Eat Healthy on a Budget of $40 Per Week | STACK

How to Optimize Healthy Budget Eating

December 2, 2012 | Gary Mullen

Must See Nutrition Videos

Eating to achieve the ideal body doesn't require you to buy the latest organic products. Those food items are usually expensive, and they're often not even the best choices for your diet. It's possible to eat healthy with minimal cost, but it does require diligence (not like spending 10 hours a week clipping coupons, waiting for double coupon days or exhaustively counting calories).

With Thanksgiving over, it's time to make some dietary adjustments for a healthier and more productive life, specifically eating healthy on a budget. Here's how:

Understand proper nutrition

As a society, we eat too much sugar and fat and too many simple carbohydrates. This combination promotes obesity and overeating. Minimizing carbohydrates, sugar and certain kinds of fat is essential for improving body composition. To "eat lean," you should make eating vegetables a top priority.

You've probably read about the importance of eating organic, locally grown vegetables and consuming nutritional supplements. But if you're on a budget, here's a secret: all that hypothetical extra benefit is not worth the extra cash. You can reap the same benefits from non-organic vegetables and fruits. Just wash them before eating. If non-organic really bothers you, try frozen vegetables. They provide the same nutrients.

Eat enough protein

This is essential. Luckily, inexpensive sources of protein are available in any supermarket. Eggs are a great source of protein, as are frozen chicken and canned tuna.

Consume healthy fat

Ditch simple carbohydrates like donuts and bagels. But go for good fats; they increase satiation and improve metabolism. Low-cost options include cooking with extra virgin olive oil or using it as salad dressing. Slightly more expensive choices are raw nuts and avocados.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Sample plan from Tim Ferriss's book, The 4-Hour Body

Here's a great example of how to put a cost-efficient plan into action. Each meal costs around $1.34, for a total of approximately $40 per week. The shopping list shapes up like this:

  • 
1x eggs (1 dozen), $1.20
  • 2x grass-fed organic beef (0.5-lb cuts), $4
  • 4x mixed vegetables (1-lb bags), $6
  • 2x pork (1-lb cuts), $3
  • 1x chicken breast, $2
  • 2x asparagus bundles, $2
  • 1x organic peas (2-lb bag), $2
  • 1x pinto beans (1-lb bag), $1.50
  • 
2x spinach (3-lb bags), $6
  • 
1x black beans (1-lb bag), $1
  • 3x chicken thighs, $9

Breakfast: Egg white omelet mixed with one whole egg, vegetables and chicken breast

Lunch: Spinach salad with mixed vegetables, chicken thigh and black beans

Dinner: Beef or pork with asparagus and pinto beans

It's a simple diet at a reasonable cost. Just remember to get into a routine and form smart habits. Weight loss will follow. After the excessive consumption of Thanksgiving, try this simple, cost-effective adjustment to your nutritional program to eat healthy on a budget.

Check out two other articles with tips for eating healthy on a budget: Eating Healthy on a Budget: Tips for Student-Athletes; and Three Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget.

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

5 Ways to Fuel Your Early Morning Workout

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

3 Nutrition Mistakes Endurance Athletes Make and How to Fix Them

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

How to Deal With Your Sugar Cravings

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

10 Easy Ways to Eat Real Food

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

Why You Need Dietary Fiber

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

The Case for Red Meat

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

Tips for Healthy Weight Gain

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

Diet Changes: 5 Tips to Help You Stick to Your Plan

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

Foods for Athletes: Top Trends for 2014

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

The Boston Cannons'

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?