Man looks at his grocery list on his phone while grocery shopping for healthy food on a budget.

Healthy Grocery Lists for Tight Budgets

Healthy and budget aren’t normally two words that go hand-in-hand.

As well as many of the superfoods or supposedly “healthy” items can cost you a pretty penny.

We have to point out that what is cheap and accessible to you will vary depending on where you live. In some places, avocados are a bit on the pricey side. Whereas in California, you can buy avocados for 50 cents apiece. So it really does depend… but you can still eat healthy on a tight budget.

It just takes some planning! This is common sense - when it comes to your nutrition and health you’re going to need/want to plan it. After all, you really are what you eat (sorry/not sorry for the cliche).

Food is Your Foundation

Inevitably, getting the right balance of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals is important for how you feel in your day-to-day. It impacts your hormones and every single function in your body (After that statement, we don’t think you need more convincing on the eating healthy front).

So, where do you start?

The First Month

You’re probably thinking either “they mean business,” or “are they really suggesting I need to outline the whole first month?”

Well, we mean both. The first month is important, it’s where you’re going to set your budget, but it’s also the only time you’re possibly going to go slightly over.

Yeah, you read that right.

The first month requires you to potentially restock your pantry and maybe your baking supplies. You’re going to choose spices that you’ll use in many meals to come and the baking supplies are always good to have handy for when you need them.

These items will only need replacing every few months and some of them will be replaced very infrequently depending on how fast you use them.

It may be painful at first, but here’s the good news: Once you have everything, you’ll be able to make and eat real, delicious food. This eventually means you eat healthier and save money instead of eating processed and pre-packaged food items.

When it comes to nutrition and health, you can’t beat that.

Set Your Budget

To begin, we recommend setting your budget at about $50 bucks a week.

And yes, this does mean you’ll have to get handy in the kitchen. On a tight budget, you have to!

On this budget plan you’ll be making pizzas and pancakes from scratch - not out of a box. It’s a win-win. It’s healthy and it will help you stick your tight budget (woo!).

Further, if your budget is super super tight, consider shopping at your local farmer’s markets for some fresh produce and deals!

Low Budget Meal Planning

For a $50 budget, your list might look something like this:

  • A green item: such as spinach, kale, or romaine.
  • A cruciferous vegetable: such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, or cabbage.
  • Squash - any kind.
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • A herb or two, such as basil, cilantro, or thyme.
  • Other veggies, like mushrooms or cucumber. Go for what’s in season!
  • Berries
  • Eggs
  • Orange juice
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Bread
  • Honey

Read this: 5 Trending Superfoods for Super Power!

If your budget is a little higher, you might be able to add some nut butters, avocados, or nuts.

The goal is to refill each week when you’re out of certain items. You buy the same food every week. It’s predictable and the prices aren’t bound to change that much.

Then, there are your pantry options… These, again, are items you will only buy when you need to but you’ll want them on-hand to make other meals from scratch.

Pantry Basics

Stick to this list for your pantry:

  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Brown sugar
  • Chocolate chips
  • Cocoa powder
  • Flour
  • Maple syrup
  • White sugar
  • Vanilla extract

Your list might vary depending on what you like.

Affordable Food Basics

If you’re itching for more cheap ideas, we’ve got you! Here’s a list of food items that are affordable and versatile:

  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Greek yogurt
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Potatoes
  • Canned beans
  • Canned tuna
  • Dried lentils

How Can You Tell You’re On Track with Your Nutrition & Wellness Goals?

If you’re really worried, download MyFitnessPal or start a nutrition journal to determine if you’re getting the right nutrients you should be. Once you find a good amount, don’t change it. Stick to your budget and your plan.

In any meal, you’ll want to include protein, good fats, and carbs. For example, chicken or turkey with rice and half an avocado is perfect. It’s healthy, nutritious, and it might not cost you an arm and a leg to buy.

After the First Month

After you’ve stocked up, you should be able to stick to the grocery budget you set for yourself.

Shop around for a deal! You can find coupons or other sales that can save you plenty in the long-run.

Plan your meals before you shop. This is a foolproof plan. Plan it, stick to it, eat it. It ensures no food or money goes to waste.

Budget tip: Buy the generic brands… Don’t spend the extra 2 or 3 dollars for a name brand. It’s 100% not worth it. They’re the same thing.

You can also save by meal prepping ahead of time or throwing a healthy snack in your bag so you aren’t tempted to buy food on the go. If you already have it handy, you won’t need to worry about getting hangry from not eating soon enough.

Related Article: Listen to Your Gut: The Benefits of Intuitive Eating

The Takeaway

Make a budget and stick to It!

Round up when you’re planning - this will save going over later. Eliminate the processed and pre-packaged food items. Again, you’ll save money and you’ll level-up your nutrition and health.

You can do this! Healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. It just takes a little extra time to plan - which let’s be honest, we all absolutely have (no excuses).

How else can you save? Check out this article on quick hacks to save your money and spend less.
Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden

"Believing in yourself is really half the battle," says Krista. Anything is possible and you really can achieve anything you set your mind to, is her motto. Physiotherapist, Piano player, skydiver, yogi, adventure traveler and energetic force of positivity, Krista is herself a (delightful) force to be reckoned with! As... Read More

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