Food & Nutrition
Money-Saving Meal Plan

Money-Saving Meal Plan

How to eat healthy on a budget
By Blair Giles, M.S., R.D., L.D.

In today’s economy, many families are looking for ways to cut back on expenses. One way to reduce spending is to decrease the cost of groceries; however, cutting back on food spending does not mean sacrificing quality foods. Many people believe it is more expensive to eat a healthy diet, but you can eat healthy on any budget with the following tips.

  • Replace pre-packaged “junk” food with fruit and yogurt.
  • Drink milk and water instead of juice and soda.
  • Limit dining out at both fast-food and sit-down restaurants.
  • Don’t go to the grocery store while you’re hungry as this often causes impulse buying.
  • Plan your meals in advance. Make a grocery list of only what you will need and stick to the list.
  • Scan the paper for coupons and grocery store circulars. Plan your meals and snacks around the coupons and sales.
  • Choose generic brands as they tend to be very similar to commercial brands in both taste and nutrition.
  • Buy in bulk. Good items to stock up on are whole grains, bags of frozen fruits/vegetables and spices. Buy large containers of items like yogurt instead of individual-sized containers.
  • When you have leftovers, do not throw them out. Instead, freeze them for a quick, healthy option at a later date.

Guide to Healthly, Low-Cost Items

Dairy: Large containers of yogurt Skim or 1% milk

Meat Alternatives: Eggs, Generic natural peanut butter, Nuts

Meat: Low-sodium canned chicken, salmon and tuna

Whole Grains & Legumes: Brown rice, Whole wheat pasta, Oats, Corn kernels for popcor, Beans, peas and lentils (dried or low-sodium canned)

Fruits & Vegetables: Bags of fresh fruits and vegetables, Frozen fruits and vegetables, Low-sodium canned vegetables, Canned fruit packed in the fruit’s own juice

Healthy Menu for a Family of Four

Breakfast: Oatmeal, Frozen fruit, Skim milk

Lunch: Peanut butter & jelly sandwich on whole-grain bread, Apple, Low-fat yogurt Snack: Air- or stove-popped popcorn

Dinner: Quick Black Beans and Rice with Sauteed Peppers and Onions

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bag frozen bell peppers
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, undrained
1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 cups uncooked instant brown rice

Cooking Instructions
In large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell peppers, cook and stir until tender. Add beans, tomatoes, oregano and garlic powder. Bring to a boil; stir in rice. Cover; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Blair Giles, M.S., R.D., L.D. is a registered and licensed dietitian in Atlanta. She is the owner of Atlanta Dietitian LLC, which provides personalized nutrition services to individuals, families and groups in metro Atlanta. For more information, call (404) 307-2874 or visit