The holidays are coming up quick, which means I’m budgeting for Christmas. Sometimes means that the food budget gets a little smaller and it’s not as easy to eat healthily. So healthy eating takes a back burner for a while.
Thankfully, since we’ve moved, we don’t have the option to eat out (the closest restaurant that can handle gluten-free safely is a good 45 minutes from us, which means we eat at home…a lot. This is a great thing and makes it much easier to enjoy healthy eating on a regular basis.
Eating Healthy On A Tight Budget
With the holidays coming up, I’m working on paring down everywhere. So I get it that it can be hard to buy healthy food when you are on a tight budget.
For the boys, we’re doing a want, need, wear, and read which will definitely help restrict the new toys and gizmos, but we still need to budget for that.
Which means that we’re working on paring down our grocery spending, too.
I’m totally guilty of running into town for one or two things, which never works because I end up coming home with a full trunk and a much lighter wallet.
Whether you’re just trying to reduce your grocery budget or you really need to tighten your belt, I don’t want you to worry about food.
Because it’s super easy to worry about what you’ll make for your family’s next meal when money is a stressor.
Food isn’t cheap – especially if (like me) you prefer a diet that leans toward the healthier side of the spectrum. Eating healthy while money is tight can be tough, but it can certainly be done.
Here are a few tips to follow if you want to keep your family well-fed and nourished when you don’t have much to spend on food:
How To Eat Healthy
Once you learn how to eat healthy when you don’t have a lot of money, you will be able to eat healthy anytime. It’s all about making the right choices for you and your family. Choose fruits and veggies whenever you can. Then fill in with meats and other foods. Here are the best tips to teach you how to eat healthy on a budget.
Buy in Bulk
Protein is often the most expensive component of a meal. The expense of buying fish and other lean meat can tempt you to skip eating healthy just to save money.
Fortunately, many grocers understand this, as well as the challenge of keeping a growing family well, and offer meat for bulk purchase. I shop for most of my meat at Costco for this reason. Yes, buying 24 pork chops in a single trip means some prep on my end, but the savings is totally worth it.
If you don’t have a Costco close to you, see if your local grocery store offers larger bundles of meat marked down and sold as family packs. Buying in larger portions for sure helps make eating healthy so much easier.
Embrace Meat-Free Meals
Meat and seafood are often the most expensive parts of any meal – unless you’ve opted to cook vegetarian. As someone who was vegetarian and vegan for nearly 5 years, I can say that I definitely noticed a jump in the grocery budget when we introduced more meat.
And we still eat quite a few meat-free meals here. My black bean chili is a favorite during the colder months, and I still dream of enchilada casserole (even if it’s not as good with corn tortillas).
If your family is up to the challenge, consider incorporating Meatless Monday (or any other meatless day) into your meal rotation and read up on different meat-free meals you can make for your family.
From easy options like pizza and a veggie-filled pasta to more creative ethnic cuisines, you’ll find plenty of easy and affordable ways to feed your family without using meat.
I have quite a few vegetarian recipes that you may enjoy:
Find Budget-Friendly Recipes
When you don’t have a ton of money to spend on food, it can be tempting to default to quick, easy, and not-so-nutritious recipes.
Don’t fall into that trap.
Instead, look for some budget-friendly recipes your family can enjoy together.
From online resources to physical books in your local library, there are lots of places to go for inspiration in the kitchen.
For example, my Instant Pot charro beans are inexpensive to make and super healthy. They are packed with protein too!
Look for Deals and Discounts at Local Grocers
Keep your eyes peeled for deals at your local grocery stores. Many are in constant competition with one another to offer lower prices and better discounts, so it’s smart to check the ads and shop around to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
Those deals and discounts add up fast and make eating healthy so much easier.
Don’t Forget About Apps
There’s an app for just about anything now – and eating healthy is no exception.
There are a few apps I’d recommend if you don’t have a ton of cash to spend on food, including:
- Ibotta and similar cash-back reward programs, which offer discounts for making specific purchases at different stores.
- MyFitnessPal or a similar calorie-tracking app to ensure you’re getting the right macronutrients. If you’re eating really affordable, it can be a struggle to find balance in your diet, but tracking the things you eat will give you that knowledge and keep you conscious of where you’re at.
It’s easy to spend lots of money on expensive, healthy-sounding snacks at the grocery store.
Without much to spend on overly processed stuff, you’ll be surprised to find there are lots of great, healthy snacks that are super cheap.
Popcorn can be purchased and made at home for virtually nothing. Don’t forget about apples, bananas, and other fruits are an easy way to refuel and continue eating healthy. You can also roast chickpeas at home, make your own larabars (though I would only recommend this if you can access dates cheaply), and roast your own nuts.
I get that shopping for groceries isn’t the most fun activity in the world when money is tight, you’ve got to keep your family fed.
I hope that these tips will help you do so while still maintaining a focus on your family’s health.