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following an ADHD Diet On a Budget

Our family, with two boys diagnosed with ADHD, has found some pretty great results while following an ADHD diet.

I talk about the benefits of eating healthy, while avoiding foods high in sugar on my blog all the time. I’ve gathered a bunch of information, tips and tried and true advice about an ADHD diet here in this one massive post! 

Whether you are just starting an ADHD Diet or have been on the road awhile, you are sure to find something new to think about. So let’s get started!

How Can I Follow an ADHD Diet on a budget

Starting an ADHD Diet does not have to be overwhelming or cost a lot of money. The following ideas are meant to make it easier for you AND/OR ways that you can save money while following an ADHD Diet.

Americans spend, on average, way less on food proportionally than we did 50 years ago. In the 60’s families spent about 18% of their monthly budget on food and today it hovers around 10%.

Most of that accounts for the cheap prices of lots of the processed food we, as a nation, consume. When you cut out the junk be prepared to pay a bit more.  

But, don’t let that discourage you, there are definitely things you can do!

Determine your budget

If you are like me, a few years ago, you may have no idea how much you spend on food each month. I kept receipts for three months and then averaged out how much I was spending on food. 

I was blown away.

And I felt really stupid!

I thought I was spending about $600.00 a month.  Turns out it was well over $1100.00 a month, on average. 

This may or may not be a big number for you, but, for our income, that was just too much. 

I see lots of people on the internet who claim to spend $300.00 per month on a large family.  While I certainly don’t doubt them, that is just not realistic for us.  So much about budget is determined by where you live, what deals are available close by and how much food you eat.

We now aim to spend 10% of our monthly take home budget(which varies), but hovers around $600.00.

What is your monthly budget for food? You may have to save receipts for awhile to figure it out. But having a goal in mind, really helps!

Keep it simple

Following an ADHD Diet is not about making fancy meals.

On the contrary, many of the meals I prepare for my family are super simple. With just a few pantry staples and fresh ingredients, you can put together a whole host of meals.

Our favorites include: 

  • Ground Beef and sauteed onions and mushrooms over roasted sweet potatos
  • G-free pasta with pesto and frozen broccoli
  • Fried egg sandwiches (cold in lunches, too)
  • Oatmeal Casserole and fresh fruit
  • Roasted sweet potatoes topped with lettuce, salsa and ground beef (Potacos)
  • Brown rice with ground beef or chicken sausage and cooked apples
  • Sweet potatoes cooked in a skillet with sausage and apples
  • Open faced tuna sandwiches heated under the broiler

I almost always have a simple plate of chopped fruit and veg on the side, as well.(This is a great thing for kids to prepare, too).

Limit processed foods

All sorts of stuff is lurking in processed foods – even the “better” ones. By sticking primarily to a whole foods diet, you’ll automatically be on the right track. The “healthier” versions of processed foods can break the budget.

My kids get one packaged item in their lunches and we’ll bring protein bars on hikes or to the movies.  Otherwise the main stays of our diet are organic fruit and vegetables, grass fed beef, lots of beans, rice and gluten free pastas. 

Related: 75 Meals for an ADHD Diet

meal planning ideas for an adhd diet

Learn to meal prep – a bit

Planning our your meals means there will be fewer trips to the store when you’re hungry and fewer trips thru the drive-thru line. Meal Prep does not have to be hard.

My method is super easy for anyone to follow.

Sit with a few cookbooks ( My favorite cookbooks are Katie Kimball’s – I have all 7! ) and pick one or two meals you can double or triple.  You can have it for at least two nights and then freeze leftovers or use them for lunches.

Second, you can cook a few batches of staples to use for the rest of the meals. Things like brown rice, black beans, sweet potatoes, roasted veggies can be made in big quantities and then used as a base for so many meals.

Also, make it easy on your kids to snack on healthy foods – cut up fruit and veg to have in the fridge. Have a dip or two to entice them, as well.

Ways to make your grocery budget go further

Find money from other “budgets”

You can scrimp on other costs to allow for a few more dollars in your food budget.  We “find” money in many ways.

We rarely eat out.  This is a big one for lots of people.  Eating out once a week can add up to hundreds of dollars a month.

I buy a lot of our clothes and shoes second hand at thrift stores, on eBay and Thredup. I’ve been doing this since my boys were little and I first started my vintage Etsy shop.  While scouring for vintage treasures , I saw so much GREAT clothing for pennies on the dollar. You have to love the hunt, but you can really save a ton of money this way. 

We keep our cars for a long, long time. My favorite car is the one without a monthly payment. 

We find family activities that are free! Hiking local trails, scouring second hand book stores, and hanging out with friends are some of our favorite activities. 

Can you think of one area of your budget that you can minimize?

how to start an adhd diet

Use Imperfect Foods

I love Imperfect Foods!!!   You might have heard about them – they started out selling “ugly” produce that did not meet the ridiculous standards of supermarkets.

They have since expanded to offer more super healthy foods, often at a deep discount.  I order from them on a weekly basis — the haul above was under $45.00, including delivery.  All of the produce I order is organic for so much less than I can get it locally. 

Imperfect Foods is my secret to getting cheap organic produce! Get $10.00 off your first order (and I’ll get $10.00, too) by using this code

Get accountability

Now that you have created a budget for yourself, how do you know you are going to stick to it? 

Do you have a buddy you can call on? Is your husband good at supporting a goal like this? It might help you to get someone else in on your plan to save money on food.

For me it was posting on Instagram.  I knew people would be watching and I am someone who can not tell a lie when other people are watching!

Try the old envelope method where you take a certain amount of cash out for the month and once it’s gone its gone! 

Compete with a friend to see who can spend the least – send each other pictures of your reciepts.  

Do you need support for this part of the adventure? Only you can answer that question.

Come Up With Some Cheap Meals

I have a few standby meals that are super cheap and they make up about 30% of our monthly menu.  Rice and beans, gluten free pasta and frozen veggies, and egg sandwiches are served just about every week in our house.

What are your family’s favorites that cost the least to prepare?

Related: 75 Meals for an ADHD Diet

Shop Sales

Check the sales flyers on a weekly basis to see the best sales and usually base our menu of the best deals.

Don’t be afraid of discounted food. Find the clearance section of every grocery store in your area.

 Visit stores that deeply discount foods that are getting close to their expiration date. 

Stock up on super cheap items when you see a great sale.

How do you become aware of what’s on sale at your local grocery stores?

Visit Multiple Grocery Stores

We have three stores within a mile of each other, so its easy to stop by all three, if needed. The competition is often super for local customers as stores try to be the ones with the best deals. 

Shop online to find deals on non perishable items, like snacks. Buy in bulk when you see them deeply discounted. 

Where can you get the best deals? Name your three top spots to buy food on the cheap.

Stop Wasting Food

The average American family wastes $640.00 worth of food a year. 

This one can be huge for lots of people…You can easily save $40.00 to $50.00 a month from making sure you do not waste produce or leftovers.  

Keep leftovers in the front of the fridge so you see them. Make a plan for them right away. They may become lunch the next day or two or part of dinner the next evening.

Fruit and vegetables get frozen before they go bad, to be used in smoothies at a later date. In my freezer bag you will find:  bananas, avocados, pineapple cores, broccoli stems, and kale, among other things.

This may be the  one area that makes you save the most each month!

How can you make sure you are eating all of the food you purchase?

Eat From Your Freezer and Pantry

This kinda goes with the whole waste thing: Shop your pantry and freezer before you plan the week, making sure nothing hangs around too long. 

Make a list before you start your menu planning or shop the sales flyers for the week to see what can used up. 

I usually always have some dried pasta or rice to start things off or some eggs or carrots for those first few meals of the week. 

What’s in your cabinet right now that can be put towards next weeks meals?

Make Your Own Cleaning Products

Standard cleaning products are filled with so many toxins.  Why clean up your food if you don’t look at other things that you bring into your home?

You can easily make our own products out of simple household ingredients like vinegar, baking soda and essential oils.  Check out this Pinterest board filled with awesome ideas. 

Not only is this better for all of us, it saves A TON of money. “Green” cleaning products are very costly. You can spend less than $5.00 a month on supplies to make your own cleaning products, seriously! 

Start saving your spray bottles as you finish your current products.  Then look for recipes to refill them on your own. 

Stockpile sale items

When you find a great sale, stock up!  

Meat can go in the freezer, and snack items are usually well within their expiration date. Taking advantage of deep discounts can help you stay within your budget. 

Do Without

When you are trying to tighten budget undoubtedly there will be things you just can’t purchase. Saying “No” to things  can be hard, but usually these things are extras, anyway.  

There is a lesson in this for everyone. What a great time to have a conversation with your kids about needs vs. wants! 

You can do without sparkling water, convenience foods, and fancy skin care products, to name a few.

I know, get the violin out.

We are very lucky to live in a world where our basic food needs are very likely to be met.  It’s not hard at all to give up most of the extras. 

What items can you do without this month? 

WHOA!!!! This is a huge post!! I am overwhelmed.

Our family, with two boys diagnosed with ADHD, have found some pretty great results while following an ADHD diet. We did not do all of these things at once, but changed our eating habits slowly to fit an ADHD Diet over time.

Find a few things that resonate with you and just give ’em a try. Then just keep coming back and add one new thing when you have the space. Remember starting and following an ADHD Diet is a huge process.  Do not expect it to be easy overnight.

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  1. This was by far one of the best, most honest posts I have seen about life with ADHD and making sacrifices. Thank you!

    1. You are very welcome! Thanks for your feedback. I know I always look for honest posts around the web and just want to give my readers the same. Parenting ADHD can be so isolating and difficult – we need to help each other out!

  2. Margaret Jackson says:

    I’m interested in articles about ADHD. My granddaughter is really struggling and I’m looking for suggestions to assist her parents (divorced) so consistency is challenging.

    1. Take a look at my blog and let me know if you have any specific questions about anything. I hate to see people struggling without ideas to try.