How to Eat Sustainably on a Budget

Choosing to eat sustainably or to eat green is a great step towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle.  It’s also much healthier for you and your family.  One of the issues of eating healthier and more sustainably is the expense.  It’s unfortunate that processed unhealthy food is so cheap in American society but eating green can also be very affordable.  Take a look at some of the tips listed below.

How to Eat Sustainably on a Budget

How to Eat Sustainably on a Budget (12 Tips)

Eat with the seasons

Eating fruits and vegetables that are in season has multiple benefits: They taste better, they can be cheaper, and they’re better for the environment.  Shopping at a supermarket allows you to buy produce all year round, but out of season produce often requires extra transport which requires more resources than produce that’s in season and bought locally.

Not sure which fruits and vegetables are in season for winter, spring, summer and fall?  Read this:  What Fruits & Vegetables Are In Season?

Grow your own food

Growing all or most of your own food especially with organic methods, is the best way to eat sustainably.  If you don’t have any land, you can even start small with an indoor herb garden.  Once you’ve gotten the hang of that, you can start growing your own fruits and vegetables either inside in containers or on your deck or backyard in simple 6′ x 6′ raised beds.  Some of the easier things for beginners to grow are broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, onion, and tomatoes.

Growing your own food can also reduce your food waste.  You can easily reuse fruit peels, egg shells, fruit and veggie scraps, etc as healthy organic compost for your garden.

Eat less meat

Reducing the amount of meat you eat is helpful for your wallet as well as the environment.  Restricting meat to once per week can save 2500 gallons of water, 8000 square ft of land, and 84 gallons of gasoline per year per person.

If you don’t want to reduce your meat consumption to once per week or reduce it completely, you can get locally produced organic meat that’s free of chemicals and hormones.

If you want to eat sustainably and continue to eat meat, an option is to eat more shellfish (as long as you have no food allergies of course).  Mussels for example are one of the cheapest and most sustainable meats.  Read more here.

Eat whole foods

This may seem obvious for some, but here’s why eating whole foods is more sustainable than eating foods that aren’t whole.  Whole foods don’t come in packaging, so that’s less paper and plastic you’d be wasting.  Packaging is not only wasteful, but requires energy to produce, not to mention the preservatives in  processed food have extra chemicals as well.

Eating whole foods doesn’t have to be expensive either.  Take a look at the list of inexpensive healthy and whole foods on this list: Cheap Healthy Food

Eat Organic

Organic foods are healthier because they have less chemicals and pesticides which as already discussed are also harmful to the environment.  Shopping seasonally and locally (local farms, co-ops, farmers markets, community supported agriculture, etc.) will help keep your organic food costs low. Growing your own organic produce will also be much cheaper than buying organic food at a supermarket as mentioned earlier.

For tons of additional tips on how to eat organic food on a budget, check out this article.

Related:  Eco-Friendly Lighting Solutions for the Home

Stop drinking bottled water

In, 25 Simple Ways To Live More Sustainably, the issues with bottled water were outlined.  The bottles are recyclable, but people rarely recycle them and the plastic containers end up going to waste.  Instead of drinking bottled water, get a home filtration system for your home’s water supply and use a reusable drinking bottle for drinking water on the go.

Plan your meals and maintain a grocery list

I know for some planning meals can be a chore, but it’s well worth it.  Going to the grocery store without a plan and without knowledge of what you currently have in your fridge and pantry can often lead to wasted food and wasted money.  Always know what you have and keep a running list of what you’ve run out of.  I like to keep a list on my phone, that way I always have it with me.

Planning your meals for the week is easiest when you’re not trying to eat something different for each meal.  Keep it simple and you won’t be overwhelmed.  Once you get your food for the week, you can then do some meal prepping, like chopping and separating things out into portions.  From there, you can refrigerate or freeze until you’re ready to eat.

Here are some helpful apps for meal planning and grocery lists: 5 Brilliant Apps to Make Meal Planning Easy

Support your local CSA

CSA’s or Community Supported Agriculture is a great way to get fresh organic fruits and vegetables delivered weekly to your home and at a great price.  If your local agriculture doesn’t have any delivery options, see if there are any organic farms nearby that sell their produce directly to the community.

In addition to getting great-tasting local organic food,  buying from local farms is great for your local economy.

Buy from your local farmer’s market

Just like with CSA’s shopping at your community’s farmer’s market supports your local economy.  This is also another way to get local organic produce and the food tends to be healthier than the food at a supermarket.

Shop in bulk

You can save a pretty penny when you buy your dry food items, like beans, rice, grains, etc. in bulk.  Bulk bins are often found at your local food co-ops and farmers markets.  When buying in bulk, make sure you have a plan, so that the food doesn’t go to waste.

Use reusable shopping bags and bulk bags

Part of sustainable eating and living means reducing your waste.  When shopping use reusable shopping bags and when buying in bulk, use reusable bulk bags instead of the plastic bags offered.  You can buy these types of bags at some farmers markets or you can buy them online.  Keep them with you when you go out in case you make a spur of the moment food shopping trip.

Learn how to preserve your food

Preserving your food helps your food last, so it’s helpful to learn how to do it properly.  Most of us already know how to freeze food, but for some additional tips on freezing fruits and vegetables, read this article: How to Freeze 16 Fruits and Vegetables.

For tips on canning, read: Home Canning Guide: Learn How to Can Your Own Food

For tips on drying your food, read: How to dry food at home

For tips on pickling, read: How to Pickle Basically Everything


The above list can help you eat sustainably, save money, reduce your carbon footprint, and improve your health at the same time.  You can start small and work your way up as you go.  Let us know if you’ve tried any of these options in the comments below.

Want to read more?  Check out other related content from our site:

25 Simple Ways To Live More Sustainably

27 Ways to Make a Living Off the Grid

Which Off Grid Refrigerator is Best for your Off Grid Home?


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