6 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

(Image credit: Getty Images/Tetra images RF)

By Diane Henderiks

Many people believe that eating healthy is expensive and time consuming, but that's not necessarily the case. The reality is that healthy eating can be cheap and quick too.

Difficult economic times do not mean that we have to sacrifice our health - or budget - when it comes to food. With careful planning and a little effort, healthy eating can fit into a budget, but preparation and planning are key.

Here are six easy tips for economic, healthful eats:

1. Local, seasonal fruits and veggies can often be less expensive than what's in the typical grocery store. Buying produce by the bag instead of individually is cheaper and puts more fruits and veggies in front of you to eat at home.

2. Protein such as chicken, fish, pork and beef are not cheap, but there are some ways to save a buck. Buy the large, family packs, and when you get home place them in separate bags for each meal. Bulk packs are always cheaper than smaller packs. Don't buy preseasoned or marinated meat or fish, because that means paying for someone to do that for you. Season, rub and marinate the cuts yourself for an economical and healthier way to add flavor to your food - that way you control the amount of salt, fat and sugar, which is always better.

3. Make extra portions of what you prepare for dinner to pack for the kids' lunches the next day - saves time and money.

4. Check the store circulars and websites for coupons to save some cash

5. Buy generic items and store brands, which are often less expensive yet identical to name brands

6. Try to have a meatless meal at least one day a week. It is a recommendation that I have always made to my clients, regardless of their economic situation. Legumes (beans and such) , grains and soy-based products are inexpensive and healthy.

My philosophy is to purchase foods that are as close to their natural state as possible, which means the least processed, with no added sugar, fat and salt.

Diane Henderiks is a registered dietitian, the founder of Dianehenderiks.com and a "Good Morning America" health contributor.