52 ways to save money on a healthy diet: Make good use of the basics

I love the different vegetables and fruit, and good food that the different seasons bring us. I love to sample a wide variety of different food; after all, variety is the spice of life. But one of the things that I quickly learned is that you can make a wide variety of yummy foods out of the basics too. This has been especially important for keeping our budget down.

For example, I buy a lot of the more inexpensive basic produce in the bulk bags found at my local stores, such as my  organic carrots, onions, and potatoes. Then I use those ingredients in a wide variety of ways. Carrots can be added to stews and soups, or made into savory grated carrot salads. Sometimes I use my potato peeler to make “carrot ribbons” too. Potatoes are used to make mashed potatoes or baked potatoes (top with chili or stew!), or added to soups and stews. Onions, of course, are used in a wide variety of culinary applications.

I also buy the bags of 3 pounds of organic apples for $4 dollars. These smaller sized apples are perfect for little people, and I then use this delicious and basic fruit for a wide variety of snacks, smoothies, and desserts.

Besides produce, buying large bags of whole grains, and then cooking them whole, or grinding them to use in baked goods allows you to make a wide variety of things with just the basic ingredients from my kitchen. Everyday life might bring us biscuits, muffins, rice, or quinoa, and a special occasion might find a cake on our table. Buy buying basic ingredients in bulk, I get them cheaper, and then am able to make a wide variety of foods from it.

Items like wheat, rice, millet, chicken drumsticks, onions, carrots, apples, broccoli, lettuce, and celery can be on the frugal side, especially when compared to specialty items. By making good use of these basic ingredients (and for our family of four, trying to buy them in bags or in bulk), I can save a lot of money!

One meal based on basics:

  • Chicken noodle soup –Made with drumsticks (organic from Trader Jo’s), carrots, onion’s celery, and inexpensive noodles.
  • Biscuits –Made with whole grains and butter
  • Green Salad (I also buy my greens in bulk and then use them for many meals).

Grass-fed beef can be more expensive, but when not using my in bulk order of beef, sticking to the more inexpensive cuts, like ground beef, allows me to make a wide variety of different dishes for much cheaper. Basic hamburger meat doesn’t have to be “basic” in taste! It can so delicious!

With a little creativity, you can use the same basic ingredients to make a wide variety of meals…for cheap!

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. KimiHarris says

    This comment was left by Gretchen, but somehow got placed under just the photo so no one could see it:

    “I’d love to hear specific suggestions of recipes/meals to make from ground beef.”

  2. KimiHarris says


    A few ideas:

    Mexican ground beef (I have a recipe in my salad cookbook and I shared it with the quinoa mexican bowl recipe) – Use in tacos, salads, the quinoa mexican bowl, etc.
    (Do a search on my site for the quinoa mexican bowl)

    Meatballs: Drop in soups, use with pasta, serve as appetizer.

    Cook up with shredded or finely chopped vegetables and spice with ginger and garlic and serve with rice and quinoa and soy sauce/tamari.

    Those are a few of my favorites.

  3. says

    i will also add some liver to my ground beef when making in a bolognese pasta sauce, or just as a plain hamburger. chili is another great use for ground beef. and of course, grass-fed beef is expensive, but the liver isn’t!

    • KimiHarris says

      Good point, Ariyele! What ratio do you like to use with the liver/ground beef? And have you tried using heart? It is harder to come by, but it is sweeter and not as strong in flavor. 🙂

  4. says

    These are some great tips! I agree with buying produce in bags/bulk! I buy onion, celery, carrots, ect and just use them for a week or two. There are so many ways to use those kinds of things–soups, stews, snacks.

    • KimiHarris says

      Sorry about the confusion, Lucy! Your comment made me realize that I should include a sentence explaining that it is a blog series for those who haven’t read the other posts! Every Thursday I share one tip. By the end of the year there will be 52 tips. 🙂

  5. says

    Hi Kimi,
    I use 2 parts ground beef to 1 part liver for my ratio. My family likes liver so the taste is not a problem with the 2:1 ratio. And, I use heart also and you are right the flavor is not so strong. I have a great recipe “Beef Plus – Chili for a Crowd” which my family loves! This recipe serves about 20 and freezes well.


    We first tried it after butchering our own steer and since then I buy it from a local grass fed beef farmer.

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