You go to the grocery store with a plan to eat healthy—but you feel overwhelmed, because you don’t really know what eating healthy looks like. Eating healthy has to be expensive, right? That’s not necessarily true. By make conscious choices when shopping, you can actually eat healthy on a surprisingly small budget. A good grocery store trip at my house equals $75 per week for two people, if I don’t overspend on things we don’t need. Buying certain items in bulk may cost you more for that week, but these products are also an investment that will help you spend less in the long run.
Sticking to the perimeter or outside isles of the grocery store is one trick to keep in your arsenal. That means the produce section, dairy, deli, etc. All of these raw ingredients are a lot cheaper than the processed junk food you will find in the middle of the store. With the money you save from keeping to the perimeter, you can splurge on a few of your favorite junk food items once and a while.
“But wait,” you say. “Isn’t cooking from scratch expensive too?” It can be if you have a recipe that calls for small amounts of exotic foods you wouldn’t normally use. I’m betting you already have most of what you need for this recipe in your pantry and fridge. Choose your recipes wisely, and if you do that well, there will be some room for experimentation with exotic foods too. Below is an estimated cost per plate for this recipe to illustrate this point.
Another important trick to saving money that I wholly believe in and practice every day is the weekly meal plan. Choose your meals for every day of the week before you go to the store, and you will save money and stay within your budget as long as you stick to your plan.
Cheap, Easy, Healthy, Chicken Picata
2 chicken breasts
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil added to a large pan
Enough flour to dredge the chicken (about 1 teaspoon flour)
1 sprig of rosemary
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon corn starch
Capers to taste (about 3 tablespoons)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
248 calories, 7.3g fat, 5.1g carbohydrates, 33.5g protein, 328g sodium
(nutrition information from calorie count.com)
1. Slice the chicken breasts in half.
2. Mix corn starch, lemon juice, and white wine and set aside.
3. Dredge the chicken in flour until well coated.
4. Add the oil to the pan. Add the chicken to the pan when the oil is up to temperature.
5. Brown the chicken on one side, and then flip it over.
5. Add the rosemary sprig and the corn starch liquid mixture.
6. Cook until liquid thickens up and chicken is done, 5-10 minutes.
Total Cost Cost Per Recipe
$1.54 Mezzetta Capers $.59
$5.28/pound Tyson Chicken breast $5.28
$1.98 Realemon Lemon Juice $.61
$3.95 Oak Leaf Pinot Grigio $.61
$1.18 Sweet Yellow Onion $1.18
$.58 whole garlic – 2 pack $.58
$3.68 Great Value Pure Olive Oil $.008
$1.00 Great Value Corn Starch $.02
$1.98 Gold Medal Unbleached Flour $.008
$2.24 Fresh Rosemary $.75
$23.41 $9.64 Per recipe
$2.41 Per plate (for 4 people)
Serve with sautéed zucchini ( $2.98 per pound, .75 per plate for 4 servings), and you have a total cost of $12.05 per meal and $3.16 per meal.
(All prices estimated from Walmart.com and will vary depending on store and location.)
Author Bio: Crystal is a native Montanan who loves to create. She has always been passionate about cooking, baking, and eating, and food has been a huge part of her family. She learned how to cook from her Grandmother (who learned to cook from her French Grandmother) and her Mother. Writing is her other passion, after her husband of course. She has a degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing. She writes at: www.simplyplayfulfare.com and you can find her on facebook at: www.facebook.com/SimplyPlayfulFare.