It can be hard sometimes to eat the right foods, simply because who has the time to go to the grocery store every few days to pick up fresh produce. Or, for that matter, even the money to buy fresh produce all day, every day? However, shopping healthy on a budget is super easy, as long as you know how to do it right. A healthy meal consists of protein, vegetables/fruit, and “filler”. Filler is something that’s going to keep you full until your next meal. It can be rice, starches, or grains.
The cheapest protein you will find are beans and legumes. Now there are two types you can pick up from the store: canned and dried. We’ll go with black beans since they’re my personal favorite. A 32 oz. bag of dried black beans is $2.78 according to Walmart. A 15.25 oz. can of black beans cost $0.72. Of course, some of that is water, but a can of black beans can make roughly 2-3 single meals. Now, remember that the bag of black beans will make a whole lot more than 32 oz. when cooked. In fact, the bag of beans can make roughly 5 cans. That’s 0.55 a can. Of course, there’s a convenience to canned beans. That’s just one type of bean. There are tons more out there, and even lentils.
Vegetables and fruits are going to be one of the bigger spending items on this list. Thankfully there are fairly cheap options. We’ll start with fruit, which I tend to eat at breakfast and snacks. Bananas can be found between $0.50 and $0.75 a pound, are fairly calorie dense, and make a perfect snack. Apples can range quite a bit, but they are also fairly high in calories at almost 100 per medium apple. Frozen fruit or applesauce is awesome as well, and I like to have some on top of my oatmeal every morning. For vegetables, I have a large side salad with at least one meal every day, and then canned or frozen veggies, unless I’m making a big pot of chili. Then I will use fresh. Canned vegetables are cheap which range from $0.68 to $2.00. I find myself reaching for the canned unless I want carrots, broccoli, or cauliflower. Those I get frozen.
Then there is our “filler”. For breakfast it’s oatmeal, which can come in old fashioned, for overnight oats, or quick oats, for those times when you need to rush out the door. Rice is super cheap, and with a cheap rice cooker is a breeze to make. You can get a 20 lb. bag for about $10. Potatoes are a favorite of mine, and for a 10 lb. bag is roughly $5 -$6 can’t be beat. Pasta is also an awesome alternative, too. There are all sorts of different grains, too, but they might become more of an indulgence.
Then you have your condiments. Stuff to make your meals taste good. The cheapest is salt and pepper by far for lunch and dinner, with sugar being the cheapest for breakfast. I personally use coconut sugar, and don’t mind spending a little extra on it. Ketchup and soy sauce are great alternatives as well. Milk can be a little pricey, but just tastes so good in oatmeal. Don’t forget the cinnamon!
I hope this gave you some interesting ideas on how to save some money the next time you’re at the grocery store! Good luck, and happy shopping!