following an ADHD Diet On a Budget - Fuzzymama (2024)

following an ADHD Diet On a Budget - Fuzzymama (1)

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!

The Best Resources for Parenting ADHD

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 savereceiptsfor awhile to figure it out. But having a goal in mind, really helps!

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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).

75 Meal Ideas for an ADHD Diet

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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

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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.

The Best ADHD Cookbooks


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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?

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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

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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.

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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.

following an ADHD Diet On a Budget - Fuzzymama (2024)


Does diet really help ADHD? ›

Research does show that eating nutritious meals helps our brains function, and when we don't eat, we struggle to think clearly. But there is no solid research showing that sugar and other food items affect ADHD symptoms.

What is the best breakfast for ADHD people? ›

She suggests that breakfast include lean proteins and slow-digesting whole carbohydrates, such as steal-cut oats, Greek-style yogurt, and fresh fruits, or scrambled eggs with vegetables. When it comes to ADHD, the same foods can also help support attention through the morning and into the rest of the day.

What foods are high in dopamine for ADHD? ›

If your child is not hungry, try to keep them on a regular meal schedule to help regulate opportunities for dopamine release. Healthy snacks help, too. A protein-rich diet, including fish, poultry, eggs, and legumes (e.g., beans, lentils, peas, etc.), can help increase dopamine levels.

What are 5 foods for ADHD? ›

Protein-rich foods include eggs, lean meat, milk, cheese, nuts, soy, and low-fat yogurt. These foods can help maintain a feeling of fullness and prevent spikes in blood sugar levels. Some research also found that having a protein-rich breakfast can help enhance mood, attention, and alertness.

What foods not to eat with ADHD? ›

Children can have a sensitivity to certain foods — dairy, wheat, corn, soy, eggs, nuts, and citrus are common culprits — that can exacerbate symptoms. Try eliminating these foods, and watch behavior carefully.

What is the best diet for ADHD people? ›

What's the takeaway for those wishing to follow an ADHD diet?
  • vegetables.
  • fruits.
  • fiber-rich carbohydrates like whole grains and legumes.
  • protein sources like fish and chicken.
  • healthy fats like nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocados.
Jan 31, 2022

Do bananas help ADHD? ›

Bananas (Magnesium): Foods rich in magnesium like bananas and black beans can help with sleep and relaxation. A well rested, calm child can concentrate much better than one who has been tossing and turning all night or who is irritable, weak and exhausted - common symptoms of magnesium deficiency.

Are bananas good for people with ADHD? ›

Cruciferous vegetables also known as green leafy vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, kale, etc. Kids with ADHD are also advised to consume foods rich in zinc and magnesium. Both of these minerals are essential in bettering ADHD symptoms. Bananas are another great source of zinc and magnesium.

What food is ADHD sensitive to? ›

Some of the common foods that can cause ADHD reactions include milk, chocolate, soy, wheat, eggs, beans, corn, tomatoes, grapes, and oranges. If you suspect a food sensitivity may be contributing to your child's ADHD symptoms, talk to your ADHD dietitian or doctor about trying an elimination diet.

Is ADHD like diet autism? ›

In Autism and other neurobehavioral issues like ADHD, diet does play a significant role in creating and exacerbating symptoms. Almost all children with Autism, ADHD and learning disabilities have food sensitivities. However, the makeup of these sensitivities is different in each child.

What deficiency causes ADHD? ›

ADHD is caused by neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, which are influenced by iron, zinc, and copper. Low zinc levels in DHD patients affect attention scores but not hyperactivity, while low serum ferritin is linked to severe ADHD symptoms [18, 35,36,37,38,39].

Why do ADHD kids crave sugar? ›

Sugar Activates the Dopamine System

Because the dopamine system is already severely dysregulated in ADHD, sugar's ability to activate it might lead to a kind of self-medicating behavior where people with ADHD consume sugary foods or drinks in order to compensate for low dopamine levels.

Are you born with ADHD or do you get it? ›

Genetics. ADHD tends to run in families and, in most cases, it's thought the genes you inherit from your parents are a significant factor in developing the condition. Research shows that parents and siblings of someone with ADHD are more likely to have ADHD themselves.


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