Monday, October 28, 2013

Healthy on a Budget Challenge

One of my greatest frustrations as a dietitian is when people tell that they can't eat healthy because "it costs too much."  Hogwash.  My daughter K has agreed to help me prove my point.  She is in her first apartment and now realizes that her lack of interest in mom's effort to teach her to cook has left her with a repertoire of 3 dishes.

I designed a 2 week menu for 1-2 people.  In many cases, it reflects the preferences of the menu tester more than the nutrition goals of her mother.  It does require several hours of cooking on the day that you shop, but then the rest of the time it's mostly  assembly and reheating.  They can be eaten in any order desired.  However, anything not to be eaten within the first 3 days should get moved to the freezer.

Oatmeal with Spiced Apples*
Egg Sandwich*
Eggs Benedict*

Lunches (most need to be cold/non-reheat for work)
Ranch Chicken Wrap*
Chicken Sandwich, carrot sticks
BBQ Chicken Sandwich  with lettuce & carrot slaw *
Chicken Pasta Salad *

Baked Chicken, Baked Potato, Green Beans *
Clam Chowder, Toast or Biscuits *
Chicken Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons *
White Chicken Chili, Toast *
Chicken Noodle Soup *
Bean & Rice Burritos *
Chicken Quesadilla *
Chicken a la King *
Chicken Rice Bowl *

*Recipes and Posts to follow

I assumed (and was mostly correct) that she had NOTHING to start with.  My first buy was about $110 which included $23 of staples and storage, $25 of foods of basics that would be covered by WIC vouchers for those who would qualify and the remaining being $48 Nutrition Bargain Foods, $8 special ingredients and $7 bakery outlet bread.

Our first round of cooking included:
roasted chicken
baked potatoes
clam chowder
pre-prep of cheese, ham, caramelized onions, cinnamon sugar, pumpkin  pie spice sugar
ranch flavored croutons

and once the chicken cools down: homemade chicken stock

Stay tuned for more.


  1. sounds great - funny that kids only realize what they had once they move out on their own!

  2. Since we mostly cook from scratch, it has not been hard to eat healthy for less. We eat much as you listed except less variety ( don't have a problem with having the same thing often). For breakfasts, it's bran cereal with nuts and cranberries and 1% milk or oatmeal. We have the big meal at lunch and the lunch stuff at supper or just a small piece of dessert. But then we are retired. Look forward to the recipes.

  3. This is the method we have adopted, with different foods of course because of diet restrictions of the newest member of our household (no eggs, dairy, wheat, nuts, btw way more limiting than people think). For our family of 4, one member mostly only eats breastmilk but is starting solids, our monthly food budget is just over $400. The United States Department of Agriculture thinks it should be closer to $1000. I wonder, what do people who spend a THOUSAND dollars on food every month eat?