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27 Ingenious Ways To Eat Healthy On A Budget

Make your body and your bank account happy.

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We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community how they eat healthy without spending a lot of money. Here are their best budget cooking tips!

1. First things first, plan your weekly meals.

jasminemarielb / Via instagram.com

"Create a meal plan! When I started planning what we would eat for each meal, our grocery costs went down by almost half!"

—Larissa Norris Taylor, Facebook

"I cannot over-emphasize how much time and money meal planning will save you. It will cut down on the amount of groceries you buy and will also give you time to consider what supermarket has the best prices on the items you need."

katee27

3. Next: Make a grocery list and stick to it.

popla1000 / Via instagram.com

"Always make a grocery list so you don’t buy things you don’t need."

kratta95

"I don’t allow myself to buy anything that isn’t on the list. Impulse buys ALWAYS drive up your grocery bill."

sheldonr48991978d

4. Get in the coupon game and download rebate apps.

thetargetsaver / Via instagram.com

"Download or participate in grocery store loyalty programs. Target, Kroger, and even Whole Foods have loyalty coupon programs."

—Margaret Aprison, Facebook

"Target's Cartwheel app has saved me a lot of money on food, they always have items on sale."

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"I take advantage of the rebate apps – Ibotta, Checkout51, SavingStar. I try and combine them with supermarket weekly sales, coupons, Target Cartwheel, etc."

—Toria Lewis, Facebook

5. Look for bargains at your local farmers market.

jnicolemarshall / Via instagram.com

"Go to the farmers market whenever possible! Most of your fruits or veggies will be half the price."

jennyt4c3935de0

"Go to the farmers market when it's about to close on the last day. They start to slash prices then since they want to get rid of their extra produce."

gracem4de377c0d

6. Take a trip to your local Trader Joe's.

silver.tiu / Via instagram.com

"Trader Joe’s has the best organic selection for really great prices."

a438b2f4cc

"Trader Joe's has great patties of all kinds – veggies, fish, chicken, and beef. Not only is this easy to prep, but also cheap and not time-consuming!"

hillaryc41defe030

7. And pay a visit to Aldi, too.

julietlynn_nola / Via instagram.com

"Start shopping at Aldi. Their prices are so much lower than other stores, and they have tons of vegetarian, organic, and gluten-free options. The average cost of my groceries has been cut in half since I started shopping there."

kellik4e69be836

8. If you're single and want to buy in bulk, share a Costco membership with some friends.

triumph_chick / Via instagram.com

"Go in with a few friends for a Costco membership. You can all go together, and buy in bulk for everyone. I've done it a few times, and it's totally worth it."

—Emily Ash, Facebook

"Get a group to get a membership together and buy things in bulk. You can portion everything, use a little at a time, and freeze the rest. It's slightly more expensive up front but when you don't have to buy meat for a few months, it's really worth it!"

—Larissa Norris Taylor, Facebook

9. Buy seasonal produce.

producerkeli / Via instagram.com

"Buy vegetables when they are in season, on sale, and look super fresh. Use what you can and prep the rest. I freeze pepper and onion strips for fajitas, steaks, and sausage sandwiches. The taste is no different than using them fresh. Not all veggies are freezer-friendly so this isn't a one-size-fits-all thing, but it is very helpful!"

—Caroline Gustke, Facebook

10. Stay away from the central aisles of the grocery store.

hannahle17 / Via instagram.com

"Avoid the central aisles of the store (unless you have allergies or are vegan and need something specific). Everything you need to live a healthy and balanced life can be found on the edges, and you’ll be surprised at how low your bill will be without all the extra temptations in the aisles."

brilliantandbuzzing

"Stay away from the overly processed and the novelty frozen foods at the center of the grocery store. For the price of one Lean Cuisine meal I could prepare myself multiple packed lunches."

murruh

11. Learn how to read the price labels.

ornabakes / Via instagram.com

"When you're comparing brands at the grocery store, look at the label for “price per ounce” (it's usually the smaller number on the left side of the price tag). This ensures you actually get the most for your money instead of being fooled by the package sizes."

jordanj4510e968d

12. Use your phone calculator to keep track of how much you spend while shopping.

Marie Telling

"When grocery shopping, set a price limit and use your phone calculator to keep track of everything you buy while at the store."

—Sarah Zowalki, Facebook

13. Limit your experiments.

http://emily.a.k / Via instagram.com

"Make sure you experiment with food, but test only one or two new items per trip. If you love it, you'll know. And if you hate it, you'll know without having purchased pounds of it."

—Margaret Aprison, Facebook

14. Go for store brands.

therealhillaryclinton / Via instagram.com

"They may not be fancy but they are a lot cheaper and tend to be on sale!"

caitlinh27

"Don't be afraid to buy off-brand products! Not only are they cheaper, I have found that they can be waaaay more flavorful, too!"

—Ashley Steidl, Facebook

15. Buy things out of bulk bins.

minimalismus21 / Via instagram.com

"Bulk bins – even the ones in Whole Foods – usually have the cheapest per-pound price for things like couscous and oatmeal."

—Toria Lewis, Facebook

"Learn how to cook tasty meals with grains you can buy in bulk, and buy spices in the bulk section. If you have a good variety of stuff like rice, barley, quinoa, you're not going to get bored as easily." 

—Emily Ash, Facebook

16. Buy things on sale and store them for later.

eatlikenooneelse / Via instagram.com

"Look in the weekly ads of the stores you frequent. Sometimes convenient pantry items, like Minute Brown Rice, go on sale for $1/box. It’s easier to stock up on the pantry items because they don’t go bad so quickly, and then you’ll always have it on hand."

rachelb4e44df6ac

"Use sales to cook larger amount of food that you then freeze in easy 1-2 person portions using freezer bags."

ifkoman

17. Buy your meat in large quantities, prep it, and freeze it.

explorelockport / Via instagram.com

"If you buy ground meat (beef, chicken, turkey), buy it in the 5- or 10-pound blocks, because it ends up being cheaper than buying a pound at a time. When you get home, place portions of the meat in ziplock bags and flatten the servings. It makes them easier to store in the freezer, and they thaw faster!"

—Traci Annis, Facebook

"Buy whole chickens instead of precut breasts and buy red meat in bulk when it’s on sale. Label it with the date when you froze it, so you never wonder if it’s been in there too long."

dutchtritan

18. Invest in a FoodSaver.

king_roush / Via instagram.com

"Most of them cost under $100 and the amount of savings you’ll get out of them is much, much more than that. Getting a vacuum sealer means that you can buy items you use a lot in bulk, vacuum seal them, and freeze them for months to come. I do this with fish, hamburgers, chicken breasts…anything that can be easily frozen."

c4tluvr4000

19. Cook large batches of food.

huge_bacon / Via instagram.com

"Cook large batches of one or two recipes that you can portion out to last you the entire week." 

—Haley Alyssa, Facebook

"It’s cheaper to only have to cook once and it cuts down on the time and the energy used to cook."

carol11

20. And repurpose your leftovers.

chemie.802 / Via instagram.com

"Make big batch of meals that can be eaten in a couple different ways so you don’t get tired of them over the week. For example, when making a big pot of vegetarian chili (an easy meal to make for cheap), pull out some of the seasoned beans and use them later for a veggie ‘sloppy joe.’ That way you don’t have the exact same thing every night but you're still grocery shopping for one cheap meal."

hrm16 

21. Use scraps and bones to make some broth so that nothing goes to waste.

blaksoil / Via instagram.com

"Make the most of your produce by using the scraps to make broth! Save carrot tops and skins, celery leaves, mushroom stems, onion ends, herb stems, and any other veggie scraps (although avoid cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cabbage) in a gallon bag in your freezer. When it’s full, throw it in a Crock-Pot or stock pot, cover it with water, and it’ll make a good gallon of veggie broth to use as a base to a bunch of different recipes. If you eat meat you can also use the bones in the same way!"

sarahh43c616308

"If you’re making chicken broth, use either the bones from a rotisserie chicken that you’ve already picked clean or ask the butcher for chicken backs! It’s mostly bone and tissue, which is all you need, and it usually costs about $1 per pound."

triciab

22. Invest in a slow cooker.

midwest4boymama / Via instagram.com

"It was one of the best food investments I’ve made. I can throw pretty much any vegetable, protein, grain, and/or liquid in there, and, after a few hours, have lunch/dinner for a week. So you can just buy pretty much whatever is on sale, look up its slow-cooking time, and find other ingredients with the same cooking time."

Juliet Fessel

"Even the cheapest cuts of meat will be incredibly tender after several hours of slow cooking."

—Mini Nunu, Facebook

23. If you often let food go bad, buy frozen instead.

rachelhiltonfitness / Via instagram.com

"If you are a person who accidentally lets food go bad, buy frozen. It's inexpensive, it lasts longer, and it's still relatively fresh."

—Kristi Zinniker, Facebook

24. And always have a couple of meals in your freezer for lazy nights.

sugarloafphotography / Via instagram.com

"Make your own frozen meals. If I’m too tired/lazy to cook, I’m more likely to go out to eat (which is always more expensive and less healthy). I try to always keep two or three frozen dinners/breakfasts in my freezer for such occasions. Lasagna rolls, breakfast sandwiches, and soups can all be made with fresh and healthy ingredients and they freeze well."

katee27

25. If you can, grow your own herbs and vegetables.

tonelero90 / Via instagram.com

"Grow whatever you can (even apartment dwellers can grow tomatoes in a hanging pot by a window)."

—Sarah Kimbro, Facebook

26. Eat less meat.

yvetteshealthykitchen / Via instagram.com

"Meat is often the most expensive part of a meal. And eating less meat also helps the environment."

canditabandita

"Vegetarian/vegan meals can also be yummy, filling, and cheap as chips."

—Michelle Gazzard, Facebook

27. And if you have the time and feel motivated, learn how to can.

queenbeecook / Via instagram.com

"I know it’s really old fashioned, can take a long time, and cost quite a bit at first, but you save money in the long run. Plus, you can control the amount of sugar, syrup, and salt you have in the cans, which you can’t really do with store-bought cans."

abbif2

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Submissions have been lightly edited and condensed.

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