How to Eat Right on a Budget + Giveaway

by Sean Bryant on December 3, 2012

The numbers are astonishing when it comes to how many Americans are overweight or obese. More than 35 percent of U.S. adults and 17 percent of children between the ages of two and 19 are considered obese. While a majority of this problem is due to low amounts of exercise, the other part stems from poor eating habits. If you follow these simple tips on how to eat right you will not only trim your budget, but your waistline as well.

Plan your shopping trip

Before you even think about leaving to go to the store make sure you have a plan. Come up with at least three meals that you would like to fix during the week. If you plan these accordingly, you can use the leftovers to fix a second meal. Recently my wife and I fixed a recipe for shredded chicken tacos in the crock pot. We could have easily taken the leftovers to make a chicken tortilla soup, but instead we used them for lunch the next day. By planning out your meals and the items you want to get at the grocery store you will be less tempted to throw objects into your cart that you don’t need.

Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach

Going to the grocery store before you eat is one of the worse things you can do. Not only will you end up purchasing items that you don’t truly need or want, you will also have a greater chance of purchasing items that are not quite as healthy for you. The best time to go shopping is after one of your three meals of the day.

Focus your attention on the outer areas of the store

Most of the healthy items that you will find in a grocery store you will find around the perimeter. There you will find produce, meats, fish and organic items. Focus the majority of your time here and avoid the processed foods you will come across throughout the middle of the store.

Learn to use coupons when you shop

It’s not very hard to learn how to use coupons to save money. You don’t need to be into extreme couponing to be able to save money.  A coupon here and there on the items that you need can end up saving you a lot of money over the course of a year.

A lot of people have the misconception that a healthier/organic store like Whole Foods is an expensive place to shop for groceries.  Well those people are right and wrong. Whole foods can be expensive, however, when you properly use coupons you can get some really great deals on products. Did you know that Whole Foods has their own store coupons? You can use them alongside a manufacturer’s coupon to get the best deal. Before you head to the store learn how to use coupons and you will really see a difference in your overall total.

Buy Your Produce When It’s in Season

One of the worst times to go shopping for produce is when it is out of season. This is when the prices will be at their highest. If you get a craving for a mango in December fight the urge, as it will save your wallet the pain.

If a store is running a sale on produce and you are not quite ready to buy more, you can purchase items that are not fully ripe. This will ensure you still get the great price and will allow the fruits or vegetables to stay fresh for when you’re ready to eat them.

Buy Items in Bulk

Buying items in bulk is the best way to get the best prices. Large packages of items tend to have a lower per count cost. If you are a family of two, this will only work with certain items including products you can freeze or most non-perishable items. If you match store sales and coupons with these bulk items you will get optimal savings.

How do you save money on food while eating healthy?

Now you have your chance to win a $100 cash prize via Paypal which will help cut down your holiday food budget or you can select a $100 Amazon gift card. Just enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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If you are a blogger and would like to join the next giveaway you can find out more by clicking here.

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Sean Bryant

Sean Bryant created in 2011 to help pass along his knowledge of finance and economics to others. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in economics he worked as a construction superintendent before jumping into the world of finance. Sean has worked on the trade desk for a commodities brokerage firm, he was a project manager for an investment research company and was a CDO analyst at a big bank. That being said he brings a good understanding of the finance field to the One Smart Dollar community. When not working Sean and his wife are avid world travelers. He enjoys spending time with his two kids and dog Charlie.

Latest posts by Sean Bryant (see all)

  • John @MarriedWithDebt

    I think there is a huge misconception that it is very expensive to eat healthy, mainly because it’s so cheap to eat garbage. If you shift out the processed sugars and refined carbs, replace them with more vegetables and meat, you won’t pay much more, and maybe less.

  • Ehh…just don’t eat. Win-win. 😉

    I’m a huge fan of produce stands! It’s always so fresh and delicious and usually cheaper than the grocery store. Also, nothing tempting to even look at there.

  • It can be quite tough to eat right when your budget is tight. All that processed toxin filled crap is always cheaper. Or if you’re eating out, sugar filled soda is always more expensive than juice. For me I’ve just made a decision to avoid the bad foods as much as possible. Then I base my shopping decisions on which of the healthier options are a good price that day. I also am very willing to buy frozen meat or vegetables to get it cheaper.

    • Jenny

      Juice is more expensive than soda, but water is free and healthier than either.

  • All of these tips are great for eating right on a budget! I’d say shop at the farmer’s market. Lots of the veggies and fruit are really cheap there (cheaper than some grocery stores). Also if you know someone in the military, try shopping at the commissary….everything is tax free.

  • We buy store brands a lot and it saves us a substantial amount of money. There are very few things we buy that have the major brands (maybe cheese and milk).

  • Jen

    Eating healthy is always more expensive for me than eating junk is. Thanks for sharing all these great tips to help save money. 🙂 I hate it when I forget to eat before going grocery shopping, I bring home way more (and different) stuff than I’d normally get.

  • Some of these tips go against the grain in health food stores. I shop at Trader Joe’s and feed myself and my husband for $200 per month with no coupons and little sacrifice.

    Many healthy products are on the inside aisles such as Tuna, Nuts, Organic soup, healthy condiments, Tea & healthy snacks like Seaweed crisps.

    Seasonal fruits and veggies are great but many of the most affordable items are in all year long like Apples, bananas, spinach, carrots & Onions

    Canned products contain toxic BPA so be careful about looking at them as a deal they cause
    hormone problems, endocrine disruption & cancer to name a few.
    Trader Joe’s and Health food stores have many BPA free options. Tomato based products almost always have BPA so look for products in glass Jars & spaghetti sauces in Jar are usually ok.

    Coupons can get you a deal but for real healthy food they are few and far between.
    Sticking to sales is the best approach for health food along with an extra deep freezer if you
    have the space. Many energy efficient models can fit in an apartment kitchen now and can be found for $200+.

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  • I usually like to plan my meals according to what’s on sale at the store. I’ll take a look at whether chicken, beef or ground beef is on sale and plan my main dinner meal(s) accordingly.

    Seems to work out well. I eat pretty healthy and usually stay under my budget of $250 for groceries.

  • Jason @ WorkSaveLive

    I personally meal plan and use a grocery list. It’s been interesting for me to track, but we eat fairly healthy and buy mostly fresh foods and stay around $60/week for our groceries. We rarely use coupons but we pretty much fall in line with the rest of your suggestions. Thanks for the giveaway Sean!

  • I do a couple things to eat healthy and save money. Meal planning is probably number 1, but I also have a couple dishes from local restaurants that I know are healthy, but are also fairly cheap. For instance, many times my family will get ‘Fajitas’ for a meal and feed 4 of us for $13. Healthy and cheap – not too bad – but the key is planning it out instead of running by McDonalds.

  • Buying in season, definitely something I learned once I moved out on my own! Very good tip!

  • We eat very healthy and we use coupons which is not hard to do at all with a little planning and not as much as some people claim to think it takes. Instead of complaining we need to take control, and start cooking recipes from scratch and taking an interest in what we put in our diets. Splurging is great in moderation but eating veg, proteins, vegetables, grains and dairy each day is tops is on our list. Staying to the outer limits in a store is a great tip.. although we all have to venture in once in a while even to find staples….Cheers MR.CBB Great post.

  • Glad we could be part of the same giveaway! We save most of our money on groceries through couponing, which inevitably goes along with “plan your trips.”

  • Cindy Coletti

    These are all great tips. I follow many of them already but it’s nice to have a listing to share with my children.

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  • Great tips! I think planning and getting organised is essential. I’ll go so far as to plan a weekly menu and then check the cupboards to see what I need and what I have already.

    Going in hungry and/or hungover is a bad bad idea. I spent a small fortune yesterday morning when I only went in for a few things because I was hungry, and impulse bought loads.

    Buying in bulk is a double edged sword. You need to be strict and ensure that the food lasts for the designated time period. This is especially important on BOGOF offers.

    I usually make double portions and take leftovers for my weekdays lunches at work.

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