Diabetes Meal Plan on a Budget

Written By: Gloria Tsang, RD

Title: Founding Registered Dietitian

Alumni: University of British Columbia

Last Updated on:

Healthy eating is an integral part of managing diabetes and blood sugar. Having a well-planned weekly menu and a well-stocked kitchen really helps to make managing healthy eating a breeze. Believe it or not, buying healthier foods can actually save you money.

5 Money-Saving Tips for Diabetes Meal Planning

1. Don’t Buy Everything Organic

I often hear clients say, “Healthy food is too expensive” or “I can’t afford to follow a healthy diabetes diet.” Sometimes, they think that organic foods are more nutritious. Organic foods have minimal exposure to chemical pesticides or hormones, or are produced through a more environmentally friendly way of growing or herding. That doesn’t mean that conventional (non-organic) foods are nutritionally inferior. So, make your budget and pick accordingly. For instance, I always buy organics for fruits like apples, strawberries, peaches, and plums for which I eat the skin. Other fruits, like oranges and melons, do not have to be organic.

2. Don’t Buy Diabetic Foods

Foods that claim to be diabetic or sugar-free are often pricier. These foods are generally sweetened using artificial sweeteners. If you’re concerned about sugar content, the best approach is to eat less of that sugary food. In general, the fewer processed foods and more natural whole foods you eat, the better.

3. Always Grocery Shop with a List

Nowadays, a shopping list means an app on your mobile phone. I use Cozi, through which both my partner and I can share, contribute, and tick off items once purchased. Another app our readers recommend is Grocery IQ.

4. Don’t Head to the Store Hungry

A growling stomach often means a rushed buying decision. Grabbing an extra box of granola bars means extra food in the pantry and extra money at the till.

5. Fresh isn’t the Only Best Thing

Fruits and vegetables in season are generally the cheapest to buy, so why not buy more and freeze them for later use? In addition, frozen veggies generally cost less than fresh veggies at the store, and they are not nutritionally inferior to the fresh ones. They are simply frozen right after they are picked at their peak ripeness.

The Bottom Line

Diabetes eating doesn’t differ much from general healthy eating. So stick to a plant-based diet with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds, and eat less processed food.


blood sugar, diabetes diet, grocery aisle, meal planning, organic


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