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3 Tricks to Eating on a Budget

by Anna Parsons and Katie Cullum

Eating well can be a challenge, especially when you’re on a budget! Find some smart tips and tricks below that will help curb your spending and increase your health!


  • Begin by shopping your pantry, freezer and fridge to see what you already have that could contribute to meals. This helps you spend less at the store and can give you ideas on what to make for the week. This can also help keep your stored food from expiring!
  • Plan out your meals based on what you already have on hand, and be sure to shop sales if you need inspiration.
  • Always make a list and eat something before you go to the store and shop for at least a week at a time to save time and money.


dinner table with healthy food
 a healthy table

Be Smart!

  • Shop the outside edges of the grocery store. Foods located on the inner aisles tend to be more processed and expensive!
  • Try and shop the produce section based on what is in season - it will be better on your wallet.
  • Stock up on meat that is on sale or just in bulk. A 5 pound roll of beef will be cheaper by pound than buying just the one pound you need. Portion out and freeze when you get home from the store, and use in future recipes. Or, cook all of it. DIvide out and freeze in freezer containers or bags. 
  • Always check the dates of all dairy and meat that you buy. When possible, purchase the product that is printed with the most far away date, to make sure you can use it before it goes bad. Don’t be afraid to reach to the back of that milk cooler!


raw meat with seasoning
Season meat well

Keep it Simple!

  • Plan basic meals that satisfy your needs: protein source, a grain and lots of veggies!
  • To save money, try meatless meals like omelettes or grilled cheese and tomato soup. Don’t forget about meat alternatives like veggie burgers and tofu!
  • Be sure to keep your schedule in mind when planning meals. You probably won’t feel like cooking a three course dinner when you’ve just worked all day long, so give yourself some simple options for long days.
  • Take advantage of the sales around town. Phone apps like Flipp can be good resources for finding the sales for all the local stores.


Simple soup can be delicous


Extra Tips

  • Don’t be afraid of tougher cuts of meat. Cook them in a crock pot while you’re at work and that roast will be tender by the time you come home, and your house will smell good too!
  • Think outside the box for meals. Breakfast for dinner or smoothies for lunch can make meal time different and fun, especially if you have kids.
  • If you feel like you always make the same things, look for new recipe ideas on websites like pinterest or allrecipes to find new things to make! The ChooseMyPlate website also has great recipes on a budget.
  • If you are able, try starting a small garden for veggies to help your summer budget! Check out Extension's website about gardening!

 Sources Used (Purdue Extension) (USDA)


Anna hails from New England originally, but moved to Arkansas in 2012 to pursue her degree at Harding University. Growing up in New England taught her a lot about being resourceful. A common saying back home is, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without". She loves cooking and trying out new recipes, and especially enjoys being creative when resources are limited! She will graduate in May with her Bachelors in Family and Consumer Science and looks forward to a career helping people live better lives!