Eating healthy can be intimidating at first. And if you want to eat healthy food that also tastes good, you’re going to have to learn how to cook. There’s no way around it. A lot of people think they can’t afford to eat healthy. That’s simply not true. The cost of fast food adds up very quickly. Plus SNAP benefits usually don’t cover any kind of prepared food– so if you don’t have much income, you can forget eating out. But eating healthy on a budget isn’t impossible! It just takes some planning. That’s why we’ve developed this handy guide on how to shop healthy for a month for only $200.
There’s a small catch though: cooking takes time. Sometimes fast food almost seems more affordable because it saves us time. For a single parent working two jobs, or just a busy working adult trying to hold everything together, taking time out of your day to cook almost seems impossible (plus it creates more work: dishes). That’s why we’ve come up with some handy meal prep ideas or quick after-work cooking ideas that will help get you through the week!
How to Shop HEALTHY for $200 a month!
My favorite is brown rice. It lasts forever and will absorb the flavor of whatever seasonings you add! Plus it has more fiber and less starch than potatoes or white rice.
Brown rice: $2
Whole grain or veggie pasta: $2
Whole grain flour: $5
Whole grain bread: $4
Eggs, are a MUST. Make sure to buy them in bulk! They last weeks in the fridge and are great for meals after you’ve ran out of other ingredients. Anyone eating on a budget knows the power of dried rice and beans! So cheap and so great for adding flavor. But we need to switch things up sometimes, too. The prices below are for more-natural grass fed meat which should each make at least 4 servings when served with other things like veggies, beans and rice.
Chicken (x2): $16
This is probably where the bulk of my budget goes. When I’m really low on funds, the first thing to go is yogurt. It’s just too pricey and only gives me a few days of meals. I personally can’t live without cheese but cheese is expensive. So I usually wing it when I get to the store: sometimes I buy shredded, sometimes I buy blocks, sometimes I buy “the good stuff.” But you know what I never buy? Pre-portioned cheeses! Not. Worth. The. Money.
Gallon size almond milk from baking aisle: $4
Shredded cheese: $4
Block cheese: $4
Low fat sour cream: $2
Jar of honey: $10
Stevia lo-cal sweetener: $7
For fruit I like to stick with frozen blueberries (or swap out for strawberries if you like). Bananas are great because you can buy several, use half for baking and freeze the other half for smoothies or baking later in the month. Plus bananas are cheeeeap– even the organic kind!
When it comes to veggies for meals, I don’t buy them all at once. I’ll usually head to the store the day before I plan on cooking. I only buy things that are on sale. So if I need asparagus but it’s too much money, I’ll swap it out for broccoli. $7.50 gives quite a bit of leeway for planning meals, too. (Especially when I’ve already accounted for onions.) This has also stopped me from throwing out produce because it goes bad or if I bought it without having a planned use for it. And just like with dairy: don’t ever buy the pre-portioned pre-cut stuff! It’s way overpriced.
Frozen blueberries: $5
Bananas (~10, freeze half): $2
Onions (3-4): $3
Bag of lemons (or limes if cheaper): ~$3
Veggies for meals: ~30 ($7.50 each week)
Spices + Condiments
How to shop healthy? Stock up on spices! Do you already have an arsenal of spices? Congrats, you just instantly gained funds in your budget! But if you’re starting from scratch, expect to spend about $20 on spices. My favorites which I keep on stock are cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, garlic, turmeric, cumin, curry, cayenne, paprika, basil, onion, black pepper, and a premixed Cajun seasoning. When buying premixed seasonings, make SURE they are salt-free!
Olive oil: $6
Coconut oil: $19 (in bulk here)
Natural peanut butter: $5
Box of tea: $5
Lemonade: $0 (ingredients are already accounted for above!)
Congratulations, you’ve made it and you still have $21 to spare! That leaves room for either snacks, splurges, or replenishing items you use up. Here’s some suggestions:
Nuts or trail mix in large bag: $10
Healthy-er crackers or packaged snack food (x2): $10
Extra chicken, turkey, or other protein: $8
Now check out some recipes and then head to the store!
There you go: how to shop healthy for only $200 each month. Do you eat healthy on a budget? We’d love to hear about it!
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