“Eating healthy is way too expensive!”
I’m sure you have heard this quote just as much as I have throughout the years. It seems to be that society’s favorite excuse for not eating healthy is that it is too expensive. Well I am here to contradict this overused excuse and inform you how to eat healthy while on a budget! *gasp* Yes, it can be done. I am a college student with a passion for health and nutrition, so naturally my mission was to go through college without consuming fast food every meal. And guess what, I did just that. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t indulge in the occasional chick-fil-a every now and then… but you get the point. If a notoriously broke college student can eat healthy, you can too!
Just a thought: If you really think about how much you are spending for each meal at fast food restaurants each week, I guarantee you that you will actually save money by eating healthy.
For around 50-60 bucks a week you could be eating healthy for every meal and even snacks (we can’t forget those snacks ;)) This is what my budget has been for groceries every single week of my college career, and I have made it work. I am proof that it is possible. You may have to eat the same meals multiple times throughout the week, but if your goal is to be a healthier version of yourself, then that shouldn’t be too big of a deal. I like to switch up my meals every week so I don’t get tired of eating the same things over and over again.
Below I’ll provide a list the groceries that I typically buy each week, and I’ll also provide you with some meal prep ideas and recipes to get started on your healthy journey! Feel free to substitute your favorite vegetables, fruits, and lean meats.
First let’s start with produce:
2-3 heads of broccoli- $1.24 per pound
3 bell peppers (whichever color is cheapest)- green, $0.68 each= $2.04
2-3 Sweet potatoes- $1.28 per pound
1 lb bag of baby carrots- $1.18
2 small avocado or 2 large- $0.68 each= $1.36
1 bag of spinach- $2.46
Bananas- $0.57 per pound= $1.14
2-3 Apples, gala- $1.27 per pound
frozen fruit-berries, mango, or pineapple- $2.54
Frozen green beans- $0.98
1 lb 93/7 Lean ground turkey (lean ground beef works too)- $4.84
About 5 large chicken breasts- approximately $8.00
1 large container of 0% fat, plain greek yogurt- $4.94
a few small mini flavored greek yogurt-Yoplait Greek 100 is my favorite with the least sugar and high protein–these are good for after dinner/before bed dessert.- $1.00 ea= $3.00
Milk- whatever kind you prefer. (almond or coconut milk is my favorite)- $1.98
Brown rice- $1.98
1 Corn- $0.60
1 Black beans- $0.72
1 Fire roasted tomatoes- $0.92
Whole wheat, low carb tortillas (I prefer these from La Tortilla Factory)- $3.00
Taco seasoning- $0.44
Sugar free ketchup- $2.58
1 box Kind bar– $4.98
TOTAL GROCERY BILL= $59.13
*All of these prices are based on current prices found on Walmart Grocery.
Here is the proof! You can eat the whole week on roughly $50-$60!
Now you are probably wondering what do I do with all of this food? Well don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.. keep reading for recipes and meal ideas!
Breakfast. Yes, it truly is the best and most important meal of the day. Breakfast should not be skipped! No matter how busy you are, it is important to fuel your body in the morning to boost your metabolism and start the day off right. Below I will provide you with my favorite fast, easy, and nutritious breakfast ideas.
Ingredients: 1/2 frozen banana, 4-5 frozen strawberries (or whatever frozen fruit you purchased), 1/2 cup greek yogurt, 1/2 milk of choice, 1/2 cup water, handful of spinach. You can also add any spices that you may already have in your cabinet (or add some to the grocery list), such as cinnamon or ginger.
Directions: Put all ingredients in a blender, and blend until there are no chunks.
There ya go! It really is that simple. Here you have a nutrient dense breakfast packed with veggies, fruit, and protein (from the greek yogurt). If your in a big hurry grab your smoothie and drink it on the way to school or work. You’ll be full of energy all morning!
Oatmeal with protein + fruit
Ingredients: 1/3 cup quick oats, 2/3 cup water, 1/2 banana, 1/4 cup greek yogurt, 1 tbsp sugar (whatever kind you have on hand, brown sugar is my favorite), 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
Directions: Combine 1/3 cup of oats with 2/3 cup of water and warm for about 1 minute. Remove from microwave and add 1/2 sliced banana, 1 tbsp sugar, and 1 tsp cinnamon. Warm again for about 30 seconds. Remove from microwave again and stir in greek yogurt. *optional: you can top the oatmeal with the other 1/2 of the banana. If you want more fruit you can add a handful of frozen berries at the beginning before microwaving so they will have time to defrost.
These are two of the recipes that I use weekly. They are quick and so delicious, and keep me full until lunch! On those mornings that you’re in a big rush and barely have time to brush your teeth before leaving the house (don’t worry, I totally get it… I have rough mornings too) you can always grab a Kind bar along with a banana or apple and head out to start your day.
Lunch. If you’re anything like me this is the most anticipated time of the day when I get to take a break from work and enjoy a nutritious lunch. Having a healthy lunch can really keep you from having that mid-afternoon slump! You can pre-prepare these meals and take them to work with you so you don’t even have to think twice about what you’re going to eat.
Ingredients: 1 whole wheat large tortilla, 1 tbsp hummus, 1 handful of spinach, 4 oz already prepared chicken.
Directions: Spread the hummus on top of the tortilla, add the handful of spinach and spread out evenly over tortilla, add the chicken, then roll. Serve with a side of baby carrots and 1 tbsp hummus.
Simple chicken meal:
Ingredients: 4 oz already prepared chicken, 1/2 cup cooked brown rice, 1/2 cup broccoli
Directions: Prepare chicken (baked or grilled is the leanest option), make rice according to box instructions, steam broccoli. Place rice in a bowl and cover with chicken and broccoli. Serve with carrots and hummus.
These are two very simple lunch options that are very portable. Take them to work or on the go and pull them out at lunch time for a simple and healthy meal!
Snacks. snacks. snacks. I LOVE THEM! And yes, they can be healthy. An afternoon snack doesn’t have to consist of a bag of chips or cookies from whatever vending machine you may run into. Here are some healthier options to choose from:
1 Yoplait Greek 100 yogurt
1 Kind bar
2 tablespoons of hummus + veggies
1/2 plain greek yogurt with frozen mixed berries- just mix together & its delish!
1 piece of fruit- apple, banana, or your favorite!
These are a few of my go-to snacks to fight that dreaded afternoon slump. Fuel your body with healthy choices and you will be surprised how much energy you continue to have throughout the day!
Dinner. Your day is winding down and you FINALLY get to go relax at home. The last thing you want to do is prepare dinner. I get it. I suggest preparing all of your meals on Sunday so you don’t have to worry about what’s for dinner, all of the guess work will be done for you. Now that sounds like a relaxing evening! This will also keep you from stopping by the drive thru after work if you already know your HEALTHY dinner is waiting on you!
Ingredients: 1 lb of 93/7 lean ground turkey, 1/2 cup oats, 1/3 cup water, 1 egg, 2 Tbsp ketchup, 1 bell pepper-chopped, 1/2 onion-chopped, salt and pepper
Directions: Mix turkey, oats, water, egg, 1 Tbsp ketchup, bell pepper, and onion together. Season with salt and pepper, and make sure it is well mixed. Place into a loaf pan. Top with remaining ketchup. Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes. Serve with a baked or roasted sweet potato and green beans.
*Recipe adapted from Health
Ingredients: 3 chicken breasts, 1 can black beans, 1 can corn, 1 can fire roasted tomatoes, 2 bell peppers-chopped, 1/2 onion-chopped, taco seasoning, 4 servings of brown rice
Directions: Grap a cookie sheet and line with foil. Place chicken on baking sheet along with chopped bell pepper and onion (place the onion and bell pepper beside the chicken on the baking sheet, not on top). Sprinkle taco seasoning over vegetables and chicken. Drizzle with oil. Pour fire roasted tomatoes evenly over chicken breasts. Bake at 375 for about 35 minutes. In the mean time prepare the rice according to the package instructions for 4 servings. When the chicken is done, slice it into thin slices. Lay out 4 food containers and divide rice evenly between them. Top with chicken slices, bell peppers, onions, black beans, and corn (making sure that each bowl has close to the same amount). Top with 1/2 of small avocado, and you’ve got yourself a delicious and healthy burrito bowl.
*Recipe adapted from Tasty on Buzzfeed
Super simple. Super easy!
If you cook these ahead of time on Sunday’s then all of your meals can be prepared for the week! There you have it. Healthy eating can be simple, and it can be done on a budget!
Thanks for reading!
Stay healthy my friends,