Eat Healthy on a Budget

Healthy nutrition doesn't have to be expensive

A Veteran shops for healthy, affordable produceAccording to the Department of Agriculture, 30–40% of the food supply is wasted every year. Waste often happens at the consumer level — after the food leaves the grower. Reducing waste can save your grocery budget and help the health of your community.

Healthy food choices

Smart shopping reduces food waste. It challenges the myth that eating healthy has to be expensive. Fresh fruits and vegetables may expire sooner. But with the right plan, we can nourish our bodies, save money, and reduce waste.

We have three tips to help you shop smarter:

  1. Take stock of foods you already have before heading to the store. Notice broccoli that will go bad soon? Try making stir-fry for dinner. Have leftover chicken? Give it new life with tacos for lunch. Practice food safety by checking the condition of your food before you use it.

  2. Plan for your produce to ripen. For example, buy bananas or avocados at different stages of ripeness. By day three, you'll still have fruit that is ready to eat.

  3. Choose meals packed with healthy nutrients. You may have heard the term ‘empty calories.’ Foods with ‘empty calories’ lack nutrients. These tend to be processed foods, like baked goods or sugary drinks. These foods are okay in moderation, but they’re not good for 'go-to' food choices. Look for affordable but nutritious ingredients to support your budget and diet.

Food is your fuel

Simple, budget-friendly swaps are a great place to start. For example, try a banana for a snack, instead of white toast. Both have 80 to 90 calories. But the banana gives your body electrolytes and B-vitamins.

Food is like fuel to get us through the day. No matter what you’re doing, the food you choose can affect how you feel. Nutritious choices will give you the energy you need to enjoy your day.

Talk to your doctor

Send your doctor a Secure Message (sign in required) before making big changes to your diet. Your VA health care team is here to guide you as you make healthier choices. Food journals can help you keep track of healthy food you try.

Please vote in our unscientific poll. All responses are anonymous.

Read More

Healthy Eating on a Budget (Veterans Health Library)

Eat Healthy, Take Care of the Planet: Sustainable Eating Tips (PDF) (VA Nutrition Service) 

Do You Know Basic Food Safety? (Veterans Health Library)

Updated June 10, 2022