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11 Smart Ways to Eat Healthy on a Super Tight Budget

There's a common misconception that eating healthy food has to be expensive. It doesn't. Avoid spending your entire paycheck at Whole Foods and try out these tricks to eat healthy foods for less instead.

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Frozen vegetablesALINA YUDINA/SHUTTERSTOCK

Go for frozen vegetables

Fresh vegetables can be expensive, but frozen vegetables can actually give you more bang for your buck. Not only are they cheaper, but frozen veggies contain comparable vitamins and minerals when compared to fresh veggies. They also work well in so many recipes.

“Skip frozen vegetables that include a sauce or seasoning,” says Pam Nisevich Bede, MS, RD, a dietitian for Abbott’s EAS Sports Nutrition. “Often, you’re paying extra for salt and cheaply made sauces.”

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Rolled oats or oat flakes in wooden bowl and golden wheat ears on stone background.Vladislav Noseek/Shutterstock

Eat oats for breakfast

When it comes to eating healthy on a budget, oats are a go-to for a quick breakfast or even in baking. “Oats are also a great source of beta-glucan, which is a fiber known to reduce cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health,” says Bede. “I often buy oats in bulk from the farmer’s market. They’re high quality and inexpensive.” Many supermarkets also offer oats in bulk. 

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Bulk nutsKRZYSZTOF SLUSARCZYK/SHUTTERSTOCK

Buy nuts in bulk

Nuts are another healthy food that can be purchased for much less if you buy them in bigger quantities. “Skip overly oiled and salted nuts, and instead buy nuts from the bulk section,” says Bede. “Nuts are a great source of heart-healthy fats and essential vitamins and minerals. Buy them whole and chop or prep on the fly for baking needs. Buying in bulk saves you much more money versus buying a few ounces at a time from the baking aisle.”

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BerriesALENA HAURYLIK/SHUTTERSTOCK

Shop seasonal

Produce is not always the cheapest thing in the supermarket, but buying what’s in season makes it a great option for eating healthy on a budget. “In the summer, you can find watermelon, berries, and corn for a fraction of the cost of apples and kale,” says Natalie Rizzo, RD. Because those grow best in the summer, there’s an abundance of them, and they can sell them for cheaper.” These are the 19 pantry food staples healthy people always stock.

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Bowls of various cereals and milk from top viewbaibaz/Shutterstock

Go generic

Many snacks, whole-grain cereals, and even organics are available under the store brand. “These foods are held to the same national standards of major brand name products, which means that, nutritionally, they are equivalent in quality,” says Maya Rams Murthy, RD. “Don’t pay more for pretty packaging.”

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Plastic bags filled with produceROK BREZNIK/SHUTTERSTOCK

Opt for ugly produce

Often if a piece of produce has a cosmetic deformity, the store won’t even put it out for sale, but it’s okay to eat healthy foods that aren’t beautiful. “If you ask the grocer about the ugly produce, they may be willing to sell it at a fraction of the cost,” says Rizzo. “And there’s nothing wrong with it, other than the fact that it looks different.” You can also sign up for Imperfect Produce, a delivery service that offers “ugly” produce at an affordable price.

These are the 14 foods parts you shouldn’t throw out.

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Healthy food, dieting, nutrition concept, vegan protein source. Assortment of colorful legumes in jars, lentils, soy kidney beans, chickpeas on a modern kitchen table. Copy space backgroundAamulya/Getty Images

Buy beans

Beans are one of the best healthy foods to eat for cheap. “Both dried and canned beans are extremely inexpensive,” says Rizzo. “For less than $1, you can get a can of beans, which serves up to 15 grams of protein for less than 300 calories.” Beans are rich in iron and are one of the best sources of plant-based protein.

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Produce aisleJason Person/Shutterstock

Look for sales

It might take some extra work, but keep your eye out for special sales and coupons that give discounts on healthy foods. “Supermarket have different weekly specials, and sometimes those prices are much lower than their competitors,” says Rizzo. “I suggest looking for sale signs in the store and buying the brands that are on sale.” Here are 10 surprising ways to save money on groceries.

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Healthy meal prep containers with chickpeas, goose meat , tomatoes, avocado, lemon and spinach. Top view; Shutterstock ID 1081277720Julia Mikhaylova/Shutterstock

Plan those meals

Even a few minutes of planning your meals ahead for the upcoming week can save you a lot of money at the grocery store. “By making a list and sticking to it, you will buy only what you need instead of what looks good at the moment,” says Murthy. “Incorporate using dinner leftovers for lunch the next day in your grocery list as well to cut down on the bill as well as food wastage.”

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Halved avocadosPIXEL-SHOT/SHUTTERSTOCK

Don’t always go organic

Buying organic food can help you avoid unwanted pesticides, but with certain produce, you don’t need to spend the extra money because of the peel, such as with bananas or avocados. “Follow the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list, and buy only those foods organic,” says Murthy. “Also, if you’re into local farmers’ markets, chat up the actual farmer about their methods: Many farms are organic, even if they can’t legally claim it—it’s expensive to become certified organic.”

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bulk grainsABOIKIS/SHUTTERSTOCK

Grab the bulk grains

Foods like brown rice, quinoa, and popcorn kernels are whole foods that are often available in the bulk section of your favorite grocery store. “Single-ingredient whole grains are high in B vitamins, fiber, and other heart-healthy nutrients,” says Murthy. “Since they only have one ingredient and they are minimally processed, they are cheaper than foods like sugary, flavored oatmeal packets, or instant microwaveable popcorn.” Next, check out these 40 ways to save at the grocery store.

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Sources

Originally Published on The Healthy

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