Eating healthy can be a real challenge, especially given the wide range of unhealthy foods available at restaurants, grocery stores, and through delivery services.
There’s also a prevailing stigma about eating healthy, namely that it inherently has to be expensive.
But this just isn’t true. Creating healthy meals for yourself and your family certainly can be expensive, but there are many inexpensive alternatives that can be found at just about any grocery store.
Below you’ll find our cheap healthy meal plan shopping list. The list is not comprehensive, especially if you happen to have specific dietary restrictions.
But it does serve as a great source of ideas for creating the base of some very healthy meals that won’t break the bank.
If you need help with the cooking end of things, check out this helpful article on some of the best YouTube cooking how-to channels.
Beans, whether dry or canned, can be a great option for creating healthy meals. They are naturally low in fat, sugar-free, and easy to prepare.
Beans can be used in salads, as part of a healthy burrito or wrap recipe, or mixed with vegetables and served as a meal of their own.
They’re incredibly filling, and if you eat your meals slowly, you’ll be able to cut down on binge eating and overeating.
We would also recommend seeking out canned beans that have low sodium content. These are sometimes labeled as organic or are marked with the tag: No Salt Added.
Bell peppers are sweet, filled with Vitamin C and can be prepared in a variety of ways. Best of all, they’re often inexpensive, so you can buy several at once.
These tasty peppers can be used to complement a meat dish or you can stuff them with rice, beans, and seasoning to create a healthier alternative to a stuffed baked potato.
If you happen to have access to a grill, bell peppers can be placed directly on the grate and browned or blackened to preference.
Dip them in hot sauce or BBQ sauce for some extra heat and flavor.
Finding healthy snacks may be one of the most difficult aspects of eating healthy. Many snacks are processed and full of fat and sodium. After all, that’s what we’re naturally disposed to enjoy.
Even natural snacks like nuts can be very high in saturated fats, making them a dangerous casual snack.
That’s why we recommend buying some sunflower seeds, either in-shell or pre-shelled.
They’re relatively low in saturated fats and very low in carbs. Best of all, they’re cholesterol-free.
When it comes to cutting out the fats in your typical eating habits, it’s best to avoid meat altogether.
But quitting meat cold turkey can be difficult, especially if you’re on a budget.
Meat can also be a great source of protein and can even serve as part of a healthy diet if eaten in moderation.
When it comes to inexpensive meats that will help you slim down, you’ll want to stick to lean meats such as turkey, pork, fish, beef, and chicken breast.
Broccoli and Asparagus
These fibrous veggies are hearty, easy to prepare, and tasty, too.
To keep these veggies low-fat, don’t fry them and add too much salt. Instead, steam or boil them and serve.
It’s that simple. You’ll save time on prep while staying healthy in the process.
Fruit, in moderation, is a perfect snack, and it usually comes with its own wrapper.
Look for small lunch-box sized apples that you can bring with you to work. Berries are also a great dessert substitute for when you’re craving something sweet.
Avocadoes, while they can be high in fat, are also very filling and can help you cut down on future snacking.
It can be very easy to forget that many beverages have lots of calories and can get in the way of healthy habits.
Soda, of course, is full of sugar, making it very unhealthy. But even coffee creamer can make your drink fattier. Many different varieties of alcoholic beverages also have many calories, which are not marked on the packaging.
But you also don’t have to drink exclusively water, either. Buy yourself some tea, preferably in a large bulk box.
If you’re also looking to cut down on your caffeine intake, try to purchase herbal tea rather than black or green tea.
Items to Avoid
We’d just like to add a few quick notes on unhealthy items to avoid while grocery shopping or eating at a restaurant.
Once again, you may want to alter our recommendations if you happen to have dietary restrictions. And as always, consult with a nutritionist or a primary care physician before drastically altering your diet for the long-term.
We all love bread. Each culture has its own forms of the carbo-loaded loaves, which are then used in many different types of meals.
Unfortunately, bread is little more than a collection of carbohydrates, and carbohydrates signal to the body that it needs to store more fat.
This is why several popular diets are based around eliminating carb intake completely.
And you don’t necessarily have to stop eating bread and bread products entirely, but it would be advisable to cut down on the amount of carbs you eat each week.
If you happen to be at a restaurant, for example, feel free to order a burger, but make an effort to remove the buns and only eat the meat and toppings.
It may seem obvious that you should avoid candy while trying to eat healthier, but it’s important enough to mention here.
Even the smallest amount of chocolate or sugar-loaded confectionery can throw off your healthy eating habits, especially since candy doesn’t fill you up and can cause further cravings.
Try to avoid any snacks that use preservatives or add too much salt. Check the nutrition facts for every single item.
If the sodium content is listed as 10% Daily DV or higher per serving, it’s best to avoid it altogether.
Many frozen foods, from TV dinners to frozen meats and snacks, also contain high levels of sodium and as such should be avoided.