Eating healthy foods on a budget

Often people think that eating healthy costs too much money and it’s cheaper to buy packed food or quickly go through a drive-thru window at a fast food restaurant. While it may be more convenient to eat these quick fix meals, your body might not receive the nutrients it needs.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. There are a lot of different ways to make healthier meals while staying within your budget.

Here are a few tips on how to make healthier food choices and stay within your budget:

Create a weekly meal plan
One of your children has a baseball game Tuesday night and the other one has swimming lessons. Where does dinner fit into the schedule? Creating a weekly meal plan is one way to schedule out your family meals. Take a look at your overall week and what you have going on. For nights you have activities, make a meal that can be made in a short amount of time, or plan to have leftovers.
Make a grocery list
After planning out your meals for the week, make a list of all the ingredients you need for the meals. Look in your kitchen to see if you already have some of the ingredients. Making a meal based upon the ingredients you already have in the house can help save on the grocery bill. Try buying all your groceries in one trip. This can help cut down on mid-week trips to the store so you don’t buy more items than you need.

Grocery bag
Shop smart at the store
Check out the local grocery store advertisements to see what is on sale and which store has the best deals. When buying fresh produce, try to buy items that are “in season.” You can find what produce is in season by clicking here. Produce can be cheaper at their peak flavor. For longer lasting items, canned fruit and frozen vegetables may be less expensive and can have the same nutrients. For canned items, choose 100% fruit juice. Look for “low sodium” or “no salt added” on canned or frozen vegetable labels.
Read the food label
Before purchasing an item, take a glance at the back of the can to review the nutrition facts. Things to look for are: serving size, calories, sodium, protein and Vitamins. Each person’s nutrition needs are different and you can find out more about food labels by clicking here.

Canned foods
Cook with your family
Make cooking dinner a family fun event. Assign each person a different job to help with prepping the meal. Keep the ingredients simple using real whole foods. This will keep the process simple and easy for everyone involved.
For more helpful materials on eating healthy on a budget, visit www.choosemyplate.gov. This website is filled with daily food plans, nutrition education, recipes and other great information about eating healthy foods.