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How to Eat Healthy on $25 a Week

You don’t have to break the bank to eat well

When I was in my first semester of college, I made some poor choices pertaining to how I spent my money. In the beginning, I didn’t think twice about going out to eat with friends every week, grabbing four dollar coffees on the way to class, or paying two dollars for a granola bar when I was starving after cross-country practice and hadn’t packed a snack.

About a month into college, I realized I had already spent hundreds of dollars on food and drinks alone. Something needed to change, and fast.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with spending a little extra money on food once in a while for the atmosphere or social experience, but I was making it a habit, and it was a luxury that my minimum wage summer camp job had not afforded me. I had textbooks and tuition to cover, and I needed to be more efficient with my money.

So, I figured out a way to eat healthy, delicious meals on 25 dollars a week. It seems impossible, but I assure you that it can be done. Here’s how I made it happen.


The Ingredients

The following is an example of everything I buy from the store (I shop at Kroger) when I’m doing a 25 dollar grocery week:

  • One container of Kroger brand quick 1-minute oats ($2.49)
  • One jar of Kroger brand natural creamy peanut butter ($1.79)
  • One pound of fresh strawberries ($2.50)
  • One 16 oz box of Kroger brand 100% whole grain thin spaghetti ($1.00)
  • Two 14 oz containers of simple truth organic firm tofu ($1.79 each)
  • Newman’s Own 24 oz marinara pasta sauce ($2.69)
  • Two cans of Kroger brand black beans ($0.79 each)
  • Mission 24 count corn tortillas street tacos ($1.79)
  • About two pounds of bananas ($0.98)
  • Two avocados ($0.99 each)
  • Fresh broccoli ($1.03)
  • One loaf Nature’s Own 100% whole wheat sliced bread ($3.49)

Grand total: $24.90


The Meals

It may not seem like much, but you can actually make a ton of different dishes using these basic staples. Plus, many of these foods will carry you over to the next week, so you can keep adding more variety to your meals as you go.

For example, that one container of Kroger oats has about 30 servings, so you won’t have to buy it again for another month, and you can use that money elsewhere.

I use this strategy regularly. Within a month, my fridge and pantry are well stocked, and I’ve only spent about 100 dollars. But, until you reach that point, here are some various meals you can make with just the above groceries.


Breakfast

For breakfast, I’m a creature of habit, and I eat the same thing pretty often. I almost always have a bowl of oats with peanut butter and fruit, so the first three ingredients from the list are all I need to get me through a week of breakfasts.

But, if I ever want to switch it up, I’ll go for a couple of slices of bread topped with peanut butter and banana or avocado. It’s a simple and quick option, and it can also be used as a snack throughout the day if you get hungry between meals.

Lunch

For lunch, I’ll either have a tofu scramble with the tofu, broccoli, and seasonings I have on hand, or some of the street tacos with tofu, beans, and a bit of marinara sauce (just think of it as tomatoes and seasonings).

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Once you’ve been shopping on 25 dollars a week for a few weeks, you’ll be able to collect some other goods such as salsa and more veggies, which will really help spice up your meals.

Or, if you can budget even 5–10 more dollars for food each week, you can really make it go far by purchasing other inexpensive healthy foods.

For example, sweet potatoes cost less than a dollar each, but they can provide you a whole new option for lunch, and they’re packed full of nutrients.


Dinner

For dinner, you can either use one of the lunch options I mentioned, or make one of my favorite simple, healthy meals — pasta. All you need for this is the noodles, broccoli, and marinara sauce. Boil up the noodles, steam the broccoli, heat up the sauce, and you’ve got a delicious dinner in minutes.

I also like to occasionally top my pasta with some cooked tofu for extra protein, but that step is optional. Either way, this meal is healthy, inexpensive, and a dish that I never get tired of.

Dessert

For dessert, I love to freeze my bananas in chunks, and then make banana nice cream by blending them in my mini food processor with the tiniest splash of almond milk or water. This makes the consistency incredibly thick and creamy. I top it off with a peanut butter drizzle or some chocolate chips, and it’s the perfect summer treat.

There are also a ton of healthy dessert recipes you can make with oatmeal as the base. I often grind up oats in my NutriBullet blender to make oat flour for a lot of recipes. If you’re interested in purchasing one, you can use my Amazon affiliate link here (this means I receive a small commision on any purchase you make through the link, at no additional cost to you). It’s a great cost effective high speed blender, and I love using it to make nutrient packed smoothies as well.


General tips for saving money on food.

I understand that everyone’s likes and dislikes are unique. What if you can’t stand bananas? Or tofu? That’s ok, I’ve got you covered with some more general tips that can help you save hundreds of dollars on food.

  • Buy generic brand products — they’re almost always cheaper than the name brand ones. And 9 times out of 10, the ingredients lists are almost exactly the same, and you can’t taste the difference.
  • Buy in bulk quantities — buying in bulk for foods that you eat a lot of will save you money. Typically, as the quantity you’re buying increases, the cost decreases.
  • Limit eating out — eating out can be incredibly expensive, so if it’s not in your budget, try to limit it as much as possible. You could try making it a special thing that you only do once or twice a month.
  • Buy unprocessed foods — it’s typically the processed and packaged foods that are the most expensive (and the least healthy). So, avoid these at all costs.
  • Get versatile ingredients — if you can buy versatile foods that can be used in many ways, such as bananas, you will keep your total cost down while still having the ability to create a wide variety of meals. That’s a double win.
  • Save money by scanning your receipt — this is a crazy easy way to save money on groceries that you’re already buying. If you download ibotta from the app store, you can load rewards for various groceries, and then scan your receipts to receive cash back on those grocery items. All you have to do is make an account (it’s completely free!). I started using ibotta in college, and if you’d like to use my referral code, it’s: ttbhgde (this also links us to the same team to work towards team goals for bonuses, which you can read about here). You can also easily sign up here if you’re not on a mobile device, and put ttbhgde in the referral code box.

Final Thoughts

While budgeting may be a difficult and overwhelming task, it’s an important skill to master. It helps immensely when you break it down into smaller categories, but food is one that is easily neglected. It can quickly suck up all of your savings, just like it started to do to me in college. But, with the tips and tricks I’ve shared, you’ll be tucking away that hard earned cash for safe keeping in no time.

Source : Medium

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