Under Maintenance 

Eating Healthy

Living Well and Eating Cheap: 10 Tips for Eating Healthier on a Budget


April 7 is World Health Day, with the theme of Our World, Our Health. It feels sweetly relevant as we also celebrate Earth Day this month on April 22. With the growing concern over climate change, sustainability, and regenerative agriculture, Abuela reminds us that our health is deeply connected to feeding our bodies with nourishing foods that the earth gives us. Abuela shows us time and again that eating healthy on a budget doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice nutrition or flavor. She creates delicious meals full of healthy ingredients that don’t break the bank with just a little bit of planning. Here are some of her tips to eat healthy on a budget.

Plan Your Meals

This is how Abuela cooks healthy meals on a budget while staying true to your lifestyle, culture, and beliefs. Planning all of your meals, including your meals out, will help your healthy meals easy on the budget. Don’t forget to include snacks! Make a list before you go shopping or order your groceries online to avoid impulse buys.

Check your grocery store specials before shopping

Most grocery stores have apps that will show you what produce is on sale each week. Abuela regularly checks out the sales and uses them as inspiration for her meal planning.

Adapt recipes to your needs

One of the easiest things to change in a recipe is the protein. When you check what your grocery store has on sale while making your grocery list, you can get even more bang for your buck. You can also do this when eating out.

Buy local

Buying fruits, vegetables, meats, and eggs from local farmers means you’re buying in-season. In-season foods are generally less expensive than buying the same produce throughout the year. Many cities have community share agriculture or community supported agriculture (CSA for short), where community members buy a cost-effective seasonal membership to local farm harvests. Members usually don’t get to choose their produce, but there is usually a lot of it. Weekly CSA deliveries can be a fun way to learn new recipes with local produce.

Grow an herb garden

A $2.99 bunch of basil or parsley purchased at the grocery store can add up over time. It’s not uncommon for herbs to start rotting before you can get through them all. Instead, get some herb plants and start your own herb garden. Abuela’s herb garden looks like a jungle in her kitchen, but yours doesn’t need to be huge at the beginning. Choose the herbs you use the most, and place a couple small pots next to your kitchen prep area. Alternatively, you can freeze chopped herbs in olive oil before they go bad and get the most out of your $2.99.

Sprout your own seeds in place of lettuce

Use sprouts in place of lettuce to add some extra nutrition and crunch to your sandwiches, tacos, and salads. Dried lentils, beans, and pulses are less expensive than canned versions and last just as long in the pantry. The best part: you don’t even need dirt to do it.

Eat legumes for protein

Meat can get expensive and mass agriculture can take a huge toll on the environment. Swapping out expensive beef for non-animal protein sources like lentils, chickpeas, or beans can keep you feeling satisfied, reduce inflammation in your body, and be kinder to your budget.

Eat your leftovers

Abuela’s portions always mean there’s enough for two meals. (Does your grandma pack your doggy bags like that, too?) This may seem a bit obvious, but leftovers can be easy to forget about. You might even take leftovers into consideration while planning your shopping list or your meals out.

Invest in inexpensive fruits and vegetables

Some fruits and vegetables are more expensive than others. Abuela’s favorite veggies that go a long way are spinach, cabbage, and broccoli. Melons and bananas also go a long way and are easy on the budget. You can also try to purchase your produce in-season to stretch your budget. 

Budget for splurges on expensive fruits and vegetables when you go out

A can of jackfruit costs $9.00, but for about the same price you can satisfy your exotic fruit craving as an entire nutritious meal (and leftovers!).

Eating healthy on a budget isn’t one size fits all. But it is possible to eat healthier on a budget no matter your health needs, taste, and budget. Abuela reminds us that eating healthier doesn’t have to be a hassle and best of all, it doesn’t have to break the bank.