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No Money? No Problem! Eating Healthy On a Budget

So, you want to start eating a cleaner diet, but you don’t know how to do so on a limited budget.

Updated: December 6, 2020
eating healthy on a budget
By MBL Featured Blogger: Aimee Hughes
Originally Posted: September 23, 2020

Eating Healthy on a Budget | Sure, you get what you pay for, even in the realm of food. But, lucky for us, there are incredibly nutrient-dense foods on this planet that won’t break the bank.

And once you focus on those foods, you’re not going to need to eat the kinds of foods that have limited nutrition, which also happen to be the foods that cause your body to want to eat more and more and more. Once you know the best way to feed your body as if it were truly your temple, you’ll not only spend less, you’ll lose weight, have more energy, and be a happier, healthier version of your current self. Want to know how? Read on!

Rock your budget-friendly healthy eating habits with superfoods

Want to start eating foods that supercharge your health? I know I do! We all have room for improvement, and we all need to be reminded which foods are true superfoods—the ones that are going to feed your body with such a high nutrient load, that you’re going to be amongst the top healthy eaters on the planet! Let’s take a look at which superfoods I’m talking about. 

  • Sea vegetables

Sea vegetables are superfoods from the sea. And they’re our most important superfood at the moment. Why? Because they’re cost-effective and abundant in nature. Plus, they contain so much of what the body needs to lose weight and stay healthy—even during the dreaded flu season. Wondering just what power-packed nutrients these fascinating sea greens give us? Let’s take a look. Sea veggies are chock full of:

  • Vitamin C
  • Protein
  • Iodine
  • Fiber
  • Minerals
  • Antioxidants
  • Omega-3 fatty acids

Sea vegetables also have anti-inflammatory effects on the body, making them a great food for the prevention of nearly all diseases. Wondering how to eat these superfoods on the cheap? It’s easy. I like to make miso soup, cheap fermented food, on a regular basis. I simply soak a little sea veggie of my choice in the soup. And I do this little ritual every day, typically as a starter for my evening meal. If miso soup isn’t your thing, and you prefer a big salad as a healthy starter, you can also add sea veggies to salads, which will boost a salad’s nutrient load in a major way. 

The next time you go grocery shopping, look for wakame, nori sheets, or dulse. You’ll see that these sea greens are totally inexpensive, which makes them a no-brainer for all of us who want and need to eat healthy on a budget. What’s more, because sea veggies contain omega-3 fatty acids, as well as protein, you can cook with them as a cheaper alternative to meat. Frying up some dulse in your favorite healthy oil—(extra-virgin olive oil is my fav)—is a lot like frying up high-quality bacon, only cheaper and healthier!

I also like to keep roasted seaweed on hand as a healthy late morning or afternoon snack. They’re also great to pack for overnight camping trips. Another simple way of eating sea veggies is to buy spirulina powder and add it to smoothies. Bottles of spirulina may look expensive on the surface, but if you pay $15-$20 per bottle it will last you for at least a month. You only need to add one serving to your morning smoothie to reap the many health benefits of sexy spirulina, which takes me to our next point…

Eat healthy on a budget with smoothies

I absolutely love drinking a smoothie each day. You can pack so much nutritional goodness into a smoothie, and when you buy the ingredients on sale, or in bulk, you make them totally frugal and budget-friendly. Let’s take a look at the best bases for your smoothie.

Nut milks are probably the most popular liquid base for a nutrient-dense smoothie. But, there are all sorts of cheap ways to liquify this healthy beverage. Here are some frugal favorites:

  • Greek yogurt and water
  • Homemade yogurt and water
  • Cottage cheese and water
  • Canned coconut milk
  • Coconut milk from a carton
  • Almond milk
  • Homemade almond milk
  • Rice milk
  • Homemade rice milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Flaxseed Milk
  • Juice from fresh oranges
  • Orange juice concentrate

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Next, we get to the greens. The #1 way we make smoothies so darn nutrient-dense is via greens, and the options are endless. All leafy greens are full of nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. And if you’re not an open-minded veggie eater, adding greens to your fruit smoothie is a wonderful (and cheap) way to eat them. Here are my favorites:

  • Fresh spinach
  • Fresh romaine lettuce
  • Raw kale
  • Swiss chard
  • Zucchini
  • Beet greens
  • Butter lettuce
  • Cucumbers
  • Avocados
  • Frozen broccoli
  • Dandelion greens

Additional money-saving greens tips:

I like to buy greens in bulk and then freeze them. Alternatively, you can simply buy frozen greens and add them directly to your smoothies, too. And here’s a super creative frugal idea: freeze cucumber peels and throw them in your smoothies as needed. If you love purchasing fresh produce from your local farmers, buy greens from them when they’re in season. Load up, and freeze them. 

Budget-friendly smoothie fruits

Fruits are the star of smoothies. They cover up the taste of greens, making your smoothies sweet and pleasing to almost any palette, which makes them excellent budget-friendly foods for the entire family. Here are the healthiest smoothie-friendly fruits and the cheapest ways to buy them.

  • Bananas (buy and freeze)
  • Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries (buy in bulk and freeze, or pick them fresh and freeze)
  • Oranges

While berries can be pricey, shop around and find the best deals. Typically buying frozen berries from Aldi, Trader Joe’s, or Costco won’t break the bank. 

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