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10 Healthy Meals That Probably Won’t Break Your Budget

Eating healthy is a good deal on two counts: first, if you're eating healthy, your food bill will be much lower than if you adopt a "see-food" diet (i.e. you see food, you eat it). This is largely due to the fact that you aren't eating a bunch of crap-frankenfood that has ingredients that you cannot pronounce. Secondly, a healthy diet should, by definition, keep you healthy. Barring some catastrophic mishap, you shouldn't be getting fat and sick in your old age and developing diabetes, heart disease, or any other chronic and expensive illness.

That last statement might have confused you, because you've probably been told that there are some illnesses that are "genetic" and out of your control. For example, heart disease. This is genetic isn't it? If your mom has it, your grandmother has it, your grandfather has it, three of your uncles has it, that means you'll probably have heart problems at some point, right?

Well, it's not that simple. You might have a genetic predisposition to developing heart disease (or something equally nasty), but do you know what that means? All that means is that you have a greater chance of developing heart disease if, and that is the key word, if there is an environmental trigger.

In other words, if you eat an unhealthy diet and live an unhealthy lifestyle, then your risk of developing heart disease is greater than someone without a genetic predisposition. Other people are more resistant to this chronic illness. That's it. It does not mean you will develop heart disease. It does not mean you're helpless.

Why am I spending so much time on a finance blog talking about health and nutrition? Listen folks, this stuff is key. Health insurance, health care, and the pharmaceutical business are some of the biggest industries in the economy. If you screw up your health, you're going to pay through the nose when you get older. All of that time spent accumulating a savings will be for naught. That's why I'm talking about health on a finance blog.

The problem is that what constitutes "health" in this country is not actually healthy. Therefore, if I just gave you a list of what I consider "healthy" foods without explaining myself, you'll probably think I'm nuts. The backdrop for these healthy meals is the "paleo" approach to diet.

For the last 14 years I have been eating an Atkins-type diet (yes, THE Robert Atkins "low-carb" way of eating). High protein. High fat. Lots of saturated fat. Over the past two years I've refined my diet into a more "paleo"-type diet. The result?

Unlike most people, I have blood tests to demonstrate that this diet hasn't killed me. In fact, it appears to be quite a healthy diet:

My Blood Tests
My blood tests

OK, now onto the healthy meals:

Steak and Potatoes

This is a classic. It doesn't need to be expensive either. Yes, steak can be pricey. However, there are two ways to get around this. You can either buy beef in bulk or you can purchase steak from one of those shopping club warehouse stores (you know the ones). Beef that you buy in bulk (i.e. 1/4 or 1/2 of a cow at a time):

steak and potatoes
steak and potatoes

Chicken Sandwich

A real chicken sandwich. Load it up with cheese, lettuce, bacon, and homemade ranch dressing:

Double Down
a real chicken sandwich!

Burger Heaven

This is no heart-stopper. In fact, as hard as this may be to believe, this is one of the healthiest ways to eat a hamburger. No bun, and lotsa bacon, smoked gouda, and homemade mayo on top! (yes, that's cottage cheese  with a few strawberries in the middle):

hamburger heaven
hamburger heaven

Broccoli Soup

Broccoli soup doesn't have to be expensive or complicated. Broccoli, salt, some cheddar cheese, and a little paprika to taste. That's it:

broccoli soup
broccoli soup

Chicken & Broccoli

I made this chicken by grilling it in a cast iron pan, then de-glazing the pan and adding some balsamic vinegar. The cheese sauce is a cream cheese and cheddar cheese sauce. A lb of cream cheese, some cheddar (I don't remember how much), and then heavy cream to give it the consistency of a cheese-like sauce. That's it:

chicken with broccoli
chicken with broccoli

Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs don't sound like a meal, until you eat an entire plate-full of them. Homemade mayo, mustard, a little horseradish to taste, and paprika:

deviled eggs
deviled eggs

Chicken Madras and Cauliflower

There's lots of ways to make chicken madras. I used pre-made seasoning from the store and mixed it into a traditional yogurt and tomato base. Instead of rice, I used mashed cauliflower:

Chicken madras with cauliflower
chicken madras with cauliflower

Big-Ass Salad

You can pretty much put whatever you want in these things, and they're amazing. Homemade ranch dressing:

big ass salad
big ass salad

Big-Ass Omelet

What's a big ass salad without a big-ass omelet? 4 very large eggs makes for a very big omelet. Made this for dinner, but you could have this for breakfast if you wanted to. Stuff it with whatever you want:

big ass omelet
big ass omelet

Stuffed Peppers

Tacos are out on a paleo-type diet, but that doesn't mean you can't have stuffed peppers. Make tacos as you ordinarily would, just use bell peppers to get all that meaty goodness to your mouth instead of a taco shell. This time around, I made mine a little light, but I kept the important stuff (sour cream, taco meat, and cheese!):

stuffed peppers taco
stuffed peppers (taco)

All of these meals can be made for $5-7 or less. You may have to get creative with the shopping list or use a coupon or two, depending on where you live and the local cost of food, That may sound expensive for a meal, but consider this: most of these meals are very large. Those burgers, for example, are 1lb of meat. Can you eat a pound of meat in one sitting? I can. But, many people cannot. If you're like me, you eat one or maybe two meals a day. That makes these meals relatively cheap. If you're not like me, then you'll get two meals out of these, and that still makes these meals cheap. 

What's better is that you have an excellent chance of avoiding some nasty, chronic, illnesses (and the related health care costs) as you get older. All this from eating healthy. Imagine that.

If you have any cool, healthy but cheap, recipes then post them up in the comments. I'd love to read about them.

This entry was posted on November 23rd, 2011 by David C Lewis, RFC. Edits may have been made to keep this entry current. · 1 Comment · Budgeting & Money Management

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One Comment so far ↓

  • Terra

    Eating this type of diet, what do you estimate your average monthly grocery expense to be? Also, time is money, so how much time do you spend on food preparation?

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