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I’m sure you’ve heard time and time again that eating healthy is expensive. While I can’t deny the fact that fast food is cheap and junk food won’t put a hole in your wallet the way the juice bar around the corner might, it IS possible to eat healthy on a budget. I have been doing it for years and I’ll share with you the cheapest healthy foods you can buy to ensure your grocery budget and your waist stay slim.
PLUS, scroll to the bottom of this post to discover:
-3 bonus tips to save money every time you buy food AND
-budget friendly, healthy dinner recipes!
Alright, let’s take a look at a typical grocery list you might find in my purse.
Your Grocery List for Healthy Food on a Budget: (And What I’d Make With Each Item)
-Rolled Oats in Bulk: ($2.00 for a 3 pound bag) – Rolled oats are perfect for oatmeal bowls, baking healthy oat banana bread, healthy oat muffins, healthy homemade granola, and more!
-Frozen Fruit ($8 for a 3 pound bag of berries) – We (my husband and I) love using frozen berries and tropical fruit in our smoothies. It’s wayyyy cheaper to buy frozen fruit than fresh and it tastes just as good! I also will heat up frozen blueberries in the microwave and top my oatmeal and pancakes with them.
Frozen Veggies ($1.50 for 1.5 lb bag) I always buy large bags of frozen veggies from Costco or Grocery Outlet to have on hand for lunches and dinners. Frozen veggies are always cheaper than fresh so if you’re looking to save money on your groceries, they’re a great way to go.
-Pinto Beans ($6 for 8lb bag) – Beans (all variety) are a versatile fruit that can be used in all kinds of meals and are high in protein and fiber. We use beans in many of our dinners because they are a cheap plant based meal option, a great “filler”, and have more nutrient benefits than something like rice.
-Brown Rice ($0.75 for 1 lb bag) – When we do use rice in meals, we opt for brown rice. It’s a cheap filler when you want to add a healthy carb to a meal. We especially like making “bowls” of all kinds – add a green, a protein (bean, lentil, edamame, meat), a carb source (quinoa or rice), a sauce (salsa, red curry sauce, tahini sauce, coconut aminos, etc) and whatever else you fancy for flavor. These types of nourish bowls are so healthy, so delicious, and use an abundance of inexpensive healthy foods that are easy to keep on hand.
-Lentils ($1.54 for 1 lb bag) – As mentioned above, we use lentils in our nourish bowls. I’ve also been known to make a plant based version of a “sloppy joe” using lentils with sloppy joe sauce (the sauce recipes vary) or a plant based bbq sandwich using lentils and bbq sauce on a bun. Yum!
-Edamame ($.99 for 1 pound bag) – We buy frozen organic edamame from Grocery outlet for a steal of a deal. A 1 pound bag for $.99 is not uncommon. I either roast the edamame in the oven to make a delicious crunchy snack or cook it and add it to nourish bowls.
-Sweet Potatoes (~$.50 per pound) Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite carb dense veggies to make. We love sweet potato fries and make those often. Another delicious way to eat sweet potatoes is to cut the potato in half, bake it, and then “stuff it” with whatever you fancy. We’ve done pulled bbq chicken, bbq lentils, or cooked quinoa and spinach with tahini sauce. The options are endless! Recently, I made sweet potato muffins using 1 sweet potato, 3 tbsp maple syrup, 1/2 cup coconut flour, 5 eggs, and spices. They were SO easy to make and absolutely delicious. Plus, they are healthy enough to eat for breakfast which is always an added bonus. 🙂
-In Season Fresh Fruit and Veggies (price varies)- Sometimes you just want fresh fruit instead of frozen, I totally get it! My advice here is to buy in season fruit and veggies as it will be at it’s cheapest. Here is an awesome seasonal food guide to find which fruits and veggies are in season where you live – Thanks Seasonal Food Guide!
-Bulk Popcorn Kernels (2.5 lbs for $2.00) – If you haven’t popped your own popcorn in a pot over the stove top with coconut oil and pink salt, you’re missing out. It’s a delicious way to make healthy, homemade popcorn for a fraction of what you would pay for a pre-popped bag of popcorn and you don’t even need a fancy air popper! Plus, I love that I can control how much coconut oil I add so it’s not too greasy or fattening if I don’t want it to be.
-Canned Tuna – ($.79 per can) – Tuna is a cheeeeeap source of protein. We love making tuna salad sandwiches, tuna cakes (tuna, egg, toasted bread chunks, and spices all mashed up, then cooked on a griddle) on a bun, or just mixing up tuna with avocado and topping a salad with it. We don’t eat tuna too often though because I know there are varied views on mercury in tuna. But I figure a little here and there won’t kill us. 🙂
-Cashew Pieces ($7.99 for a 3 pound container) (found at Grocery Outlet) – If you’re a nut lover like my family is, then you know nuts are unfortunately one of the most expensive health foods you can buy. We always wait for sales to buy nuts. On rare occasions, we get super lucky and find an incredible deal. A few weeks ago, Grocery Outlet was carrying a 3 pound container of cashew halves. Who cares if they are pieces instead of whole cashews? They taste the same and we saved a boat load of money. Major score.
-Almonds (from Grocery Outlet or any other discount grocery store) ($7.99 for a 1 pound bag) – Once again, grocery outlet is a great place to buy discounted nuts. We usually buy our almonds from Grocery outlet as well because they are substantially cheaper there than at big name grocery stores.
-Egg Whites in bulk ($7.99 for 6 cartons (96 ounces total) (Costco) – Egg whites are my go-to for quick and easy protein. 1/2 cup of scrambled egg whites packs in 13g of protein. I use them for protein pancakes, egg white omelettes, for baking, etc. When you buy them at Costco, you get a fantastic deal. (see price listed above) They are a great way to add protein to your meals for cheap.
-Almond Milk in bulk ($8.99 for 3 half gallon cartons) (Costco) – My husband and I are almond milk drinkers instead of dairy milk. Almond milk is relatively affordable to begin with, but you can buy 3 half gallon cartons of it for $7.99 at Costco instead of the usual ~$4.00 for 1/2 gallon at a regular grocery store.
-Spinach, Butter Lettuce, Other Leafy Greens (price varies)- Leafy greens are arguably the most healthy part of a well balanced diet. The unfortunate truth is, the healthier the green, the more expensive it is. Iceberg lettuce is cheap but it also doesn’t carry much nutritional value.
Spinach on the other hand is dense with nutrients, but it can cost up to $5.00 for a tiny little container. We choose to buy our greens at Costco or at Grocery Outlet.
With Costco, you have to be committed to eat greens every day so they don’t go bad before you can finish the container. With Grocery Outlet, you have to check the “best by” date or even better, the “packaged on” date, because sometimes the greens are already going bad by the time you purchase. However, 9/10 times I’ll get a perfectly good huge container (Costco size) for under $5.00.
-On-Sale Meat (price varies) – We aren’t huge meat eaters anymore, but we still eat meat probably once or twice a week. Instead of buying small containers of meat every week, I always hunt for sales and stock up when the prices are good. Then we just freeze the meat until we are ready to thaw a portion and cook it. Our meat lasts us much longer that way and for a great price.
-Carrots ($0.99 for 1 lb bag) – Carrots are one of the cheapest healthy snacks you can buy at almost any grocery store. Once again, I buy mine at Grocery Outlet for cheap. However, I haven’t noticed them being much more expensive at big name grocery stores compared to Grocery Outlet.
3 Bonus Tips To Save Money Every Time You Buy Food:
1. Use Ibotta
Ibotta is an awesome cash back app that I use on my smart phone to earn money back on items I buy. (I’ve earned $470.00+ dollars cash back in the year + that I’ve been using the app.) It includes many popular stores such as Amazon, Walmart, Target, Costco, Fred Meyer, and 100+ more. It’s completely free so you have nothing to lose, except cash back! Sign up for free (it’s always free) using my link and earn your first $10 when you make a qualifying Ibotta purchase.
2. Shop at your Local Discount Grocery Store (Mine is Grocery Outlet)
You’ve heard me mention Grocery Outlet multiple times throughout this post. That’s because Grocery Outlet is my holy grail for saving money on groceries. It works like this: Big name grocery stores give their leftover or excess products to Grocery Outlet for a great deal and then we, the consumers, get to buy the brand name foods and products for a fraction of the cost that they would be at other stores. They win, we win, we all win! If you don’t have a Grocery Outlet near you, do your research and find another discount grocery store you can shop at. It will save you tons of money in the long run!
3. Utilize Costco for Great Sales on Food With a Long Shelf (Or Freezer) Life
When there is a sale at Costco on my favorite pantry staples or frozen goods, I stock up! These things will last me for months and I’m getting multiple of them at a much better price than normal. It’s worth stocking up when they cost less and it will save you time in the long run because it’s less items you’ll have to shop for in future weeks. 🙂
BUDGET BYTES Budget Friendly Recipes and Meal Plan with Grocery List Included!
And There You Have It!
A whole list of healthy and affordable foods to buy when you want to fuel your body well without burning a hole in your wallet. Leave me a comment below if you have an affordable, healthy food you want to add to this list and share with my readers! I’d love to hear from you 🙂 Have a fantastic day and enjoy your healthy foods for a great price!
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Easy Money-Making Resources I Love:
Ibotta: Ibotta is an awesome cash back app that you can use on your smart phone to earn cash back rewards simply for grocery shopping! It includes many popular stores such as Amazon, Walmart, Target, Costco, Fred Meyer, Thrive Market, and much more. When you download the app, use my referral code here to earn your first $10 Free!
Ebates: Ebates is phenomenal because you get major cash back just for shopping. Here’s how it works: When you want to shop, go to Ebates.com, search for the store you want to shop at, click the “shop now” button, and shop online as you would normally. Once you are ready to checkout, you’ll make your purchase, and a percentage of the purchase shows up in your Ebates account. For example, if Ebates is offering 10% cash back for shopping at Target and you buy something for $500, you’ll get $50 in cash back. Amazing right?! Use my link here to sign up for Ebates and start earning money simply for buying your everyday needs. BONUS: By using my link, you’ll earn $10 back when you spend $15.
MyPoints: MyPoints is a rewards program that gives you points for reading e-mails, shopping, taking surveys, doing web searches, and more. Once you earn a certain amount of points, you can redeem them for a gift card of your choice to over 75 merchants. They also offer free access to coupons to hundreds of different merchants daily. I’ve already earned a $25 AMC gift card and a $50 Amazon gift card in 2 months just by using Mypoints 5-10 minutes per day before I roll out of bed. Sign up and start earning here.
Groupon: Groupon is a deal-of-the-day recommendation service for anything from restaurants to vacations to electronics. Every 24 hours, Groupon broadcasts an electronic coupon for a restaurant or store in your city, recommending that local service while also offering you a 40% to 60% discount if you purchase that service. I use Groupon AT LEAST a few times a month if not more. I just had my oil changed at Jiffy Lube for $20 when it would’ve cost me $60 without the deal. Groupon has saved me thousands of dollars over the years. I never go anywhere without checking Groupon first. Use my link to save $10 on your next purchase with Groupon!
Shopkick: Shopkick is an app used to earn you points as you shop, which in return can be used towards gift cards of all kind. All you have to do is whip out your phone and scan a few items on your next shopping trip or on your receipt from purchase for “kicks”. “Kicks” are essentially points that you earn for walking into stores, scanning items, and scanning receipts. Once you earn a certain number of kicks, you get awesome rewards. I’ve earned 4 free AMC movie tickets so far and am just a couple store visits away from earning my 5th. You can set your points to earn you what you want. Choose from items such as Starbucks, AMC, T.J. MAXX, and Nordstrom gift cards, perfume, electronics, sports equipment, and more. Sign up FREE here!