Eating healthy does not need to cost an arm and a leg; here’s how to maintain a healthy diet without overspending

Making lists, shopping online, buying in bulk, and keeping an eye out for coupons, discounts and loyalty programs make healthy eating choices easy without breaking the bank.

Farmers marketMaking lists, shopping online, buying in bulk, and keeping an eye out for coupons, discounts and loyalty programs make healthy eating choices easy without breaking the bank.With rising grocery costs, people are struggling to eat healthy and stay on a budget simultaneously. Experts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham say eating healthy does not have to break the bank.

“Maintaining a healthy diet is not only about what you eat but also about making mindful choices,” said Emily Davidson, employee wellness manager at UAB. “A little planning, creativity and smart shopping can help people enjoy a nutritious diet without breaking the bank.” 

Plan your meals

Planning meals saves money by preventing impulse purchases. While planning, Davidson recommends incorporating vegetables and fruits in meals — especially seasonal ones.

 “When planning meals, look for what’s in season,” Davidson said. “Notice that some fruits and vegetables are more expensive during different seasons because not all produce grows year-round. Getting fresh fruits and veggies in their off-season is expensive because it requires extra travel and shipping costs.”

Make a shopping list 

According to Davidson, making lists and shopping online can curb unnecessary purchases and save money. 

“Before heading to the store, list the items needed for your planned meals and stick to it,” Davidson said. “This will help avoid buying unnecessary items that seem tempting.”

Davidson says another time- and cost-saving option is shopping online and opting for grocery pickup.

Why shop online?

  • Searching for the cheapest options is accessible.
  • - Unit prices are listed up-front.
  • - Special offers are available online.
  • - Digital coupons are easy to download and use.

Buy in bulk

Davidson recommends buying staple items such as rice, beans, oats, or frozen fruits and veggies in large quantities because buying in bulk often provides better value for the money. 

Also, there is nothing wrong with buying frozen fruits and vegetables because “frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at peak season, so they are not missing out on taste or nutrients,” she said.

Do your research

Davidson advises comparing prices at different grocery stores and online and looking for discounts, rewards and coupons while shopping. 

“Comparing prices is even easier when shopping online,” Davidson said. “Searching for a product and choosing the cheapest one is easier online as compared to navigating through other brands around the store.”

Davidson also encourages shopping at the local farmers’ market for fresh produce because the prices are usually reasonable.

Shop local produce at The Farm Stand at UAB, available every Tuesday at the Kirklin Clinic of the UAB Hospital.


Do not waste leftovers

Getting creative and repurposing leftovers into new meals is a great way to save money.

“Repurposing leftovers helps stretch the budget and reduces food waste,” Davidson said. “For example, people can use a leftover roasted chicken in sandwiches, salads or pastas the next day.”

For innovation and creativity in recipes, social media platforms are helpful sources of inspiration. 

Balancing budget-friendliness and a healthy diet can be hard sometimes because some healthier options such as extra virgin olive oil are more expensive. However, Davidson says that, while getting the best bang for your buck is important, some foods are worth investing in.

She recommends looking for cold-pressed, minimally processed oils because, as opposed to cheap oils that cause inflammation, “they taste better and contain more polyphenols, vitamin E and different fatty acids, beneficial to health,” she said.


She also suggests investing in dark chocolate with over 50 percent cocoa because it is rich in flavonoids and polyphenols, which are heart-healthy nutrients.