I always have a goal to cook more meals from my home. First and foremost, it tends to be healthier because I have control over what I’m putting into my meals. BUT, I was shocked to calculate how much it saves me!
A typical lunch out costs me between $10-15 eating at a casual yet healthy restaurant. On days I don’t have a stocked refrigerator/pantry or meals made, I find myself eating out for lunch then again for dinner. When I did my number crunching, I couldn’t help think of how much money I could save by eating more meals in my home… or allocating to gym gear, shoes and clothing lol: like my new lace up top that is long enough to fit over the bump (I know crop tops are in but not when a baby bump is hanging out lol).
I always hear people say healthy eating is so expensive. Well, in case you thought that too, I broke down every single ingredient used in every single meal I ate to show you that just isn’t true. Healthy eating can cost more, but it doesn’t have to.
I also want to point out, I purposely did not select meals that are strictly budget friendly because I wanted this to be as accurate as possible to an average gal’s daily meals. These numbers are true to what food items cost at my local grocery store; I wasn’t shopping sales or ads, so I’m sure the total number could even decrease if I was intentionally trying to save.
^this photo makes me giggle me because I was pretending to do the typical Real Housewives pose and laughing that it couldn’t be more “not real housewives” in that it was for a blog post on eating healthy on a budget lol
MEAL 1: PROTEIN SMOOTHIE
A protein smoothie is how I begin almost every day. I don’t like to dedicate much time in the morning to cooking, so adding a few things to my blender and taking it to-go is about all I do. A total of 3 minutes to make. A meal that I can enjoy at my desk of in my car. And a whole lot of nutritious deliciousness. That’s a great way to begin the day (and so budget friendly!)
1 scoop protein powder ($55 per tub; 75 servings per tub =$0.73)
1/2 banana ($0.49 per pound; 7 bananas; 3 lbs =$0.10 for 1/2 banana)
1 tbsp natural peanut butter ($2.49 per tub; 32 tbsp per tub =$0.08)
1/4 cup oats ($3.99 for 2 lb tub; 15 cups per tub =$0.07)
1 cup ice (free 99 lol)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (2.49 for half gallon; 8 cups per carton = $0.31)
Total Meal 1 Cost: $1.29
MEAL 2: TUNA PATTIES
As many of you know one of my healthy habits is to double my dinner in order to be able to eat my portion and then save the remainder for the next day’s lunch. Last night we made tuna patties, so it then becomes today’s lunch. I love this approach because it’s one less meal to make or even think of every day. A simple reheat, enjoy and back to work is what I’m about mid-day.
1 can tuna (=$1.69)
1 egg ($2.99 per carton; 12 eggs per carton =$0.25)
1/4 cup brown rice bread (2.99 for 24oz container; 6 cups per container =$0.12)
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese (3.69 for 8oz container; 30 tbsp per 8oz =$0.25)
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice (3 lemons for $1; 1/4 lemon used for juice =$0.08)
1 tbsp olive oil (9.99 for 1 L bottle; 1 L contains ~68 tbsp =$0.15)
1/2 apple for additional carbs + nutrients ($1.27 per pound; purchased 3 apples for ~2 lbs =$0.25 for 1/2 apple)
Total Meal 2 Cost: $2.79
MEAL 3: AFTERNOON SNACK – YOGURT PARFAIT
I want to preface this by saying, I don’t really eat “snacks” in the way most people use that term. Snacks tend to be carb heavy and protein deficient (think- granola bars, crackers, etc.) and I aim for getting in 5 balanced meals. To me, a balanced meal is one that hits all the major macronutrient groups: protein, fat and carbohydrates (and if I’m really on my game some veggies!). I call meal 3 my afternoon snack because I think of it as some random items put together and not a heavy meal.
1 6oz. container plain, nonfat Greek yogurt (=$0.99)
1 tbsp stevia (4.99 for 75 packets =$0.07)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (3.99 for 1 oz bottle =$0.17)
1/4 cup strawberries ($1.99 per carton; used ~1/6th of carton =$0.33)
1/2 banana, sliced ($0.49 per pound; 7 bananas; 3 lbs =$0.10 for 1/2 banana)
1/4 cup oats ($3.99 for 2 lb tub; 15 cups per tub =$0.07)
2 tbsp sliced almonds (3.99 for 6oz bag; 12 tbsp per bag =$0.67)
Handful of sugar snap peas for greens ($2.99 per bag; ate ~1/4 of bag =$0.75)
Total Meal 3 Cost: $3.15
MEAL 4: MEDITERRANEAN CHICKEN BAKE + RICE
I typically make meal 4 (aka dinner) my heartiest and satisfying meal of the day. A nice sized lean protein option, healthy fat, good amount of carbs and lots of veggies helps me achieve that. Still, it doesn’t have to be expensive. I swear my husband’s favorite food is rice; rice makes for a great carbohydrate option to any meal and it’s incredibly affordable when bought in bulk. If you’re looking for a more convenient option, they also make a lot of natural rice options in individual serving sizes.
1 (~3-4oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breast ($3.29 per lb =$0.87)
1/4 cup mushrooms ($2.50 for ~1/2 lb carton; used 1/5 carton =$0.50)
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes (2.99 per carton; used 1/3 carton =$0.99)
1 zucchini ($1.99/lb; purchased 3 zucchinis for ~1.5 lbs =$0.99)
1 tbsp olive oil ($9.99 for 1 L bottle; 1 L contains ~68 tbsp =$0.15)
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (3.99 for 16.9 fl oz bottle; 1 bottle contains ~34 tbsp =$0.06)
1 cup white rice ($2.93 for 3lb bag; 30 1 cup servings per 3lb bag =$0.10)
Total Meal 4 Cost: $3.66
MEAL 5: EGG SCRAMBLE
I could eat breakfast food for every meal. I’ve somehow managed to create a million different meals just using eggs, veggies, and… cheese (that’s the Wisconsin girl in me). An egg scramble is my classic go-to and there’s something about it as my last meal that is light yet satisfying.
2 eggs, 1 egg white ($2.99 per carton; 12 eggs per carton =$0.75)
1/8 cup mushrooms ($2.50 for ~1/2 lb carton =$0.25)
1/3 zucchini ($1.99/lb; purchased 3 zucchinis for ~1.5 lbs =$0.33)
1/8 red onion (($0.59/lb; purchased 1 onion at ~0.5lb =$0.04)
2 tbsp feta cheese (3.49 for 8oz container; 30 tbsp per 8oz =$0.23)
Total Meal 5 Cost: $1.60
TOTAL COST FOR DAILY MEALS: $12.49
^Less that $13 to eat five healthy and delicious meals. I wasn’t expecting that but I’m very happy about it. I have always prioritized nutritious foods. I rather spend money on eating healthy than spending money on medical bills as a result of not treating my body well.
Photography by Jennifer Mathews Photography
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