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I love using a well-planned out a grocery list to do my shopping!
This helps me stay within budget and save money while sticking to a healthy eating plan.
The trick is to use what you already have at home and know which foods go on sale for the week and plan healthy cheap meals using those ingredients.
That way you’ll be eating healthy on a budget at most times. You’ll also avoid wasting food and any unnecessary spending based on impulse buys.
Healthy grocery list on a budget
If you’re looking for a healthy grocery list on a budget then you’re in the right place.
You can follow this guide and list of foods to help you stay healthy and save money on foods that give you a well-balanced diet.
The key is to eat everything in moderation and diversify as many different healthy foods from different groups as much possible to get the optimal amount of nutrients that are beneficial for your health.
SAVE MONEY ON HEALTHY FOODS TODAY!
I recommend using this free Checkout 51 app when you’re planning your healthy grocery list. This free grocery app helps me save money on all my purchases. All I do is scan my grocery receipt to get cashback on my grocery purchases. 🛒🍎
I’ve already saved over $1,000 just by using this free resource!
You’ll even get a FREE $5 bonus just for signing up here and uploading your first grocery recipt via Checkout 51. Those are easy savings without much effort! 🙂
Related posts on budgeting and saving money
- How to Save Money on a Tight Budget Each Month
- This is Why You’re Broke: Stop Buying These Things
- Frugal Living Tips To Reduce Waste and Save Money
Buying vegetables and fruits on a budget
There have been many debates between buying fresh vegetables versus frozen vegetables. Many of us have busy lives and this leaves us with no time to cut and prepare fresh vegetables.
What’s worse is fresh may end up going to waste when we don’t consume them on time.
Another problem we face is not having the budget.
In a perfect world, we would be eating fresh organic fruits and vegetables that are freshly picked at its optimal ripeness. Unfortunately, we don’t live in this perfect world.
If you’re on a tight budget and/or don’t have the time, it is recommended to buy whole fruits and vegetables that are on sale and stock a reasonable amount of frozen alternatives.
Before you think frozen fruits and veggies are unhealthy and not nutritious, think again.
Frozen fruits and vegetables have great nutritional value and are generally healthier than canned.
Depending on the situation, frozen fruits and vegetables may even have more nutritional value compared to what they call “fresh” at your grocery store. According to source, studies on the relative benefits of fresh and frozen show no consistent differences.
Having that said, you may want to aim for a good balance by mixing up fresh fruits and veggies with frozen ones.
Grocery list for conventional vegetables and fruits
Whether you choose whole or frozen, here is a list of conventionally-grown vegetables you can consider adding to your grocery list.
Most of these healthy vegetables are very affordable and budget-friendly! Don’t forget to include some of them when you’re preparing your healthy grocery list on a budget.
- Frozen sweet peas
- Romaine lettuce
- Spaghetti Squash
- Sweet corn
- Sweet potato
When you can’t afford to buy organic foods, the trick is to choose any fruit that contains a thick layer of skin that protects it from chemicals and pesticides like avocados, bananas, and oranges. Some fruits already have reduced levels of pesticides because they generally don’t attract many insects or other living organisms.
Here is a list of fruits that you don’t necessarily have to buy organic.
Grocery list for organic vegetables and fruits
If your budget allows it, it may be best to buy organic according to EWG’s dirty list.
But if you are concerned and can’t afford organic, the good thing is you can still consume many conventionally grown fruits and vegetables (the list above) without having to pay a premium.
Sometimes you may be lucky to catch a few organic foods on sale for the week which work out to be the same price as the conventional.
Whether you choose organic or not is a personal choice depending on your financial situation and how you feel about organic food.
Every time someone says money is an issue, I always recommend finding creative ways to make extra money which could help improve your lifestyle and afford things that are important to you.
Here is a list of vegetables that are best to buy organic if you have the budget.
- Bell Peppers
- Potatoes (red, purple, yellow, golden, etc.)
Tomatoes have been removed from EWG’s dirty list and they say conventionally grown tomatoes are much cleaner today but it’s still best to buy organic if you have the budget.
Generally speaking, FDA says conventionally-grown foods contain chemicals and pesticides at levels that are not harmful to humans. Organic foods also contain some pesticides but generally lower than conventional, so it’s safer to reduce whatever levels we can by consuming organic foods for long-term health benefits.
Here is a list of fruits that are best to buy organic.
SAVING MONEY TIP: To save money and time, consider buying frozen fruits and vegetables and going for fresh ones when they are on sale.
You could also keep a lookout for frozen organic fruits that go on sale. They may be cheaper than or the same price as the conventional frozen fruits that aren’t on sale.
Frozen fruits and veggies may give you more nutrients compared to the “fresh” ones at your local grocery store because the fresh fruit or vegetable loses almost half the nutrients in the first 24 to 48 hours of picking. Whereas frozen veggies retain a lot of its nutrients when they are picked and frozen during their prime time.
Meat and seafood
- Boneless, skinless chicken
- Lean ground beef
- Lean ground turkey
- Wild salmon
Protein and dairy
- Cheese (e.g. mozzarella, goat, or feta)
- Cottage cheese
- Milk or non-dairy milk (e.g. unsweetened almond or soy milk)
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Plain yogurt
Grains, wheat, and bread
These are essential staples that help fuel energy for the day.
Most of them are very affordable and budget-friendly. Healthier options include whole grains and wheat but it’s okay to mix them up with white if you enjoy eating them.
Remember, everything in moderation.
Many people are concerned about the high carbs in foods like bread, pasta, and rice so those who are health-conscious tend to limit these.
Some, on the other hand, are concerned because of the high level of arsenic, a harmful natural chemical, found in rice. This finding may be hard to swallow for those who consume rice on a daily basis.
Having that said, it’s best to mix up your food variety and diversify as much as possible to stay healthy and limit your exposure to the same chemical at high levels.
Here is a variety of rice, grain, and wheat you can mix up into your diet when you’re planning for your healthy grocery list:
- Brown Rice (feel free to mix with white or red rice)
- Whole Grain Bread
- Whole Wheat Flour
- Whole Wheat Pasta
- Whole Wheat Tortillas
Beans and legumes
Not only are beans and legumes one of the cheapest and most affordable staple foods, but they have so many health benefits that many people overlook.
Most of these are full of protein which is essential for your muscles and folate to make healthy red blood cells. Beans are also known for reducing cholesterol, decreasing blood sugar levels and hence managing diabetes.
These are super budget-friendly and storable so I recommend stocking a few when they go on sale.
Beans, in general, are so easy to add to almost any rice, quinoa or pasta dish. If you love Mexican-inspired foods, go ahead and load them in your burrito bowl!
Having that said, don’t hesitate to include these beans and legumes to your grocery shopping list regardless of your budget.
- Black beans
- Blackeye beans
- Edamame beans
- Kidney beans
- Pinto beans
- Sweet peas
PRO TIP: For most beans, buying the dried version to boil at home is probably healthier than canned beans. I prefer dried beans and cooking them myself to minimize any chemicals or preservatives that are present in canned foods.
In terms of costs, dried beans are generally healthier and more budget-friendly. The only catch is it requires a longer time to prepare and it isn’t as convenient as canned beans. You could also consider buying frozen peas which IMO are better than canned.
Nuts contain healthy fats, fiber, and protein.
Nuts are a healthy snack option and you may think they are expensive foods, but the good thing is it doesn’t require a lot per day to reap the health benefits.
According to Health Line, eating only a handful of nuts each day could reduce the risk of heart disease.
That’s about one ounce, or 20 to 22 whole almonds or hazelnuts. This number is equivalent to 15 to 17 cashews.
This turns out to be as low as $0.32 per day depending on which nuts you buy and the volume. You could even reduce that to $0.16 a day by eating half the recommended amount (10 to 12) each day. Assuming you don’t have any nut allergies, including them into your diet is better than none at all.
If you want to be healthy, I highly recommend going for the non-salted version. You may even want to choose organic if your budget allows it.
You can purchase a bag of these yummy almonds which could last you more than a month when you follow the recommendation of consuming 15 to 20 nuts per day.
If you’re making a healthy list of groceries, here are nuts that you may want to add to your healthy eating plan.
BUDGET TIP FOR BUYING NUTS: If you’re tight on money and really can’t afford it but still want to eat healthy on a budget, consider adding non-salted peanuts into your diet.
Peanuts, technically a bean or legume and not a nut, have very similar health benefits to healthy nuts. They are high in fats but contain mostly the healthy fats and are a good source of protein. Like other nuts, peanuts are filling and are good for weight loss when consumed in moderation.
Similar to nuts, seeds also provide great health benefits such as fiber, healthy monounsaturated fats, and other essential vitamins that are good for your skin. This is perfect for you if you’re into affordable beauty essentials.
One of my favorite seeds is pumpkin seeds and I love to sprinkle them into my salads and parfaits. This can be an inexpensive and budget-friendly way to add a nutritional ingredient to your dish because it doesn’t require a lot of product. With less than a handful, you’re still intaking a good amount of essential nutrients which is beneficial for your health!
As always, it’s best to go with the non-salted versions if you’re looking for a healthy option.
Here is a list of delicious seeds you could consider adding into your healthy list of groceries.
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
BUDGET TIP FOR BUYING SEEDS: Similar to buying nuts, if you’re really tight on cash but eating healthy on a budget is important to you, consider buying non-salted roasted sunflower seeds.
Sunflower seeds don’t get the shining spotlight like chia seeds do (thanks to marketing) and are often overlooked because they are commonly available and often viewed as “junk” or “low income” foods. However, they are packed with lots of good nutrients like vitamin E, manganese and selenium.
The only downside is many sunflower seeds are widely sold in packages that contain high levels of sodium. Look for unsalted sunflower seeds and remember what I always say… like any other foods, eating in moderation is key to a well-balanced diet.
Spices and oil
- Cayenne pepper
- Chilli powder
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Salt and pepper
- Sesame seeds
- Extra virgin oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Basil leaves
- Cilantro or Coriander
- Thyme leaves
Wrap up: healthy grocery list on a budget
It is definitely possible to eat healthy on a budget – you just need to take a look at your online flyers to see what deals are on the for the week.
I also recommend using coupons and money-saving apps whenever possible. There are some foods that are already dirt cheap even without a sale but are packed with essential nutrients such as beans, legumes, frozen fruits, and frozen veggies.
Again, the key is knowing which healthy foods you enjoy eating and diversifying as much as possible to gain all the essential vitamins and nutrients. You’re also diversifying in a way that doesn’t expose you to the same chemicals or pesticides that are impossible to get rid of 100%.
I hope this healthy grocery list on a budget helps you save money and achieve a well-balanced diet!