Healthy and Frugal Meals

by Jonni McCoy

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I have been trying to transition from white flour and white sugar into more of a whole food approach to cooking. I am finding that this is very expensive. I cook with tofu and TVP instead of ground beef. It seems that the carb meals are cheaper and easier. How can I incorporate these desires for real whole foods into my lifestyle?

Thanks for your email. This is a great question! Incorporating healthy cooking into our budget can cost us more, but there are ways around it.

When I first embarked on my frugal lifestyle, I heard critics say that they would never want to live frugally since it meant having to eat "frugal food." Many people believe they cannot serve healthy food to their family while on a tight budget. I am here to prove that "frugal" and "healthy" can be one and the same.

At the beginning of our frugal adventure, we lived on $40 per week for groceries. Since we were living on half of our usual income, we had to cut the grocery bill down this low to pay other bills. Despite this tight budget, we ate plenty of produce, adequate protein, and were even able to cook around my son's restrictive food allergies.

The first key to cooking healthy frugal meals is to look at how you shop and cook. Cooking healthy has the same guidelines as any other type of shopping that I describe in detail in my book, Miserly Moms. Plan menus around sales, don't shop at just one store, buy in bulk, and cook in bulk. If you expect to be able to buy ready-made health food, then you will overspend. Furthermore, if you don't shop sales and pay premium prices for your supplies, then meals won't be frugal. So the key isn't what you are cooking but how you are shopping for it, and who prepared it.

The other way to save grocery money is to modify the menu. After all, how can we save money if we have steak several times per week? We need new recipes that call for simple ingredients, but still provide an appealing and healthy meal to the family. That's why I decided to write my cookbook, Miserly Meals. Each recipe in my book costs less than 75 cents per serving, has a nutritional breakdown to show that it is healthy, and is easy to prepare.

I hope that this helps, and that your frugal and healthy cooking will be an enhancement to your family's budget, not a frustration.

Jonni McCoy is the author of several frugal books, including Miserly Moms and Miserly Meals. You can visit her website at

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