How to Eat Healthy on a Budget

March 24, 2017
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How to Eat Healthy on a Budget | Planted Based Diet | Vegan | Gluten Free | Saving Money | Healthy Eating | My Healthy Homemade Life


As many of you know, I live in a small town in rural upstate New York.   Our choices around here are rather limited and without a lot of competition, the cost of eating healthy can be a bit pricey. Fresh, organic produce (or anything “fresh,” for that matter) isn’t always easy to find, especially in early spring and late fall through the winter.

I’ll be honest with you, eating healthy on a budget can be hard.   Healthy food can be expensive–much more expensive than living on boxed Mac and Cheese, Ramen noodles, and canned soup for the week!  If you want to eat healthy and still stay within your budget, you need a plan.  More than likely, you’re going to need to shop around a bit to find the best prices on healthy food. With some work in the beginning, you’ll get into a routine and soon you’ll know all the best spots for buying healthy food for less!

In today’s post, I’m going to share with you how I make it work with my own family and where I find the best deals on healthy food.  Here’s how my family eats healthy on a budget!


How to Eat Healthy on a Budget | Planted Based Diet | Vegan | Gluten Free | Saving Money | Healthy Eating | My Healthy Homemade Life


Grow Some of Your Own Food

I know gardening isn’t for everyone but what a way to save some money and eat super fresh food!   Grow a little or grow a lot, it’s totally up to you.  To get the most bang for you buck, grow what you love and what your family loves to eat!

I have a huge garden but do you know what my favorite part of my garden is?   My raised beds. There’s no tilling needed, I can start my seeds and plants earlier than in the rest of my garden (the soil warms up faster) and there’s less weeding.   Raised beds are a great way to go if you want to set up a low maintenance, “quick” garden.

Not ready for growing vegetables?  How about growing some fresh herbs in pots? You can continue to take little snips here and there for months and months!


How to Eat Healthy on a Budget | Planted Based Diet | Vegan | Gluten Free | Saving Money | Healthy Eating | My Healthy Homemade Life



Visit “Pick Your Own ” Fruit Farms

Not only is in-season fruit much more delicious and healthy, it’s so much cheaper!

One of my favorite ways to stock up on fresh fruit is to visit farms where you can pick your own.   The price is usually much less than if you bought it pre-picked.

My kids know what to expect each summer–we’re off picking blueberries like nobody’s business! It’s amazing how much the kids and I can pick in just a few hours! On top of an already reduced rate, I can get $1 off per pound if I exceed a certain amount (we always do!)   That discount even carries over the next few times we visit!

When all is said and done, we usually have 75-100 lbs of delicious, local, organic blueberries in the freezer at a fraction of the cost!


How to Eat Healthy on a Budget | Planted Based Diet | Vegan | Gluten Free | Saving Money | Healthy Eating | My Healthy Homemade Life



Purchase a CSA Share

Five years ago, we discovered we had an organic CSA farm just down the road from us.   What a find!

Community Share Agriculture (CSA)  is a way for you to buy fresh, seasonal food from local farmers. Once a year, a farmer offers “shares” to the community (similar to a membership or subscription.)   Your “share” is paid before the growing season begins and in return, you receive a portion of produce grown on the farm once a week throughout the growing season.   Your portion is usually made up of vegetables but could also include things like fruit, fresh eggs, organic meats, maple syrup, honey, fresh organic butter and more.

What I love about our organic CSA is that it’s so fresh (most things are picked that day) and I can get a much bigger variety of organic foods than I could at the local grocery store (or even the farmer’s market.)   It also takes off some of the pressure of having to grow everything myself.  I can focus on just growing things we eat a lot of or things I want to preserve.


How to Eat Healthy on a Budget | Planted Based Diet | Vegan | Gluten Free | Saving Money | Healthy Eating | My Healthy Homemade Life



Shop at a Local Food Co-op

A food co-op is another great way to get fresh, local food as well as dry goods and other items at a discount.   Some food co-ops require a membership fee but many are open to the public.   Some food co-ops also give you the option of volunteering (usually bagging bulk items and stocking shelves) for an additional discount on your purchases.   The beauty of shopping at a food co-op is they are able to buy items in bulk and then pass on the saving to you.  There are even sale items!  I just picked up some nut butters that were on sale for $4 off a jar at my local co-op!

Where I live, we have several food co-ops within a 25 mile radius.  Each one is slightly different. Some are smaller than others, some carry fresh produce and others do not and the prices and products vary between co-ops.

My favorite co-op is about 25 miles from my home so I typically shop there once a month.  There is no membership fee and I don’t need to volunteer.   They offer a produce section, fresh local bread, lots of dry goods, bulk herbs, supplements and a refrigerator and freezer section with local yogurts, dairy and vegan cheeses, fermented foods and much more.  I can even purchase seeds and gardening tools there!  It’s a great place to shop!

Items I typically purchase from my local co-op:

  • organic dried beans

  • organic dried fruit, nuts and seeds

  • local pure maple syrup

  • raw local honey

  • chick pea miso

  • organic condiments

  • nut butters such as peanut, almond, cashew and sun butter

  • bulk herbs and loose tea (you can buy just the quantity you need and they are very fresh!)

  • Veganaise (dairy free/non GMO mayonnaise.

  • fresh produce and herbs

  • nori wraps and dulse ( a wonderful source of natural iodine)

  • agar powder (for making homemade cashew cheese)

  • pantry items such as organic popcorn, cocoa powder, dried coconut, coffee substitute, herbal tea, etc. and occasionally, when they are sale, my favorite gluten free crackers!


How to Eat Healthy on a Budget | Planted Based Diet | Vegan | Gluten Free | Saving Money | Healthy Eating | My Healthy Homemade Life



Shop Discount Supermarket Stores

Why pay full price when you don’t have to?  Where I live, Aldi’s is one of the most popular discount supermarkets.  Trader Joe’s is another great place to get great prices on healthy food.

Since we don’t live near a Trader Joe’s (I love that place!) I shop weekly at Aldi’s.  I can get some fabulous deals on organic and gluten free items.  I usually purchase my fruits and vegetables here during the winter when I can’t get any fresh, local produce. They also have weekly “limited” items that are pretty great!

Things I purchase at my discount supermarket (Aldi’s):


  • organic fruits and vegetables such as carrots, red peppers, apples, tomatoes, cucumbers, pears, and grapes

  • conventional fruits and vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, avocados, oranges, mandarins and bananas.

  • organic frozen berries

  • organic baby spinach, mixed baby greens and kale

  • organic tortilla chips

  • organic ketshup

  • organic cold pressed coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil

  • almond milk

  • organic canned goods: fire roasted tomatoes, diced tomatoes,and canned beans

  • brown rice & quinoa pasta (my favorite!) and brown rice spaghetti (both gluten free)

  • gluten free wraps & bread

  • organic quinoa

  • raw nuts: walnuts, almonds and pistachios


How to Eat Healthy on a Budget | Planted Based Diet | Vegan | Gluten Free | Saving Money | Healthy Eating | My Healthy Homemade Life


Comparison Shop with Online Stores

Last but not least, there is online shopping.  I shopped online a lot more before I found some great local places with better prices.   One of the advantages to shopping online is that it is so easy to compare prices.  I love that!  It’s also a great way to shop for healthy food if you don’t have a lot of time to shop around locally.

Two of my favorite places to shop online for healthy food is Vitacost and Amazon.


Things I purchase from Vitacost and Amazon:

  • chia seeds  (we eat a lot of them and this deal is amazing!)

  • hemp seeds

  • Himalayan sea salt

  • vitamins and supplements

  • probiotics

  • protein powder (these are two of my favorites: Amazing Grass and Sunwarrior)

  • gluten free rolled oats and flours   (this mix is our favorite gluten free flour blend)

  • baking goods such as vegan chocolate chips, cacao nibs, cacao powder, etc.

  • vinegars: apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar

  • herbal tea


You can eat healthy foods while sticking to a budget. It just takes a little extra planning in the beginning!  Are there any other places you like to shop for healthy food?   I’d love to hear!





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  • Reply Danielle March 25, 2017 at 7:53 am Such great tips, Jen! This year we are deciding whether or not we want to do a CSA. We also make a Trader Joe's run a few times a year. I also clip coupons and shop the sale products. Every little bit helps!
    • Reply Jen March 29, 2017 at 9:34 am Thank you, Danielle! I'd encourage you to give the CSA a try. We love ours!
  • Reply Lynn March 26, 2017 at 1:00 pm These are great tips. I follow them except the discount shopping and gardening. I wish we had an Aldi's nearby. I've heard such good things about it. And the gardening, I've tried, but I kill every plant I own. It's so disheartening. Maybe this year I'll try again. PS - I love the layout of your blog. :) xo, Lynn N. Pinterest/Twitter: @emmaandrose Instagram: @emmaandroseblog
    • Reply Jen March 26, 2017 at 2:16 pm Thank you, Lynn! I do feel lucky to have an Aldi's nearby! If you do decide to give gardening another try, The Vegetable Gardener's Bible is a wonderful resource.
  • Reply Yolanda March 26, 2017 at 2:36 pm These are great tips! And what an amazing garden you have. I wish I had that much space, but of course, the more space the more work. ? Maybe CSA would be better for me. :)
    • Reply Jen March 26, 2017 at 2:40 pm Thank you, Yolanda! A CSA is a wonderful option for fresh, organic produce without any of the work!
  • Reply The Sun Mama March 26, 2017 at 10:45 pm Great tips and I LOVE your garden!!!! I have a a tiny backyard but manage to do some above ground gardening...
    • Reply Jen March 27, 2017 at 7:54 am Thank you!
  • Reply Thivy Michelle March 26, 2017 at 10:54 pm Great tips! I'm trying to switch to a healthier diet so these suggestions are super useful :) Sincerely, Thivy Michelle
    • Reply Jen March 27, 2017 at 7:53 am I'm so glad, Thivy!
  • Reply Caitlin S Sherwood March 27, 2017 at 10:10 am Great tips! I wish we had more "pick your own" farms around here.
    • Reply Jen March 27, 2017 at 10:12 am Thanks, Caitlin! We have a lot of "pick your own" farms but some of them aren't worth the trip.
  • Reply Jessica Rush March 27, 2017 at 10:34 am Awesome post! Love these ideas! I am lucky I live in an area where we have low prices on food, that being said, I am always on the lookout for ways to save. I have always gardened and canned/preserved my harvest, and I love seeing a jar of food that I know I am the only person that's ever touched it. It's a feeling of pride. I also love the tip for looking online, because I live in rural Arkansas, sometimes new and unusual products are hard for me to find. Thanks!
    • Reply Jen March 27, 2017 at 11:00 am Thank you Jessica! I know exactly what you mean about pride in preserving your own food! It feel so good to look inside your pantry and see all the jars you preserved yourself! I'm so glad the post was helpful to you!
  • Reply Havergal Doherty March 29, 2017 at 10:42 am Wonderful suggestions, Jen. Thanks so much for this amazing blog and all the work and research you do ..........and to share your knowledge with others .
    • Reply Jen March 29, 2017 at 10:43 am Thank you!!! :)
  • Reply Stephanie | Adventures in Aussieland November 23, 2017 at 2:45 am These are some great tips! I had never heard of CSA's before. They sound amazing! Aldi is definitely where I do most of my shopping. It's heaps cheaper than Coles or Woolys!
    • Reply Jen November 24, 2017 at 11:39 am Thank you, Stephanie! I didn't realize that Aldi was in Australia too! It's definitely one of my favorites too!

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