Eating Healthy On A Budget

One time, someone told me that eating healthy was “too expensive.”

Wait. Just kidding. That’s happened a lot more times than one.

One time, I proved all of the naysayers completely and utterly wrong.

Oh wait. Just kidding again. That didn’t happen just one time. Because I prove them all wrong every Sunday when Breanne and I go food shopping and spend only $40-$55 for an entire weeks worth of food, for two people. Individually, that’s about $20-$25 per week on groceries. That’s $80-$100 per month. Even better, that’s just $2-$4 per day for 3 big, healthy, wholesome meals… AND snacks! Lots of snacks!

This is a rough outline of our weekly grocery list. All of this food feeds me and my roommate Breanne for an entire week. Most weeks we have plenty of food to spare and we carry it over to use in our meals for the next week. For example, a 32oz. Bag of almonds lasts us at least two weeks. As does the same size bag of raisins. Which is why our bill varies from week to week.

But we’ve never spent over $55 in one week. We like to throw new things into the mix every now and then too. Gotta keep it tasty and interesting! Like this week, we invested in a huge butternut squash that was only $2 and a big can of pumpkin puree for baking. (We do lots of baking!)

I know a lot of you are probably thinking, “Hm..This really does not seem like a lot of food.”

Buuut.. it actually is, annnnd what this list doesn’t include (because we don’t need to buy these things on a weekly basis) is some of the other staples in our weekly diet like brown rice, whole wheat pasta, peanut butter, and quinoa, plus cooking staples like spices, oils, and flours. We stock up on those kinds of items in bulk when we need them, so they’re more of a monthly or bi-monthly expense.

One time, (and this time I’m seriously talking about one specific incident) someone told me that eating healthy was too expensive and then admitted to spending $15 on lunch at Whole Foods that day. One meal, for almost as much as I spend on food in a whole week! Uh, yeah.. that is pretty expensive!

Let’s delve more into this topic for a moment.

For those of you who don’t know, I live in Manhattan. And since we’re talking about buying food in Manhattan, the ante has been upped. Eating out, even if you choose less healthy, “cheap” food, is expensive. Everything here is expensive. One time, I paid fifty cents for a few ice cubes. Sooo yeah, you get the gist. And yes, when you’re eating out, no matter where you are, the healthier foods on the menu are typically more expensive. There’s no doubt about that.

But I know my budget, and I know my fitness goals, and I know my dietary needs. Because of all those factors, I don’t eat out very often. Especially not during the work week. You’ll never see me running out to grab a $8 or $9 (or $15!!) lunch, or stopping to grab a quick bagel and coffee at Starbucks on my way to work every morning. Why? Because not only would it be very hard to eat a clean, nutritious diet that way, but it would cost me about $15 a day! That’s like $450 a month, and that is just insane.

I make oatmeal and coffee at home for breakfast, or make overnight oats to bring along if I’m up and out the door super early. Lunch is most likely always packed and toted along. And if I know I’m going to be working late, the same goes for dinner. On Sundays, I prepare dishes that can work as lunches or dinners for throughout the week, that way I don’t even really ever have to think twice about it. Eating healthy on a budget can actually be pretty easy. All you really need is a little bit of planning and a hour or two to prep some meals for the week!

My advice:

  • Figure out your budget.
  • Learn what foods make up a nutritious diet.
  • Learn a few quick and healthy recipes that can be easily packed and transported. (Start here and here.)
  • Have a general weekly list to follow, but also experiment with new foods every now and then!

Yes, eating healthy and leading a fit life takes a little bit of extra work and preparation. But really, is anything worth doing super-easy? No.

And if all of this will help you stay on track, save money, reach your fitness goals, and most importantly, live healthily, wouldn’t you say it’s worth it?

It is to me.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle to eating healthy on a consistent basis?