Healthy eating may be more accessible than some think. Research from Harvard reveals healthier diets cost $1.50 per day more than unhealthy diets. To create a nutritious, filling, and cost-effective diet, it’s important to make sure you’re getting the most calorie-dense foods at the cheapest price.
Rolled oats make a nutritious, filling and cheap breakfast which costs $0.09 per 100 calories. Make oatmeal with fruit, like apples ($0.28 per cup), bananas ($0.21 per cup) or pears ($0.42 per cup). A cup of cooked oats with a cup of sliced banana makes around a 300 calorie breakfast for $0.30. Buy seasonally (like berries in the summer and pears in the fall) to bring the cost down further. Alternatively, eggs amount to $0.19 per 100 calories and are a suitable breakfast option occasionally, but should be avoided if you’re concerned about cholesterol.
Healthy lunch ideas
Put together a sandwich with wheat bread (about 190 calories and $0.36 for two slices), grilled chicken breast (250 calories for roughly $1.25) and romaine lettuce (a few cents) and you have lunch for 440 calories at $1.50. Alternatively, make a bean salad with olive oil, dried herbs and lemon juice (about $0.10 altogether), a cup of spinach (about $0.50), and beans — beans are one of the cheapest foods per portion size. White, pinto and navy beans, range from $0.05 to $0.09 per 100 calories, which means you can eat a lot of fiber, protein, and antioxidant rich beans without spending a lot.
Dinner and dessert
A tasty, healthy dinner doesn’t have to cost more than one or two dollars. A salmon fillet or turkey breast for example cost $2 per 300-calories, eat with steamed potatoes ($0.19 per cup) and carrots ($0.25 per cup). Or make a meal with corn tortilla chips (very cheap, roughly $0.25 per serving), beans ($0.05), cheese ($0.10), lettuce and onion (a few cents) — at $0.40 for 300 calories. Eskimo ice cream is an unusual, yet tasty dessert using berries, vegetable shortening and sugar — roughly $0.25 per 300 calorie serving. Freeze bananas and blend them to make banana ice cream — a creamy, healthy and cheaper alternative to ice cream ( $0.08 per scoop).
Don’t forget about snacks! Half a peanut butter sandwich costs no more than roughly $0.50 for 200 calories. Oranges cost $0.34 per cup for 85 calories. Keeping meals simple and affordable may be easier than expected and can greatly reduce healthcare costs associated with poor diets later down the line.