Budget-Friendly Tips for Heart-Healthy Eating

Choose fresh produce over prepared foods
fruits and vegetables in a basket

Heart-healthy eating can be good for your bottom line, as long as you plan ahead, shop smart and keep it simple.

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Spend a few minutes learning which healthy foods are a good deal and formulating a nutritional game plan. Make your shopping list, and locate the best food stores or vendors before you head out the door.

Buying the right foods

A heart-friendly diet emphasizes fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains and beans and lean protein.

  • Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season. They taste better, and the price tag will be lower. Look for weekly sales at local markets or try growing your own produce. Tomatoes and zucchini are good choices for new gardeners.
  • Limit or eliminate processed foods and prepared items. Packaged, pre-cooked foods usually have higher salt, fat and sugar content than what you can prepare at home from scratch, and you end up paying more for prepared foods than for fresh foods.
  • Buy lean protein such as light-meat turkey. Meat freezes well, so stock up when there is a weekly special.
  • Certain types of fish contain large amounts of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon is rich in Omega-3, but it can be pricey. Sardines and canned tuna (chunk light) are a thrifty and heart-friendly alternative. If you can’t find fresh sardines at the market, select sardines canned in water or packed in healthy oil.

Home cooking for on-budget health

Sometimes, the simplest way is the best way. Old-fashioned meal preparation makes sense for your heart and your budget. You might be pleasantly surprised to find out how far your dollars stretch when you buy raw ingredients and create your own entrees, snacks and sauces.

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Here are some tips that will help you in making good choices for your health and your bottom line.


  • Grill, roast or bake lean meats.
  • Trim all fat and remove skin.
  • Don’t buy canned or bottled gravy, which has added salt and preservatives. Instead, you can skim off the fat from drippings from the roasting pan and make your own cost-free, healthy gravy.
  • Cut back portions to no greater than 4 ounces.

Vegetable dishes

Vegetables and beans are nutrient dense and have lots of healthy fiber. Make a meat-free meal, or add vegetables and whole grains to meat dishes to make them healthier and cheaper.

Some whole grains, such as oats, help to “soak up” bad LDL cholesterol, which reduces your risk for clogged arteries.

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  • Onions, carrots, sweet potatoes and turnips make a good winter stew, and you can pair them with lentils and brown rice for a nutritious, tasty and inexpensive meal.
  • Summer squashes, tomatoes and eggplant are good choices for summer grilling.

Try a meatless chili or bean soup for a hearty source of protein and fiber.


Eating healthy and on budget shouldn’t come at the expense of taste and variety.

When you want a treat, reach for dark chocolate, dried fruits and walnuts or frozen fruit (such as grapes, bananas, mangoes, berries and pineapple.) These foods all have heart-healthy properties and can be affordable when purchased in moderate amounts.

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