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Learn how it is possible to eat healthy on a limited budget.

Healthy eating is not unattainable if you are living on a budget or struggling financially. There is a misconception that in order to eat healthy, you need to spend more money on groceries. It is even very possible for families on SNAP food stamps or those that rely heavily on coupons to eat fresh, healthy food.

Many people opt to buy cheaper packaged, processed foods or head to a drive through as they think it is a less expensive way to eat, especially for larger families. However, the downfall of this food convenience is poor health, lower immunity, obesity and a multitude of potential lifestyle issues. The monthly costs for using drive through such as McDonalds also add up quickly and it is easy to spend more money on fast food then a regular grocery bill.

A healthy diet is not impossible or costly. It can be done with some forethought, discipline, creativity and planning ahead. Shopping with coupons or at discount stores such as Wal Mart or Aldi can also make a big difference in the budget of a low income family. These stores also allow the use of EBT food stamp cards.

Here are just a few ideas to make some easy adjustments to eating healthily while at the same time reducing monthly grocery bills. There is no dieting or deprivation required, and it does not take a high income to do this. You do not need to make huge, overwhelming changes in your life or spend a lot of money. Small, steady switches is what leads to positive, sustainable habits that will bring good health to you and your family.

*Drink one or two less sodas or sugary juices a day OR drink half your usual amount. Instead of 8oz of juice or soda (which can add up in both expenses and calories), drink 4oz and gradually start to phase them out. If you feel deprived, allow them to be “treats” that you have on occasion verses every day.

*Up your water intake to the goal of drinking half your bodyweight in ounces a day. You do not need to buy bottled water, which is often out of reach of many low income families. Just drink free water out of a tap!

Proper hydration makes your entire body run more efficiently and makes a difference on how you feel mentally, which can often lead to more job opportunities and maybe a higher income! Add lemon and lime (less than $1 each) to add flavor and Vitamin C. Carry a large water bottle with you all day to ensure you meet your goal.




*Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables whenever possible as they are abundant in quantity and priced accordingly. These can often be bought at local farmer markets using SNAP food stamps. Also, to save money on groceries, buy items that are in season as that can greatly reduce a household's bills.

Blueberries, strawberries, watermelon and corn are just some of the many examples of affordable produce that are plentiful in the spring and summer months while vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and sweet potatoes are in season during cold weather months. All are versatile and easy to use in recipes.

*Go meatless one day a week, which often costs less money than buying what seems to be ever more expensive beef or chicken. This is an effective way for lower income families to feed their family. For example, you can make an entire, affordable meal for your family with a dozen eggs, diced up sweet potatoes (two), fresh spinach (1 bag) and a large onion all for under $10 dollars! In addition, eggs are super easy to prepare and dinner can be ready within minutes.

*Add avocado to ANY meal to add in healthy, necessary fat to your diet which is something your body needs. Avocados typically cost $1-$2 dollars each and can be added to tuna, eggs, pasta or spread out on a piece of multi-grain bread with any other topping that sounds appealing to you.

In addition, switch out to what are often less expensive sweet potatoes over white potatoes as they have a host of healthy ingredients. Make them sweet or savory by adding butter or cinnamon OR slice/dice them and bake them in the oven at 425 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes for a healthy side of complex carbohydrate.





*Buy plain Greek yogurt (Chobani typically sells for $1 each) and add blueberries, honey or a tablespoon of peanut butter to get a nice amount of satisfying protein. There are often sales on these yogurt items at most major retailers, so which the advertisements closely. Greek yogurt can also be substituted for sour cream or mayo eliminating calories and unhealthy fats.

*After grocery shopping, plan on cleaning, chopping and storing your produce in the fridge so everything is ready to go. It cut often cuts backs on waste and therefore monthly grocery bills. It does take time and effort, however, once it is done, you don’t have to do it for the rest of the week.

*Casseroles with multi-grain pasta or quinoa that are made with in-season vegetables (such as broccoli/cauliflower) or beans (like kidney or black beans) can easily serve a large family or for smaller families, make for easy leftovers. Using leftovers reducing a monthly grocery bill. It is perfectly fine to eat the same meal for dinner a couple nights a week or to bring in leftovers for lunch. It saves money, time and does not waste any precious food.

*Bring your own lunch to work whenever possible and have take out coffee as an occasional treat. This can really help a lower income or struggling family save their income for other critical bills. Buying daily lunches or $2-$4 cups of coffee add up quickly to hundreds of dollars lost each month. More on brown bagging lunches to save money.

*Get creative and use the internet for healthy eating ideas. Also, use this for searching for free coupons. There is a WEALTH of information out there on how to eat on a budget and how to make simple, easy, healthy recipes. Just add search times like “healthy eating” or “easy recipes” in Google and you will have tons of options to look through. Or find discounted coupons here, at this site of

In conclusion, healthy eating and food budgeting (like all worthwhile things in life) takes awareness, discipline and effort—all of which are worth it to save hard earned money while maintaining the health of everyone in the family. Low income families and the working poor can also afford to eat healthy and nutritious food.

Proper nutrition can prevent a host of health problems which in turn saves time and money on doctor visits, medications and lost wages from sick days. In return, you will be rewarded with feeling great mentally and physically and empowered from taking ownership of your life and lifestyle choices.

By Jon McNamara

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