Healthy Eating on a Budget

Healthy Eating Doesn’t Have to Cost an Arm and a Leg …

Most people think that healthy eating is expensive. That statement can be true, but it doesn’t have to be. You ABSOLUTELY CAN cook and eat well on a budget. And in the current times, it is even more important to tighten our belts! With some planning, cooking at home (since we have little choice), and smart shopping it’s possible. There are plenty of budget-friendly, healthy food options.


Here are a few of those budget-friendly food items!

(Some of these may already be on a forgotten shelf in your pantry)

healthy eating

Sanford – House Chef Mackenzie cooking up something delicious and inexpensive in the kitchen!


Eggs are a great source of inexpensive, high-quality protein. They are often regarded as a complete source of protein as they contain all nine essential amino acids. (Amino acids are often referred to as the building blocks of proteins, your body needs these essential amino acids to grow and function correctly.) Some brands now contain omega-3’s which have been found to have a mood-stabilizing effect.


Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals.  The fiber and antioxidants in them are beneficial for gut health. And they are easy to bake!



Well-known legumes are beans, peas, and lentils. Legumes are typically low in fat and contain no cholesterol. They are high in potassium, iron, and magnesium. Legumes are a healthy meat substitute and are a good source of protein. 


Whole Chicken

Whole chickens are cheaper than buying packaged breasts, drumsticks, thighs, etc. It does take more time to prepare the chicken, but there is money saved with the number of different meals/dishes you can get out of the one bird! Chicken is a great lean protein and versatile mainstay.


Frozen Vegetables

Frozen vegetables are an easy and inexpensive way to get your daily vegetable servings. Did you know that frozen vegetables are nutritionally more reliable than fresh vegetables because freezing prevents some of the vitamins and nutrients from being lost during transportation and aging?  Frozen vegetables help reduce food waste – you only use what you need.


healthy eating frozen veg

Smile and eat those peas …

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a low-calorie snack and an excellent source of protein. You can serve cottage cheese topped with fruit or just sprinkle ground pepper on top and call it good! 


Healthy Eating Pasta?

I know what you are thinking, how is pasta healthy eating? Let’s think about flipping the pasta plate. Not having the pasta be the star of the dish but rather the vegetables. Having a side of whole-grain pasta with your meat or big plate of steamed veggies is a healthier and cheaper alternative!


Canned Tuna/Salmon

Most people have a can of tuna in the back of their cupboard that they forgot that they had. Canned tuna or salmon is a good source of essential nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids (great for our brain). 



Oats are among the healthiest grains. They are gluten-free and whole grain. And they are a great source of fiber! Try to eat oats that contain less added sugars. Or top them with less expensive fruit – like apples, oranges or raisins.


During these times, money can and may be tight. Many have lost their jobs or have had cutbacks in hours. Healthy eating can sometimes be the last thing on your mind, but it’s important to attend to your health. When taking care of your body you are better equipped to navigate through these difficult days. And a healthy body leads to a healthy brain.


These are challenging times. And if you are in recovery, it can make life seem overwhelming. Remember your focus is to stay the course with recovery. That is the most important thing. Embrace it and know that if treat you body right, you will have the strength to keep going!


Healthy Eating Recipe: Easy and Simple Overnight Oats

½ cup Old fashioned oats

½ cup Milk (whatever type you prefer) 

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon Maple Syrup

For serving: Add peanut butter, chia seeds, fresh or dried fruit, honey, nuts, honey, etc. whatever you would like!

  1. Combine oats, milk, maple syrup and vanilla in a mason jar/ bowl/ Tupperware. Seal with a lid and shake to mix or stir if using a bowl. 
  2. Refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours and up to 4 days. 
  3. When ready to serve- stir and add any toppings to prefer!


women holding knife

House Chef Mackenzie is responsible for all aspects of nutrition and wellness programming at Sanford. Her smiling face is a bonus to the delicious food she provides. Her groups on nutrition, exercise and wellness are some of our clients' favorites. Mackenzie has her Culinary Degree from Secchia Institute for Culinary Education. She also has a certificate in Hospitality Management. And was awarded 2019 Junior Culinarian of the Year from the American Culinary Federation. Mackenzie writes about all aspects of wellness, nutrition and the importance of eating healthily in early recovery. In her free time, Mackenzie coaches Special Olympics. She is also Marketing Chair on the board of directors of the American Culinary Federation of Grand Rapids.