Healthy Eating When You Are On A Budget


How do you and your family eat healthfully while on a budget? I was shopping at a discount food chain last week when I noticed a lady in front of me buying food with her government food card. She had bought a lot of processed food. I wish I could have talked to her to show her that she could have bought more nutritious food for the same amount of money.

The economic downturn and skyrocketing food prices have forced families to limit how much they spend on food.  This could be a good thing because it might encourage more North Americans to get back to the basics of eating well within the guidelines of the food pyramid.  The USDA has created four different food plans to meet USDA dietary guidelines.  The four plans are Thrifty -- Low cost -- Moderate cost – Liberal.  These plans are strictly based on the cost of food.  For example, a family of 2 people in 2012 would incur an estimated food cost of $87 per week or $371 a month, in a thrifty plan.  For a family of 4, the estimated food cost would be $145 per week, or $627 a month. 

Money-Saving Strategies

How can you save when you shop for food?  The biggest mistake is the failure to plan ahead.  Before you go to the store, do the following things:
  • Plan aheadat home, by creating a shopping list and checking your pantry and fridge for items you already have or need.
  • Write down a week's worth of meals – your 7-day meal planning schedule should account for all your meals, including snacks.
  • Plan meals around the best store specials.  If they have a deal on turkey and you can consume turkey, center your meals around that, or maybe find turkey meals from an online recipe finder.
  • Incorporate more meatless meals into your diet because meat is one of the most expensive food items you could buy.
  • Use coupons for items you need to buy and check out the store's bargains online.
  • Stick to your list and avoid going to the store on an empty stomach.  A hungry shopper is a poor saver!  Hungry shoppers simply tend to overspend on groceries.
  • Get a grocery store loyalty card, whenever available.  I always use my loyalty cards to maximize savingswhen shopping.
  • Shop the perimeter of the store because that is where you find your fruits, vegetables, protein, and dairy products.
  • Shop alone, whenever possible.  Bringing a spouse or children sounds cute and loving, but can cost you dearly as this has the potential to make you stray off course.  However, if your children won’t take “no” for an answer, take this opportunity to teach them a thing or two about your shopping rules and expectations before leaving the house.
  • Look for bargains at the end of the aisles and the upper and lower shelves.  Stores have a tendency to place the most expensive items at eye level – That’s what they call “product positioning.”
  • Buy in bulk to realize volume discount.
  • Make your own single-size serving snacks from larger food bags; it is cheaper that way.

On my next blog, I will talk about saving money on different food groups, preparing food at home, and eating out on a budget.  Today's discussion is really to jump-start you on being a smart shopper.

Part 2 of healthy eating when you are on a budget.


  1. I buy a lot of vegetables and I buy foods that I can use to make multiple meals. I cook from scratch 95% of the time so that helps a lot.

    1. I tend to buy things on sale and use a coupon or store loyalty card.

  2. I can testify that the meal planning strategy works. Dh and I have been doing this all summer and our grocery bill has definitely went down! I just got a sam's card and will try buying some items in bulk this week. Thanks for the tips!

    1. Yes, it help to go to the store with a plan. Two weeks ago, I went and left coupons at home and went there hungry. Needless to say, I ended up forget to buy items I needed and bought expensive food items.

  3. I love this post. I too have seen so many people buy junk & wish that I could show them a healthier way to shop on a budget. I think that the tips you have posted here will help people!

    1. Really wanted to say something but I didn't want to get cursed out LOL.

  4. Great tips this is something I struggle with buying healthy food on a low budget, it was just what I was looking for.

  5. Very informative.thanks a lot. This was just the information I was looking for.

  6. Can't you get some coupons off of the internet? If so what sites?


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