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Nourish Your Body and Your Bank Account With These 4 Cheap Food Ideas


Sometimes life throws you curve balls. For whatever reason, some things just really don’t seem to work out the way we want them too. All too often, these curveballs cause us to strike out when it comes to sticking to our health and wellness goals. We start to break the good dietary and exercise habits that we worked so hard to build, excess weight returns, pain creeps back in and depression begins to smother initiative and ambition.


It’s happened to the best of us and we all know what this feels like. Luckily, there is always a solution. While it may not always be the solution we want, we need to open ourselves to trying new things or adjust our perspective to allow a little creativity to spark a new and effective course of action.

Case Study

Before I get into the meat of the post (pun intended) I want to create a quick frame of reference. Recently I discovered the personal situation of someone has been thrown a few major curveballs by life. Everything was going smoothly, weight loss and great energy were the results of a good diet and exercise program until a bad surgery and exhausted insurance funds left a family of four in the lurch.


My challenge was to see if it is possible to provide four adults a well balanced, real food diet on a budget of $400 per month. It was reported that the family eats out twice per month. I am going to make the recommendation of cutting that back to once per month in order to boost the monthly budget up to $448.


With a daily food budget of $17.04, I went to work to see just what was possible. (Please leave a comment below if you’d like to see exactly how I came to the daily budget) After a few trips to the grocery store and some revising of the meal plan, here is what I came up with.

Focus on Real Food First

For a quick philosophical aside. The prioritization of choosing what to eat flows in this order:
  1. Is it real?
  2. Is it in the proper nutrient proportions?
  3. Is it properly prepared?
  4. Is it from the proper source?


At the grocery store, its pretty easy to find real foods that can be combined in the right proportions to build and maintain a high level of health(ie. healthy weight, good energy, positive mood, etc). It is harder to find pre-made real foods that have been properly prepared and even harder to find real food that comes from the right sources (fewer choices that tend to be a lot more expensive).


In order to get the most bang for the buck, I focused on the first two points when choosing what foods to include. For a lot more info on the four points mentioned above, check out our free ebook  Real Food Revolution – The Beginner’s Guide to Actually Eating Right

Cheap Food Ideas

Ok, it’s finally here, the cheap food ideas that I promised. Now I know that this is a super simple one day plan, but it works, both from a nutritional and a budgetary stand point.

Breakfast – $2.80

3 eggs, scrambled or fried in 2 tablespoons of butter.

8 oz of whole milk

Lunch – $5.44

Tuna Fish Sandwich

Tuna mixed with 2 tablespoons of olive oil based mayo and 1 teaspoon of mustard on sprouted grain bread

Carrot sticks

Celery with cream cheese

Dinner – $7.54

Taco Salad

Shredded green leaf lettuce

Ground beef with taco seasoning (follow directions on package)

Shredded cheddar cheese

Chopped onions

Chopped tomatoes

Canned pinto beans

Snack – $0.71

Dry Roasted Peanuts

The grand total for the day (remember this is for four adult servings for each meal and snack) comes out to $16.49.  That’s $0.55 under budget! And you thought it couldn’t be done, tsk tsk. Like I said before it is a very basic plan and definitely not gourmet but it requires very little actual cooking, it is all real food and it has plenty of protein while keeping carbs low.

Share Your Feedback

OK, let me know what you think. Could you survive on a simple meal plan like this? I hope so because what you are probably eating right now is killing you ever so slowly, even if it’s a little more gourmet.  And remember, when life throws you curve balls, keep swinging for the fence and you will eventually hit your home run.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Chris February 26, 2013, 9:27 am

    Great, detailed plan of attack! I saw this article http://www.coachcalorie.com/stop-using-protein-powder/ touching on a common and expensive mistake that many may be making with protein powder that I thought you and the Doc may want to look at and comment on!

  • William Curtis February 26, 2013, 10:32 am


    The article from the calorie coach was spot on in a few areas. Of course breaking down whey protein from primary “whole food” sources constitutes processing. Processing is an unnatural process that not only can alter the benefits of the final product from the benefit in the natural state.

    I do not routinely recommend protein powders for my patients due to cost and the aforementioned points. However, I do use them for occasional convenience purposes. Not many meals are faster than a quick protein shake!

    If I use a protein powder I choose WARRIOR WHEY or SP COMPLETE.

    SP COMPLETE is probably the most organic and most beneficial as a spot meal replacement given the addition of whole food vitamins into the mixture.


    Good article!

  • William Curtis February 26, 2013, 10:36 am


    The meat could also be mixed with eggs and pre-soaked pinto beans can also augment and change the breakfast combination enough for day to day variety.

    Beans and legumes are very inexpensive. They provide variety and find easy reuse in many meal combinations.

    Anyone remember “Victory Gardens?” Tomato plants are cheap and can be grown in pots. Several months of fresh tomatoes go a long way in a tight budget!!

    Great article, thanks for the effort, I know you had to do quite a bit of research on this one!

    Hope readers will submit their own “Whole food: Dining on a Dime” suggestions!

  • Cheri Hennesay April 10, 2013, 3:32 pm

    This sounds very do-able. I am always looking for new ideas on eating low-carb.

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