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Eat Great, Healthy Food for Less Money

Eat Great, Healthy Food for Less Money

I hear from people quite a bit that they don’t purchase or eat healthy foods (especially organic foods) because they can’t afford them. It is true that sometimes healthy, organic options can cost quite a bit more—but that also depends on when and where and how you buy them. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide for treating yourself and your family to truly good foods while sticking to your budget.

Step 1: Buy In-Season Foods

If you buy out-of-season foods, the price you’re paying includes the extra overhead of shipping that food to your area from a warmer climate. If you buy in season—especially if you buy straight from a farmer—you’re eliminating that cost, and you can feel good about supporting a local grower. You can save a lot of money by buying in-season foods in summer and fall and preserving them for winter eating. For tips on seasonal eating, see Eat in Sync with the Seasons and How to Find Local Food and Farmers.

Step 2: Buy in Bulk

If you like beans, stock up on dry beans in bulk instead of buying individual cans of cooked beans. Save even more by buying your grains and spices in bulk, too. Many natural grocers have great bulk sections.

Step 3: Buy Whole

If you eat meat, instead of buying chicken breasts at the store whenever you want chicken, buy whole chickens direct from farmers and freeze them. When you thaw one to use, stretch your dollar by using the whole chicken: roast it with veggies, then another night use the meat that’s left to make soup or stir-fry. After that, use what’s left to make chicken stock.

Step 4: Eat at Home

I know this is an oft-cited tip for saving money, but it’s so true that if you eat at home more instead of eating out, you simply have more money to spend on higher-quality, healthy foods for your plate, pantry and freezer. Every time you’re tempted to eat out but decide to cook instead, add up what you’re saving, and then use that savings to stock your pantry with a variety of staples and snacks.

Step 5: Grow Your Own

No matter your space or situation, do what you can to maximize your growing potential (even if that means growing a few things in containers or joining a community garden). There’s no better way to save money on food than to spend a few bucks on seeds and watch them turn into beautiful veggies. For tips and inspiration, see Grow $700 of Food in 100 Square Feet.

Step 6: Make Basics

You might think of items like sandwich bread as being troublesome to make at home—but it may take much less work and time than you think! You can save loads of money by purchasing high-quality organic flours in bulk and making bread at home. Check out 5 Minutes a Day for Fresh-Baked Bread for a simple bread-making method.

For many more ideas on eating well within your means, see Cut Cost, Not Quality: How to Afford the Best Food and How Do You Save Money on Groceries?

Photo by Tim Nauman

Related: 18 Easy Food Swaps to Save Money and Save Money by Eating Seasonally.

Read more: Basics, Conscious Consumer, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Eco-friendly tips, Food, General Health, Green, Green Kitchen Tips, Health, Money, , , , , , , , , ,

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Shelley Stonebrook

Shelley Stonebrook is an Associate Editor at Mother Earth News—North America’s most popular magazine about sustainable, self-reliant living—where she works on exciting projects such as Organic Gardening content and the Vegetable Garden Planner. Shelley is particularly interested in organic gardening, small-scale, local food production, waste reduction, food preservation and cooking. In her spare time, she posts in her personal blog, The Rowdy Radish.

57 comments

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3:07AM PDT on May 12, 2013

Thanks

12:52PM PST on Mar 1, 2013

TY

7:39AM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

Great article

8:22AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Interesting article. Buying food in season helps but if you live in a cold climate then this is still expensive in the winter especially in Canada where a lot of produce has to be imported. We should do like Iceland using hydroponic greenhouses and import less.

With a small apartment fridge buying whole while helpful is difficult, not much room to put food in a tiny upper freezer which is a quarter of the size of the fridge. Have no friends with a chest freezer.

For the most part I do prepare my meals from scratch, this way one knows what is in them and can avoid a lot of processed stuff.

I used to make bread at home and have not had a lot of time for this lately. Not a lot of freezer space to store many loaves at once as it is easier to do several at once, but nowhere to put them. Prefer the old fashioned way of bread making and have no bread machine.

One can do salads but do prefer to avoid GMOs, non-organic veggies/fruits as these are laden with toxins/pesticides but organic is not always cheap. In the winter when veggies are shipped a long distance especially out of country they are certainly as fresh and often not organic. Same goes for poultry/meat, the healthiest is organic, free range and not factory farm laden with hormones and who knows what.

For soup I even freeze bones of chicken/meat in a freezer bag, wait til it is filled and simmer these as a base for stock along with veggies, using everything.

9:23AM PDT on Jul 5, 2012

FARMERS MARKETS ARE GREAT!
FRESH VEGETABLES!
SO HEALTHY!

9:20AM PDT on Jul 5, 2012

WHEN YOU DO FIX A WHOLE CHICKEN SAVE YOUR BROTH!
MAKE SOUP OR NOODLES!!
I ALWAYS GET TWO PUROOSES OUT OF A CHICKEN. I USE SOME FOR CHICKEN SALAD AND THE REST FOR A MEAL! USE YOUR OWN IDEAS THEIR IS A LOT OF MEAT HERE! PICK THE CHICKEN AND FREEZE IT FOR LATER. YOU MAY WANT TO PUT IT IN SMALL PACKAGES FOR FREEZING. MAKE TACOS OR A CASSEROLE, CREAMED CHICKEN AND BISCUITS! Mmm

5:42AM PDT on Jul 4, 2012

Living in Floeida helps with our garden. We plan to increase our crops yearly, and have begun to do away with all the unhealthy supermarket options. Luckily my kids school is involved in making healthy food choices, so there is some support for the parents like me who stay away from over sugared, over processed foods.

5:04AM PDT on Jul 4, 2012

Good tips

1:17PM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

Excellent article. Easy and practical points which will enrich ones life. Thanks!

5:10AM PDT on Jun 3, 2012

thanks for posting this article

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