There is a very popular theory going around that the reason why most “poor” people are either over-weight or obese is due to their economic status. That because “healthy” food is more expensive than processed crap, they can’t afford to eat healthy. At first I totally agreed. A few years back my wife and I were going through some tough economic times and our weekly budget for food was sometimes only $50. FOR TWO PEOPLE! We had a young child at that time and most of our extra money went to diapers, formula, baby food etc etc. We certainly didn’t make good food decisions and mostly ate fast food and very high fat foods. It wasn’t until I started on this journey that I realized that no matter my weekly food budget I could eat healthy.
Last week I was watching a TV show where a supposed “Millionaire” had to go live in the slums of Knoxville, TN and eat off of $45 a week (the amount given to a single person on welfare in Tennessee). To some people living off $45 a week would be impossible even if you chose chips, hot dogs, cereal etc etc. I mean I’ve stopped by Publix just to get milk and walked out spending $50. So how can it be done? Well, I did it with $50 for three people, but we didn’t eat right. Can someone eat healthy with only $45 and make the right choices? Yep, if you follow some very simple rules $45 can go a long way…
So how exactly can a single person live off of $45 a week?
1) First off you have to be frugal. (duh!) You may have to buy non-name brand items that are most of the time just as good as the more expensive name brand options. Also, you may have to shop at Wal-Mart and not the higher end stores like Publix. You may also need to cut coupons. I’ve seen some people buy a crazy amount of food with less than $45 by using coupons. This takes more work but its worth it.
2) Have a plan. Don’t just go to the store and buy what you think you need. Make a list and plan out your meals. Do research and make sure you buy enough portions for more than just one meal. LEFT OVERS FTW!
3) Go once a week. Research shows that if you shop once a week, for the entire week you save money.
4) Buy frozen veggies instead of fresh and buy bulk meat and freeze it. Meat is the most expensive item you’ll buy but if you buy smart it can last you weeks.
So here’s an example of how it can be done by shopping at Wal-Mart and Publix:
1. The grocery store (Publix) in my town sells Chicken Quarters (legs and thighs) super cheap. 5 for roughly $3. So I buy 3 at a time. The Wal-Mart sells 10 chicken breasts for $8. The chicken breasts alone could feed a person for 5 days (2 breasts a day). If you really wanted to get savvy you could cut the breasts in half and have enough for nearly 2 weeks.
$13 with tax
2. At Wal-Mart there is a 5 lb bag of brocoli made by Birdseye for $5. With 23 servings per bag, you’ve got enough veggies for 2 weeks. Go ahead and pick up the Oriental Blend just for variety.
$12 with tax
3. Eggs are a universal product at pretty much any grocery store. Eat 2 every morning.
$3 for a pack of 18
4. Mission makes a great high fiber Tortilla for only $4. You can make egg wraps for breakfast or chicken wraps for lunch.
$4 for a pack of 8
5. Water is free. Drink a lot
6. Bananas; Eat one a day
7. Bushel of strawberries
8. Gallon of milk; drink one glass a day
All that adds up to roughly $42, give or take the tax in your state. Is there a lot of variety in your meals? Not in the beginning but since you bought so much meat and veggies, you just saved yourself $21 for next week. Now you can buy almonds, turkey burgers, tomatoes, pork loin etc etc to give you some variety. Every other week take 10-15 dollars and load up on things you can freeze and reuse. Maybe one week buy turkey meat and sausage to create a ton of turkey meatballs. Freeze them and grab 4 at a time for a lunch or dinner. Make a huge pot of turkey chili, soup or healthy spaghetti sauce to again…freeze and eat later.
If you’re on a budget there are still ways to eat healthy. Don’t fall into the way of thinking that cause you are “poor” or strapped for cash you need to buy processed crap to stretch your dollar cause it simply isn’t true. YOU CAN DO IT!