Eating CAN be expensive. There are many factors that go into the production, processing, and sale of food; ultimately, influencing it's price. However, there are low-cost options available to stay full and nourished each week without emptying your pockets.
1st: Limit the amount of meals from restaurants each week. Restaurants provide a fee for customer service and labor on top of their food sales. Therefore, these establishments can charge more for the food they sell. On average, a restaurant meal costs between $8-$20 after tax. At that rate, 3 meals from a restaurant in a day would come to $24-$60. One meal out each day per week comes out $56-$140. Eating all your meals from restaurants could sum up to $168-$420 at the end of the week.
2nd: Utilize your local grocery stores. Visit different grocery stores in various areas hunting for price differences between stores on the same products. Some stores charge significantly more for products across the board, while others might only have higher costs on select items (such as produce [fruits and vegetables]). Additionally, there may be similar versions of a product available at a lower price (fresh vegetables vs frozen or canned). Choose retailers that have the food(s) you want at a price that works for you.
3rd: Choose foods to fuel your lifestyle. What types of food and meals do you really like? What are you craving? What will keep you full and happy when you need a meal or snack? What are your cooking skills and capabilities like? How much food do you need for “X” amount of time? Based on the answers to these questions, choose foods and ingredients you can make delicious and filling meals/snacks with.
4th: consider the balance of your current diet. Does your diet include all the food groups (protein, grains, dairy, fruits, and vegetables)? Does your diet include too much of one group? Does your diet include enough energy to support your activity level, or too much?
5th: make changes and repeat! Dietary change is an ongoing process. There are many factors in selecting, purchasing, and preparing food that can alter our selection and consumption of certain products. If you find that something in your diet is not working how you’d like, change it! See below for some healthy meal and snack ideas!
Balanced, Convenient, and Low-Cost Meal & Snack Ideas:
1.) Sandwiches, Wraps, and Tacos
2.) Grain Bowls, Pasta Dishes, and Stir-fry
3.) Bread, Fruit, and Vegetables + a Dip