If you’re working on getting your financial picture in order, you’ll love this how-to from RD Nikki Nies! You might remember her from her lovely pureed tofu recipe. Today she’s sharing her best budget-friendly eating tips. Take it away, Nikki!


Purse strings and one’s budget dictate a lot of decision making processes. This is because we all strive to save while maximizing our income while not feeling like we’re having to sacrifice enjoyment and quality. This dilemma often can cause the misperception that eating healthier is not cost effective. Yes, organic is pricier yet that’s not always the best, most feasible option. Today, I’ll be sharing cost effective ways to add more nutrient rich options into your daily meals.

It wasn’t until grad school when I was away from home for the first time that I was forced to cook for myself, learn how to be a hostess, cater to dietary preferences (e.g.gluten free, vegan) and see the benefits of meal prepping. While some may look at those times as a struggle, I found cooking to be a source of entertainment and as we all know it’s a great way to bring people together.

Due to my competitive nature, I made it a game to see how little I could spend on groceries while still eating ‘well.’ This is where more plant based foods came into the picture, with me realizing I could get more bang for my buck while eating adequate sources of protein, I quickly switched over to more plant based proteins . For example, at my local Asian grocery store, I purchased 12 slices of tofu for $4.99.That tofu lasted me a few good couple weeks and allowed me to make a variety of dishes.

Beans & Greens with Miso-Tahini Sauce

Beans are healthy AND budget-friendly

It’s been almost three years since graduating, but I’m proud to say I’ve maintained a lot of the same culinary practices. Below are some of my go to ways to eat healthier on a budget


  • Repurpose leftovers with items in pantry
  • Stock up on dry legumes–such as lentils and black beans or opt for specific amount needed from bulk bins. Bulk bins are a great way to try a new ingredient without investing in a large amount
  • Peruse ethnic grocery stores which often have better prices on spices, oils and produce. May be inspired to swap out a favorite ingredient of yours
  • Take time to make grocery list and stick to it
  • If desired, when dining out opt for steak or the seafood option as you may find it harder to prepare at home
  • Stock up on marked down whole pieces of proteins (e.g. whole chickens vs. purchasing skinless boneless chicken breasts)

I’m grateful my budget restraints made me think out of the box and I feel more liberated than ever to be able to make different types of food. What culinary changes have you made over the years? Perhaps it was due to food restrictions or budget like me, please share with us @jesscording and @simpleeatsRD.

DIetitian Nikki Nies

Dietitian Nikki Nies

Nikki is a Dallas based rehab/skilled nursing facility dietitian, providing telehealth counseling to EduPlated clients and is the current Texas Academy Northeast Region Director. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram @simpleeatsRD and at [email protected]

A few of my favorite cheap meals:


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