How To Eat Healthy & Inexpensively

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2012-11-1922

Everyone wants to eat healthy these days. Your health is priceless! Many claim, however, that it’s impossible to eat healthy on a limited food budget. But I would beg to differ; cheap meal ideas abound, and there are lots of ways to prepare your food inexpensively. You also don’t always need a stack of grocery coupons or a list of online coupons to save money on food (although they help). Here are five great strategies that can help you to get the healthy foods you need without breaking the bank.

Keep Your Food Costs Low While Eating Healthy & Inexpensively

1. Check your local supermarket’s bin for imperfect or overripe fruit and veggies. Most supermarkets have an area where they will sell these items at deep discounts. You can easily pick these items up and freeze them for use later in recipes. I usually purchase bananas and fruit at my local grocery store this way. I freeze the fruits and use them in my protein shakes every morning. You can also use the items in muffins. Of course, veggies can be chopped and frozen as well to be used later in soups, chili, and other recipes. If you do not see an area like this at your local market, ask the produce manager what is normally done with the overripe items. You may be able to strike up a deal with the manager.

how to eat healthy

2. Shop late at night. Ok, so being a disorganized shopper has paid off for me, in a way. One night, I decided to drop by the grocery store at 8 PM. I had a hankering for some pineapple. To my delight, the freshly cut chunks of pineapple for that day had been marked down to $1.25. Awesome! This is 50% off what I normally paid. In addition, if you go to the supermarket after the bakery has closed, you will often find that day’s bread discounted to half off. Want to get great whole grain bread and have your veggies and fruit already cut and prepared? Then shop late at night!

3. Eat the beans and rice. Dave Ramsey is right. Beans and rice are quite possibly the cheapest meal you can find and is a healthy dish to boot. Whether you buy the beans canned, frozen, or dried, they are a steal compared to buying meat for every meal. I like to spice mine up with a little salsa and cheese. Mix up some black beans, rice, and salsa, cover with a light dusting of cheddar cheese and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. This presents a healthy meal that’s filling and budget friendly.

4. Eat soup. You know why I love soup? Having soup helps me meet my daily veggie requirements, plus this meal can be easily made in advance and frozen for later. Instead of grabbing a “heart attack” burger at the local fast food place, I can pop my soup in the microwave for 5 minutes and have a delicious healthy meal without messing up a bunch of dishes. This meal is not only healthy and quick to make, but also fills you up quickly as well. This way, you’re also able to control your appetite better: you’ll be less likely to overeat if you pair soup with other food items. And you can use all those discounted vegetables you bought at the supermarket in this meal!

5. Make your own desserts. Yes, I said desserts. Everyone needs a few treats in their healthy diets. If you purchase desserts that are already made, not only are they totally fattening, but they also tend to be quite expensive. Try making your own brownies or cookie dough, and freeze them. Pop one in the microwave for a quick treat. I’d also like to recommend a great cookbook called Deceptively Delicious. This cookbook offers ways to hide your vegetables in delicious chocolate cakes and desserts. No one said you had to eat steamed broccoli. You’ll just need to be a little creative!

Created June 13, 2010. Updated November 19, 2012. Copyright © 2012 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

ConsumerMiser June 13, 2010 at 6:19 pm

SVB,

I agree that you can eat healthy on a budget, but boy do they make it tempting to eat unhealthy on an even cheaper budget. That’s the tough part. I remember in college eating Ramen noodles and pre-made hamburger patties several times a day and saving a lot of money!

Eating healthy even without coupons is possible, but it does seem to cost a little more than eating unhealthy. Your homemade soup sounds healthy and easy. Readers should be careful with pre-made soups. They can contain a lot of sodium although they can fill you up and keep you from eating other high calorie items.

I try to buy and cook healthy food in bulk that will last about 5 days and then we eat leftovers. We will sometimes cook sides to supplement the food.

Consumermiser

misstopaz June 14, 2010 at 5:49 am

Your number 2 and 4 are my personal favorites. I usually go shopping late in the night so I find quite a lot of discounts – bread, fruit, veggies – just like you said. It’s not hard to eat healthy inexpensively, but it does take a little bit of time and ambition. Go for it I say.

CreditShout June 14, 2010 at 10:20 am

These are some really great ideas. I also like going to farmers markets to get produce. They only sell what is in season so you can get a really good price. I also have a sweet tooth so I make bowls of jello or pudding. It’s so easy to make and a box of jello costs less than a dollar!

Gal @ Equally Happy June 15, 2010 at 1:19 pm

By the way, tip #2 applies to farmers markets too. If you go to the market at closing time, a lot of the stalls will have stuff they’re trying to get rid off. It’s going to spoil anyway and they don’t want to pack it all up to go back to the farm, which means you can good deals.

Andy June 18, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Late night shopping is definitely the go – less crowds and easier to shop. Speaking of night time and desserts – a brownie and milk are always a nice treat!

Joan June 19, 2010 at 5:37 am

I would add, Make Your Own Salad Dressing. It is so simple to whip up a vinegar and olive oil dressing and it costs a pittance compared to bottled dressing from the grocery store. You can add crumbled blue cheese or parmesan cheese or even mayo for variations. Keep a container of dressing in the refrigerator so you don’t have to make it every time you have a salad.

Niluka Weerasinghe June 19, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Fabulous tips,

I always do late night shopping: it’s good, more relaxed, and especially no rush!

-Niluka

Aaron at Healthy Foods June 20, 2010 at 1:47 am

Another tip is to buy a whole chicken instead of buying the thighs and breasts separately. Then you can either cook it whole or cut the parts up yourself. And you can make a stock when you’re done! Works out to be quite a bit cheaper.

Sheila June 23, 2010 at 8:26 am

At the two grocery stores that I shop, if you go to their deli counter within a 1/2 hour of their closing time any meat or cheese that is presliced is 1/2 off! Even if it is already on sale. I was able to get reduced fat hard salami that normally sells for $7.99lb for only $1.99lb because it was on sale & then I shopped at 8:45p so I got it 1/2 off the sale price! And it freezes well, to boot!

Healthy Juicing July 13, 2010 at 5:51 pm

“Shop late at night.”

I love this, though I haven’t actually been shopping at night in a long time. It’s always quieter, faster, and easier. So along with the specials, you get a stronger peace of mind.

I’ll have to start doing this again though. Various food shops cut their food prices in half or more, so you can even get dinner on the cheap.

Healthy Momotayo September 19, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Nice tips because in my country, rice is my primary food; let’s say I’m not full enough if I don’t eat rice during the day :D .

Ian March 1, 2011 at 7:38 am

It isn’t easy to eat healthily on a tight budget, but it’s not impossible either, it just takes a bit of planning. Shopping at night is great fun and you do see some strange sights!

Ellen December 15, 2011 at 2:45 pm

The problem though is that rice and beans AREN’T good for you in anyway. Recent science shows that rice and any grain ( including legumes which are digested like a grain ) are not what humans should be consuming. What we should be eating is meat, fruit and veggies. Dairy is a no no as well (after we are babies our bodies cannot digest milk anymore and it will sit in your stomach doing nothing for hours, ever wonder why you feel so weighed down after drinking a glass?) so in fact, it IS impossible to eat healthy without spending. Sucks. I know.

John B. November 20, 2012 at 2:54 am

While I´m quite pleased with this article, there are still few things missing. First of all, there is not a single product which is LESS important than good quality food. So don´t try to cheat yourself by buying cheap and low quality products. Go to the groceries that offer fresh vegetables, support local farmers (such as Fresh City Farms). And you should not eat any meat and dairy products. And don´t try to convince me that eating chicken or red meat is healthy for your body. This is exactly where the beans should enter the play. Especially black ones. In Central America, it is the most typical meal as they prepare it with rice and other veggies, which is also delicious. To prevent cancer, you should also eat lettuce, broccoli and other green veggies.

sol November 20, 2012 at 6:49 am

I go to Manila’s main overnight farmers’ market called Divisoria at 5 in the morning, when the wholesalers and farmers are packing up for the day. Misshapen carrots, under-sized zucchini, leftover vegetables and lightly bruised fruits are either left on the sidewalk for anyone to take home free, or sold for practically nothing.

The Pearl November 20, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Didn’t someone before write about an oatmeal sandwich? That was good!

take_flight November 23, 2012 at 5:16 am

We eat fairly healthy as compared to most American’s, and we actually have a garden. It didn’t do very well this summer, but we usually freeze our abundance rather than can it. This summer I shopped heavily at farmer’s markets. Some can be traps though and be very over-priced, so you have to watch that. I live in a rural area, and there are a few here that sell their produce very inexpensively. They also have their own raw honey, which is good for you AND very cheap.

We have adopted the French way of eating in recent years, and it has worked out very well for us. Simple, satisfying meals, and little snacking. A vegetable heavy potage or quiche, even roasted meat and vegetables, it really does feed your body and your soul.

Pat November 24, 2012 at 8:26 am

Try to grow some of your own food. We live in the desert, so it has been a challenge learning how to garden here; we have been successful growing herbs like basil and mint and we have two large rosemary bushes. Currently in November we are growing our own onions, and we have managed bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and thyme in the past. Relatives give us their excess homegrown citrus in February.

Silicon Valley Blogger November 27, 2012 at 12:20 pm

@The Pearl, yes they did, but it was published in another blog. ;)

The Pearl November 29, 2012 at 6:01 pm

But wasn’t that blog yours, too?

Silicon Valley Blogger November 30, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Mayhaps… Pearl. Nice of you to drop by!

John January 26, 2013 at 3:42 pm

For the past two months or so, I’ve been eating nothing but natural foods. Yes, I’ve been skipping the pies, cakes, and candy! I’ve lost almost 20 pounds and feel amazing. And yes, we are keeping our grocery budget reasonable (only had to raise it by $80 per month).

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