Typically the words “healthy food” and “saving money” don’t go hand-in-hand.

So it surprises people to learn that I keep my food budget really low, while still being able to eat mostly organic foods.

You know that I love to save money on groceries. And I obsess over the ins-and-outs of sales cycles and looking for how to score the best price on foods.

But what I think you’ll find most interesting is that over the last few years I’ve learned several ways you can narrow down those healthy deals that will also save you money.

In other words, if you are trying to reduce your grocery spending AND buy healthy food, you’ve come to the right place.

Not only will these items be better for your health, but they will also be better for your budget. Who doesn’t love that?!!

Below is a list of inexpensive foods that you can “swap” out for their unhealthy (and surprisingly more expensive) counterparts.

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that you can make a simple “swap” and start reaping the financial and healthy rewards.

my healthy

1. Oatmeal

Now you know how I love my oatmeal! It even made my top cheapest breakfast foods list! But did you know the instant box variety has loads of sugar in it? It does! Plus it costs more per serving!

Great Value Instant Oatmeal 8 ct – $1.53 (19¢ per serving)

Great Value Old Fashioned Oats 42 oz – $2.46 (8¢ per serving)

So instead of buying the instant oatmeal, buy the Old Fashioned Oatmeal! You’ll not only save money buying the canister, but you’ll also save those extra calories too!

Savings Tip: You can also substitute ground oatmeal instead of buying bread crumbs. Use equal measurements and mix in your favorite spices and herbs to mimic the flavor of bread crumbs.

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2. Greek Yogurt

Now I know what you are thinking, but Greek Yogurt is expensive…and it can be. But, you can use it as a substitute in so many recipes!

If one item can replace even two things then it’s a win-win to save you money. Did you know that Greek Yogurt can actually replace up to 6 things? That’s exciting right?!

When baking, here’s the 6 things you can replace with greek yogurt:

1. Sour Cream – 1:1 Ratio
2. Cream Cheese – 1:1 Ratio
3. Mayo – 1:1 Ratio
4. Cottage Cheese – 1:1 Ratio
5. Oil – 1 cup Oil can be replaced by 3/4 cup Greek Yogurt
6. Butter – 1 cup Butter can be replaced by 1/2 cup Butter + 1/4 cup Greek Yogurt

There are actually 9 more grocery substitutions like this one that will save you even more money!


Create A Plan For Your Money

These FREE Budgeting Spreadsheets will help you keep a pulse on your money (from the palm of your hand).

Savings Tip: Get greater savings when you buy the big 32 oz tub Greek Yogurt instead of the small single serve cups. Stock up when they go on sale at your local grocery store.

Another Savings Tip: Reuse the yogurt tub containers! They are great for freezing leftover meals in. You can also use them to store homemade broth and soups. I wash mine on the top rack of the dishwasher.

Last Savings Tip: Did you know you can actually remove the print off the plastic containers? You can! Now you can use these as “gift containers” for Christmas! Win! Check out how to use nail polish remover to remove the print!

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3. Popcorn

Our family had a bad relationship with chips. We used to eat an entire bag at lunch and at dinner. It had to stop. Not only were we consuming tons of bad calories but it was also expensive! Even if the chips were on sale for 2/$5, that was $5 a day!

That’s when a friend told me about how to pop popcorn in the microwave. No, not the pre-made baggies, but popping the kernels and how cheap it was!

I tested her theory and popping your own popcorn tastes better, is way cheaper, and it’s healthier too! You can add what you want saving you loads of calories!

Orville Redenbacher’s Original Kernels 30 oz jar – $5.59
–servings 21 per jar (27¢ per serving)
And NO artificial butter flavoring, chemicals, preservatives and additives!

Orville Redenbacher’s Ultimate Butter Popcorn 17.41 oz 6 ct classic bags – $5.59
–2.5 servings per bag = about 15 total servings (37¢ per serving)

Easy Microwave Popcorn Recipe

Add 3/4 cup of popcorn kernels into a brown paper lunch sack. Open another paper sack and slide that over the top of the other one. Lay the bag down flat into your microwave. Microwave for 3 minutes or until there is a one-second pause between kernels popping. Using oven mitts, remove the bag out of the microwave. Slide the top bag off and pour the popcorn into a bowl. I like to add 1/2 stick of butter melted along with some salt. I pour half the butter, stir well and then pour the other half and stir well again.

Then enjoy a healthy and cheaper snack than chips!

Savings Tip: Look out for BOGO deals to get the jars of kernels for even cheaper!

Fun Tip: Having a party? Check out this nifty Popcorn Calculator to figure out how much to pop!

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4. Dried Fruits & Nuts

While I love those little fruity bars and chocolate chip “healthy bars” that are in the store, they sure can be pricey! About $5 a box for 4 to 5 bars! While they are delicious, I’ve found a better solution – dried fruits and nuts.

Yes, dried fruits and nuts are just as healthy and they can save you so much money!

Savings Tip: Buying your dried fruits and nuts from a bulk bin, can save you up to 56% off! If you don’t have a bulk store nearby, look for BOGO deals!

Also, compare the per ounce/pound price at your local big box stores. You may find a better deal there! It pays to calculate the difference = savings in your pocket!

my healthy

5. Block Cheese

Block cheese IS better than pre-shredded cheese.

Most pre-shredded cheeses have additives to them to prevent them from sticking together. Potato Starch, Cellulose Powder, and Calcium Sulfate are some of the additives. If you are on a low carb diet, then you do not want to be adding any unnecessary starches to your diet. Ditch the pre-made for the block for a healthier shredded cheese!

Block is cheaper because you get more shreds for your money. If you were to shred your own cheese, you actually get more volume of cheese for the money, about 1/2 more volume of shreds! That’s 4 cups of cheese from a block than 2 cups from a bag!

Shredding a block of cheese only takes about 30 seconds in a food processor. Of course, it would take longer grating the cheese by hand but look at all that muscle you would be gaining!

Healthier and it saves you money = Win-Win!

Assign this task to one of your kids, make it part of their chores after each time you grocery shop and then freeze it so it’s ready to use when you need it. You’ll teach your kids a valuable lesson about saving money.


Create A Plan For Your Money

These FREE Budgeting Spreadsheets will help you keep a pulse on your money (from the palm of your hand).

Don’t let that cheese go to waste! You can freeze any leftover shredded cheese in the freezer!

Use hard cheeses like Gouda and Cheddar, then shred and measure your cheese into 2 cup portions. Place the shredded cheese in a freezer plastic bag. Then gently squeeze any leftover air from the bag and seal. Lay the bag flat in the freezer with nothing on top of it. This will prevent the cheese from squishing together.

Savings Tip: Block cheese usually is on sale and BOGO the same time as the shredded cheese. While the shredded cheese is hanging right in eye view, look down to score the best deal by buying block cheese.

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6. Beans

As a momma, I always thought the cans of beans where more convenient and better. Boy was I wrong and wasting money.

Bags of beans are cheaper and you get more for your money.

Generic Black Beans 15 oz – 89¢ (price from my local grocery store, Publix)
Generic Black Beans 1 lb bag – $1.19 (priced from my local grocery store, Publix)

How does that translate to using them? 1 lb bag of dry beans = 6 cups of cooked beans. And 1 can of beans = 2 cups of cooked beans

That means 1 lb bag of dry beans (once cooked) will replace 3 cans.

Financial impact: That’ll save you $1.48 every time you make a 1 lb bag of beans, instead of buying 3 cans.

I know what you are thinking though… but Kati… buying them means I have to cook them! Yes, you do. However, since the invention of the Instapot and slow cookers, you can easily cook them with less hassle.

And the best part…beans freeze well! So make a big pot then divvy it up for freezing. Not only will cooking the entire bag save you time, cooking those beans will save you money!

If you are unsure of how to cook beans, check out this article on cooking beans. It’s a great place to start.

Meatless Mondays are a great way to get more beans into your meal plan. There are hundreds of recipes out there to get you started eating more beans! I try to cook a pot of beans on Sunday in preparation for our weekly meals. It makes it so much easier.

Savings Tip: Use less beef in your meals by substituting 1/4 of it with cooked black or pinto beans. This is especially effective every time you make a mexican meal (tacos & burritos are expected to have beans in them!).

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7. Produce


A head of lettuce is cheaper than the pre-washed lettuce. It’s also healthier too. Companies rinse their lettuce with chlorine to kill E.coli. I’m pretty for sure that’s not good to consume. So buy the head and save some money.


You’ll get more for your money by purchasing a bag of whole carrots than baby carrots. Baby carrots are more expensive but they are also washed with chlorine. Buy a whole bag of carrots and peel and cut them yourself. Healthier and you get those muscles moving while you are peeling!

There is a great article by Fox News that investigated baby carrots. Read it and decide for yourself!

Organic Produce:

While I try to buy organic all the time, my budget doesn’t allow me. When I have the time I will stop by the produce stand and stock up on local organic produce. Buying produce from local farmers saves me money and I know it will be fresher too!

Frozen Produce:

When specific produce is out of season in our area, the prices skyrocket! I know I can get a better deal by purchasing frozen produce, then buying fresh. Keeping my budget in check and it still benefits my health.

Read about more ways to save on produce!

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8. Whipped Cream

Are you always tempted to take home those expensive little cans of whipped cream filled with not-so-healthy ingredients?

Not only can you make it at home (in about one minute), but you can make it cheaper and healthier too!

Whipped Cream Recipe:

You need just 3 ingredients and a hand blender with a whip attachment to make this recipe:

  1. 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
  2. 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  3. 1 Tablespoon Sweetener (I use Trim Healthy Mama’s “Gentle Sweet” Sweetener, which is a 1:1 replacement for sugar)

Add the ingredients to a jar, bowl or large measuring cup. Use the whisk attachment and whip the cream until it thickens and forms soft peaks. All this takes is around 1 minute – that’s it!

Cost comparison:

Reddi-Wip 6 oz – $3.20 (around 2-1/2 cups total of whipped cream)

Publix Heavy Cream 1 Pint – $3.50 (which makes about 4 cups total of whipped cream)

[BONUS Whipped Butter Recipe]

You need just 2 ingredients and a hand blender with a whip attachment to make this recipe. You can also use a food processor.

  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 1 stick butter, softened

Add the ingredients to a jar, bowl or large measuring cup. Use the whisk attachment and whip the butter and milk until it light and fluffy.

Here are some great ideas to customize your whipped butter:

  • cinnamon and sweetener/honey
  • fresh fruit or jelly and sweetener/honey
  • garlic & herbs
  • pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sweetener/honey
  • Create till you find your own unique perfect flavors!

While this recipe may not be huge in cost savings, it sure is a tasty creation! And you can customize your own butter to your taste buds!

my healthy

9. Flavored Water

As with most American families, we were addicted to juices and soda. Even though we used coupons when we bought them, I could no longer justify the “deal” because of how much sugar is in those drinks. Now we drink water!

Yes, we do get bored drinking water often, so we make lemonade! We squeeze lemons, or use packets of “True Lemon” mixed with a stevia sweetener to make “lemonade”. It’s so refreshing and so much healthier!

Cost of not having pricey future dental bills –> Priceless!

True Lemon packets also made my Top 10 Grocery Substitutions List!

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10. Brown Rice

My family eats a ton of rice. It’s not only healthy but it’s a great filler to fill up my hungry boys.

But I used to buy the boxes of rice mixes and it took like 5 boxes for one meal! I thought I was saving money by buying them when they went on sale BOGO, but because I had to use so many of them, I really wasn’t saving any money at all! Then I realized that some boxes ONLY had 3 & 1/2 servings per box. Boy was I was shocked!

Here’s what I figured out:

Near East Rice Mix 4.7-6.6 oz – $2.39 (up to 36¢ per oz)
–3.5 servings per box
Even if this was BOGO at just $1.20 per box, it would still come out to 18¢ per oz. And this one box still only makes 3.5 servings!

Publix Natural Whole Grain Brown Rice 16 oz – $1.05 (7¢ per oz)
–11 servings per bag
So this one pound bag makes 6 cups of cooked rice. Plenty to feed my growing boys. And a plain bag of brown rice has no added fillers and additives including MSG.


Create A Plan For Your Money

These FREE Budgeting Spreadsheets will help you keep a pulse on your money (from the palm of your hand).

Since the invention of the Instapot, I can really make a lot of brown rice in no time! I love those machines! I can make a lot at one time and then freeze half for my next meal.

Learn how to Freeze Rice easily with this great technique!

my healthy

11. Make Your Own Seasoning

Yes, I have been guilty of just grabbing those seasoning packets and throwing them into my cart. Not looking at the price or the ingredients and boy have I wasted money.

Have you looked at the back of those seasoning packets? I start to worry when I can’t recognize the name or what it’s supposed to do. Some of the ingredients I know I don’t want to put into my body including Maltodextrin (listed as the second ingredient!)!

Did you know that you already have the ingredients to make your own spice packet with the spices you have in your cabinet? And you can make it in the time your meat is cooking? You can and it’s so easy!

So grab your measuring spoons and get ready!

For Taco Seasoning, just grab these 9 seasonings:

  • 1 Tbs onion powder
  • 1 Tbs garlic powder
  • 1 Tbs minced dried garlic
  • 1 Tbs minced dried onion
  • 1 Tbs paprika
  • 2 Tbs cumin
  • 2 Tbs chili powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • To make it spicier: Add 1 Tbs Cayanne Powder 

Taco Seasoning Packets cost 89¢ and up to $1.99 at my local grocery store.

So you can save a ton since you already have most of the spices in your cabinet. And even if you run out, go to Aldi where their spices are only $1.99 each. Sometimes you can even find the entire spice bottle for just a buck.

So as you can see, swapping out simple things like oatmeal, flavored water, and Greek yogurt can save you money. Putting a little bit of work into grating your own cheese and cutting your own carrots and lettuce can save you more money and are also healthier choices.

It wouldn’t be surprising that my healthy swaps could make your next grocery list. Because who doesn’t like being healthier and saving money?!!


YOUR TURN: My healthy swaps are just the start. What other healthy swaps do you make? Let me know in the comments below!

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