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Eating Healthy on a Budget Guide

This libguide provides information and resources regarding eating healthy on a budget.

What Is a Healthy Eating Plan?

         Photo of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy foods

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 and CDC, a healthy eating plan:

  • Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products

  • Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts

  • Is low in saturated fats, trans fat, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars

  • Stays within your daily calorie needs

  • Changes based on age, special considerations (pregnant or underlying condition)

Featured below are multiple examples of healthy eating featuring the definition, overview, and resource. Search through the tabs to learn more about healthy eating plans. 

Examples of Healthy Eating Plans

The National Institute on Aging defines a healthy eating pattern includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all the food groups:

  • Vegetables

  • Fruits

  • Grains

  • Protein foods

  • Dairy products

  • Oils

MyPlate is based on the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.

Emphasis on:

  • Whole fruits and varying vegetables (½ plate)
  • Make half your grains whole grains (>¼ plate)
  • Vary protein (>¼ plate)
  • Low-fat or fat -free dairy drink or yogurt

The American Diabetes Association recommends the Diabetes Plate Method. It is the easiest way to create healthy meals that can help manage blood sugar. Using this method, you can create portioned meals with a healthy balance of vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates—without any counting, calculating, weighing, or measuring. All you need is a plate!

  • Nonstarchy vegetables (1/2 plate)

  • Lean protein (1/4 plate)

  • Carbohydrate foods (1/4 plate) - greatest effect on blood sugar levels

  • Water or low-calorie drink

The DASH Eating Plan stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension. It is a flexible and balanced eating plan that helps create a heart-healthy eating style for life.

The DASH eating plan requires no special foods and instead provides daily and weekly nutritional goals. This plan recommends

It requires no special foods and instead provides daily and weekly nutritional goals. This plan recommends:

  • Eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains

  • Including fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils

  • Limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils

  • Limiting sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets.

Harvard's Healthy Eating Plate places emphasis on:

  • Vegetables and fruits – ½ of your plate
  • Whole grains – ¼ of your plate
  • Protein – ¼ of your plate
  • Healthy plant oils – in moderation
  • Drinking water, coffee, or tea
  • Staying active

Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service defines intuitive eating as “a way of eating using our hunger and fullness cues that signals the body to know when and how much to eat.” 


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