Health Bite: Eating Healthy on a Budget

Jim Rogers Features, Health Bite

If you think eating healthy is only for the wealthy, I’m here to prove you wrong. 

Eating Healthy

Hi I’m Rachel Eslick with your AgNet West Health Bite. 

Contrary to what some believe, nutritious food doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, when you pay attention to your diet and plan out what you’ll be making and eating for the week ahead, it can be an awesome opportunity to save money on groceries. Today I’m sharing three tips for diet and budget success.

First, cooking and eating at home is both better for your waistline and wallet.

I’m a big fan of keeping things simple and consistent. Most of us eat relatively the same thing for breakfast and lunch, so let’s lean into that. Keep enough staples on hand for your favorite fast and healthy meals. For me, that’s plenty of eggs, oatmeal, mixed salad greens, deli turkey meat, avocado, and whole-grain bread.

Dinner is the meal we typically change up and having the right ingredients on hand for the week is key. I have several back pocket meals I repeat almost every week, like tacos or taco salads and Mediterranean bowls. When I’m stuck, I’ll look through some of my favorite recipe books or Instagram food accounts for inspiration. It’s always a safe bet to plan on a protein, like pork loin, a couple of vegetables – whatever is in season – and rice. There’s no shame in frozen vegetables and ground meat.

If you dig leftovers, like I do, and saving time, make extra food at dinner to have for lunch the next day.

One strategy I love using is a meal-prep cookbook. Cook Once Eat All Week, by Cassy Joy Garcia is a game-changer. Each week, you use three to four ingredients, like a whole chicken, carrots and potatoes, to whip up three very different meals. All the prep work and most of the cooking is done in a day, and then dinners come together in about 20 minutes. Buying ingredients in bulk, on sale, is a fantastic way to stretch a grocery budget. 

Second, organic isn’t essential.

I’d argue that eating whole, minimally processed foods is most important. If you can afford organic options for meat and eggs, cool. If not, don’t use that as an excuse to give up and opt for fast food. For produce like asparagus, apples, or broccoli, I try to buy organic, but I don’t really bother with avocados, bananas, and other produce you peel the skin off anyway before eating. Look up “Dirty Dozen” to find the 12 fruits and vegetables that are best to buy organic. But again, it’s not a make-or-break rule.

Finally, where you shop matters.

Truth be told, the majority of my groceries come from Walmart. I like the grocery pick-up option and I can find all the staples I need. I supplement with a monthly sustainable beef box, which is an investment, but I justify it because I’m supporting a local farm and saving money elsewhere in my budget. Costco is another monthly-ish shopping trip for meat and other essentials. If you feel like you drop a hundred bucks on one bag of groceries, it might be time to shop around for better prices.

Bottom line, you can eat well on a budget. It takes some planning and discipline, but it’s worth it.

Health Bite: Eating Healthy on a Budget
Rachel Eslick

For AgNet West’s Health Bite, I’m Rachel Eslick. I can help you reach your health and fitness goals with 1:1 and group training. Visit www.reachfit.net.