Who says eating healthy has to be expensive…or that it’s only for the elite or wealthy? Well, I’m here to report that our family is far from wealthy, but we eat traditionally-prepared foods and whole foods most of the time. In fact, we started a new business last year (solar installation and sales), and we’ve been on a tight budget since May or 2009. Let’s just say solar sales and installs this time of year are slow. Non-existent, in fact.
For some reason people don’t think about solar in the winter, even though existing solar systems on homes and businesses provide people with plenty of power and savings. But I digress…so, the only things we spend money on are our bills, food, gas, and basic necessities. Nothing else. We have to live within a fixed budget for everything.
Today I was sitting here contemplating all the meals I’ve prepared out of my pasture-raised chicken. The chicken is about 4.5 pounds and cost me just over $21. I was able to make 4 meals out of this chicken by roasting it in the oven, and then using the carcass to make bone broth and eventually add back in chicken, rice, and more vegetables for soup.
The total cost per meal (to feed 3 people each time) was just over $9.00. That includes vegetables, seasonings, butter, salad dressing, rice, and bread. The first night, we had roasted chicken with salad and potatoes with butter. The next three meals we are having chicken soup with vegetables, salad, and bread with butter – or we could stagger our soup and eat it every other meal (for variety), or freeze.
Here’s four meals and the cost analysis for each:
1. Roasted chicken, assorted vegetables, and rice:
- Pasture-raised chicken, $21.00
- Four organic carrots, about .69
- Three organic celery stalks, .55
- One small organic onion, .41
- One and a half packages of organic frozen vegetables for soup – $3.00
- 3 small russet potatoes – 1.39
- 1 1/2 cups of germinated brown rice – .50
- One head organic green leaf lettuce – $1.99
- A few big leaves of organic swiss chard – .75
- Slices organic cucumber for salad – .35
- Silver Hills organic, sprouted grain bread slices with soup (optional) – .75
- Organic butter for bread (optional) – .75
- Homemade salad dressing with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and balsamic vinegar -.25
- Seasonings – marginal cost
Total for one person, $3.07; for three people, $9.23 (per meal, totaling four meals)
2. Scrambled eggs with butter, broccoli, and organic salsa:
- 2 pasture-raised eggs, $1.20
- organic butter, .25
- organic broccoli, .75
- organic salsa (store bought), .50
Total for one person, $2.90; three people, $8.10.
3. Tacos with ground beef and beans:
- Organic grass-fed ground beef – $7 /lb, for not quite 2 pounds (this will produce leftovers for another meal)
- Organic, sprouted corn tortillas – $1.75
- Shredded raw, organic Monterey Jack Cheese – 1.45
- Organic leaf lettuce – .75
- Organic salsa, store-bought – .65
- Organic pinto beans cooked with bacon drippings – .90
Total for one person $6.25; three people, $18.75, and we will have leftover meat for another meal
4. Glazed pork chops with salad and vegetables:
- Pasture-raised pork chops (3) – $10.12
- 1 package organic vegetables for sautee – $2.29
- Organic salad greens – $1.00
- Assorted fresh vegetables for salad – cucumbers, broccoli, carrots, celery, bell peppers, celery – $1.50
- Home-made salad dressing w/olive oil and vinegar – .25
- Butter for vegetables – .35
- Maple syrup, mustard, olive oil for glaze – .50
- Seasonings – marginal cost
Total for one person, $5.33; for all three people, $16.01
Grand total – $79.79 cents for 7 meals, and leftover ground beef for one more meal. Average cost per meal: $11.39 each time three people sit down to eat (per person, $3.79).
Wow, I was stunned with the results! We are officially eating healthy, traditional food for really not much more than it would cost to go to a fast-food restaurant and eat the garbage they sell there. Is that incredibly amazing, or what? So it’s true, it’s not impossible to be on a budget and eat healthy!
Now, of course there would be some differences if you had a larger family, you would certainly spend more. Let’s say you doubled the amount we spent for 7+ meals, you would spend $159.58. But that’s still the same cost per person – so that part hasn’t changed. And everyone has to eat, so it might as well be healthy.
More ideas for eating healthy and saving money?
Do you have some good ideas for saving money on real food? Please share them!
This article is linked to at Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays carnival. Please visit her site and read all the other great real food posts there.