How to shop healthy on a budget

by: Kelly Leighton
January 16, 2013

So, who here is on a budget? Anyone?

whole foods

I’ve always been pretty frugal (Thanks, Mom!), but with paychecks taking a hit, I’ve realized I need to be a bit more budget-conscious this year. While most of my expenses can’t be altered (rent, car payment, school loans), my grocery budget can and has been cut down.

Ever since I completed the Whole30 late last year, I’ve tried to stick to those eating principles — basically a vegetarian-paleo (I know it sounds like an oxymoron). Sure, I am not nearly as strict as I was during Whole30 (nor do I wish to be), and sometimes I “accidentally” find myself face-deep in a plate of french fries (How did THAT happen?), but I still try to maintain those eating habits as best as I can.

Here’s how I keep my grocery budget healthful and as cheap as possible:

  1. Meal Plan – I tend to eat the same thing almost every day, so this is easy for me. I know most people would hate that kind of lifestyle, so THINK about what you want to eat that week, and go from there. Going grocery shopping with no plan is a recipe for overspending.
  2. Farmers Market – I’ve mentioned my love of them in my Whole30 post, but I still can’t get enough. I personally frequent the West Shore Farmers Market, but I’ve also visited the Broad Street Market as well as the Central Market in York. Their prices are significantly cheaper than the grocery stores, and don’t you like knowing where your produce is coming from?
  3. Shop the circulars – Every grocery store publishes theirs online. If you’re in central Pennsylvania, we have a variety to choose from, such as Giant, Weis and Wegmans. All of these stores put their sales online. Use that tool to your advantage. Find the one with the best deals that week, or if you’re feeling ambitious, tackle two stores.
  4. Limit organic produce to the dirty dozen — I’ll admit that I only buy organic when it’s on sale. However, if you can afford it, experts recommend that you should try to buy organic for “the dirty dozen;” the rest of the time it’s really not necessary.
  5. Check out the frozen food aisle — Frozen fruits and vegetables can be much cheaper and last longer than fresh ones. Just make sure there are no added ingredients (like sugar).
  6. Shop in season – Produce tends to be cheaper when it’s in season. This time of year, I’ve been finding great deals on squashes, sweet potatoes and oranges.
  7. Stick to your list – I am totally guilty of falling for convenient and easy foods. Trust me, you’d don’t need that “healthy” frozen pizza. Put. It. Back.
  8. Buy generic – Come on, we all know it tastes exactly the same.
  9. Read the ingredients – Can’t pronounce it? Put it back. See an overload of sugar? Put it back. High fructose corn syrup? Ditch it. Here are two guides that can help further.
  10. Coupons! Browse websites, “like” a brand on Facebook, scope out the Sunday paper. It’s like free money.

Here’s what’s on my general list/in my kitchen:


  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Pineapple
  • Frozen berries


  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Butternut Squash
  • Spinach
  • Cucumbers


  • Eggs
  • Applesauce
  • Almond butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Protein Powder
  • Ketchup (No HFCS)

How do you keep your budget in check? What’s on your grocery list?

One thought on “How to shop healthy on a budget

  1. Pingback: Lesson 1: Eating Organic is neither easy nor convenient | eat the good

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