The goal of this post is to allow you to prepare healthy meal options at $3/meal or less. If you eat 5 meals a day, you should be able to spend no more than $15 on your daily meal. So if you are concerned about money, budget $450-500/month for your healthy meal planning and use a few of these tops below to help you plan and prepare cost-effective meals.
I love to be healthy, but I’m not prepared to spend a fortune to stay healthy. Especially if I am in a position where I don’t have the funds to do so. And my local supermarket makes things pricey! So I wanted to share some meals that I take that cost less than $3 per meal. I’ll share the ingredients as well.
Chicken Drumsticks – $3/kg (Approximately 6 drumsticks to a kilogram)
I bought 30 and it cost me $15. So it worked out that roughly 10 chicken drumsticks would cost me $5. Or 50 cents per drumstick.
Cucumber – $2 for a large stick
I find cucumbers easy to eat and fairly filling if I eat it enough of it. I will usually eat 1/3rd in a meal. This makes the serving at just under 70 cents per serving.
Sometimes, I can find it on special for $1 per stick, which brings the cost down to 30 cents per serving.
1 Chicken drumstick + 1/3rd celery stick = $1.30
Cabbage – $4 for an entire head.
An entire head of cabbage can be fairly inexepensive. Try to pick one up for $2-4 and chop it so that it can be boiled and stewed. Ideally, you will be able to get up to 10 meals from the cabbage head, which works out to 40 cents per meal.
1kg carrots – $1.50
There are several carrots in a bunch. You will probably end up consuming 1-2 in a meal. They can easily be grated, chopped and stewed. You will probably consume around 100g of carrots in a meal, meaning that your food cost will come to 15 cents per serving.
Rump steak – $2.20 per serving
It is expensive at face-value, but when you break it down into your meal plan, it is actually quite cost effective. You will need to buy your meat in bulk. I aim to get the meat at a bulk price of $10.99/kg or less. At the moment, I will usually consume 200g or less of rump steak in a meal.
If I purchase a 5kg steak, I should be able to get 25 meals from it. So I aim to spend around $55 for the meat.
This works out to be $2.20 per serving.
Edamame – $1.80 per 400g
I purchase the shelled Edamame from the Japanese supermarket. I like how it is quick, low in carbs and high in protein. And that it can be eaten as a snack or as a complimentary side-dish with a meal.
I will aim to consume 50g per serving. There is usually 400g in a packet.
This will give me 8 meals. The cost per serving is $0.23 per serving.
Coconut milk – $2
I aim to purchase a 1L box of coconut milk at $2. I will consume this in my smoothies. I will usually measure 130mL to make a 1 glass smoothie mix, which usually consists of my protein powder, half of a banana and berries.
A 1L box will give me 7-8 servings. This works out to $0.30 per serving.
10Lb (4.55kg) protein powder – $160 (149 scoops)
This one is my meal replacement. I take the chocolate one from Optimium Nutrition because I love the taste when I mix it in my smoothie. 24 grams of protein. 4 grams of carbs, of which 1 g is sugar.
The cost per serving comes to $1.07. I could have this with water, which would make the cost exactly as it is. However, I tend to mix it with 130mL of coconut milk, half of a banana and some frozen berries. So the complete smoothie cost I’d estimate to be under $2.50 per serving. Depending on my diet and the macro intake that I need for the day, I will have 2-3 of these per day.
Whiting fish fillets – $10 for 10kg.
I really like to eat whiting. So if you are looking for a fairly inexpensive fish solution, whiting is definitely one that you can consider. You will usually get 10 in a packet, so you can split it into 10 meals. You can then bake or stew the fish.
Additional things to consider.
Also note, this doesn’t include the preparation time or the amount of electricity that’s used to prepare the meals.
To minimise the electricity cost, I would recommend cooking everything in the oven in bulk. However, if you have access to an open fire, you could easily cook the food under the fire, which is free.
Alternatively, you could prepare all of the chicken on an open coal barbecue, which would reduce your costs even further. However it will take more time to prepare.
The reason I wrote this is because I use to make excuses for not being able to afford to eat healthily. But if you plan things properly, you will be able to do so without spending so much.
I usually work to a budget of $400 per month in food shopping, however I believe that this cost can be significantly reduced to around $200-300 a month simply by shopping for the right types of foods.
I hope that you have found this helpful. And if there’s any other things that you feel people should know about, please suggest them in the comments.
Thanks for reading.