Did You Know it's Possible to Make Inexpensive Healthy Meals?
Recently, we learned that The Dollar Store is one of the most frequented grocery stores in America. We have to admit, we were shocked to hear this. While The Dollar Store can be convenient for picking up toiletries or birthday cards on the go, it's certainly not fit to be the primary supplier of nutrition.
However, many Americans feel that healthy meals must be expensive, and because of that they feel forced to settle for low-quality foods. We understand! Budgets are tight, life is expensive, and it is becoming more so every day.
However, it is possible to make inexpensive healthy meals a priority in our modern world without breaking the bank.
Eating diets like all organic, paleo, keto, etc. can certainly become expensive, especially if the diet includes a lot of specialty items. However, just because you can’t afford to shop exclusively at Whole Foods doesn’t mean a nutritious diet is out of reach for you.
Eating basic, healthy foods like fresh produce, lean meats, good fats, and complex carbs can be just as affordable as a diet of chips, cereal, and soda! So, let’s look at the cost of a week’s worth of groceries for one person from Aldi.
Easy Weekly Healthy Meal Plan - with the ideal protein for your health
Breakfasts: Oats with peanut butter, strawberries, and almond milk (ingredients included will make 7 days worth of breakfasts)
Lunches: Spinach salad with grape tomatoes, avocado, boiled eggs, shredded parmesan, and balsamic dressing (ingredients included will make 6 days worth of lunches)
Baked chicken, sauteed spinach, and baked sweet potatoes with butter (ingredients included will make 4 servings)
Spaghetti squash with ground beef, marinara, and parmesan (ingredients included will make 4 servings)
Hummus + celery (ingredients included will make 7 snacks)
Bananas + peanut butter (ingredients included will make 7 snacks)
*Because ingredients purchased only make 6 lunches, 8 meals worth of dinner ingredients were included. So, leftovers from one of the dinner meals can be used for the 7th day’s lunch.
*This menu and shopping list is for one person. The dinners make multiple servings, so they can be prepared one night and then eaten for a few nights after.
3 lb bag of sweet potatoes $1.89
1 pint grape tomatoes $1.89
1 package hummus $2.19
2 bunches celery $1.45
1 jar natural (no sugar added) peanut butter $1.79
1 3 lb spaghetti squash $2.67
1 lb 95% lean ground beef $3.75
1 lb chicken breast $2.29
1 jar (no sugar added) marinara $1.65
2 bags spinach $2.70
1 carton unsweetened almond milk $2.29
1 large can whole rolled oats $2.29
Balsamic vinaigrette dressing $1.65
1 lb bananas $0.44
1 lb frozen strawberries $2.15
1 dozen eggs $1.49
2 avocados $1.98
8oz kerrygold butter $3.15
Shredded parmesan $2.19
So, for a week’s worth of groceries for one person: 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners, and 14 snacks, the grand total comes to $40.26.
That averages out to approximately $1.53 per meal and $0.58 per snack. That is cheaper than almost any meal from McDonald's or Burger King.
Planning is Key
Shopping this way requires planning ahead. The best way to do this is to make a list before going to the store and sticking closely to what is on that list.
One thing to consider when planning budget-friendly meals is to buy ingredients that can be used for multiple meals and snacks, for example, the menu included here uses spinach as a base for salads and also as a side when its sauteed with one of the dinner options.
Also, buying ingredients that are in season has a two-fold benefit: they are often less expensive and are also more nutritious.
Meal prepping is another great tool for keeping your grocery bill each week to a minimum. Making meals ahead of time doesn’t have to be complex or difficult. It just needs to include a few easy to prepare meals that keep well when refrigerated.
Having these meals prepped and on hand reduces the temptation to run through the drive through and get something off the dollar menu on those evenings you just don’t feel like cooking.
Save Money, Be Healthy
While eating healthy on a budget can require more preparation, health is one thing that is certainly worth the time investment. What we consume today will affect our longevity and quality of life down the road. Thankfully, eating with that in mind can be just as cheap (or even cheaper!) than eating fast food and getting groceries from The Dollar Store.