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Eating healthy on a budget does not have to be costly. Including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat proteins and low-fat dairy products in your daily diet takes easy planning.

Many people believe that healthy foods are more expensive, and they are concerned about the cost of purchasing more fruits and vegetables. Sometimes it can be more expensive to buy produce than other food, but this isn’t always the case.

Did you know that the cost of a serving of fruits and vegetables is 2 to 3 times less than a serving of meat?

Beans are both a vegetable and a protein. They are packed with fiber, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, and are low in fat. They’re also quite inexpensive. A pound of dried beans makes approximately 10 to 14 servings compared to a pound of beef, which is roughly 4 to 5 servings.

Making fruits and vegetables half of your plate decreases your intake of calories and saturated fat and also increases your intake of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

We’re going to look at ways to increase your whole food intake while being mindful of your grocery budget. Planning before you shop promotes healthy eating, helps you save time and money, and avoids impulse buying. You are also less likely to eat out at the last minute when a meal is planned.

Here are some tips for planning before you shop:

  • Assess what you have on hand in your food pantry, refrigerator and freezer.
  • Make a shopping list.
  • Look at the store flyers or apps to see what is on sale during the week.
  • Use store loyalty cards to get items at the sale price.
  • Consider using coupons and shopping at stores that have double or triple coupon days.
  • Buying in bulk can help you save money.
  • Compare items with their store brand equivalent to see if the store brand will help you save money.
  • If you’re a senior citizen, find out if your favorite store has a discount day for seniors

When you get home, involve the whole household in meal preparation. Family members can help set the table, help with preparation, or help with clean up.

When you plan meals, ask for input from family members when choosing meals and menu items for the week. Are there recipes you like or want to try? Do you have time to cook or limited time to put a meal together?

To make it easier, consider:

  • Batch cooking, which is when you make larger amounts of meals, like chili or soups, at one time and portion the batch into single servings and freeze for later.
  • Looking for shortcuts by purchasing frozen or canned produce to reduce prep and cook time, while also saving money.
  • Better shopping decisions and healthy food choices are part of your Steps to Health.
  • Eating healthy food on a budget is possible if you use tools to plan and shop well.
Visit our recipe section for some delicious and affordable menu items!