Yes, it is very possible to eat healthy and natural on a frugal budget. However, what the means and looks like for each person will vary due to many different factors. People have different budgets, difference priorities on how they spend their money, different access, different energy and availability, different definitions of what they define as healthy and natural, different dietary health needs, issues and concerns, different dietary preferences, different motivations and situations, etc.
What's important is to do what works best for you and your household. Getting educated on healthy eating and living and tips/advice on ways to make things work will help. When you know what options are out there you can evaluate what might work for you and make healthier things happen. Posts like this are very helpful as they allow members to give feedback on how they are making healthy happen in their homes which gives other's ideas that may possibly work for them as well. It is best to gather every possible idea you can even if they aren't going to work - some will - and the ones that don't can be passed on as ideas to others too... The more options that WILL work though = the more possibilities for healthier eating and living.
Thank you for the new topic post Brandy!
Ways we are able to eat healthy in our home: Prioritize healthy eating over other things - this means more $ on healthy whole foods and less money spent on other things/cuts in other areas of our lives as eating healthy is top priority here and how it's always been. Note: we live in CA and have good access to fresh foods - my list here is based on our household and what we do because we are able to do - I understand this is not the case for everyone and am simply stating what we do to answer Brandy's question... It will be nice to see everyone's different answers here... Back to the list now. We grow our own foods, forage foods, trade/share foods; shop local organic farmer's market; shop discount produce racks at multiple stores; preserve/freeze fresh produce when overstock on backyard harvest or end of season sales and also purchase other foods on sale or markdown to use right away or freeze; make our own foods as we can; by bulk whole real foods like dry beans, legumes, peas, whole grains, etc... I have addtional food pantry storage and a large upright freezer in the garage for stocking/storage. I buy raw organic milk from the farm (We only have 2 farms in Northern, CA that can legally sell raw dairy milk - I have to buy at a special market where the farm delivers that morning and I go pick up), it's not budget friendly but I use it for health purposes... I get raw local honey from my friends around the block... I get discounts for buying things in bulk (example: 12pk case of my coconut waters or box of fresh coconuts... organic local avocados from my farmer friends, etc.) and also money back discounts for returning glass milk bottles from my raw milk and glass bottles from my raw honey - this saves money on my next round of purchases... The best way to eat healthy though is to first know how. I have spent over 10 years studying nutrition and it's the best gift I could have never given myself and family. It has helped us in our health and I have blessed to be able to help many people as well. I will continue to study it the rest of my life. Learning is learning and it doesn't matter how you are doing it - the point is you are doing it and learning and that's a true gift to yourself.
Co ops and CSA programs are also really great for those who have access to them. I see many folks here enjoying Bountiful Baskets and think the whole thing is just beautiful. We don't have that set up here in CA but I am so glad other places have it. Growing whatever you can - backyard, windowsill, under the sink (sprouts!), living room fruit trees/edible plants (yes, it works), grow lights/set up, etc. HELPS. Barter and fair trade = very good idea as well. Learn about foraging, it's fun and may come in handy sometime. Eating by the season can be cheaper due to seasonal sales. Farmer's markets, produce stands, ethnic stores, etc. are great places to shop.
www.localharvest.org is a great resource
www.craigslist.org "for sale, farm/garden" section is also good for locals selling home grown foods or willing to trade
Everyone can make something work even with limited access or funds. Work with what you can and what you have and know that i you are making conscious effort you are doing your best and every bit helps. Do not get discouraged if you can't afford every fresh food you wish you could or even none of them at all sometimes. You will figure out how to make something work as an alternative if you put a motivated mind to it. Never give up hope and be grateful for all that you are given - make good use of it and savor/enjoy it as you can. That's important!
"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." ~Chinese Proverb~