5 Steps For Eating Healthy On A Budget


Eating healthy may absolutely fit into your budget with some planning and imagination. Here’s how to make a meal plan full of healthy foods while still saving money at the grocery store in five easy steps.

1. Define what it means to eat healthily for you.

Everyone’s nutritional needs, exercise levels, taste preferences, and values all play a role in how they define “healthy eating.”

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As a result, it’s critical to begin this process by defining what healthy eating entails for you, as well as what elements you’re ready to spend or forego in order to achieve your objectives.

If you’re an omnivore or a vegetarian, cutting back on meat and dairy is a simple method to save money on food (two expensive grocery categories).

However, if you adopt a paleo diet, reducing animal protein can be difficult. Dairy items, such as cheese, can also be a good source of fat if you’re on a keto diet.

While your shopping list will vary depending on your lifestyle, one thing you can do regardless of your diet is focused on nutrient-dense foods that are generally low in cost-per-calorie.

One of the best examples is eggs. They’re packed with vitamins and antioxidants and high in high-quality protein. When you buy organic eggs for $3.25 a dozen, the cost-per-calorie comes out to just.0033 cents, which is significantly less than other animal protein sources like beef and pork.

Nutrient-dense foods provide your body with more of what it needs to flourish (vitamins and minerals) and less of the trash (sugar) that has been linked to health problems in studies.

Unfortunately, they’re frequently more expensive than their less-nutritious counterparts, prompting many shoppers to opt for lower-quality alternatives.

These types of tradeoffs are often unnecessary, as I detail in my beginner’s guide to frugal living, and maybe avoided with a little effort and planning.

In this scenario, precisely identifying your dietary objectives can assist you in determining whether to prioritize cost above quality and when to draw a line in the sand.

Read: 14 Easy Ways to Maintain a Healthy Diet

2. Create a food budget and determine your maximum per-meal cost.

Food is the third-largest household expense for most American families, after housing and transportation. Because groceries account for such a large portion of your monthly spending, success in this category has a significant impact on your overall financial well-being.

Expert in personal finance Food should account for 10-15% of your overall monthly expenses, according to Dave Ramsey.

This figure includes all types of food (eating in and dining out). Aim for 10% if you live in a one- or two-person household. Use the 15 percent recommendation if you have a larger family.

Calculate your maximum cost per meal to break this amount down into something you can use as a guide for your grocery list.

That’s because the following phase in the process, weekly meal planning, necessitates knowing exactly how much money you have available.

This is how you do it:

  • Step 1: Take your monthly take-home salary and multiply it by 10% or 15%.
  • Step 2: Subtract 30 from the total (the number of days in a month).
  • Step 3: Multiply that number by three (the number of meals per day).

As a result, your maximum average expenditure per meal is calculated.

  • The math for someone with a take-home wage of $54,000 per year looks like this:
  • $54,000 divided by 12 is $4,500
  • $4,500 multiplied by 10% equals $450.
  • $450 divided by 30 equals $15.
  • $15 divided by three equals $5 per meal

Of course, because you may spend less on breakfast and more on dinner, this figure is average. That is, in fact, one of the reasons why this information is so significant.

As previously stated, consumers on a grocery budget frequently believe they cannot buy high-quality items. And it’s true that feeding your family grass-fed beef and fresh organic vegetables for less than $5 per meal is difficult.

Check Out: How to Gain Weight in a Healthy Manner

Knowing your typical maximum meal cost, on the other hand, allows you to reallocate your cash and avoid eating low-priced, processed foods that are high in sugar and dangerous preservatives.

For example, if you can lower your breakfast expense from $5 to $2, you may use the $3 per meal savings to your dinner budget, bringing it up to $8.

Then, by reducing your lunches from $5 to $3, you may reduce your supper budget to a lot more manageable $10. (double where it started).

Looking at your shopping spending at such a fine level forces you to consider what you buy at the store strategically. And, while it may appear difficult at first, with practice, it becomes second nature.

3. Make a Weekly Meal Plan 

Making a weekly meal plan has various health and financial benefits:

  • You won’t squander food or money by buying needless or duplicate ingredients.
  • You will refrain from purchasing unhealthy snacks.
  • You’ll save time in the supermarket.
  • You’ll save money by not having to go to the market for one or two missing ingredients.
  • If you have the supplies to create a healthy supper, you’re more inclined to skip unhealthy fast food or pricey delivery/carry out.
    Although there are a few distinct techniques, the process does not have to be difficult.

Approach 1 to Meal Planning on a Budget: Eat What You Have

One strategy is to begin by evaluating what you already have.

  • Check the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry for products that need to be consumed before they expire or go bad.
  • The simplest method to save money on groceries is to reduce food waste, so make a list of a few meals that integrate the ingredients that need to be used up.
  • Then go to your local food store and look at the sales flyers. Add a few more dinners using seasonal produce and other healthy components. Make sure these are items you’ll eat – it’s pointless to prepare for roasted cauliflower if you can’t tolerate it, even if it’s on sale.
  • Fill in any gaps in your menu with nutritious family favorites. Having tried-and-true, crave-worthy items on the menu is a terrific way to convince other family members to buy into your budget-friendly meal plan.

Approach 2 to Meal Planning on a Budget: Eat What You Want
Another option is to start from the beginning.

  • Make a column for each day of the week on a blank sheet of paper, then draw lines to form boxes for each day’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • Begin by considering what healthy foods you’d like to eat on Monday, taking into account your daily schedule. Each meal should be planned as precisely as possible, with each ingredient listed separately.

This approach of meal planning offers a number of advantages:

  • Rather than attempting to figure out how to build nutritious meals out of whatever is on sale, it helps you to establish your healthy eating goals and make them work within your budget.
  • It aids in the creation of a shopping list that incorporates the reuse of ingredients. For example, if you’re planning to cook stuffed peppers for Monday night’s dinner, create a salad with the peppers’ remaining bits for Tuesday lunch.
  • It might serve as a visual reminder to keep you on track. It’s one thing to have an idea in your head and another to have a list of meals written down. However, sticking a detailed meal-by-meal menu on your refrigerator door turns your objective into a strategy.

4. Make a comprehensive shopping list based on your meal plan.

After you’ve finished your meal plan, check over it and make a shopping list. Do this at home so you can double-check your refrigerator and pantry for goods you already have. Then, just in case you forget, keep it on your phone or take a picture of it.

Refer to your plan and write down how much of each item you require. If you’re planning on having salads for lunch every day, one head of lettuce won’t suffice, and you’ll have to go back to the market.

Limiting your food store visits saves you not just time but also money.

Stores are designed to encourage spontaneous purchases. End caps (promotional displays at the extremities of aisles), center aisle displays, and checkout counter shelves are stocked with easy-to-grab chips, crackers, and candies that are typically overly processed and overpriced.

You’ll not only avoid the temptation to buy unhealthy food if you make a list and stick to it, but you’ll also stay on budget by just buying what you need.

5. Dedicate two hours per weekend to meal preparation.

Cooking is a messy business. It necessitates near-constant focus and is time-consuming. Cooking is the biggest impediment to eating well and on a budget for many busy people.

You’ll spend less time in the kitchen overall if you consolidate part of your cooking time, and you’ll never be short of healthful dishes that are quick and easy to prepare.

Set aside a few hours on the weekend (or a day off) to complete the majority of the cooking and meal preparation. To speed up cooking throughout the week, this could include grilling meat, chopping vegetables, or mixing dry components.

If you want to step up your meal prep game, create a few large dishes, such as stews, stir-fries, and casseroles, and portion them out to eat throughout the week (saving some for the freezer for when you don’t feel like cooking).

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