, collectively owned grocery stores that typically focus on making natural foods affordable to members of a specific community.

Go natural. Cruise the natural and organic sections of your neighborhood grocery store. Many nationwide big box stores, such as Walmart, which has been selling locally grown regular and organic produce since 2010, now have these sections, which tend to be significantly less expensive than specialty stores.

Find meat substitutes. Monica Miller, a 39-year-old mother of two from Smyrna, Georgia, is a vegetarian and has a key staple in her diet that is filling and financially friendly. "We love beans," she says. "You can cook them a ton of different ways, they keep forever in the fridge and they keep the kids full."

Become a one-dish specialist. Stretch your dollars with stews, soups and other one-dish entrees that make a complete meal without the need for sides. These can be filling, nutritious and healthy. In addition to beans, quinoa, couscous and green vegetable are all very satisfying, and when purchased in bulk and dried or frozen forms, are quite economical.

Don't overbuy. Make a list and stick to it. "Once you have staples in your pantry,you should only need to supplement with shopping trips," suggests Ashlea Callender, a 38-year-old student and mom in North Carolina.

Take a page from the ultra-coupon ladies on TV. Clip—and use— coupons. This can slash a chunk off your bill.

Recognize what is worth it, organically. As a rule of thumb, most fruits and vegetables that are not peeled before consumption are worth considering organically, especially if you have young children in your household.

A recent Gallup poll says the average American spends $151 a week on food. If a few of these tips can shave a few bucks off your grocery bill and help you maintain a healthy diet, it's a win for your wallet and your waistline.