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7 Budget-Friendly Ways to a Healthy Diet

Updated on July 17, 2014

Do you find it difficult to save money on food and eat healthy these days?

It can be discouraging to find that healthy foods get more and more expensive while processed junk foods are always on sale.

The local supermarket sale flyer regularly displays "buy one get one free" deals on soft drinks, canned foods, and packages of cookies.

You'll rarely see those kinds of sales on bags of organic apples or romaine lettuce.

In order to maintain a nutritious, whole food diet while on a budget, you need to strategize a bit.

Think outside of the box and look for more traditional ways of preparing meals instead of modern methods.

Frozen dinners and cheap convenience foods have become the status quo over the years, but going back to basics can be beneficial. Habits like eating produce while it's in season, fermenting your own vegetables, making bone broth, and using leftovers to avoid pricey, unhealthy snacks supports both a healthy body and wallet.

Buy Fruits and Veggies in Season

Although the price increase varies, produce is more expensive when it is purchased out of season.

We forget about the seasons because almost everything is available year-round, but it is better for the earth and the pocketbook to know your seasons!

For example, stocking up on tomatoes in the summer and taking the time to preserve them by freezing or canning drastically lowers your food bill.

Making your own chicken stock is a snap
Making your own chicken stock is a snap | Source

Make Bone Broth

Most people have become so used to buying canned broths that they have forgotten what real broth tastes like!

Soups from the store are watered down and contain flavorings and additives that don't support good health like Grandma's chicken soup did.

Instead of adding boneless, skinless chicken breasts to your cart, bring home a whole chicken. Besides having tastier, more nutritious meat, you can use the bones to create a simple broth for vegetables, soups, and rice, stretching that chicken out to create more meals with greater variety.

Use Leftovers Instead of Snacks

High-carbohydrate snack foods stimulate your appetite, lack nutrients, and add to body fat. Plan snacks using leftovers from last night's dinner.

You can use extra steak or chicken along with a simple homemade caesar salad dressing for a quick, satisfying snack.

Keep that extra little bit of salad and mix it with some leftover meat, vegetables, or a can of tuna. A couple of bites may be just what you need to tide you over until dinner.

Planning ahead for tomorrow's munchies will keep you from visiting the pricey vending machine, helping you to eat healthy and save money on food.

Eggs are useful for delicious, nutritious dishes any time of the day
Eggs are useful for delicious, nutritious dishes any time of the day | Source

Eggs are Versatile and Still Healthy

Eggs are an excellent source of protein, minerals, and fat-soluble vitamins. They are rich in phosphatidylserine, which helps to maintain a sharp brain.

This low-cost protein can be used for both meals and snacks, making eggs a healthy way to save money on food.

Omelets and frittatas are useful for quick, inexpensive lunches or dinners. Hard-boiled and deviled eggs make for cheap, nutrient-dense snacks.

If recent reports have you confused about whether or not eggs are actually good for you, read Egg Yolk Consumption, Carotid Plaque, and Bad Science by nutritionist and obesity expert Zoƫ Harcombe. She clears it all up brilliantly.

Use the Water Machine

You should not only eat healthy, but drink healthy as well.

Tap water is often contaminated and foul-tasting. Getting a water filtration system is not always an option, especially if you rent your home. Buying filtered water by the gallon or in smaller bottles can get costly and uses up a lot of plastic.

Most supermarkets have dispensers inside or out in front of their stores. These machines usually have a chart depicting the filtration process. The one I use goes through many steps, including reverse osmosis.

You bring your own bottles to fill, either gallon or five-gallon sizes. The water machine near us charges 25 cents per gallon, which is quite a bit cheaper than the dollar-plus you spend when purchasing the already-bottled water.

Ferment Your Own Foods

Making your own sauerkraut takes about 20 minutes of preparation--not including fermentation time--and It provides a host of health benefits.

Keeping sauerkraut in stock gives you a ready-made vegetable side dish that fits together with any protein, all for the cost of a head of cabbage. One medium to large head of cabbage makes two quarts of sauerkraut.

Yogurt is another product that you can make at home. Homemade yogurt contains more live probiotics and doesn't include the additives and sugar you find in the commercial varieties. If you don't want to add another appliance to your collection, there are several kinds that can be left on the counter top to culture.

Grow Your Own When You Can

Not all of us have the inclination or ability to keep a flourishing garden. However, growing potted herbs is pretty simple and can help add some pizzaz and nutrients to your salads and cooked dishes.

Basil is a very simple herb to grow--I know this because my basil plants continue to thrive in spite of me--and can be used to make a quick Caprese salad or pesto.

Mesclun mixes are also easy to grow in pots. Scatter your seeds in a large pot and keep them in a sunny location. Soon, you'll have a potful of fresh, tasty greens!

Just don't forget to water them. That's important!

Save Money AND Eat Healthy!

If you invest a little bit of time and effort, you can maintain a tasty and nutritious diet while on a budget. In spite of rising food prices, you can still eat healthy, even when times are tight and you need to save money on food.

What money-saving tips would you add to the list?

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    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 4 years ago from Hudson, FL

      Hi torrilynn! I think that food manufacturers make it look like their products are less expensive by offering sales and buy-one-get-one offers all the time. But you can actually get many more servings from dishes cooked at home. I made a vegetable soup last week using chicken bone stock and fresh vegetables. It was a hearty soup that lasted a week--one day I added rice, the next a little bit of chicken, then by itself--and the original soup cost maybe five dollars for over two quarts. And it was delicious!

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 4 years ago

      hi radcliff,

      i never knew that you could save money when getting healthy food

      whenever i went to the grocery storei alays found foods that were very expensive

      thanks for this insightful hub

      voted up

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 4 years ago from Hudson, FL

      Thank you, Mary! I make a yogurt that doesn't need a yogurt maker--I eat it every day. Here's the culture I use, if you're interested:

      Thanks for sharing and commenting :)

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      You have shared some wonderful tips here for saving money. I live as frugally as possible (wrote a Hub about that). I preserve food when it is in season. I've never made yogart, but now I think I will.

      Voted UP, and will share.

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 5 years ago from Hudson, FL

      Thank you, ologsinquito!

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 5 years ago from USA

      I just found your hubs and decided to follow. Great information.

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 5 years ago from Hudson, FL

      John-Rose: canning is definitely one of those things that is easy to put off for another day. I love sauerkraut. I have three jars brewing right now! Thanks for your comment!

    • John-Rose profile image

      John-Rose 5 years ago from USA

      Right on Radcliff, we do a lot of what you wrote about in your hub. Every year I plan to do some canning, but every year I put it off until the season has year, or even better how about some sauerkrout.

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 5 years ago from Hudson, FL

      @lzlpio90: Absolutely! And healthier, too. Thanks for stopping by!

    • lzlpio90 profile image

      lzlpio90 5 years ago

      Nice tips to save money! Growing your own crops in the garden will be a lot of help to save money rather than buying them in the market!

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 5 years ago from Hudson, FL

      Thanks, Peggy. I have heard that tip also. It's definitely a good one to follow--that's where all the real food is kept. And, yes, it is amazing what people can grow in small places!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Real food is always better for us than all those over processed packages of things we see in the stores. I have often heard that if one shops the perimeter of a store and avoid the central sections, one would have a better diet. That is because all of the fresher ingredients are found there. If one has even a small garden space or places where pots can be placed in sunlight, it is amazing what can be grown. Good hub! Up votes and will share.

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 5 years ago from Hudson, FL

      @John: Thanks! I'm glad I could help give you a boost in the right direction :) I'm trying to work on eating seasonally, too. It's tough!

      @Suzie: Thank you! Homemade bone broth is so delicious and versatile. I think you'll be hooked once you start making it yourself!

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 5 years ago from Hudson, FL

      @Audrey: Thank you! I'm glad you are another real-food enthusiast. The supermarket took the place of locally grown and raised food and we've only gone downhill from there.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Radcliff,

      Very interesting and uber relevant today. It is so good to see your ideas here which I will be taking on board" Love the idea of whole chickens and using bones for stock or soups and canning veg. Voted up +++++ and shared!

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Great hub Radcliff, and very informative. I'm bad when it comes to this, but I think I can improve after reading your hub. We're so use to having so much in our country, that we never think things like "is that fruit out of season?" I'll try to remember these helpful tips the next time I go shopping.

      Take care - voted up


    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 5 years ago from California

      All great tips! I try to stay out of the supermarket as much as possible--by local produce in season and cook from scratch--it helps--

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 5 years ago from Hudson, FL

      Thank you, v1p3r :)

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 5 years ago from Hudson, FL

      Thank you, TToombs! I'm glad your son benefits from your wisdom--so many children (and adults, of course) struggle with issues today that are diet related.

    • profile image

      v1p3r 5 years ago

      nice tips


    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Great advice, Radcliff! I've noticed that my son performs so much better with his speech therapy (and other learning) when processed foods are eliminated from his diet. Voted up and sharing.

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 5 years ago from Hudson, FL

      Oh yes, meal planning and lists are great ways to stick to your budget . . . and don't shop when you're hungry, of course! I think that you might enjoy better deals on produce out there in CA than we do here in FL. So much of what they sell here comes from out west.

    • profile image

      kateshoults 5 years ago

      Great hub. You can always find cheap produce if you look through those annoying fliers you get in the mail. I personally find that just planning my meals and writing out a grocery list help save sooo much money, too.

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 5 years ago from Hudson, FL

      Amen, sister! We always blame the fast food industry, but look at the supermarkets. Blah! I wish I had more luck with tomatoes--it's difficult to grow them down here in FL. But you're right, even if you have to buy them in the store you can preserve them for the winter. Thanks, Rachel :)

    • Farmer Rachel profile image

      Rachel Koski 5 years ago from Pennsylvania, now farming in Minnesota

      Radcliff - This is awesome advice. Canning food saves lots of money, even if you didn't grow it yourself. It's also pretty amazing how many tomatoes you can get off a plant that grew in a pot! It bothers me, too, to see the super-cheap processed foods in the grocery store. I'm convinced that the obesity crisis in this country, especially among the middle and lower classes, is due to the fact that fatty, carby, sugary foods (made from only 3 ingredients - corn, soy, and wheat) are SO CHEAP while wholesome foods like lean proteins and whole veggies are SO EXPENSIVE. Really burns me up... anyway, great Hub :)