By: Colleen Hammann
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
(5 min read)

By: Colleen Hammann
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
(5 min read)

Tips for Eating Well on a Budget
“Healthy food is just too expensive.”

If you’ve ever found yourself uttering those words, you’re not alone. Feeling good, looking your best, and being vibrantly healthy are invaluable. Still, an empty bank account certainly won’t help your stress levels. Switching to real food is a wise choice for your health but let me show you how to do it without emptying your wallet in the process.

When you take into account the real cost of cheap food (excess weight, low energy, diminished health, and chronic illness, plus all the diet programs, medications, and doctor appointments that accompany them), you may not be spending much money on food, but you’re probably spending it elsewhere. When you think big picture and put it all into perspective, the health benefits afforded by eating real food justify the monetary cost in the long run. How true is it really that real food is significantly more expensive? Empty-calorie processed foods like chips and snacks etc. may be cheap, but they are largely devoid of the fiber and nutrients that trigger satiety, resulting in the desire to consume more.

If you choose the right foods and shop at the right places, real food - particularly vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes - can be affordable for everyone.

With a little planning and some mindful shopping, you can easily save money while enjoying nourishing foods.

Lets review some tips you can ensure you are getting the nutrition you need at a reasonable price:

1. Have a Plan

Know how many meals you need to prep for during the week. Factor in any lunches or dinners out to (Doordash, Uber Eats etc. all should be factored in) . Otherwise, unused food can end up spoiling and getting thrown out which is not only a waste of money, but a waste of food, too. Make a list. I know this sounds like an obvious task but one some of us forget to follow at times. Grocery stores are designed to entice customers to purchase more. Appealing displays make it more likely that shoppers will notice and add products they didn’t plan on buying to their carts. These foods can add significant costs to your grocery bill, and you’re much more likely to pick them up if you don’t have a specific list to work from.

2. Look for coupons

Many companies offer coupons for their products online. If there are certain products you know you purchase frequently, consider searching for coupons to save money. One of my favorite bone broth is by Kettle and Fire and I can always find a good coupon online for them.

3. Stick to the store’s perimeter

Packaged foods, which are typically found in the center of the grocery store, can be expensive. Premade sauces, cereals, and other processed foods can quickly drive up your grocery bill. To avoid this, stick to the perimeters, including the produce area, deli counter and dairy section - good for both your wallet and your health!

4. Buy whole foods

Value-added products, like pre-chopped onions and fruit, may be convenient, but their prices are marked up. To cut costs, opt for whole fruits and veggies and chop them at home.

5. Add In Plant-based proteins

Beans and legumes are nutritional powerhouses high in minerals and fiber. They’re also inexpensive. Beans and legumes are a filling addition to any meal, and dried beans have a very long shelf life.

6. Shop for local, seasonal produce

Eating foods that are in-season is actually cheaper. Buying foods at the peak of its supply is cheaper for farmers and for distribution, making it cost less for you. Buying local is a great way to offset the cost of organic foods. In-season produce is often featured right in the center of the produce section. It’s often abundant, which means it will cost less. Because local foods are picked when ripe, travel shorter distances, and are sold more quickly, they’re usually fresher. Fresher not only tastes better, its also typically more nutritious. Local food protects the environment by cutting down on carbon dioxide emissions during shipping and also strengthens your local economy.

7. Prioritize the Dirty Dozen

Organic produce typically costs more, so choosing organic when it matters most is a great way to save money. Foods on the Environmental Working Groups Dirty Dozen list contain the most pesticides and herbicides. Foods on their Clean Fifteen list contain the fewest pesticides and herbicides, so you can opt for conventional versions of these if cost is a factor. Keep an updated version of the lists for reference

8. Join a CSA

If you love to cook, seriously consider joining a CSA (community supported agriculture) program. CSA allows you to “buy a share” in a farm’s output for a season. Each week, a local farmer will fill a box with perfectly ripe, in-season produce and deliver it to your home or a local pickup point. CSAs offer access to an abundance of farm-fresh produce at a fraction of what you’d pay at the grocery store. A local spot that offers a CSA is Abma’s Farm in Wyckoff.

9. Cook once, Eat twice.

With the cook once eat twice method, you plan your meals around key food groups that can be prepared in larger quantities. You then you the extra to create a totally different meal the next day, or later in the week. I like getting an organic roast chicken and using some to shred a salad, use for a sandwich or use for a homemade shredded taco dish.

10. Check out the frozen foods section

For less expensive fruit and vegetable options (especially organic), don’t rule out the frozen foods section. Fruits and vegetables are typically flash-frozen right after harvest, which means they’ll stick pack a nutritional value. Frozen produce also keeps much longer, so its a great option if your fruits and veggies often go bad before you have a chance to eat them.

11. Buy in Bulk

Foods like rice, quinoa, nuts, seeds and spices are better to be bought in bulk as they tend to cost less than the same amount of the same food in a package. Rather than paying for the package, opt to buy these dry goods in the bulk foods section. Consider bringing your own
containers for an even more sustainable option.

12. Compare store prices

Recently, I have seen drastically different pricing for the same foods at different stores. When I say drastic I mean double in some cases! If you always shop at the same store, compare the prices of your go-to foods at other stores. Mom’s Organic Market recently came to the area in January in Paramus, NJ and they offer the lowest prices in the area for organic food. Whole Foods has really stepped up their pricing game and are now more competitive than some stores that people would assume are offering lower pricing. Large national chains, including Costco, now stock a decent assortment of organic produce and healthier packaged products at excellent prices. You can often save money by being a little flexible with location. If you find you have little time to go grocery shopping than these resources will afford you access to the healthiest foods, often at the lowest possible prices. Here are a few, Thrive Market (Access to all foods and health items), (offers dry bulk goods), Eat WildVitacost (brand name food items and supplements), and Instacart (If you need a personal shopper to go to your local grocery store).

13. Compare unit prices

Typically, stores will include two prices related to a product - the retail price (the price you pay) and the unit price (the price per a particular unit size). This makes it easier to see the better deal between different sizes or different brands. Example: Let’s compare two brands of almonds. Brand A costs $3.50 for 14 ounces ($0.25 per ounce) and Brand B costs $4.20 for 20 ounces ($0.21 per ounce) Brand B may cost slightly more up front, but it is the better deal overall. Creating nutritious meals can be more affordable than you think. With a few simple tips, some planning ahead and strategic budget friendly ingredients, it’s easy to eat healthy on a budget!


Curious about how health coaching can help you make your own healthy changes? Let’s talk! Schedule an initial complimentary consultation with me today——or pass this offer on to someone you care about!


I received my training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I learned about more than one hundred dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. Drawing on this knowledge, I will help you create a completely personalized “roadmap to health” that suits your unique body, lifestyle, preferences, and goals.

Learn more about my training and my unique approach to health coaching on my website and follow me on Instagram.
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