Frugal Food: How To Eat Healthy For Cheap

September 4, 2011

42-15217591 I’m not a foodie, nor a diet/healthy eating blogger, but as frugality blogger and busy student, I still have to eat.  I wish I had more time to think about food, but the busier I get, the less I am able to fuss over it:  buying it, preparing it, lugging it around to eat when famished.
If you’re like me, when  times get busy it’s nearly impossible to get to the store regularly to buy fresh fruits and veggies that will bruise and ruin in your bag all day, much less eat them before they go bad in the veggie drawer of the fridge.

When you’re busy (and especially, stressed) it’s the most important time to load up on healthy foods that will give you energy and boost your immunity.    

Here are my tips and tricks to eat healthy when you’re busy and broke:

Your Healthy Eating (long shelf life) Stock Pile:


Nut mixes.  I know it’s tempting to get trail mix with M&Ms, but avoid any mixes with high sugar or salt content.  Save the “indulgent” mixes for dessert or a high powered occasional snack.  My favorite mix is the raw nut mix from Trader Joes….I was worried I wouldn’t like raw, but I actually prefer the flavor!

Dried fruit is always an option.  If you’re too busy and are sick of nectarines making a mess in your work bag, go for dried fruit.  Branch out beyond apricots and banana chips to explore dehydrated persimmons, white peaches and add dehydrated strawberries to your morning cereal.

Oatmeal.  Long shelf life, good flavors and easy to eat on the go.  Throw a packet in your bag and just add hot water or milk in a coffee cup at work and you’re set.  Extra Frugal Tip: Buy the plain oats in bulk, and premeasure single servings into ziploc bags or tuppers.  Add your own dried fruits, brown sugar or cinnamon so all you have to do is add water and it’s already measured!

Canned tuna.  Albacore is good for you.  I will sometimes just crack open a can to top on my salad or eat on its own just for simple protein.  Don’t feel obligated to make an elaborate tuna salad sandwich…just open the can, drain the water and go for it.

Frozen veggies and chicken.  One of my best quick-recipes is soup.  Keep broth mix on hand, throw it in a pot with frozen veggies, chicken and rice or noodles, let it simmer while you study and in a few hours,  you have an easy one-pot meal.

Tofu.   Tofu has a long shelf life and is great in stir frys.  It’s low in fat, high in protein and can absorb flavor when marinated.  If you’re planning a busy week (or month!) ahead.  Get tofu, frozen stir fry veggies and some teriyaki sauce that will stay good for weeks if you’re too busy to cook it.

Dried grains and beans.  Simmer grains and beans in a broth while you study or do laundry to make hearty stews, soups and casseroles.  They have a looonnnggg shelf life and really fill you up!

…Supplement any of these with fresh fruits and veggies when you can, but when you can’t get to the store or worry you won’t consume the fresh stuff in time, this is a great option!

 Other tricks I’ve picked up:

A crock pot is your friend.  You can get them cheap at the thrift store and throw in some veggies, broth and chicken to have a tasty stew when you get home with little or no fuss.

Brew your own tea and mix your own lemonade.  If you find you spend a lot of beverages, brew your drinks in bulk. I put some water in my coffee maker and brew green tea that way.  I then add some sugar in a large pitcher and chill the tea in the fridge.  Crystal light is also cheap and easy to make!

Investing in tuppers based on sizes you typically buy single serving snacks of.  Apple sauce, pudding and yogurt doesn’t have to be purchased in single servings.  Buy a large jar and bring a small tupper of it in your lunch (much, much cheaper!)

Buy in bulk & Compare. has a great selection and offers fair prices.  I’ve also had luck at Trader Joe’s if you have one in your area.  Know that many chain supermarkets usually charge more for these types of items so shop around!


Feel free to read part two of How To Eat Healthy For Cheap.

26 comments so far.

26 responses to “Frugal Food: How To Eat Healthy For Cheap”

  1. @applecsmith says:

    Buying tupperware containers that are individuals sizes have recently become my lifesaver, and like you said it's definitley much cheaper than buying prepackaged stuff. I love oatmeal, and I always buy the packets. But I never thought about buying the plain oats in bulk, using a ziploc and adding my own fruits, that's a fabulous idea! A crock pot is a huge money and time saver for sure, I don't know what I'd do without mine. Thanks for sharing these tips, they are great!

  2. Shannyn@FruBeautiful says:

    Thank you so much! It's easy to buy single servings, but if you want to save money, most of us don't realize the price difference for convenience! Thanks for stopping by darling! 🙂

  3. @FSYAonline says:

    I like eating shelled peanuts for my mid morning pick me up. Dried fruit can be dangerous though, it actually has a lot of sugar. I also made some baked chicken in the croc pot last night and it is delicious!

    • MJB says:

      Nuts can be dangerous too. Have you checked the fat and calorie content of a handful of peanuts? Definitely eat nuts but keep in mind that a mere ounce of peanuts has 28 grams of fat and 170 calories.

    • guest says:

      I'd love to see a recipe for the chicken you made, or any stand out crock pot recipe. I got one months ago and still haven't broken it in. Thanks…

  4. apockylypse says:

    Shannyn, thanks for these tips! We are trying to eat healthier, but our budget can't handle the grocery lists of some of the diets out there. Plus my husband is thinking about going to school, which means we'd be on an even tighter budget.

    I'm very excited about the rumors (please be true!) that we are getting a Trader Joe's in our town.

  5. @halliekw says:

    Love this! I just signed a new lease and living is not cheap in Chicago. These are super helpful 🙂


  6. Isabella says:

    This is an awsome article. I love the oatmeal idea.

  7. B Kelly says:

    I like the tupperware idea. For me, just thinking of it all lined up in my freezer ready for consumption in 5 quick microwave minutes is yummy yummy!!

    B Kelly

  8. kindnessistheanswer says:

    I love but I don't find that with shipping it's inexpensive at all – the quality is fantastic though.

    • Shannyn@FruBeautiful says:

      I love that NuttyGuys does Groupons every once in awhile. They have dried persimmons and raw pistachios which are hard to find elsewhere, so I'm glad you like the company too! I've had a good experience with them in the past!

  9. Pinkie Pie says:

    Oatmeal? Are you crazy!

  10. Jaime says:

    I think it depends on how you look at frugality. Some people see frugality as deprivation and others see as a way to get more. You can replicate a lot of favorite foods at home. We cook fajitas, burgers, grilled chicken, pasta, and other easy foods at home. Plus there's less grease on home cooked meals. Some restaurants put too much sauce and seasoning on their dishes, it's just easier for us to make what we want at home.

  11. Mechanic guy says:

    If you want to lower your Mercury intake, you might avoid canned tuna/albacore.

    Just sayin'.

  12. yentaleh says:

    I do this myself, and I even do organic! (My local Co-op has a wonderful bulk section!) I also buy meat when its on sale, (poultry mostly-as red meat costs alot more) and I buy my veggies in bulk so I can freeze them. I make alot of one pot meals with rice.pasta, quinoa, cous-cous, and only do potatoes every once in awhile. I've managed to cut my calorie intake by 30% by cutting out processed foods and I always make extra to store and eat later. All in all my costs are down as well as my waistline. Also buying a bread machine and making your own is another cost cutting matter, and there is nothing like the smell of home made baked products in your home.

    • Monica says:

      I agree! Oh but you don’t need a bread machine. I just make the dough, let it rise, pop it in a loaf pan and bake away. I usually make two to three types at a time. That way my sandwiches for work have some variety.

  13. MJTM says:

    Eating healthy is not expensive at all! Beans, fruits and veges are cheap! I heard if you stick around the perimeter of supermarket you'll be good to go!

  14. alex d says:

    Healthy eating means maintaining a nutritious diet. I believe it to be important to every one. I stress a healthy life to my family and friends and I try to show them the benefits to it. I think the greatest benefit most of all is that it makes you feel and lool great. If your not eating healthy, then you are not helping your body. You are filling it with what it does not want, instead, help your body out and eat healthy. The turn out is awesome. I have been eating healthy for years and I have never felt better in my life.

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  17. Solavei says:

    Hi, you have a very glamorous blog. I love the design!

  18. kesang says:

    great tips

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