Monday, September 17, 2018

When You Can't Afford Healthy Food

"Right now the budget is tighter than it has been before and we need to make ends meet and pay our bills. We also have some dietary issues in our family and some illness where we need to eat healthy but I feel like we can't afford to do it right now. What do you do when you feel like you can't afford to eat healthy food?"

Have you heard this before? I sure have and I know that this can happen to anyone at any time. There might be times that you cannot afford healthier choices but there are some things you can do to be proactive with your budget and time to help you to eat healthier with some simple baby steps.

Let's begin:

1. Do your research. 

There have been many family before you who have been on a tight budget and made it through. Get books to help you and find tips online on how to adjust your menus more frugally. There are many recipes out there that are way healthier than the typical American fare that we are used, but much more nutritious for our bodies and cost way less.

Also, understand what a healthy meal looks like. They released the Food Plate in place of the Food Pyramid in 2017 to help people visualize what a healthy meal looks like since many felt the revamped Food Pyramid was unattainable and hard to understand. You can see the picture below of just what we should be filling our plates with.

I know some of us cannot do dairy or grains because of allergies but you get the picture!

2. Shop bargains and clearance.

You can find marked down produce in certain sections at the supermarket which are perfectly fine to use or shop at a place where prices are usually always the lowest like an Aldi. The other day I was there and found 3 pound bags of plums and nectarines on sale for only $1.25. Check your local flyers online before going out and do some comparison shopping to help you make the best decision on where you shop to get the most for your money.

3. Review your budget. 

Is there some wiggle room in your budget? Some people say they cannot afford to eat healthy but might have cable or Starbucks everyday. These are things that are not a priority and might need to be put off until there is more room in the budget.

4. Go meatless.

Try experimenting with different recipes that contains healthy beans and legumes in place of meats that can be very expensive and not as healthy for you. Have soup nights, cook with less ingredients,  and experiment with eating food from other cultures as well--you might find a few new family favorites that won't break the budget! Also save by cooking from scratch when you can

5. Grow a garden. 

A healthy garden of your own is one of the best places to get inexpensive food! Don't worry, if you don't have a green thumb--there are tons of books and YouTube videos out there to help you through the process. There is nothing like being able to walk out into your yard and grab some lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers and create a healthy salad without every having to step foot in a store! You can even join a food co-op with some friends to get healthy food and split the price.

6. Make conscious decisions. 

Sure, you could buy that big bag of Doritos or bag of 24 pack of soda or you could also buy a bag of carrots or fruit. When the budget is tight you might need to make hard decisions on whether to feed your family something nutritious or not. Sometimes we don't even realize that we have bad habits that could be changed for the better and even just buy out of habit or routine.  Ask yourself with every purchase--is this necessary and does it reach my goals? I have read that with food choices you are always either healing yourself or killing yourself. Yes, I know--those are powerful words but it is definitely something to think about (it definitely has me rethinking some of my food choices)!

7. Plan Your Meals

Sometimes when there isn't a plan in place where are tempted to eat out or make decisions which cost more. So grab and calendar and plan out your menus to help you navigate through the week. Here is a cookbook with recipes that are easy on the budget:

The Everyday Cookbook: A Health Cookbook with 130 Amazing Whole Food Recipes that are Easy on the Budget

8. Don't waste food. 

This goes hand in hand with planning your meals because you don't want to throw out that box of salad or produce because it went bad and you forgot to use it. I read that households in the U.S. throw out 150,000 tons of food per year. Learn how to store food properly and have a plan in place to use it. We are definitely trying to get better at this!

9. Get support

Find groups and communities online like through social media that can help you save money through sharing tips and recipes like Frugal Family Food or Frugal Family Life. 

10. Don't be too hard on yourself. 

Do what you can with what you have. Not everyone can afford healthy food (let alone organic) but we can try out best do with all the helpful tips that are out there. Don't feel guilty either some days if you are eating mac and cheese out of a box or hot dogs if that is all you have right now. Just do your best to make small changes and learn what is out there to make better future decisions for you and your family.

If you need further reading and encouragement on this topic you might want to check out this book- Eating Healthy on a Budget or More With Less Cookbook (there is an older edition but I am linking to the updated one here).

If your in a pinch and really need help with food--then you might need to go to a food bank, church, or community pantry and get some other outside help for assistance. The book I mentioned above mentions how to earn some side income to help with food costs as well. 

What tips would you add?

Note: This post contains affiliate links--thanks for your support!



2ndheartmom said...

Check out A SNAP Cookbook: Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown. She did her Food Studies degree research on how to eat healthy on the budget that is provided to those on SNAP benefits. You can download it for free at It has great advice, recipes, etc. in it!

June Fuentes @ A Wise Woman Builds Her Home said...

Thanks for sharing, Sue!

ardentgailla said...

Great idea, Sue! I will check that out! There is also the More With Less cookbook. I have it and a few of my friends have it. The recipes don't call for a lot of ingredients, but they are quite satisfying.


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