Eating healthfully on a budget is not impossible. Challenging, perhaps, but not impossible. Keeping your grocery shopping to the bare essentials will nourish your family with wholesome foods while not feeling deprived. Make sure to consider these budget friendly healthy foods when you are meal planning.
Where’s the dairy?
As a dairy farmer’s wife you’d think that I would’ve loaded up the list with lots of dairy products.
Actually, dairy products are pretty expensive if your budget is super tight.
They are budget friendly healthy foods but only in moderation or as a treat. Or on super sale.
Thankfully, my husband and I can afford as much cheese and butter as we want to eat. That means it gets served with every breakfast and most suppers.
Sour cream gets used liberally and I use cream cheese at least once a week. Butter disappears at frightening rate (especially when my son eats it right off the stick!).
Not very budget friendly!
Spice it up!
Spices and seasonings are great budget friendly healthy foods. Especially since a little bit goes a long ways.
Incorporate different and new seasonings in your cooking to make your meals more appealing and tastier. Adding a touch of seasoning to any veggie side may help your children love vegetables.
Don’t forget about dessert spices, too.
Budget Friendly Healthy Foods to Keep in Stock
By keeping these foods in stock all the time you can plan meals ahead of time and not feel pinched to go grab frozen pizzas or take out.
Eggs make the top of my list because they are so affordable yet packed with nutritious protein and fat. They are so versatile that they can be served for every meal and for snacks!
Eggs in Smoothies
If you have the fridge space, buy eggs by the box and save a few more bucks.
Read More: 7 Ways to Fix Hard Boiled Eggs
Real broth isn’t something you can buy cheaply to have on hand. But if you go to a butcher shop and ask for chicken carcasses and feet or knuckle bones and tails (from cows) you can make your own nourishing broth for cheap.
No, it’s not organic. No, the animals probably aren’t grass-fed. But some broth is better than no broth. And certainly the stuff you buy in the box from the store isn’t as nourishing because it doesn’t even gel!
I love my butter. But if finances are tight, lard is a great, healthy butter substitute. Again, you can’t just buy it from the store because it’s pretty expensive. [And I’ve only found lard that is partially hydrogenated.]
Hit up your local butcher again and ask for the leaf lard from pigs. You can usually buy this for a few cents a pound.
Take the lard home and render it down in your crock pot. This fat is relatively neutral in flavor and can be used just like you would use butter.
When I was growing up, we would have a piece of bread spread with lard for a snack.
My mom would fry everything in lard because it has a high smoke point.
Most of our cookies were made with half lard half butter because a family of six goes through a lot of cookies (and butter)!
Read More: How to Make Lard
Dried beans can be used as a side, in soups or mashed into spreads for bread or crackers.
Everyone’s had oatmeal for breakfast at some point. Buy oatmeal in bulk, soak it the night before (go to minute 3:15) and cook up a big batch for the whole family in the morning. Each person can add what they like: frozen berries, milk, maple syrup, peanut butter, cinnamon or honey!
You’re saying that hamburger isn’t cheap. At least not all the time. Keep your eye out for marked down meats that have to be sold or frozen that day.
Our grocery store has a small cooler in the back of the store where they always put marked down meat items.
Read More: 14 Ways to Save Money on Groceries
I suggest hamburger because it is so versatile. You can mix it with beans to make it stretch further. Mix in extra sauce to make spaghetti go further. Make meatloaf with lots of extra breadcrumbs.
The nutrients and B vitamins in red meat are crucial for health and especially growing children.
This vegetable isn’t super loaded with nutrients, but it is a healthy way to fill up. Make meatless shepherds pie. Add them to soups. Serve them as hash browns.
Keeping potatoes is easy, too, because they don’t require refrigeration or freezing.
Potatoes can be a great filler for any meal.
Read More: How to Make the Best Hash Browns Ever
Steamed, sautéed, boiled and stuffed are all great ways to enjoy cabbage. One head of cabbage goes a long ways because it just keeps multiplying as you cut it!
Be creative with your seasonings and add some bacon grease for great flavor. Your kids may not be fans if you serve just plain cabbage.
Cabbage can also be made into enzyme-rich sauerkraut!
Read More: How to Make Sauerkraut
Everyone loves a fun snack. Forget buying goldfish, pretzels and chips. Just keep some popcorn on hand and make a big bowl for an after school snack or after dinner. Drizzle with butter and season with salt.
For a more “desserty” popcorn, drizzle with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Put it in little baggies to send in your kids’ lunches.
Read More: Healthy Homemade Caramel Popcorn 3 Ways
Fresh fruit can get expensive. Keeping frozen berries on hand is an easy way to dress up breakfast or snacks. Add them to pancakes, oatmeal or yogurt.
Canned fruit makes at nice dessert or snack. Otherwise use frozen fruit!
Mix it with mayo, relish and some seasonings to go with crackers for an after school snack.
We love tuna melts for a meal:
Just make tuna salad and spread it on a piece of toast. Put a piece of cheese on top and broil it for a few minutes to warm the tuna and melt the cheese.
Plain yogurt is usually cheaper than all the flavors available. Buying (or making) plain yogurt allows you to use it in baking or as a snack. Mix in your own berries or sweeteners to make it just the way you like it.
You can also cut back on the amount sweetener in the yogurt by adding your own.
Coffee can get expensive. But if you enjoy tea, sip away. Tea is a nice mix up from just plain water.
Some herbal teas even aid your health.
Fresh vegetables are expensive and can spoil easily if you don’t use them right away. Keep a stash of frozen vegetables on hand to add to any meal. Mix some frozen peppers and onions in with eggs. Make soup for lunch with the frozen veggies. Serve them as a side for supper.
Read More: How to Freeze Corn
Just because you are on a tight budget doesn’t mean you can only eat these foods. But it does mean you have to plan ahead, cook at home and grocery shop smartly all while keeping your family healthy.
These are just a few suggestions for budget friendly, healthy foods for your family.