7 Super Simple Ways to Make Ethical Eating Budget Friendly

Written By: Ava Roman
Reviewed by: Mike Reyes
Last Updated March 18, 2023

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vegetable salad

People may think that it’s impossible to eat well when you’re on a budget. While fresh, high-quality foods do typically cost more than their counterparts, they aren’t impossible to afford for a household that has to tighten their spending.

Here are a few ways you can add wholesome foods to your family’s table without breaking your budget.

1. Go to Farmers Markets

green fruit

One of the most ethical ways to get your food is to go directly to the source. Farmers markets are in almost every community, and they’re excellent opportunities to find great food on a budget — not far from where you live! Supporting vendors at your local farmers market can help boost your community’s economy while directly helping out families instead of corporations.

Make a goal to visit the farmers market at least once a month. This way, you’ll be able to purchase vegetables and fruits that are in season, and you’ll find out exactly how the farmer grows them. You’re also cutting out the middleman, meaning that you’ll pay the price the farmer wants, rather than an inflated one from any store.

2. Make What You’d Usually Buy

It might mean a bit more work for you, but you can make some of the things you typically buy. For example, you can make your own loaves of bread — either manually or by buying a bread maker — for sandwiches and other recipes from the comfort of your home. That way, you’ll know everything that goes into your bread and can save some money on the price tag of presliced bread.

How often does your household order pizza? Another great way to save money is to buy pizza dough, ingredients and toppings and make the pizza yourself at home. It could be a good way to get your whole household involved. That way, you’re spending time together and being mindful of the ingredients you use. You’ll also be able to save the ingredients you don’t use for another time, decreasing the food waste your family puts out.

3. Find Protein in Seafood

assorted sea foods

The farming of red meat isn’t the most environmentally friendly process. Cattle take up so many resources, like water and land, while also releasing methane gas into the atmosphere. Switching to a pescatarian diet can help the environment. Plus, it’s a great way to get your daily protein intake in while also reaping the benefits of a healthier heart, thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids.

The only issue you may run into is that certain types of seafood are more expensive than other types of meat. If you choose your protein carefully, you might be able to decrease your grocery budget by opting for more mid-range seafood and treating yourself to lobster or crab occasionally. You might also be able to make your dishes more plant-based, causing you to eat less meat overall. Seafood is a part of the meal rather than a standalone star, and it can integrate seamlessly with many dishes.

4. Buy in Bulk

The best way to take advantage of deals is to buy in bulk. While you wouldn’t try to buy bulk of things like meat or dairy, you can do it with canned or dry goods. That way, when you see a sale for something your household regularly uses, you can take advantage of it and stock up for the future. It’s an easy way to utilize coupons you may get in your mailbox or email and shop smartly to decrease your overall grocery budget or allow a little more wiggle room for higher quality foods.

5. Keep a Journal

While a journal may not directly relate to your grocery budget, it can help you see where your money goes and if you can cut back in any areas to allow a bit more for your grocery budget. A budget journal can teach you how to be more responsible with your money by tracking your monthly spending. With a bit of work, you can tweak your budget to work for you so you can make the most of every grocery run. 

You can also use your budget journal to write down what you don’t mind spending a bit more on. For example, maybe you can forego the processed snacks so you can afford higher-quality foods for dinner. If you itemize your spending, you can learn more about your habits and take some of that money to spend on foods that are better for you and the environment.

6. Opt for Canned Food

Canned food isn’t always the freshest option, but it can be just as healthy and ethically sourced. Food in cans costs less and is an easy way to supplement the main part of your meal. You can do research on brands before you buy, and you’ll be able to find one that has ethics you align with. Even if you buy from a more expensive canned food brand, you’ll still likely be saving money than if you were to opt for fresh everything.

7. Start a Garden

Cultivating your own garden is a great way to grow herbs or vegetables that you can put on your own dinner table. You can grow them in a controlled environment or outside, likely without pesticides, so you know you’re getting the most wholesome food possible. Gardening is a fun activity you can do with your loved ones. 

Also, it can benefit your mental state: Tending to a garden helps lower depression, anxiety and stress levels while increasing your self-esteem because you’ve grown something of your own. Once you get the hang of it, you can start supplementing your groceries with the food you’ve grown yourself.

Eat Ethically While Sticking to Your Budget

Eating ethically on a budget is possible — you just have to put in a bit of work. You have to take on the burden of researching certain brands and knowing which companies make or package food in the most ethical way. You may have to cut back on other areas of your life to make it work, but eating ethically is possible while paying the same price or even less for your groceries.

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