Eating Right When Money Is Tight: How to Make a Healthy Grocery List on a Budget

healthy grocery list on a budget

Many things can stand in the way of eating healthy. It could be the mouthwatering scent of pizza wafting by at lunchtime. A busy lifestyle could also be leaving you too crunched on time to cook a healthy meal.

Others find themselves limited in weekly grocery funds to purchase healthy foods. On average, it costs $1.50 more a day to eat a healthy diet. This may seem small but adds up over time. 

Yet, the higher prices of healthy food options don't have to stand in the way of a good diet. So, what are the easiest ways to eat healthy without breaking the bank?  

Here are our top tips for how to make a healthy grocery list on a budget.  

Make a Meal Plan for the Week

Planning out your meals for the entire week is a great tip for eating healthy on a budget. Knowing meals ahead of time helps plan grocery lists and cut down on food costs and waste. This way, you're only buying what you need, based on the recipes you're using. 

Meal plans also make it less likely that you'll cheat on your diet. Having healthy meals already prepped and cooked stops you from ordering takeout food. 

When planning meals, focus on recipes that use whole fresh ingredients. You also want to switch up healthy recipes to avoid boredom.

Healthy soups and stews are great for meal planning in the winter. You can prepare a large vat of soup and enjoy it all week long. This is also cheaper than buying canned or pre-made soups.

Let Your Meal Plan Determine Your Grocery List   

So, what foods should be filling up your weekly grocery list? It's best to focus on foods high in protein and fiber.

These give you more energy for workouts and help you stay fuller for longer. Protein-rich foods can help you lose weight and build more muscle.  

Nutrient-dense foods are also important, as they provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Eating these foods reduces your risk of certain diseases and boosts heart health. They help stabilize your glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels as well. 

Aim to have the bulk of your grocery list include fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Low-fat cottage cheese and Greek yogurt also offer probiotics. These dairy options contain bacteria that help maintain gut health.  

Healthy unsaturated fats are another essential grocery list item. Foods like salmon, nuts, seeds, and avocado are great for this. 

When grocery shopping, stick to your list as best as possible. Avoid processed foods and already prepared frozen meals. These are often high in fat, sugar, sodium, and added preservatives. 

Keeping a healthy grocery list on a budget also means avoiding sugary beverages. Healthier options, like tea beverages, contain natural ingredients with antioxidants. 

Connect With Your Grocery Store Online

Another way to buy cheap healthy food is by doing some research on your local grocery stores. It helps to view a grocery store's weekly specials to save money. More stores are posting these on their websites, rather than sending out mailers. 

You can find great deals on produce, meats, seafood, and other groceries. These sales should give you ideas for healthy recipes for the week. 

It's smart to sign up for your store's weekly newsletter or download their app if they have one. These often allow you to clip and save digital coupons for future use. 

Some stores offer member rewards where you get points towards free groceries. These pay off, which is why 80% of Americans are enrolled in at least one loyalty program. Members get special coupons based on their buying habits and favorite brands.  

Many grocery stores also carry their own brand of organic or all-natural products. These are often much cheaper than well-known health food brands.  

Other great online deals come with signing up for meal delivery services. First-time customers often get coupons for discounts off their first order. Healthy food delivery options include Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Daily Harvest. 

Cut Down on Portion Sizes

Smaller portions are key to weight-loss success. They also offer the cheapest way to eat healthy.  

Many of us cook and consume much more food than we should. Reducing portion sizes means you can get away with buying less food. 

Instead, you work to balance your plate better. This means eating smaller portions of meats and carbs but filling up more on vegetables. Eating smaller portions also makes more food for leftovers, saving you more money.

Make Better Buying Choices

Certain grocery shopping habits can help you be successful with clean eating on a budget. Buying whole fruits and veggies is cheaper than pre-cut, frozen, or canned options. Canned veggies even add extra salt to keep food fresh for longer. 

A big block of cheese is cheaper than buying already shredded bags of cheese. These pre-shredded products also contain added preservatives. 

Buying foods that offer you multiple meals is another tip for eating cheap and healthy. Leafy greens like kale can be used as a salad, side dish, or in a breakfast smoothie. You can even use it to make your own kale chips for a healthy snack. 

Plan to make your own salad dressings, sauces, and dips. This is cheaper (and often healthier) than buying bottled options. Consider buying in bulk for foods that you eat multiple times a week. 

Buying larger containers of olive oil gets you a better price. Seeds, nuts, ancient grains, and whole-grain granola are other things to buy in bulk. 

Visiting your local farmer's market may also offer you better prices. These farms often sell in-season fruits and vegetables cheaper than the grocery store. Most of them are also organically grown.

Benefitting Your Lifestyle with a Healthy Grocery List on a Budget 

These tips will help you learn how to manage a weekly healthy grocery list on a budget. Meal planning allows you to focus on healthier recipes. You also get to slim down your grocery list and bill. 

Grocery store rewards programs also offer great ways to save. Don't forget to fill your cart with generic brands of the same healthy foods you love.

Looking for more tips to maintain a proper diet and a healthy lifestyle? Check out the frugal fitness section of our blog for the latest recipes and nutrition advice. 

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