Eating Healthy on a Budget + 10 Cheap Dinner Ideas
Eating Healthy on a Budget can be tricky but if you meal plan properly you can take most of the guesswork out of your grocery bill – enjoy these cheap dinner ideas to get you started!
Eating Healthy on a Budget
With all the cheap frozen dinners out there I know it can seem really hard to eat healthy on a budget.
Well, guess what?
You don't need to buy a bunch of expensive produce and boneless skinless chicken breasts every week in order to eat healthy, and you can still enjoy more expensive cuts of meat and
As a former student who used to eat ALL her meals at home, I feel especially qualified to write this post on eating healthy on a budget. I really knew how to make my dollar stretch in the grocery store and hopefully you'll get a few handy tips from me here.
Believe it or not I used to be able to eat on $30-50 a week and I was pretty good about sticking to this budget!
Keep reading to find out how you can eat healthy but still save on your grocery bill.
Here are some simple tips for eating healthy on a budget:
- Opt for cheaper protein sources like lentils, chickpeas, beans, eggs, quinoa & tofu – even one or two meatless meals per week can save you tons of money!
- Use frozen fruits & veggies – this reduces food waste and allows you to diversify the number of veggies you're using in each dish
- Buy produce when it's in season – veggies like cabbage, squash & broccoli tend to be cheaper during the winter months when they're in season. Likewise, apples are cheaper in the fall, berries are cheaper in the summer and so forth
- Use coupons & look at your local grocery flyer to see what's on sale
- Stay away from the outer aisles of the grocery store – trust me, it's just filled with junk and it's more expensive than buying basics
- Shop for spices at your local bulk foods store
- Shop for pantry staples like oils, vinegars, condiments, sauces, etc. at your local discount grocery store – in Canada we have stores like Price Chopper & Food Basics where you can save up to a dollar or two on the exact SAME condiments like ketchup, soy sauce, olive oil, etc. When you're running low on these staples stock up!
- Speaking of discounted food items, shop for no-name products whenever possible – again they are usually more than $1 cheaper and taste just the same
- Buy meat when it's on sale and freeze it – you usually have 3 or more months to eat it up so if you have the storage bulk in bulk!
Meal Planning on a Budget
Of course meal planning is absolutely integral to eating healthy on a budget so it's one of the top ways you can save money.
You need to stay organized and really commit to grocery shopping on a budget and that involves planning out easy, quick recipes that don't use a ton of fancy, expensive ingredients.
Write out a weekly meal plan & grocery list
It's super easy to write out a meal plan if you can commit to doing it on a certain day of the week. I always do mine on Sundays; I sit down and take a look at my social calendar and then plan the recipes I'm going to make accordingly.
If you want to plan out your meals like I do, you can download my FREE WEEKLY MEAL PLANNER HERE (along with a grocery list and other meal prep resources) to keep yourself organized!
It's also helpful to take a look through your fridge to see what you already have on hand so you don't buy double what you need or don't use up what's going to go bad.
Download your free meal planner HERE.
10 Cheap Dinner Ideas
Now for those tasty cheap recipes! I promise you can make budget meals that still taste amazing and these recipes are proof!
Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Lentil Chili – this recipe can be made with mostly pantry staples
Sheet Pan Greek Chicken – just add veggies and a marinade made from your spice drawer!
Sausage Peppers and Onions Skillet – the formula is simple: just add any veggies you have on hand to this skillet!
Loaded Sweet Potato Fries – use a bag of frozen sweet potato fries, then add veggies and a can of black beans. Done!
Zucchini Pizza Boats – Add whatever veggies you have on hand plus tomato sauce and cheese. That's it!
Italian Chicken Skillet – you should already have all the seasoning ingredients in your pantry!
Burger Lettuce Wraps – skip the bun to save some carbs and cash
One Pot Chicken Teriyaki Bowls – use up frozen veggies in this rice dish
Slow Cooker African Peanut Stew – using just chickpeas and sweet potato, this vegetarian dish is cheap to throw together
Instant Pot Egg Roll Bowls – Just a bag of coleslaw, a pound of ground chicken and some mushrooms, that's it!
Containers for Budget Meals
Here are my go-to meal prep tools to store all your delicious food for the week:
- Glass meal prep bowls are so great for microwaving and reheating your food safely
- Mason jars are perfect for salads since they keep lettuce separated from dressings
- Salad containers are another awesome option for keeping your greens and proteins separated so nothing gets soggy
- My Rice Cooker saves me so much time in the meal prep process because I can cook my grains ahead of time
- These Bento box containers are perfect for packing snacks and lunches together!
- Restock your freezer with grass-fed beef and poultry from Butcher Box – and for a limited time get two free ribeyes and bacon!
Looking for more meal prep recipes and resources? You'll love these other posts – they'll help you eat healthier, tastier food on a regular basis!
- HOW TO MEAL PREP FOR THE WEEK
- MEAL PLANNING WHEN YOU'RE SUPER BUSY
- 20 EASY HEALTHY MEAL PREP LUNCH IDEAS FOR WORK
- 15 BREAKFAST MEAL PREP IDEAS FOR BUSY MORNINGS!
- 25 SUPER EASY SHEET PAN DINNERS FOR BUSY WEEKNIGHTS