Healthy Eating On A Budget

man looking at bag a of lettuce in a grocery store

Many inexpensive meals can be eaten in fast food restaurants, but they do come at a price. These meals are easy and convenient but they are also high in calories, fat and sodium and can contribute to poor health.

Many of us know that fast and cheap often equals unhealthy, but it can be hard to focus on eating well when you're trying to stick to a budget. Luckily, healthy food does not necessarily have to cost more. With a little thought and planning you can craft meals that are good for you, tasty and don't break the bank. We spoke with Fran Burke, Penn Heart and Vascular dietitian, to learn more.

Tips for Preparing Low Cost, Nutritious Meals

  1. Before grocery shopping create a list and check local food ads online or at the store, and clip coupons. In addition to looking through the grocery store circular, there are also coupon apps that can help you save time and money.
  2. Seasonal produce is typically less expensive than non-seasonal and buying foods in bulk can save both time and money. Frozen fruit during the winter months will save you money, while still providing valuable vitamins and minerals. Check out this smoothie recipe that takes advantage of frozen blueberries and peaches!
  3. You can buy family-sized packages of meat, fish, poultry and vegetables and freeze them for however long you need.
  4. Stock up on important protein-rich foods that stretch your food dollar. These include eggs, peanut butter, canned salmon and tuna, beans and legumes. Relying on these less expensive proteins is good for your budget, but also yields delicious, healthy meals like this vegetable frittata.
  5. Turkey chili or a hearty bean soup can be prepared on a weekend and eaten during the week. As a bonus, soups are easily reheated at work, saving you dollars on your lunch budget!
  6. Adding a slice of whole grain bread or salad can complete any meal and add an important healthy component. Fresh fruit, grains, nuts, eggs or beans can turn a salad into a hearty, healthy meal.
  7. Casseroles that include canned salmon or tuna and vegetables can also be nutritious and will feed more for less.
  8. Snack foods can also add to the cost of your food bill. Making your own hummus from no-salt-added garbanzo beans, eaten with cut up carrots or celery, or peanut butter crackers can keep costs down. It also allows you to customize to taste: Buffalo White Bean Hummus, anyone?

Eating healthy requires you to make good food choices and develop useful shopping and planning skills. But it doesn’t have to mean that it costs more to do so.

About this Blog

The Penn Heart and Vascular blog provides the latest information on heart disease prevention, nutrition and breakthroughs in cardiovascular care.

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