How to Purchase Healthy Groceries on a Budget
One of the biggest misconceptions of being vegan and eating healthier is that your grocery store bill will be expensive. Which is understandable because the most common health food stores can be pricey. This is why I recommend purchasing produce in season, as it can be cheaper, more nutritious and fresher.
There are many habits that can contribute to a pricey grocery bill like purchasing vegan junk food, such as microwavable dishes, or frozen dinners. When people experience expensive vegan/healthy grocery bills, it’s due to the over purchasing of processed foods. I would recommend getting these items in moderation. It is possible to eat nutritious meals and purchase healthy groceries on a budget. Purchasing bulk and fresh seasonal produce will be your saving grace.
Below are some tips to follow when you begin budgeting for healthy groceries on a budget to track what you have been doing and buying.
- Write down the things you need on your new grocery list, and empty out your refrigerator of the things you no longer need or that have expired. This allows you to stay focused at the grocery store and not make impulsive purchases.
- Write down how much you spent on the items you need to purchase again. Try to find a more cost friendly version of those items. This helps cut costs down, or find alternatives that are budget friendly. Be mindful of the stores you purchased these items, because costs do vary from store to store.
- Think ahead for the week on meals you would like to make. You can repurpose multiple ingredients for different meals. This helps you save on over purchasing and also gets your creativity going for leftovers. Examples of this can be: Taco filling, can be used for tacos, burritos and salad toppings. If you made a huge pan of taco filling that costs about $10 worth of ingredients (potatoes, zucchini, onion, jackfruit, avocado), this could stretch you for 3 dinners and 2 lunches. Other examples of this technique is pasta, if you can make sauce, and eat with noodles or on top of rice/quinoa/zoodles. Committing to salads for lunch with the same concept weekly can save you money as well.
With healthy meals, there is usually a base which can be rice, beans, pasta noodles, or quinoa. If you purchase these items in bulk you will save as well. One pack of rice at a bulk price can be up to $5. You can purchase all the fixings for salad at $10, which could be lunch and dinner for a week with multiple variations.
I recommend getting these items from either Sam’s Club or Costco. Only purchase these items as you need them so they don’t become an unnecessary expense. These are items you collect over time.
Fresh produce are items that you will be cooking during the week which you can purchase every Saturday or Sunday. I recommend grocery shopping on the weekend because it gives you time to relax through the store, pay close attention to the prices, go to different stores, & you may have enough time to prep or plan meals for the week.
A sample of a meal plan with healthy groceries on a budget may look like this
|Mornings||Lunch – Snack||Dinner|
|Tea/Coffee||Avocado Toast||Balanced plate |
|Protein Shake/ Smoothie||Leftovers||Veggie Tacos|
When shopping for healthy groceries on a budget I break down my list into 2 categories:
Groceries on a budget you can purchase weekly
- Fruits and Vegetables
- One time entree pieces (tofu, jackfruit, tempeh)
- Baked goods such as breads/ tortillas
Groceries on a budget you can purchase monthly
- Canned beans & veggies
- Alternative milk (comes in a case of 6)
- Pasta Noodles
- Baking goods such as flour, sugar
Here is an extensive grocery list that will help you organize your healthy groceries on a budget.
This healthy groceries on a budget list covers:
- Fruit. Fresh, frozen.
- Vegetables. Fresh, canned.
- Legumes. Canned, dried, fresh soy products.
- Herbs and Spices. Fresh and dried.
- Pantry Items. Natural sweeteners, condiments, baking items.
- Dairy Alternatives.
- Whole grains and whole grain products.
- Packaged Items.
Healthy Groceries on a Budget: Fruits and Vegetables
|Fruit (Fresh)||Fruit (Frozen)||Vegetables (Fresh)||Vegetables (Canned)|
|Banana||Cranberries||Leafy green. Kale, spinach, arugula, collard greens.||Corn|
|Apple||Cherries||Cruciferous veggies: cauliflower, broccoli, red cabbage, green cabbage, napa cabbage, brussel sprouts.||Peas|
|Kiwi||Mixed Fruits||Root vegetables: parsnips, carrots, sweet potato, yams, white sweet potato, potatoes, Beets, turnips, rutabagas, Ginger.||Diced Tomatoes, whole tomatoes + Tomato paste|
|Berries: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries.||Berries: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, mixed berry blends||Nightshades: Eggplant, Peppers (spicy and non-spicy)||Pumpkin, Butternut squash|
|Stone fruits: nectarines, plums, peaches, cherries.||Stone fruits: nectarines, plums, peaches, cherries.||Artichokes, cucumbers||Green peas|
|Tropical fruits: papaya, mango, dragonfruit, lychee, pineapple, passionfruit, durian, guava, jackfruit.||Tropical fruits: papaya, mango, dragonfruit, lychee, pineapple, passionfruit, durian, guava, jackfruit.||Squash: butternut, Zucchini acorn, kabocha, pumpkin, hubbard.|
|Citrus fruits: lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, clementines, apricot.||Avocado|
|Melons: cantaloupe, honeydew.||Green beans, green peas, snap peas, snow peas (actually legumes but we’ll include them here in veggies)|
|Mushrooms of all varieties|
|Onions, shallots, and Garlic|
|Tomatoes of all varieties|
|Mixed stir fry veggies|
Healthy Groceries on a Budget: Legumes, Nuts, Seeds, Grains, Bakery
|Legumes||Nuts + Seeds||Whole Grains||Bakery|
|Beans: Black eyed, white kidney,|
Red Kidney, Adzuki
|Nuts: pecans, walnuts, cashews, brazil nuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, pine nuts||rolled oats, steel-cut oats||Pasta: brown rice pasta, quinoa pasta, whole wheat pasta|
|Seeds: sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), sesame seeds||brown rice, wild rice and other rice varieties||Rice cakes|
|Peas: Split, yellow, green, Black eyed||Nut butter: almond butter, cashew butter, peanut butter||quinoa||Whole grain flours: quinoa flour, buckwheat flour, whole wheat flour|
|Canned Legumes||Seed butter: tahini, sunflower seed butter||millet|
Healthy Groceries on a Budget: Dairy Alternatives
|Dairy Alternatives||Processed Dairy Alternatives|
|coconut yogurt||vegan sour cream|
|almond or cashew yogurt||vegan cream cheese|
|cashew cheese||vegan cheese|
|dairy-free milk such as almond, oat, soy, rice, hemp, cashew or coconut||coconut creamer|
|vegan ice cream|
Healthy Groceries on a Budget: Herbs and spices
|dried basil, fresh as needed||dried bay leaves||celery seed||ground chili powder||red pepper flakes|
|cayenne pepper||fresh chives||fresh or dried cilantro (coriander)||cloves||cumin|
|curry powder||turmeric||fresh garlic, garlic powder||fresh ginger root, ground ginger||Italian seasoning|
|ground thyme||onion powder||dried oregano||dried rosemary, fresh as needed||dried dill, fresh as needed|
|dried parsley, fresh as needed||black peppercorns||sea salt||ground ceylon cinnamon||cardamom|
Healthy Groceries on a Budget: Sweeteners, Baking, Cooking
|Natural Sweeteners||Condiments||Baking + Cooking Goods|
|agave syrup||coconut milk||baking powder|
|coconut sugar||red curry paste, green curry paste||baking soda|
|maple syrup||soy sauce or gluten-free tamari||cornstarch or arrowroot powder|
|molasses||miso paste||pure vanilla extract, any other extracts you like such as peppermint or almond|
|stevia||mustard||shredded coconut, coconut flakes|
|organic cane sugar||salsa||vital wheat gluten (used to make seitan)|
|Dates||organic ketchup||various flours such as chickpea flour, quinoa flour, coconut flour, almond flour|
|sweet chili sauce|
|vinegar: red wine, balsamic, apple cider, rice wine|
Healthy Groceries on a Budget: Misc Food
|Field Roast Sausages||Kombucha||Dairy free Ice Cream|
|Protein Bars||Frozen Veggie Burgers||Frozen desserts|
|Canned soups such as Amy’s||Dark Chocolate||Vegan Jerky|
|Frozen waffles from Nature’s Path or Ezekiel||Mary’s Organic Crackers||Veggie Sticks|