Healthy Eating on a Budget: Five Tips for Seniors

Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean spending more money on groceries. The tips below can help you stick to a healthy eating plan without breaking the bank.

1) Plan Your Meals

Pick one day of the week to plan your meals for the week ahead. Check the local grocery ads for sales. This can help you plan around what may be most affordable that week. Some grocery chains even have cell phone apps that offer incentives and discounts. Try to use the same ingredients in multiple recipes throughout the week to prevent waste. For example, shredded chicken can be used in salads, tacos, or soups. Leftover roasted vegetables can be repurposed into a vegetable omelet or vegetable fried rice.

2) Smart Shopping

Stick to your grocery list. Avoid shopping while hungry so you aren’t tempted to buy more than you need. Check the aisles for sale tags. If an item you often use is on sale, consider stocking up to use at a later date. Generic store brands are often less expensive than the brand name items. Look for the “unit price” on the tag to compare the price of different brands. Some items such as oats, dried beans and rice can be more affordable when purchased in the bulk bins because you aren’t paying for packaging and labels.

3) Meatless Monday (or any day!)

Meat is often the most expensive component of a meal. Non-meat protein sources such as egg, beans, lentils, tofu, and nuts are delicious and cost-effective additions to your favorite recipes. If you don’t want to give up meat completely in any given meal, cut the amount of meat in half and add lentils, mushrooms, or vegetables for added bulk while also increasing fiber content.

4) Incorporate Canned and Frozen Foods

Canned and frozen foods are harvested at their peak ripeness and can be part of a nutritious diet, sometimes at a lower cost than fresh produce. When looking for canned foods, choose “low sodium” or “no salt added” options. Some canned foods such as beans, corn, and green beans can be rinsed to further remove some of the sodium. For canned fruit, opt for fruit that is canned in water or natural juices, and avoid fruit canned in syrup, which contains added sugars. For frozen items, look for fruit and vegetables without added sugar or sauces. Frozen or canned vegetables are a great addition to soups and sauces, while frozen and canned fruit make a great sweet topping for plain yogurt or cottage cheese.

5) Community resources

Do you or someone you know need help getting enough food on the table? CalFresh (food stamps), community food distributions sites, and senior congregate meal programs in San Diego are great resources to take advantage of. Check out the San Diego Food Bank website,, or call 2-1-1 for more information. The caring social work team at St Paul’s PACE can assist in accessing these helpful resources.

Sample Budget-Friendly Recipe (from

Take charge of your health today with St. Paul’s PACE! Our expert team is here to provide you with personalized guidance and support to help you maintain healthy eating habits. Whether you need help managing a chronic condition or simply want to improve your overall well-being, our experienced professionals are dedicated to helping you achieve your goals. Don’t wait another day to start feeling your best – contact us now to learn more about how we can help you live a healthier, happier life through better nutrition.

If you, or someone you know, would benefit from St. Paul’s PACE, please contact us at 1-833-PACENOW.

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About the Author: Lauren Redden, MPH, RD

Lauren Redden is a Registered Dietitian at St. Paul’s PACE. She received her Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Point Loma University and her Master of Public Health from San Diego State University. Lauren has been with St. Paul’s for over five years and is passionate about food security and community health.

Last updated on April 24th, 2023 at 8:47 pm - St. Paul’s PACE website H5629 2102 - Approved on 3/23/2021

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