Eating Healthy on a Fixed Income

Did you know that approximately 15.2% of the total American Population consists of retired individuals? That may not seem like much, but based on the total population of the United States, that’s close to 50 million people. Living on a fixed income can be daunting, especially if the number in your savings account is not as high as you’d like it to be. I’ve seen countless times where people refuse to buy “healthy” food because it’s deemed “too expensive.” “Did you know you can get a cheeseburger at McDonald’s for 69 cents but a salad there costs $5.00?” Is often the argument I hear. However, living healthy on a fixed income does not have to be expensive nor stressful. If you’re knowledgeable on how to do it, it’s actually going to save you money in the long run.


The average American will spend $377,000 on healthcare expenses after retirement. That is a HUGE chunk of change. Heart disease, type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, coronary artery disease and many others are health issues us as individuals could potentially aid in controlling by making positive diet and lifestyle changes. This is absolutely attainable on any income with a little preparation. Here’s a few tips and tricks to keep both your wallet and refrigerator full.


First and foremost, an exceedingly important step is to PLAN. Make a shopping list, so you know exactly what you need in the grocery store and can directly go and get it. If we just go to the store with a “mental” list, we are easily swayed into buying things we don’t actually need. This doesn’t necessarily mean we’re buying “junk”, but it sure makes sticking to a tight budget difficult. If the temptations are too great in the store, there are several grocery pick-up options available. Walmart and Kroger, for example, both offer online ordering and you set a time to pick up purchased goods at your convenience. Additionally, there are other services such as InstaCart®, that allow you to order online and they deliver right to you. This keeps the wandering eyes and hands at bay, and you can stick to your budget much easier.


If personal storage is available, buy larger size packages, especially in frozen produce. There are plenty of “convenience” packs available, or individual serving sizes, but they are pricier for the amount of produce received. It is more cost efficient to get a large package and portion it yourself, into Ziplocs bags or whichever method you choose. Also, fresh fruits and vegetables are extremely cheap when they are in-season, especially at farm-to-table places like farmer’s markets. When preparing meals, try preparing enough for more than one meal. Either refrigerate it for immediate consumption, or freeze it for later. This way it keeps it convenient for the future but is also cost effective!


Try to avoid prepared or packaged foods as much as possible. Conventional grocery stores are hoping we fall into the “pay-for-convenience” mindset, but in reality, we could spend double if not triple the cost of doing it ourselves. Additionally, foods such as trail mix, are cheaper and healthier to make yourself. Pre-packaged foods often contain high amounts of added sugar and salt, to act as a flavoring agent but also a preservative. Lastly, if you’re okay with buying store brands, do it! They are often much cheaper than their name-brand counterparts, but must pass the same inspections and most often contain the same ingredients.


Although it may take some time getting used to making healthier choices and learning how to get the most bang-for-your-buck, it’s definitely worth it. Even though it may seem like you’re initially putting out additional money, the amount of food bought will last longer and the money you’ll save in future doctor bills and medical expenses will prove a wise investment. Food is the best preventative medicine there is, so get out there and shop happily and healthily! Your body and wallet will thank you