How to Eat Healthy When You’re Broke

Updated

A lot of people have the misconception that you need money to eat healthy. The truth of the matter is, it’s not impossible to lose weight and feel better overall when you’re broke. It all boils down to your perception of eating.

In reality, you don’t need fad diet plans, excessive exercise or nutritional supplements to fine-tune your body. While some products may make things easier, most of them are in the health industry to make money.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. However, you can eat healthy when your broke without jumping into some of these weird starvation or paleo diets. Or even ordering your meals to come shipped to your door.




Understand Proper Portion Sizes

First and foremost, you need to understand proper portion sizes.

Take a bag of skinless chicken breasts from Walmart. Each breast is between seven to nine ounces after being cooked in an air fryer. Each breast is actually two or more servings worth of meat.

Now let’s say we pick up a 5lb bag from Walmart for $10.96. This is roughly 20 actual servings of chicken at 4 ounces each. This breaks down to nearly $0.55 per portion of chicken. But, we need something to go with it.

What if we add proper serving sizes of instant potatoes? The Idahoan Baby Reds Roasted Garlic and Parmesan packet is only $1.48. It makes four servings at 1/2 cup each. This breaks down to $0.37 each serving.

Combined, this is a serving of chicken and potatoes for about $0.92 and ranges around 220 calories.

My point is that many people overeat without realizing it. Part of this is because of how manufacturers package their products. Look at Progresso Soup. Technically it’s two servings per can…but not everyone will only eat half of the package.

If you stick to proper portion sizes in your dining, you’ll find you can add all kinds of things to a meal without breaking the bank. Just keep in mind you don’t need to pile it on a plate to call it dinner.

Learn to Cook

Want to really save money in the long run? Pick up a recipe book and develop your own dishes. Cooking for yourself and your family is far cheaper than trying to buy pre-packaged goods on a budget.

We live in a world where most people want things quick and easy. Remember those potatoes I mentioned above? You could save even more money if you prepare them yourself.

The problem a lot of people have is laziness…and I am also lumping myself into this pool. A good and healthy meal requires a great deal of work when you’re broke.

The trade-off is eating for less while providing a far more nutritious experience. Well, I guess that really depends on what you’re preparing.

Personally, I’d rather have my chicken, cheese, onions and pesto dish than anything I can buy at the store. Speaking of which, I better pull the chicken out of the freezer if I want to cook it tonight.

It’s a dish that costs less than a dollar to make and fills me up.

Eat Less Pasta

One of the staples for many is eating a lot of pastas when they’re broke. This is because things like macaroni and cheese or the Michelina’s dishes are only $1 and puts food in the stomach.

Pasta is relatively cheap and simple to make.

However, these are also some of the worst things you can eat if you’re watching your weight.

Don’t get me wrong, pastas like this are my guilty pleasure. The problem is the number of calories and carbs in each dish. If you’re not active enough to burn those carbs, they can easily turn into fat.

In reality, I started losing a lot of weight once I switched to Progresso Soups instead of Chef Boyardee. Which is sad because I love ravioli and beefaroni styles.

Then again, I also love living and not being 290 pounds.

It’s OK to eat pasta…just keep your portions logical. For instance, you can add a small portion to the chicken I mentioned above to give you some more substance at dinner.




Grow Your Own Food?

Obviously growing your own food is cheaper in the long run. But not everyone has a green thumb or the square footage to have a full-blown vegetable garden. And what do you do throughout the winter months?

In many instances, this isn’t the most ideal way to supplement your shopping. Too many people online seem to think that everyone who is broke has the square footage for a garden space.

If you have pets, it’s increasingly difficult to grow anything that can offset the grocery bill.

However, there are many advantages to growing your own food if you can. Aside from the obvious of saving money, you can make sure you’re eating GMO and chemical-free.

I like growing basil and melons. Even though my melons this year are a bit late, I have plenty of basil that I can add to salads or to flavor my recipes.

I can’t tell you how much I love turkey noodle soup with basil.

As soon as I can afford it, I am going to get an indoor garden stand. It’s not overly expensive and will fit on one side of my office.

Consider Your Activity Level

When trying to gauge how much you can eat, keep in mind your physical activity. Someone who is less active requires less food. This is a common problem among many obese individuals.

In a lot of instances, people will eat like athletes even though they spend most of their time sitting on the couch.

And yes, this is why I hit 290 pounds at one point.

Being physically active increases how much energy your body requires. This translates into needing more food…which is difficult when you’re broke.

You need to find a good balance between how active you are, how much you can afford to eat and the quality of what you’re putting into your body.

Don’t Be Afraid of Leftovers

I often have leftovers in my freezer. This is because I usually focus eating things that are easy to store. In fact, I haven’t thrown out actual food in more than 2 years.

Well, except an onion that liquefied because I forgot it was in the fridge.

For instance, I’ll prepare something like teriyaki chicken and fired rice in bulk. Then, I’ll portion it out into separated plastic containers that I can toss in the freezer. Aftwards, I microwave the leftovers just as if they were a microwave dinner.

And in most cases, these frozen dishes are almost as good after microwaving than when they were actually cooked.

This usually costs an average of about $1.25 per meal depending on what I prepare. And this includes honey walnut shrimp. Usually, I pick up what I need from Trader Joe’s.

It’s Not Expensive to Eat Healthy

If you stick to proper portion sizes, you can buy a lot of products that you might think of as expensive. Can you afford Chinese food on a daily basis? Sure you can, if you don’t mind preparing it yourself and portioning it out correctly.

There are options available even for those who are broke. You just need to put eating into perspective.




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Michael Brockbank

Since 2015, Michael has put in the effort to lose more than 80 pounds by gamifying fitness and eating proper portion sizes. He conducts extensive research into various health and fitness products to provide the best answers possible according to his own experience and knowledge.

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