Healthy eating doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. (Wouldn’t THAT be counterproductive?) One of the keys to making meals inexpensive is to minimize the number of ingredients you need. The second key is to find healthy ingredients at great prices. Check out this menu of options for you and your family. There’s not a single over-processed item on the list.
Like they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Healthy eating means not skipping it. Start your day with some carbs to give you energy. Carbs in the form of oatmeal (old fashioned, rolled oats, not the prepackaged, flavored stuff) are good for the heart. Cook your rolled oats and add a spoonful of brown sugar (or agave nectar) and a handful of raisins. You’re looking at a single meal for around 25 cents per person! Add a boiled egg for some protein and you still only spend pocket change.
Keep some all natural peanut butter and local honey on hand for a variety of recipes. A breakfast favorite in my family is to put them together on a piece of toasted bread (whole wheat for the health benefits).
The most expensive of the cheap breakfast options is fruit and yogurt/cottage cheese. Using a fruit that’s in season keeps the cost down a bit, as does buying yogurt in larger containers instead of individual servings. Cantaloupe is my favorite because it has just enough natural sugar to sweeten the yogurt. (I don’t like cottage cheese, but you might.)
Lunch and Dinner
Sack lunches are a staple for frugal living. It’s just plain cheaper to bring food from home than it is to buy lunch anywhere. When you’re packing lunch for your entire family, sandwiches are the way to keep it healthy. Since you can get multiple sandwiches from each pound of lunchmeat or cheese, you can build a quality sandwich and throw in some carrot sticks or apple wedges for less than two dollars per person. Instead of buying the prepackaged lunchmeat, have them slice it fresh at the deli counter. Ham, Swiss, lettuce, tomato, and spicy mustard or turkey, Gouda, and sour apple are my favorites.
Salads are also a favorite lunch item for healthy eaters. Like we’ve already discussed, fewer ingredients is key to keeping the cost low. A head of Romaine, one grilled chicken breast, a red bell pepper, and some vinaigrette are great. For a little bit more you can add sunflower seeds or feta cheese.
Beans and rice nourish families all over the world multiple meals each day. Together they are a complete protein that’s high in fiber. The cheapest way to make beans is to purchase them dry, soak them overnight, and cook them on low throughout the day. It makes a large pot of pinto or black beans that you can eat with rice or as a side to any number of other meals. For a single dish meal, combine cooked rice with cooked beans and season with some salsa or fresh pico de gallo.
Here’s to your health and a happy budget!