How To Eat Healthy On A Budget

I know what I had for lunch today: a slice of pizza, a small salad, and some fries that were cooked in the pizza sauce. I can’t believe I had to pay for these things.

Many people eat healthy on a budget. Most of these plans require you to either cook or prepare healthy ingredients on the cheap. The first step in creating a budget food plan is to figure out what you’ll actually spend on food each month. This information will be invaluable to getting started, and any budget should follow this format.

What to eat: The first step in finding a food plan is deciding what to eat each day. Here are some of my top tips to consider:

• If you’re using a meal plan, don’t just focus on what you’ll pay for. Include the cost of the food you buy — the ingredients, utensils, the container, the price of the bag of flour that you need.

• Don’t have a grocery list, just a food list. Some people like having multiple lists at different times to help them keep track of their food purchases — but this is best done with some kind of system that you can access later without having to go to the clerk’s section.

• Some people have a daily budget — it could be two weekly groceries and a weekly salad with some veggies thrown in for bonus points. This system would work well for you if all your meals take less than an hour and have five different ingredients.

On the fly: Sometimes, like when I’m working and need to pick up something, I just throw in something healthy and skip the other stuff.

How much to pay: The main step in creating your budget food plan is to decide how much money you’ll spend eating healthy. To do this, divide the total amount of money you budgeted for food by your cost of a single meal. Make sure you use the most up-to-date federal cost of living calculator. You can find all of your favorite food calculator sites at the site of your choice.

• I like using this calculator . You can find the exact amount of food you’ll eat each day (the meals, snacks, and drinks).

• If you have a big family, divide one person’s total number of meals by four or six in order to get the number of meals per day they’ll eat.

• If you’re going with a monthly food plan, you might want to figure out the meals per month for four weeks in advance and split that into 4 weeks x 2 meals/week.

How do you pay the bills? The next step is making sure you’ve saved up enough money to pay the food bills every month. If you have a credit card, pay bills every month with that. If not, then use a direct deposit or a check for that one bill. Don’t cut too much of your budget for the bills, especially your grocery bill. It’s much better to be on the safe side and be able to pay it off when you need for a month than to have too much left.

What do you do with all that extra food? This step involves making the changes you’ll need to make to reduce your intake. I like to make substitutions based on what I can find online. I’ve got a very long shopping list here , so if you need a little help getting started, you can browse here . If you’re a little less organized, the easiest way to go is to take the best foods that exist in your area and add your own flavor.

•  When you’re adding the things you can’t easily find at the supermarket, use their website to look for more natural foods, and make them from scratch when they can’t be found fresh.

• For a grocery list of substitutions I’ve used with success, check out here .

How much will you make from this plan? That’s the most important question to ask about any food plan. I prefer to make small changes weekly. These small changes are what change the most often, and they’re what make me most successful.

For example, I have a grocery list that looks like this:

I buy five cups of beans two to three times per week. I buy beans and other beans frequently . I buy onions, carrots, celery and other greens . I buy fresh garlic. I buy fresh tomatoes . As my budget is lower, I can go through this list with great convenience. 

The food plan I created with the lowest food costs, $9.