How to eat healthy for less than $5 a day

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I know a lot of people are looking for ways to cut costs in their life, so I figured I’d show you how to eat healthy on a tight budget.

I went to the grocery store with just $35 planning to eat for a full week, and we came back with a ton of good, healthy food and some change!

Daily meal plan for eating healthy on a budget

Breakfast

  • 3 eggs cooked however you like
  • 1 bowl of oatmeal
  • water/coffee to drink

Snack 1

  • 6 oz milk
  • 1 banana

Lunch

  • 1/4 lb beef cooked with beans (or make a burger)
  • spinach salad

Snack 2

  • 6 oz milk
  • 1 apple

Dinner

  • 1 can of tuna
  • 3/4 cup of rice
  • steamed broccoli

If you’re looking to stay thin or lose a few lbs, while saving some money you could EASILY eat this diet everyday for 3-4 weeks.

What do you guys think?  Are there any foods I should have added?  Also let me know if you like the video, I’m thinking of doing more video blog posts!  Leave me a comment below

Train Hard!

-Vic

Gym Junkies

I’m Terry I’m here to help you achieve the body you want. I truly believe anyone can achieve the figure they want, with the proper guidance. Through my eBook I have been able to help thousands of people online lose weight, tone up and get in shape. My goals are to continue to help people all around the world and change people’s life for the better.

37 Comments

  • avatar

    Prices vary depending where you live, but you make a good point. STOP BUYING LUNCH OUT and prepare your own food!

    Good choices for the price you spent.

  • avatar

    Obviously if you’re trying to put on muscle you should eat protein but i was wondering if you could give an example like this for someone who is trying to put on muscle. much appreciated

  • avatar

    That was great, just the thing to fill in the 10 minutes while I ate my lunch. The only thing I would have changed was the rice to brown rice, which at least in Australia is generally cheaper. Now if only I could get you using the metric system so I didn’t have to do maths while you were talking :)

    Finally things like rice are cheaper in bulk, same with the oats. I pay about 99c for 2kgs (4 or 5 pounds) of oats and and buy 20kg (44pound) bags of rice for about $10 (works out to about 22c a pound of rice). Pay the big bucks once and then live on it for months.

  • avatar

    Great video! I’m forwarding it to my friends who claim that eating healthy is just too expensive.

    The only thing different I would suggest buying dry beans and cooking them – dry beans are a much better bang for the buck.

  • avatar

    Great post Vic. Eating healthy does not have to be expensive. I agree with Leah. A lot of people say that healthy eating is too expensive but I think it’s a quite common misconception. Using McDonalds as an example you can cook a larger, more nutritious meal for the price of a value meal. I think people just like to use this excuse to avoid healthy eating as it is quite popular and widely accepted.

  • avatar

    I agree with the idea that eating healthy does not need to be expensive at all but the meal plan provided is not sufficient protein or calorie wise for a 200 pound man with an active lifestyle (training 3-5 times/week).

    So maybe it is $50/week or so. But still, this is an excellent post and point made.

  • avatar

    Great video, Vic! Entertaining and informative. You’re right, that tuna is gonna’ be funky, but you make a great point! Also, if you went to the co-op you should be able to squeeze in a few nuts with those last 3 dollars! :)

  • avatar

    Is it safe to eat 3 eggs a day everyday for 3 to 4 weeks? Thank you.

  • avatar

    Israel: Right on about prices varying by location. Cost of living here in Columbus, Ohio is admittedly lower than many parts of the U.S.

    Curt: Like Dave mentions below, you’re probably going to have to bump the budget up a bit to put on muscle.

    Patrick: Great point about buying in bulk. If we shot the video with a monthly budge, we definitely would have gone with bulk for the carbohydrate sources.

    Leah: No doubt dry beans are going to be better from a cost standpoint. Thanks!

    Tom: Hell yeah! I shopped for the whole day – 3 meals and 2 snacks – for less than the price of a value meal.

    Dave: Great point. I agree the budge would have to be expanded a bit depending on individual nutritional needs. I think you’re spot on in that it could still be done for $50 per week.

    Julie: I’m a big fan of almonds and walnuts especially, but they are unfortunately on the pricey side. Thanks for mentioning co-ops as a possible cost effective source.

    Rommel: Opinions differ as to the health benefits/detriments of eggs. For a great source on specific nutritional information check out our friend Antonio at http://www.healthyurbankitchen.com.

  • avatar

    I love this…

    I’m from Europe so naturally I haven’t seen a US supermarket – now I have!

    Nice insights, keep it up Vic, love the blog.

    Alex

  • avatar

    @ Curt – Check out the meal plan in our muscle building article… http://www.gymjunkies.com/build-muscle/

    Thats prolly more on par with what you are looking for if youre looking to put on some size.

  • avatar

    @ Rommel – If you wanted you could switch to egg whites (buy them premade in a carton). This would get rid of most of the cholesterol in eggs that I’m assuming you are worried about….

    -Vic

  • avatar

    This is a great post!

    Very useful

    cheers!

  • avatar

    i couldnt eat the same thing everyday for 3-4 weeks, Id go nuts.

    Tuna is my cheap food staple. its good with anything

    Kelly Turner
    http://www.everygymsnightmare.com

  • avatar

    Thank you so much, vic. yes it’s the cholesterol in the eggs that i am talking about.

  • avatar

    My wife and I often buy stuff in bulk, cook it and freeze individual portions. When we get home from work or dancing we are often too stuffed to want to cook, whip out a pre-made dinner from the freezer, cook some rice or pasta and dinner is served, healthy and delicious. We aspire to Once a Month Cooking (oamc) or even once a week cooking (oawc) but haven’t got there just yet.
    http://www.frugalmom.net/once_a_month_cooking.htm

  • avatar

    Cool video Vic! This should shut up a lot of whiners. I dont see how you can make it more easier for people to eat well. If after this they dont then well….
    Definately more videos!

  • avatar

    @ Kira – Thanks buddy!

    @ Kelly – Tuna is great, too many people avoid it which is a shame.

    @ Patrick – Thanks for the link Patrick. Once a month cooking would really take some planning, but would be totally worth it if you could pull it off.

    @ Sangita – Alright, more videos it is!

  • avatar

    Enjoyed the video. You look like you’ve been filmed a lot, very confident. Not sure the cashier felt the same tho! hehe!

    I love any tinned fish, so quick and easy.

    I’d have to stretch to bit of chicken every week tho ;) And lamb…lol But you did great for your budget. With the extra $3 I’d probably add in some carrots or tomatoes for the colour and different nutrients.

    tusc :D

  • avatar

    Asian markets are wonderful for healthy alternatives. I’m based in Chicago and can find sushi rice for about $1/lb. in Koreatown. Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef) is also very cheap; and fruits and veggies are a steal! Don’t be afraid to explore the “ethnic” neighborhoods of your city. Chances are there’s much to be discovered there.

  • avatar

    I’ve toyed with the idea of a budget diet solely from a calorie restriction standpoint. I’ve lived in LA and Phoenix, and though I never worked out the math on it, I always thought it would be interesting if I only gave myself so much MONEY to whittle down per day, rather than CALORIES. Sort of a “I couldn’t possibly gain any weight if I only spend this much on food per day” type mindset.

    Of course, I was a busy actor dork at the time and the free craft service threw a wrench in the machine, but it was a fun thought experiment.

    Now I’m living in Wisconsin, so I’m betting my grocery prices are pretty similar to your own. I’m going to try this out! Thanks!

  • avatar

    Sorry for the double-comment, but I had a question.

    I checked the calorie content for the meal plan prescribed, and it actually hits within spitting-distance of my 1500 goal on low days.

    I’m doing 3-low 1-high calorie zig-zaggin’, and my high day is roughly 3000 calories. Would you suggest simply doubling portion sizes? Obviously my high-day would result in breaking the budget, but basically I was just curious if you had a health+budget conscious way of ramping up calories?

  • avatar

    @D-Rock: Many thanks for the tip on Asian markets. I lived in S. Korea for a year and love Bulgogi!

    @Eric: Sure, you could simply double the portions to meet your particular nutrition goals. But if you’re going to break the budget anyway, might as well get some different types of food to eat!

  • avatar

    Great post, nice idea.
    After reading Rambodoc’s, came here to see what you had to say, the word junkie suggested it might be for people who like to be told, in short, what to do about such things. your diet plan should be easy to follow – except – 1) don’t you think it is way too much protein? 2) how should a 40 year old tone it down? 3) people living in no meat region, what could they substitute for beef and fish? 4) what’s substitute for broccoli? any green? 5) why is it important to measure ounces of milk? how does that translate in terms of litres or glasses? :)
    I know, a salvo? But, I asked because it seemed sensible and fast -like, I don’t evn have to pin the list on the wall to remembr!

  • avatar

    @ Rolling: 1) Is it way too much protein? Depends on your current body composition, training goals, and caloric expenditure. For me, at 160lbs training 3 – 5 days per week, I don’t think it’s too much protein. For you, maybe so. 2) I don’t know if age is as much of a factor as the other factors I addressed previously. By the way, I’m 37. 3) Typical vegetarian sources of protein such as beans and rice and soy products should suffice. 4) Man, it’s tough to beat broccoli. If I had to stick to this budget, I don’t know what I’d substitute. 5) The only reason I measured the milk was to split the gallon evenly across 7 days.

    Keep in mind also, that I am not saying that the foods that I bought are ideal. I’m just saying that if you had to eat on less than $5 per day you could do it and maintain a higher level of nutrition than most (at least by American standards).

  • avatar

    Dude, this is pretty awesome. A lot of people don’t think like this, myself included.

    Granted, I don’t think this is something that most would stick with for a long time but it provides a great strategy to saving a few pennies and cutting few calories if you need to.

    Thanks for the insights.

    Donovan “DFitnessguy” Owens
    http://twitter.com/dfitnessguy

  • avatar

    Thank you so much for this video… I know what I should buy but I never know what quantity will equal what total. Thank you for testing it out. I do think I might buy in bigger bulk to last longer for cheaper… like I said in my email to you. I bought 60 eggs for 6 bucks on sale and it will last me over 3 weeks if the eggs keep well. I already have rice. I did add Lentils. I have only one can of beans. I also bought spices, corn tortillas (I know they are not good for you but I need a treat once in awhile to liven up the beans) I need to go back and get veggies. I also want to do a glass of wine like 3 times a week. Good for heart. Thats about it. I hope you get to check out my channel on you tube too. youtube.com/dvdvanity. See you online… keep the videos coming, I’ll be looking for them.
    -David Vanity

    • avatar

      @David: Thanks for the comment. I think lentils are a great addition. And I do love some red wine! I’ll be sure to check out your YouTube channel. Thanks again!

  • avatar

    Thanks for this post Vic – way cool!

  • avatar

    Vic, I appreciate the effort…but this shopping trip seems like a single joint movement to me. In other words, we don’t eat in a vacuum. Most of us have families to feed. And no matter what people say, it IS expensive to eat healthy: you were not able to purchase more veggies, flax seed, almonds, etc…let alone “grain-finished” beef. I am a mother of 5… I don’t buy 89 cent boxes of brand X mac and cheese…but it sure would be cheaper if I did. On the otber hand, you can save a lot of money when you don’t buy doritos, gatorade, brownie mix, etc.
    Thank goodness for bananas, bagged apples, and dried legumes.
    I’m new to your site and am thrilled with all your how-to videos. Thanks.

  • avatar

    I buy a whole roasted chicken ($4.99 at Kroger), shred it up, and keep it in the fridge to use throughout the week. I use the bones and skin to make broth, which you can freeze for later.

    I make:

    -wraps with lo-carb tortillas, spinach, and salsa or lite mayo/dressing
    -BBQ sandwiches
    -chicken/spinach/walnut salad w/lite dressing
    -chicken noodle soup
    -I even throw some chicken in with my ramen noodles

    I also keep blueberries and carrots in the fridge at work for snacks.

    • avatar

      Yum! Great tips, Jane. Thanks!

  • avatar

    I think your post is very good, and it’s possible to make a day menu for $5 (though $7 a day might be more like it-seeing the great increase that food prices have incured). I do believe that to make it tasty and varied, requires great thought and planning. Like, buying in bulk, and freezing meals.

    Maybe there could be assumptions for what’s in a person ‘s pantry & fridge olive oil, spices, eggs, and milk) These are items that are relatively inexpensive, and are used in many applicatioins. Also, it’s summer now for folks in the US. We should take advantage of possibly growing our own fruits and veggies, or getting them at fair prices at a fruit and vegetable mart. A weird tip from me is to buy nuts at a pharmacy. They are always on sale as a lot of elderly people (they go to the pharmacy a lot!) eat nuts as snacks.

    • avatar

      Thanks for the tip on the nuts. I’ll have to look in to that!

  • avatar

    Another Karin? lol.

    You really need to try hitting the frozen aisle for your veggies, (and possibly meat).

  • avatar

    I just priced it up with NYC FreshDirect.com prices and it came to $63. But it’s hardly a newsflash that New York is expensive and $9/day is still pretty awesome.

    I could also bargain hunt but I was curious to see how it priced out at lazy shopper rates.

  • avatar

    I hear many excuses for eating a healthy diet and cost is right behind “I have a slow matobolism.” I love to take my clients to the grocery store and show them how anyone can stay as lean as they want shopping at walmart. Its not about shopping at Whole Foods. You just need the right information. You have some of the staples listed of a good clean diet! Thanks I will pass this site on to my readers and clients.

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