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Healthy Eating on a Budget

Healthy eating can be good for you AND your budget!

Searcy, Ark. – 

Is your grocery bill out of control this month since you’ve been home?  Do you feel like it’s too expensive to eat healthy, so why try?  If so, you should know it is possible to eat well and save money!  The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service has lots of practical tips you can use to save money and eat healthy. 

Whole grain foods have more vitamins, minerals and fiber than refined grain foods.  This is why the MyPlate recommends that you “make half your grains whole. Whole grains are available in a variety of products including breads, cereals, tortillas, and pastas.  Many stores have these products available in cheaper brands or you can buy more expensive whole grain foods while they are on sale.  You can freeze bread and tortillas until you need them.  They will stay good for several months, if frozen.  Just remember to look for the key words “whole grain” or “whole wheat” on the package. 

While it’s true that canned foods are higher in sodium than fresh or frozen, there are plenty of low-sodium or reduced-sodium canned food options out there.  You can buy store, or generic brand low-sodium canned goods that are cheaper, or stock up on these items when they’re on sale.  The beauty of canned goods is that they won’t go bad any time soon!  Just be sure you check the expiration date before you buy canned items on sale. 

Oatmeal is super healthy and it’s cheaper than most cereals.  It’s a whole grain, has no added salt, sugar or fat and oatmeal can help lower cholesterol levels.  The brand doesn’t matter; all brands of oatmeal have health benefits.  Add raisins or any fruit you like to jazz it up and make it even better for you.   

Rice is inexpensive and has endless meal possibilities.  Rice is delicious in dishes from stir-fry to casseroles.  Brown rice is the healthiest, but white rice is fine too. Another great thing about rice is that it is grown right here in Arkansas, so you can support local farmers while eating healthy and economically.   

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, buy produce that’s in season – it costs less.  Also, watch for sales, and don’t buy more than you can use.  Remember frozen and canned fruits and vegetables often retain nutrients better than fresh.  Choose canned fruit packed in juice or water.  Choose canned vegetables that are low in sodium or rinse them before cooking. 

Another way to save money is to use less meat and more beans.  Beans are a low-cost form of protein and are high in fiber.  You can easily add beans to many dishes while using a smaller portion of meat.  For example, adding black beans to taco meat or enchiladas makes the ground beef go further and reduces the amount of fat per serving.   

Soda, chips, cookies and crackers are really expensive when you consider the price per serving.  They are usually not very filling and are high in calories.  Try to limit these treats to one per week --- don’t fill the cart with them!   

Convenience meals are pricey and almost always high in calories and sodium.  Plan ahead and take a little time to prepare your meals.   Everyone is capable of cooking a meal at home; look for easy recipes on our website (check out my Pinterest boards too), on food containers, or pick up recipe book.  Making the effort to cook and eat at home will save you money and calories.  It will create more family time if you involve the kids and sit at the table.   

For more information, contact the White County Extension Office at 501-268-5394 or email Katie Cullum at  The University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.  You can also follow Katie on Facebook uaex white county fcs . 



By Katie Cullum
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Katie Cullum
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
2400 Old Searcy Landing Road Searcy AR 72143
(501) 268-5394


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.