How to Eat Healthy on a Budget


Balance Your Grocery

By Theresa Harding (updated September 2019)

Now that you’ve made up your mind about transitioning to a lifestyle change of clean eating, you see a higher spending category in your good budget.  If you want to learn more about how to eat healthy on a budget then keep reading.  I learned very shortly how to do this after spending lots of money on food in the beginning of my healthy eating journey.

How to Eat Healthy on a Tight Budget

Here’s what I did when I first transitioned to a healthier lifestyle.  I noticed that children tend to lean more to eating snack foods over a full-cooked meal throughout the day.  I took a look at the kind of snacks we were buying, and we noticed they were mostly sugar-laden, puddings, fruit snacks, gogurt cups, granola bars, etc. 

Those snacks are convenient but have way over 10 grams of sugar added to them.  A great rule-of-thumb in choosing snacks is to never exceed 10 grams of sugar in a serving of sweet snacks.

To save money, we swapped the unhealthy snacks for healthier ones and limited the frequency and servings of the snacks.  By setting boundaries, it was easier for us to monitor how often our kids were eating snacks throughout the day.

We also noticed that we didn’t run out of the snacks so fast, with the new boundaries in place.  Our kids soon started to accept that they could not eat excessively a particular snack they favored.  This also meant that we didn’t have to buy as many packaged snacks each shopping trip.

We increased our fruit and raw vegetable servings and stopped buying most of the sugary snacks.  We did, however, allow a treat every now and then. 

It’s important to remember that treats should never be given on a regular basis.  If you want to eliminate the overuse of sugar in your family’s diet, it’s best to limit the intake and make them a treat. 

We started encouraging our children to eat fresh apple slices and fruit smoothies, for instance, to snack on.  You can read more here about how I got my family on board with healthy eating. 

They didn’t like the change, but after about 2 weeks of complaining, they got used to the change.  Again, it’s a lifestyle change and you can do it too if you’re ready.

Start Your Own Garden

When we first moved into our home, the first thing we did was purchase seeds to start our own garden.  We wanted to save money on homegrown organic produce and we did!  If you want to save money on healthy food, consider growing your own food.

You can find lots of information online to guide you through the process of starting a garden.  This is a really good book that teaches you how to start a garden that thrives.  By growing your own food, you can enjoy the fresh taste of vine-ripened fruits and vegetables. 

Having your own garden minimized the risk of the contamination of pesticides or herbicides known to cause gastrointestinal problems and other health problems they cause.

If you can’t start your own garden, and only want to grow your own herbal garden, this book teaches you how to do that too.  you can find homegrown produce in your local farmer’s market.  We shopped for our products in the local farmer’s markets and found some really great deals.  If you’re concerned about buying organic food, but don’t want to spend the extra money, you can find organic foods from the local farmers.

Not only will you find organic food from the local farmer’s market, but the food is fresher and tastes better.  Most growers in your area don’t use pesticides, but you can ask them what kind of bug repellents they use.  That’s what makes shopping from the farmer’s markets beneficial.  You’ll have the ability to talk to the growers and get answers about the food they’re selling, that’s a bonus!

If you’re not sure how to start your own home garden, here is a great article by Better Homes and Gardens to help you get started.  They share some tips on how to get you started for success.  You could even subscribe to their page to get more tips emailed to you.

Buy Food In Season

There’s nothing better than seasonal produce.  During each season around the year, food grows according to what our body needs in that season.  When we eat foods out-of-season, we give our body foods that don’t line up with that particular season. 

The con to this is that your body doesn’t receive the minerals it needs to thrive healthily in that season.  In his article, Dr. Mercola shares some ways to save money on quality foods that’ll give you more information.  Not only is this not good for us, but it’s also bad for our pockets. 

The food costs more when purchased out-of-season so you don’t save money.  For instance, eating melons during the winter season adds more cooling to your body and it costs more!  We should be consuming warming foods like root vegetables during the winter months, not cooling foods.  This is why it’s important to consume food in season.

The Cheapest Most Nutritious Food

The cheapest most nutritious food is whole foods in their natural form.  Fresh fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, bananas, carrots, celery, cucumbers, nuts, and seeds.  These foods can be purchased in their natural forms and prepared in many different ways.

I like to keep things simple and prepare these foods in simple forms, such as roasting nuts with sea salt.  I like to slice cucumbers and have them with a hummus dip or just sprinkled with sea salt.  Kids love these snacks as well!  There’s a lot of money saved in snacking this way.

What snacks can your family do without?  Add more fruit to your grocery list, eliminate the juice, and eliminate the unhealthy snacks and you will see a decrease in your grocery budget.  Do the same for cereal. 

Cook oatmeal instead, even make overnight oatmeal if you’re pressed for time in the morning.  You’ll balance out your grocery budget with the “out with the bad, in with the good” method, in no time.

Foods We Removed From Our Grocery List

Here’s a list of foods we no longer purchase on a regular basis, they are given as “treats” on occasion:  Sweet cereals, yogurt cups (I buy organic plain and add fresh or dried fruit, or add to smoothies), granola bars, unless they contain less than 10 grams of sugar, pudding cups, fruit snacks (you could try fruit leathers, in moderation), juice (drink more water), and flavored chips. 

Try this and they won’t look for unhealthy snacks anymore.  I had to get used to the prices of whole foods and realize that I was actually saving money.  I understood that I could make my own healthy snacks with whole foods instead of spending more money on processed foods. You can read how to detox your diet here.

It’s always best to make your own, this way you know what’s in the food and you don’t spend more than your budget.  This was fun because I would make my own fast food selections that I used to buy for our family, but ours tasted fresher.


With some small changes step-by-step, you can begin a healthy eating journey for your family.  Healthy eating on a budget is not impossible to do.  Explain to everyone that they can have a choice in the changes and help prepare foods with you.  It takes some getting used to, but it is possible.

What are some ways you eat healthy on a budget?

Resources and References


About the Author Terry

Healthy Living isn't difficult. It requires an ongoing lifestyle change with patience and an open mind. I teach this mindset all the time. After 14 years of transitioning from an unhealthy lifestyle to a pain-free one, I think it's important to share my knowledge and research with those who are ready to make that shift in their health and wellness.

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