Guide to a Budget-Friendly Healthy Diet

By Ashley Logan on April 11, 2018

Budgeting can really come in handy especially when it comes to food. Fast food restaurants can be appealing in times when you’re hungry and short on funds. Although myself and others could never pass up going to Chick-Fil-A or Chipotle, there are cheaper homemade options that are healthier and last longer.

As a broke college student, I’ve become accustomed to experimenting when it comes to everyday meals and trying to maintain a somewhat healthy diet. Over the course of my college career, I’ve become acquainted with bargain shopping and making food last a good amount of time.

Oatmeal (via Pixabay)

Quick and Easy Meals:

Oatmeal

When in doubt, eat some oatmeal. Instant oats will be your best friend in times where you want a comforting meal without hurting your pockets. (Don’t fret, those Chick-Fil-A fries will always be there.)

While costing between $2 and $4, Quaker Instant Oatmeal will fill you up and get the job done. There are a variety of flavors that come in boxes so you’d have this food option for a few days. You can jazz up your oats with fruit, using (non-dairy) milk instead of water, and maybe add a touch of honey if you like it sweet.

My favorite oatmeal flavors are Maple & Brown Sugar, Apple Cinnamon, Strawberries & Cream, and Bananas & Cream. Check out this funny review of Quaker Oats different variety packs.

Anything with Rice

If you’re a carb lover like myself, you know the magical grain that is rice. Rice literally goes with anything. If you want rice with chicken, or veggies, or beans and corn, it will taste good. Rice generally costs under $5 for a box or a large bag. My favorite way to eat rice in a cheap way is by cooking rice with spinach, beans, corn, and some type of salsa. This meal doesn’t cost more than $10 and allows me to have a good amount of leftovers. Rice is basically the go-to side dish.

Pasta dish (via my phone

Pasta 

Pasta, just like rice, goes with almost anything. A bag of pasta won’t cost more than $4 unless you get fresh pasta which still doesn’t cost much. You can still have a great tasting meal when you’re living a budget-friendly lifestyle. My favorite way to eat pasta is with tomato sauce, a lot of spices (I like it spicy), with some veggies or just plain with the sauce and spices. When the pasta is finished, it will look something like this. Not to mention that you can make this meal in just one pan. If you have a gluten or wheat allergy, pasta comes in corn or rice forms that will be friendly to your body.

You can check out this Buzzfeed article on easy one-pot pasta recipes, or browse your Pinterest feed!

Snacks

When it comes to snacks this is an entirely different animal. It is easy to find cheap, semi-healthy snacks at your local grocery store but the temptation of just buying honey buns, chips, and donuts can be hard to resist. Some snacks that won’t hurt your budget or overall health include nuts, trail mix, raisins, fruits, and pretzels. If you’re not lactose intolerant like myself, I’d suggest yogurt as a good option.

Some of my favorite snacks include grapes, bananas, or apples with peanut butter (don’t knock it until you try it) or a simple bowl of cereal, usually Honey Nut Cheerios or Frosted Mini Wheat with Almond Milk.

Grocery store (via Pexels)

Where to Shop:

Cheap food alternatives can be found pretty much anywhere. Even stores like Whole Foods have cheaper options since Amazon acquired the business. A go-to option for me is Target. This enticing store of wonders has everything that you could want or need. The want aspect of Target is where you can get yourself in trouble and forget you’re on a budget, but that is neither here nor there. Target offers their brand “Market Pantry” that has an alternative to almost all food options including meat, frozen veggies and fruit, cereal, oatmeal, snacks, and even dairy items. You can get anything that you would normally buy for a fraction of the price. Target’s Up & Up brand, as well as Market Pantry, make for most of my groceries.

You can go to almost any grocery store close to you and find cheap food options. It’s all about strategy and sticking to your shopping list while being mindful of whats best for your body. The last tip I have to offer is to replace juice with water. You can buy a case of 32 bottles of water for the same price as a gallon of Minute Maid Fruit Punch. It may seem like eating healthier sacrifices things that taste good, but it’s up to you to use what you have and make it taste good. The trans fat and sugar do indeed make food delicious, but you can easily live a healthier lifestyle while being on a budget.

By Ashley Logan

Uloop Writer
My name is Ashley Logan and I'm a Communications/ Journalism major studying at Albright College. I'll be graduating in 2018 and I'm so excited to enter the workforce and put all my ideas to use. I love writing about music, fashion, inclusivity, and whatever has been on my mind lately.

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