Eating Healthy on a Budget

Wednesday December 16, 2015

Eating healthy on a budget

Some say that eating healthy costs too much and eating organic is not possible for the average person.  It may take some time and effort but it certainly can be done. Follow the tips below to a healthier, better quality food plan that won’t break the bank.


1. Create a menu each week - Creating a menu, even if it is just dinners can definitely save you money. With a plan in mind you will only purchase the food you are going to need for a week. If you want to challenge yourself even more make the menu plan after you shop only buying what is on sale. Let your creativity flow.

2. Shop only once per week or less - Having created a menu you will only have to shop once per week. This prevents impulse buying items which may or may not get used during the week. Food in the garbage is money lost.

3; Use coupons - Using coupons will definitely save you money and now you can search the internet for coupons of the items you like to buy or eat regularly. Doing a little work before you shop will save money on what you are already buying.

4. Grow your own - If you want fresh produce at a great price, why not plant your own? Carrots, potatoes and beets are easy to grow in Calgary. Starting a family garden is a fantastic way to engage the whole family in the cycles of the earth and saving money.

5. Preserve it when it’s cheap - Canning, drying, and freezing fresh fruits and vegetables is an excellent way to cash in on seasonal foods that are lower in cost but higher in taste and nutrition. Preserving can be easy and there are a lot of on line tutorials or find a friend you knows how so you can share and save together.

6. Brown Bag Your Lunch - On average a brown bag lunch will cost you around $3.50 - $5.00 but an average lunch out can cost you anywhere from $8 to $20 depending on where you go. That can be a savings of $300 to $750 dollars per year if you eat out twice per week.


1. Emphasize grains and legumes - Grains and legumes are inexpensive and are high in protein, B vitamins and fiber. In addition they add heaviness to a meal that most people rely on meat for. Bulk departments carry a huge variety and they last a long time so they are ideal for eating healthy on a budget.

2. Purchase bulk when you can - Buying bulk can save a lot of money. You can purchase grains, pastas, dried fruits, nuts and flours in the bulk isles of your grocery or natural foods store. You can choose the amount that works for you and your family. (10kg or 25kg bag) The added bonus to purchasing bulk is the reduction of packaging which is earth friendly.

3. Eat seasonally - Seasonal foods not only taste better, they are more nutritious and haven't traveled a long distance to get to you! Seasonal foods cost less as well. Think ahead and stock up on fruits and vegetables in their natural season in order to can or freeze them for the off season.

4. Purchase ingredients selectively - Eat a variety of foods but only buy one good oil, one good vinegar and spices that you will regularly use. Don’t purchase ingredients for a one time recipe that you are not likely to use again.

5. Adjust your menu to include what is on sale - Flexibility is the key to saving some money. Purchase items on sale when you can. You may have to change your menu but the change will save you money.

6. Get the club card/value card - Most grocery stores now have some sort of value program. Taking a few minutes to give them your information will be well worth your time in savings.

7. Save money on organics - If you want to incorporate organic foods follow the dirty dozen and the clean 15 as set out by the environmental working group. This will help you to decide where to spend your money with the greatest health benefit

8. Buy generic brands of food or the grocery stores private label - Quite often the private label brand of food is just as good as if not better than brand named products. Big name brands tend to cost more at they are paying more marketing dollars to promote their product and it has nothing to do with the quality of the ingredients. This can save you up to 10% on your grocery bill.

9. Look up and down, most expensive are at eye level - It is a strategy that most grocery stores use and a tactic brands love. We tend to purchase items that are at our eye level. Brands vie for these spots as the sales are greater. They also tend to be more expensive. Be sure to look high and low for the more economically priced items with just as much nutritional value.

10. Create a price book - A price book is basically a record of the best price you have paid for all the different grocery items you've purchased in the past. It's your history of what a good price is on each individual product and puts you in the driver's seat in finding bargains instead of relying on the store's word.

11. Check your receipt - You’ve put all of this thought in care to save yourself money, take an extra few moments and check the actual receipts. There can be 10,000 items in the store and prices can change each week so mistakes are easily made.


1. Eat less meat - The most expensive food category to purchase is meat. In Canada we eat way more meat than nutritionally necessary. Cutting back on the amount you eat will save you money without compromising health and it is environmentally friendly too!

2. Consider having meatless Mondays - If cutting out meat entirely is not an option consider having meatless Mondays. Vegetarian dishes tend to be cheaper and healthful. Studies show that a plant based diets helps to reduce chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes so you will be helping yourself, animals and the environment all at the same time.

3. Turn fruit that is on the verge of going bad into smoothies - Smoothies are a great way to get in lots of nutrition especially if you include greens such as spinach or kale. Fruits or vegetables that aren’t appropriate for a salad will lend all of their nutrition to the smoothie, preventing waste and saving you money.

4. Rotate food in your cupboards and fridge - Rotate food ensuring to bring older food items to the front and putting newer foods at the back of the cupboard or fridge will prevent food waste which saves you money.

5. Eat less - Studies have shown that people who eat less food live a healthier and longer life. In addition to the health benefit it also costs less.

6. Reduce food waste - According to the Value Chain Management Center Canadians waste 27 billion dollars’ worth of edible food each year. To save yourself some cash, date and label frozen foods, create a plan for fruits and veggies, seal bags properly and fill your plate with less than you think you will eat. The majority of the 27 billion is food scraped from our plates to the garbage bin.

7. Eat out less - Eating out can be costly and depending on what you are ordering not all that healthy for you. So eat healthy on a budget and opt for eating out less. You can meet friends for tea instead or opt for an active outing instead such as walking or a bike ride.

Changing Behavior

1. Drink water - Most of us do not drink enough water in the first place. Drinking water is free so it beats anything else for price and it is good for you. Drink 8 – 8oz glasses of filtered water per day for optimal health. Avoid bottled water which is 2000 times more expensive and is not very environmentally friendly either.

2. Buy whole foods instead of processed foods - It may seem cheaper but the quantity and nutritional quality of processed food is less. Eat whole foods and save as well as getting more nutrients. A whole food is food that is in its natural state. Ask yourself, can I grow this on farm?

3. Prepare your own food - Cooking at home will save you tones of money and you can control the ingredients ensuring to use healthy choices. You can control the sugar, salt, type of fat and can include more of the vegetables you like. If you don't know how to cook find a friend or join a class to get some basic skills down.

4. Learn to Love Leftovers - Ensuring to eat your leftovers saves money and it is just as nutritious as when you made them the night before.


1. Purchase some meal size containers - Soups, stews and chili’s are very nutritious and inexpensive to make. When you make a big batch of soup or a pot of chili make sure to have containers to freeze some for a later date.  This has the added bonus of having some meals made ahead for lunch and dinner when you don’t feel like cooking.

2. Invest in a freezer - Investing in a freezer will mean you can purchase items when they are on sale or in season and have them for later on. You will also be able to purchase more items in bulk which generally means they are cheaper per kilogram.

3. Invest in a crockpot - In the past the entire animal was eaten, in North America today we tend to eat the “nicer” more expensive cuts of meat.  Invest in a crockpot and use less expensive cuts of meat to save yourself a few dollars, add lots of veggies and voila, a nutritious meal ready to eat when you arrive home.

4. Invest in a dehydrator - Dehydrators can be invaluable for saving food for eating down the road. Purchasing items on sale, in bulk and in season and dehydrating them for constitution later on can save you money while retaining all of their nutrient value. You can dehydrate everything from fruits, veggies herbs as well as making meat jerkies, crackers and full meals to take camping.


1. Buy locally - Be sure to check out your local farmer’s market. When you cut out the middle man by buying directly, you are getting the best price you can and supporting a local farm family. If there is produce you want to buy in bulk (so you can preserve it), be sure to check if local farmers will give you a discount for bulk purchases.

2. Invest in a Community Supported Agriculture program - CSA’s allow the general public to purchase shares in the farm. For an annual fee you receive weekly product from the farm. It saves money in the long run and you are helping a local farm to thrive. (Ex. near Calgary - Noble Farms, Eagle Creek Farms, Sundance Fields, Seeds to Greens, Eat Food for Life Meats Market.)

3. Participate in a Community Garden - Community gardens are popping up in every neighborhood in Calgary it is cost effective to participate, you will learns some new skills, provide an opportunity for your children to see where food comes from, build your community and save you some money on the grocery bill. It is a win, win, win, win!

4. Share on bulk items with a friend or family - If you are cooking for only one or two people buying is bulk isn’t always convenient. Team up with a friend or another family to purchase items in bulk and split the difference. You will both save money and build up your community.