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Danish Grocery Makes Healthful Food Cheaper

Danish Grocery Makes Healthful Food Cheaper

A Danish discount supermarket has dropped prices on fruits and vegetables

Wikimedia/Dana Payne

Danish grocery chain Kiwi is discounting fruit and vegetables to encourage healthful eating.

A lot of people who say they want to eat more healthfully indicate the biggest hurdle to doing so is that healthful food is so expensive, so one grocery store has decided to make a name for itself by making fruit and vegetables more accessible.

According to The Local, Kiwi—a Danish discount supermarket chain with more than 100 locations around Denmark—says it will be dropping prices on all fruit and vegetables to make it easier for Danes to make healthful food choices.

“There are a lot of Danes who would like to live healthier but think that it is too expensive,” said Carsten Hansen, the head of the Kiwi chain. “And that is interesting seen from our perspective, because we can do something about it.”

The chain will be discounting fruit and vegetables by 20 percent for shoppers with Kiwi store cards. The move seems like a good way to encourage people to eat more healthfully, but the company says it isn’t just discounting vegetables out of the goodness of its heart. Kiwi hopes the initiative will help set it apart from competing grocery chains.

“It is of course about both health and business,” Hansen said. “We want to be bigger and more well-known. The Danish discount branch is a tough market and we are the newest player, so we think this will help give Kiwi a good position from here on out.”

Your Nutritionist-Approved $50, $100, or $150 Healthy Grocery List

Apart from an amazing deep tissue massage or a pedicure from Olive & June (is it a blessing or curse that there’s a location one block from my apartment?), nothing is as calming as my weekly trip to the grocery store. Every Saturday or Sunday (usually the former because by Friday my refrigerator looks as barren as the lands beyond the Wall), I wake up at the crack of dawn (to beat that weekend crowd), make my lists, and grab my shopping bags. Hi, my name is Erin, and I like to select my avocados for the week at 7 a.m.—yes, for fun.

Until, that is, I realize my bank account is about as desolate as my aforementioned fridge. Sound familiar? Though not everyone wakes before sunrise with the sparkling aisles of Whole Foods on their mind, most people I know do have some anxiety when it comes to managing a weekly food budget—especially if eating healthily is the goal.

And while some weeks our budget might have some wiggle room for splurges (the Postmates app will always haunt us), other weeks, for one reason or another, things are a bit tighter. Which, to be honest, can become stressful. Yes, it's easy to rely on office snacks or impromptu trips to the drive thru for something quick and affordable, but wouldn’t it be easier on our bodies (and budget!) to have a healthy, nutritionally balanced grocery list that's completely adaptable depending on our budget?

To create some equilibrium, I reached out to holistic nutritionist and founder of Kore Kitchen, Meryl Pritchard, and asked her to create three healthy grocery lists for three different weekly budgets: $50, $100, and $150. And as an added bonus, she even shared a few of her favorite recipes. Bliss.

Keep reading for the expert-curated grocery lists that will help you to eat healthy while staying on budget.

Dollar stores are often in rural or low-income areas

Location, location, location is the name of the game in business and if a company wants to be in the busy part of town it's going to cost them. However, it's not uncommon to see dollar stores in lower-income sections of a city, or in a totally rural area. "We went where they ain't," a former Dollar General executive said in reference to Walmart. Choosing to operate in areas that Target, Walmart, or Whole Foods wouldn't bother to go has proven highly effective for the growth of dollar stores.

It's why an average of 2.5 stores a day are opening around the United States. Opening and operating in these areas is simply less expensive and this helps keep prices down (via Business Insider). Many dollar stores don't buy the land their stores are on either. Meaning that if they're not doing well, they can just pick up and move. If a Dollar General can keep the lights on and skip out on the pricey property taxes that a Publix is going to pay, it's going to be able to sell its food for much cheaper.

Nut butters

9. Joy Bauer's Chocolate-Peanut Butter Fudge Bites

These chocolaty, fudgy bites are not only delicious but are perfect for beating the afternoon energy slump.

Joy Bauer's Chocolate-Peanut Butter Fudge Bites

10. Cold Sesame Noodles with 4-Ingredient Peanut Sauce

These cold sesame noodles are a family favorite in my house. They’re ridiculously easy to make and the peanut butter sauce requires only four simple ingredients — one of them is water!

11. Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal Squares

This tasty treat offers 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber so it’s a sweet treat that’s sure to have some staying power.

Inexpensive Family Dinner Recipes

There are many inexpensive family dinners you can make simply by combining the staple foods in your pantry and refrigerator. On top of that, many other recipes use these staples and a few extra ingredients, such as leafy greens, sausage, or pearl barley. By picking these up whenever you happen to find them on sale, you can expand your dinner repertoire without fattening your grocery bill.

These 10 recipes are excellent examples. They’re simple, inexpensive, nutritious, and family-friendly — everything you need for a healthy family dinner. Recipe costs are based on the prices I typically pay for the ingredients at local supermarkets in central New Jersey, which generally has above-average food prices, according to Feeding America. Costs for your area may be different.

1. Bean Burritos

This vegetarian dinner is so hearty and satisfying you won’t miss the meat. The protein comes from black beans, which cost significantly less per pound than beef or even chicken.

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes | Total time: 25 minutes

Total cost: $4.30 ($8.95 with optional toppings)


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium bell pepper (any color), chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 fresh hot pepper, minced (optional if you use it, wash your hands well after handling or use kitchen gloves)
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 8 ounces frozen spinach
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans black beans, drained (or 4 cups home-cooked dry black beans)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 burrito-size (8 1/2 – 10-inch) flour tortillasOptional toppings: 2 diced tomatoes, 1 diced avocado, 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup salsa


  1. In a large pan over medium heat, bring the oil to temperature. Add the onion, peppers, and garlic, and cook until the onions begin to soften, about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add the frozen spinach (no need to defrost it) and continue to stir until it thaws and some of the water has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the beans and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. To serve, place a tortilla on a plate and top with a generous scoop of the bean mixture, plus tomatoes, avocado, or shredded cheese if you’re using them. Fold over the top and bottom, fold in the sides, and turn it seam-side down on the plate. Serve with optional sour cream and salsa.

2. Chicken & Dumplings

This recipe is a convenient way to use up leftover chicken. You can serve plain baked chicken legs for dinner on Monday, then use the leftover meat in this dish later in the week. If you have drippings from the chicken, you can use them in place of the butter (or in addition to it) to make an extra-flavorful gravy.

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: About 35 minutes | Total time: About 50 minutes


For the filling

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 3 medium carrots, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 small leek, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, chopped
  • About 6 ounces cooked chicken (equivalent to the meat from three chicken legs), cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons butter or chicken drippings
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (or chicken or vegetable broth)

For the dumplings

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup nonfat milk


  1. In a 4-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, bring the vegetable oil to temperature. Saute the potatoes, carrots, leek, and mushrooms until softened, then add the chicken and saute until heated through. Remove it from the heat.
  2. For the gravy, in a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of flour and the water to create a slurry. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Quickly stir in the slurry until well combined. Turn up the heat to medium and add the milk or broth slowly, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens.
  3. For the dumpling batter, in a large mixing bowl, sift or mix 1 1/2 cups of flour, the baking powder, and the salt. Using a pastry blender or knife, cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs and no lumps of butter are visible. Stir in the milk to form a sticky, somewhat pastelike batter.
  4. Stir the gravy into the Dutch oven with the chicken and vegetables, and stir in the salt. Bring it to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting.
  5. Using a measuring spoon, drop tablespoonfuls of dumpling batter into the soup until you have used all the batter and covered the entire surface with dumplings. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Then cover tightly and cook for another 10 minutes without removing the lid.
  6. Remove the lid and poke the dumplings with a skewer to see if they are cooked through. If there is batter visible on the skewer, cover again and continue to cook, testing every minute or two, until the skewer comes out clean.

3. Chili & Cornbread

This recipe is for a chili con carne, which simply means “chili with meat.” However, a vegetarian chili “non carne” is even cheaper. Simply leave out the meat and saute the vegetables in vegetable oil instead, then add an extra can of beans to the pot. A pan of homemade cornbread makes a nice (and inexpensive) side dish.


Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: About 2 hours, 10 minutes | Total time: About 2 hours, 15 minutes

Total cost: $7.75 for chili con carne or $4.85 for chili non carne, including the optional toppings

  • 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1 small onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 fresh jalapeño pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 can red kidney beans, undrained
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced or crushed tomatoes, including liquid
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (or to taste)
  • Optional toppings: 1/2 cup sour cream, 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef or turkey. When it’s nearly done, add the onion, peppers, and garlic, and cook until the onions are soft. Drain off the excess fat.
  2. Add all the other ingredients. Bring to a boil.
  3. Turn the heat to low. Let it simmer for about 2 hours, or until most of the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally.
  4. Serve in a bowl and top with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese if desired.


Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 25 minutes | Total time: 30 minutes

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, milk, vegetable oil, and egg. Mix well.
  • Pour the batter into a 9-inch square baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

4. Mushroom Barley Soup With Biscuits

This vegetarian soup recipe makes a generous potful, so you can get one family dinner out of it plus two servings left over for lunch. Note that the soup thickens quite a bit when refrigerated, so when you reheat it, add more water, milk, or stock to thin it out. I like to serve it with homemade biscuits.

Mushroom Barley Soup

Prep time: 10 minutes | Inactive time: 30 minutes | Cook time: 50 minutes | Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 2 large celery stalks, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large carrot, sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 3/4 cup pearl barley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 6 cups water
  • Pepper to taste
  • 10 – 12 ounces white mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • About 2 cups nonfat milk (or soy milk for a vegan soup)
  1. In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, add the onion, celery, carrot, pearl barley, bay leaves, margarine, thyme, oregano, salt, and water, plus additional salt and pepper to taste, and bring it to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms and simmer about 20 minutes more, or until the veggies are tender.
  3. Stir in milk. Turn off the heat and let the soup stand about 30 minutes before serving.


Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes | Total time: 25 minutes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter
  • 3/4 cup nonfat milk or water
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, sift or mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Using a pastry blender or knife, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the texture resembles coarse crumbs and no chunks of butter are visible.
  2. Add the milk to the dry ingredients and stir until the dough comes together, about 30 seconds.
  3. Lightly flour a clean work surface. Turn the dough out onto it and knead for about 30 seconds. Add a little more flour if it’s too sticky to work with. If it’s so dry that it crumbles, add a little more water.
  4. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough until it’s about 3/4-inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter or the rim of a glass dipped in flour, cut out the biscuits, pressing the cutter directly and firmly down without twisting. You can use any size cutter or glass you need to achieve the size you want. When you run out of dough, gather up the leftover edges, press them together into a ball, roll it back out, and cut more biscuits. When there’s too little left to do that, wad up what’s left to form one last slightly lumpy biscuit.
  5. Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes. Check after 10 minutes or so and flip them over if they look like they’re getting too brown on the bottom.

5. Roasted Chicken & Veggies

One of the easiest ways to prepare chicken is to roast it in a pan surrounded by vegetables like potatoes and carrots. Everything cooks in a single pan, so you only have one dish to wash afterward. The ingredients for this dish cost between $6 and $8 and make enough to feed a family of four with plenty of leftovers. For a healthier meal, drain off the fatty juices after the chicken finishes roasting and avoid eating the fatty parts of the skin.

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 1 hour 40 minutes | Total time: 1 hour, 45 minutes


  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose seasoning blend (such as Mrs. Dash)
  • 1 whole chicken (about 5 pounds)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 pounds (3 – 4 medium) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 8 ounces baby carrots
  • Pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the salt, paprika, garlic powder and all-purpose seasoning and mix well.
  3. Remove gizzards from the chicken and rub the spice mixture all over the skin.
  4. Place the chicken in a deep oven-safe pan or roasting pan, surrounded by the quartered potatoes and baby carrots. Season the carrots and potatoes with salt and pepper if desired.
  5. Roast it for about 20 minutes per pound. The chicken is cooked when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees F.

6. Spaghetti Carbonara

If the only way you know to cook spaghetti is with meatballs and tomato sauce, this recipe will be a real eye-opener. It combines eggs and Parmesan cheese to make a creamy sauce that requires only the heat from the pasta to cook it. Cooked, chopped bacon adds flavor, and green peas supply the vegetable to make it a one-pot meal.

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: About 20 minutes | Total time: About 30 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 pound dry spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 8 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)


  1. Fill a large pot with water and stir in the salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook the spaghetti until al dente (slightly firm when bitten), about 6 or 7 minutes. Drain, toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, cook the chopped bacon in a large saucepan until slightly crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain it on paper towels. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease.
  3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the bacon grease and return to medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook 1 minute more.
  4. Return the cooked bacon to the pan. Add the cooked, drained spaghetti and frozen peas. Toss to combine, adding more olive oil if the pasta seems too dry or is sticking.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese with the beaten eggs. Add it to the pasta and cook, tossing constantly with a large fork or tongs, until the eggs are cooked but still soft.
  6. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

7. Tortellini Soup

Tortellini is a type of pasta filled with cheese, meat, or vegetables and formed into ring shapes. You can often find fresh tortellini in the gourmet foods section at the grocery store, but frozen tortellini is much cheaper and takes only a little longer to cook. Simmering it in broth with tomatoes and herbs makes a filling, flavorful soup. This version uses pasta only, but for a heartier soup, you can fry a pound of ground Italian sausage (or the contents of four links removed from their casings) in a pan and add it to the pot.

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes (or 35 if using sausage) | Total time: 35 – 40 minutes

Total cost: $5.50 ($9.50 with sausage added)


  • 48 ounces boxed or canned reduced-sodium beef broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 (19-ounce) bag frozen tortellini
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, including liquid
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt to taste


  1. Pour the beef broth into a large stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Add the tortellini, diced tomatoes, oregano, parsley, pepper, and salt to taste. Cover and reduce the heat to low.
  3. Let it simmer for 25 minutes to allow the pasta to cook through and the flavors to mingle.

8. Tuna Potato Cakes

I first encountered this dish as “crabby potato cakes,” a simple version of crab cakes made with grated potato and canned crabmeat. However, I found it works just as well with canned tuna, which is both cheaper and easier to find. The original recipe suggests serving them with tartar sauce, lemon juice, or Tabasco, but we like them with applesauce.

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: About 20 minutes | Total time: About 30 minutes


  • 2 medium potatoes (about 12 ounces), grated (with skin)
  • 1 medium carrot, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 – 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard powder
  • 2 – 3 shakes (about 1/2 teaspoon) Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 (5-ounce) can tuna, drained and flaked
  • 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups applesauce (for serving)


  1. Press the potatoes, carrot, and green onions between layers of paper towels to remove excess moisture. Transfer them to a large bowl and mix in eggs and flour.
  2. In a separate small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard powder, Worcestershire sauce, and salt. Gently stir the tuna, then fold it into the coated vegetables until blended.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, bring the oil to temperature. Form the crab mixture into patties about 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick. Fry the patties 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. You can turn the heat up to medium-high if you find the cakes aren’t cooking quickly enough.
  4. Serve with applesauce.

9. Ugly Eggs

The creator of this dish says she used to make it for breakfast at Girl Scout camp, where it was known as “casualty eggs.” However, it works equally well as a dinner. The recipe is relatively flexible, so you can throw in just about any kind of veggies you happen to have on hand.

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 20 – 30 minutes | Total time: 30 – 40 minutes


  • 8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound russet potatoes (about 3 medium or 4 – 5 small), quartered and cut into thin slices
  • 2 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium (about 6-ounce) green bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 – 10 large eggs, beaten


  1. Fry the bacon until cooked but soft. Drain off most of the grease.
  2. If you have a microwave, heat the potatoes for a minute or 2 until they’re half-cooked. If you don’t, they will require more cooking time on the stove.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, bring the oil to temperature. If you have preheated the potatoes, add the potatoes, garlic, bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms to the pan all at once. Otherwise, cook the potatoes by themselves until they start to brown, then add the garlic, bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms. Cook until the onions are soft and the potatoes are tender.
  4. Add the eggs to the pan and cook until firm.

10. Veggie Pizza

Why pay $10 for a takeout pizza when it’s so easy to make your own? This homemade veggie version costs less than half as much. I usually top mine with mushrooms and green pepper, but you can easily customize the recipe by changing the toppings to fit your tastes. You can also replace about three-quarters of a cup of the white flour in the dough with whole-wheat flour for a heartier and healthier crust.

Prep time: 15 minutes | Inactive time: 1 hour | Cook time: 35 minutes | Total time: 1 hour 50 minutes


For the dough

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (about half a packet)
  • 3/4 cup warm water (105 – 110 degrees F)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour

For the sauce

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes (about 2/3 of a 14-ounce can)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

For the pizza

  • 1/2 pound mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 medium (about 1 1/2 ounces) green bell pepper, sliced
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, sliced


For the dough

  1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the vegetable oil, sugar, salt, and flour and stir to combine.
  2. Lightly flour a clean work surface, turn the dough out onto it, and knead for about 5 minutes. If the dough is too dry and crumbly to work, add water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until it feels pliable. Return the dough to the bowl and cover it. Place the bowl in a cold oven along with a bowl of hot water (just below boiling temperature) and allow it to rise for at least an hour, or until it doubles in size.
  3. Stretch the dough across a pizza pan (or use a rectangular cookie sheet), pressing it into place with your fingers. Spread it as evenly as possible over the surface while avoiding holes.

For the sauce

  1. In a medium saucepan over low heat, bring the oil to temperature. Saute the garlic until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, salt, sugar, basil, thyme, oregano, and rosemary, and cook the sauce down, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until it reaches your desired thickness.
  2. Spoon the sauce onto the pizza dough, and spread it nearly to the edges.

For the pizza

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top of the sauce, then layer on the bell pepper slices and mushrooms. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is beginning to brown a bit on top, the crust is lightly browned, and the vegetables appear cooked.

15 Healthy Kitchen Staples for Fast, Cheap Meals

Shopping for groceries can be overwhelming—you&aposve got crowds to dodge and a budget to keep in mind, not to mention the candy aisle calling your name. But that trip to the supermarket "is one of the most important things you&aposll do all week," says Cynthia Sass, RD, Health&aposs contributing nutrition editor, because the foods you put in your shopping cart can make or break your healthy-eating goals. Having nutritious ingredients on hand makes it easy to whip up good-for-you meals, even on nights when you&aposre tempted to order in.

And while there are plenty of trendy new health products on grocery store shelves𠅏rom pea protein chips to donkey milk—when you&aposre trying to eat healthy and save, members of Reddit&aposs r/EatCheapAndHealthy forum know how important it is to stock up on basics. Whether you&aposre in need of a quick pantry dinner recipe or creative new ways to use up your zucchini stockpile, this community of budget-conscious cooks has answers. Here, 15 ingredients that r/EatCheapAndHealthy users always keep in their kitchens, plus suggestions for incorporating these foods into easy meals.

Frozen veggies

"Throw your favorite frozen veggies in a pan, cube some extra firm tofu and throw it into the pan, add stir fry sauce to your liking (my favorite is House of Tsang&aposs), and heat until everything is warm. Optional is to serve it with a bag of that $1 frozen brown rice, and garnish it all with fresh green onion, sesame seeds, and Sriracha. If you want to get super fancy, throw in some matchstick carrots and shredded cabbage." 𠅋oldandbrasche


"Eggs. Lots of eggs. Make an omelet. Make a frittata. Throw in veggies. Throw in frozen ham steak. Mix an egg in instant ramen. Hard boil them and make egg salad." —ivylgedropout


"Pesto has saved me from a life of just getting pizza whenever I&aposm home from work tired. It&aposs so easy. I keep pesto sauce, penne, bell peppers, and tinned sweetcorn always stocked. Add a load of black pepper, chili flakes, and some garlic granules perhaps. Takes as long as it takes to cook penne and is super easy." —mrandocairissian


"Wraps are my godsend because you can throw whatever in them and it&aposs great, they are calorific but you can stuff them with healthy things." 𠅏irk


"They can become pasta sauce, Shakshuka, a sandwich, a salad. Very versatile depending on how much effort you want to put into the meal." —policymonk


"I like the pre-flavored and portioned tuna packets. They go on sale for $1 and I stock up. Eat straight from the pouch or mix in a salad or pasta." —QueenOfTheMud

Frozen fruit

"I snack on frozen mango chunks and frozen blueberries all the time in the morning or when it&aposs hot. No preparation needed. But you can make smoothies too! They thaw out relatively fast so you could put some in your yogurt or oatmeal." 𠅌upcakeKittenxo


"Take some rice, I use minute brown rice, and [microwave] it. Add a can of kidney beans, add a can of collard greens, add some Creole seasoning, mix it together and [microwave] it for a minute or two. Literally takes five minutes. I have a couple variations on seasonings I like (vegetables here are either canned or frozen): Rice + Black Beans + Sweet potato + Chili seasoning, Rice + Black beans + Corn + Lime juice + Taco seasoning, Rice + Green peas + cauliflower + Carrots + Curry powder. You could throw any of these in a tortillas as well." —humankinda


"Don&apost buy instant: it&aposs incredibly not worth the cost. If you can afford the expense I would buy the cheapest per ounce container you can find of just plain rolled oats, or steel cut if you prefer. It&aposll probably be big, but it doesn&apost go bad. I strongly recommend overnight oats. Not because they&aposre tasty (I&aposm ambivalent on the subject) but because having a breakfast that you can reach for and instantly eat in the morning is beyond luxurious." —Inanna26


"Potatoes, potatoes, and potatoes. Doesn&apost get cheaper or more nutrient dense." 𠅏ourOhTwo


"Cabbage is always a great choice—purple is especially full of antioxidants, and I&aposve never seen either variety at more than 80 cents a pound. . Cook [them] with potatoes and you&aposve got a delicious, healthy, cheap and super filling meal." —spartanfrenzy

  • Best Overall:Paprika
  • Best for Time Crunched Cooks:Mealime
  • Best for Weight Loss:PlateJoy
  • Best for Weight Loss Runner Up:Eat This Much
  • Best for Social Media Fans:Prepear
  • Best for Meal Preppers:MealPrepPro
  • Best for Using Up Leftovers:BigOven
  • Best if You're Budgeting:MealBoard

Best Overall : Paprika

Customizes chosen recipes and easily scales them up and down

Seamless cloud sync across devices

Saves recipes from all major food and wine sites and easily creates grocery lists

No built-in nutritional info

There is no recipe database and can't scan on-paper recipes from pictures

Paprika is our top pick because it gives you tons of flexibility and customization with the free app option. However, there’s no database of recipes or pre-set meal plans so you have to build up your own recipe collection first. Thankfully, Paprika’s recipe clipper makes it easy to save recipes directly from the web. And you can manually type in your own family recipes or cookbook favorites too.

When organizing saved recipes, users can name their own categories. So instead of just Beef or Chicken, you can have names like 30 Minutes or Less, Instant Pot, or Kids’ Favorites. If you tend to use recipes as guidelines instead of gospel, you can edit the recipes and add notes, but it’ll still have the link to the original in case you need it.

The app displays nutrition data from recipes that include it, but it doesn’t have a built-in program to calculate data for recipes that don’t have it. But it can automatically scale ingredients up or down depending on how many servings you want to make, and can automatically convert from metric to imperial measurements too.

It’s easy to create a weekly or monthly meal plan using the recipes you’ve saved. the free app version allows you to downoad up to 50 recipes (you can upgrade for a fee to get more). It will automatically create a customized grocery list based on your plan, consolidating ingredients when necessary and allowing users to add anything else they might need, like paper towels.

Best for Time Crunched Cooks : Mealime

Easy to use and convenient for people who are pressed for time

Curates recipes based on specific dietary needs, likes, or dislikes

Generates shoppings lists for digital purchases

The upgraded version requires a monthly payment

Lacks detailed nutritional information per recipe

Doesn't allow manual addition of recipes

If you want to eat healthier but don’t have time to scour the web for recipes or spend an hour cooking, Mealime is the app for you. Create a profile, add your food preferences, then choose your week’s meals from recipes the app curates just for you. The company promises they can be cooked in 30 minutes or less, and it’ll even generate a shopping list that can be imported into Amazon Fresh or Instacart for delivery.

The recipes all have a healthful bent and can accommodate many dietary restrictions, such as keto, paleo, and vegan. And you can import favorite recipes from the web, too, though adding recipes manually isn’t an option. The app is free, but if you upgrade to Pro you’ll get access to many more recipes, nutrition information, and the ability to filter meals by calorie count, save your meal plans, and add notes to a recipe.

Best for Weight Loss : PlateJoy

Nutritionist-designed and supported for a highly personalized plan based on extensive intake survey

Free with some health-insurance providers

Generates shoppings lists for digital purchases that also aim to reduce food waste

Seamless cloud sync across devices, plus it syncs to fitness and calorie trackers

More expensive than competitors with no value add-ons like free ingredients

PlateJoy’s highly personalized meal plans are a boon to those with specific dietary restrictions. Users take a lifestyle survey, which includes things like food preferences, fitness and calorie goals, allergies, and schedules, and the app uses 50 data points to create a unique meal plan just for you. It even accommodates those who are diabetic or on a low FODMAP plan.

The meal plans are designed by nutritionists, who are available by phone or chat too, and recipes include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. The meal plans will automatically generate a shopping list, which can be integrated with Instacart or other grocery delivery services. You can also add your own recipes manually.

Users can sync the app to their FitBit, so it’ll automatically add their meals’ nutrition info to their calorie tracker. Even better, if your health insurance provider has joined the company’s PlateJoy Health division, you can get a free subscription, free Fitbit and free scale.

Best for Weight Loss Runner Up : Eat This Much

Calorie-goal oriented great for people who like to track their macros

Good nutritional info per recipe

Easy to use for website or manually added recipes

Large database of restaurants and packaged foods plus barcode scanner for nutritional info

Not ideal for families that have individuals with different nutritional needs or goals

No shopping lists or grocery deliveries for free version

Shopping list cost estimates aren't always accurate

Only allows daily meal plans unless you pay the monthly fee for upgraded version

The app will generate custom meal plans from its database using your preferences and calorie goals as a guide. It also allows users to import recipes from the web or manually add them. It’s also a calorie tracker with a database of popular restaurant dishes and packaged foods, which you can add to manually or with a barcode scanner. However, the app only allows daily meal plans unless you upgrade to the Premium account for $4.99 per month. Premium allows for weekly plans with nutrition targets for each day, automatic shopping lists and grocery delivery.

Best for Social Media Fans : Prepear

Thousands of free recipes personalized to your goals, needs, likes, and dislikes

Good nutritional info on recipes imported from websites

Adding recipes from the web or by hand is quick and easy

Connect with friends and food-enthusiasts through the app

Generates smart shopping lists

Better features require purchase of the Prepear Gold upgrade

Takes a lot of work to add ingredients into your personal recipes to get accurate nutritional information

Many of the web’s most popular food bloggers have partnered with PrePear to offer their recipes and meal plans to users. With one click, you could have a month’s worth of recipes from one of your favorite bloggers added to your calendar complete with shopping lists. The caveat is you’ll have to upgrade to Gold to access those plans.

But even if you opt for the free version, which is blessedly ad-free, you’ll still have more than 100,000 recipes to choose from in the app’s database. The recipes have been uploaded by the community of users (including many bloggers) and often have reviews or star rankings. There’s everything from classics to keto, and if you set up a few preferences the app will curate what you see. You can easily add more recipes from the web or manually add your family favorites. The Food Feed tab is where you can create your own network of friends, kind of like a foodie Facebook group, to get inspiration from what everyone else is cooking and share your own.

Cooking from the app is very user-friendly: You can check off ingredients as you go and a split-screen format allows you to see ingredients on one side and the instructions on the other. You can also add reminders to alert you to defrost meat or start prepping.

Best for Meal Preppers : MealPrepPro

Easy recipes for weekly or daily cooking

Nutritional information on all recipes

Personalized recipes that cater to your macro needs, goals, likes, and dislikes

Syncs with fitness devices

Generates smart shopping lists

After a 7-day free trial there is a monthly fee

Designed for batch cooking, so the math on scaling down is up to the user

There is a lot of time spent in the kitchen to comply with the week's suggested plan

MealPrepPro is designed for people who want to cook large batches of healthy food so they just have to heat and eat later in the week. The recipes are quick to make — just 10 to 30 minutes for four days’ worth of food — and designed for you to make a big batch one day, and then you’ll eat it for several days after. Sure it’s repetitive, but if you’re watching what you eat and don’t have a lot of time, you’ll always have a healthy meal waiting for you. If you’d rather cook fresh every day, or cook an even bigger batch to freeze, you can set the app to do that too.

Set up your preferences according to your diet (keto, paleo, plant-based, etc.) and either let the app determine your macro goals based on your health stats or you can set them manually. The app will create a weekly plan of lunch and dinner (plus breakfast and snacks if you want them) from its collection of recipes. Generally, you’ll be cooking just twice a week, though a couple of the breakfasts and snacks are made a la minute.

You can customize the plan if you want. It’ll even offer suggestions if you want to swap out a dish with something else. The recipes are easy to follow with step-by-step videos, but they’re made for one or two people, so if you’re feeding a family you’ll have to do your own math to scale things up. You can also add your own recipes. The plan generates an organized shopping list, and you can cross things off as you pick them up.

The app syncs with Apple Health and the Apple Watch, so you can keep track of your calories/macros, water consumption and follow the shopping list from your wrist.

Stir-fry: Heat a little vegetable oil in a medium skillet. Add diced chicken breast or pork loin and brown. Add chopped vegetables of your choice and sauté until tender-crisp. Season with a splash of low-sodium soy sauce and dash of garlic powder. Serve over cooked brown rice. Complete the meal with a dish of mandarin oranges and a glass of milk.

Casserole: Place 4 cups cooked pasta in a 2-quart casserole dish. Add 2 cups cooked beef, chicken, pork, or beans. Add 2 cups green beans (drained) or broccoli (thawed and drained). Add 1 can diced tomatoes with juice and 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning. Salt and pepper to taste. Combine. Top with 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Bake for 30-45 minutes in 350 degree oven until hot and bubbly (and reaches an internal temperature of165 degrees). Serve with apple slices and a glass of milk.

Omelet: Cook up eggs with your choice of fillings: veggies, shredded cheese, diced cooked meat or deli ham. Serve with orange slices and whole wheat toast.

Tuna/Chicken/Egg Salad: Mix cooked diced chicken, canned tuna or salmon, or hard cooked eggs with diced veggies of your choice (celery, onion, bell peppers, carrots, etc.) in a medium bowl. Coat lightly with lowfat mayonnaise and mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve on toasted bread, in a whole-grain wrap or on top of a leafy green salad. Complete the meal with canned peaches and a glass of milk.

Smoothie: Blend together 1 cup yogurt, 1 banana, 1 cup frozen strawberries, 1 cup spinach and 1/2 cup milk. If needed, sweeten as desired with a little sugar or artificial sweetener.

Stuffed Potato: "Bake" a potato in the microwave. Slit the potato open and top with 1 teaspoon soft margarine. Add cooked, drained broccoli, lowfat cheese and a dollop of salsa. Serve with carrot sticks and grapes.

Surviving and Thriving on an Extremely Small Food Budget

Trent Hamm – Founder & Columnist Last Updated: September 27, 2019

When I first started writing for The Simple Dollar, the then-governor of Oregon, Ted Kulongoski, made a big splash by choosing to eat for a week on $3 a day. This was in response to Oregon’s “food stamp challenge,” which challenged citizens to do just that and discover how hard it was to actually survive on such a small amount of income for food.

I thought about that challenge myself and decided to see if I could do it. Back then, our family consisted of just me, my wife (who was pregnant at the time, though I don’t think I knew it yet), and our oldest child who was then a toddler.

Could we pull it off and still eat healthy? At the time, several years ago, I found that we could just make it, provided we were able to find fresh produce in season.

Let’s roll this forward to today, though. Today, we have five people living in our home. Could we actually survive well on an extremely small food budget?

The first question, obviously, is “what constitutes a small food budget?” You’ll get lots of answers to this question, of course, but I wanted to get an impartial answer. I started by finding out what SNAP benefits were available for a family of five. This quick guide to SNAP eligibility and benefits, and it turns out that for a family of five, the average SNAP benefits added up to $556 a month.

Let’s put that into context. Over the course of 30 days, I’d have to feed five people 90 meals each, which adds up to 450 meals. That breaks down to a cost of about $1.25 per person per meal.

For comparison’s sake, this amounts to a single person living off of about $26 for a week for food.

So, let’s use that as a threshold. Let’s say you’re moving into an apartment for the first time in your life and you need to survive on about $1.25 per meal going forward. Let’s also assume that you have a stove and a microwave and a handful of basic pots and pans to cook with, along with a few plates and bowls to eat out of. (If you don’t have those things, head down to your local Goodwill, where you should be able to find all of those things except the stove for pennies.)

How can you and your family survive on $1.25 per person per meal?

It’s worth noting right off the bat that it’s easy to find enough really unhealthy foods to meet a person’s basic caloric needs for under $1.25 a meal. One could live on a steady diet of ramen noodles and have enough calories with which to live and spend far less than $1.25 a meal, for example. The only problem here is that a really unhealthy diet adds long term medical costs into the equation. A diet consisting of ramen noodles is likely to result in weight gain and hypertension along with some serious malnutrition. It’s not a functional and healthy long-term diet.

So, here’s the real question we’re asking here: how can you and your family eat healthy meals and thrive on $1.25 per person per meal?

Here’s what I would do in this exact situation.

Supplement the foods you can buy with a food pantry. If a person is in a position where they’re trying to survive on $1.25 per person per meal, it’s likely that they’re eligible for the benefits of a food bank or food pantry. My first step would be to identify where the local food pantry was, stop by during operating hours, and see what I need to do to get food regularly.

At our local food pantry, you’re allowed to get a bag upon your first visit, but in future visits, you have to provide proof of annual income (a tax form works, or some other proof – they can guide you as to what works) and proof of residence (a bill works) in order to keep getting food. In other areas, there are even fewer requirements.

Remember, if you are eligible to get food from the food pantry, you should you are the reason the food is there. People want to help you get through this tough time and get back on your feet as fast as possible. Let them help!

Figure out whether you’re eligible for SNAP and sign up if you are. The easiest place to go to find out about this is to visit BenefitsCheckUp, which will help you identify, with a few basic questions, which programs you’re eligible for. Just choose the “Food and Nutrition” option when it asks you what kinds of benefits you’re looking for.

If you’re eligible, SNAP benefits typically come in the form of a debit card that you can use for groceries, enabling you to buy a certain amount per month. If you qualify for full benefits, this should provide you the $1.25 per meal (roughly) that’s discussed above.

Again, as I said earlier, if you are eligible to get benefits from SNAP, you should you are the reason this program is there. People want to help you get through this tough time and get back on your feet as fast as possible. Let them help!

Of course, knowing about these programs is great, but how do you actually use $1.25 a meal to put food on the table?

Start with what I call the “big eight.” There are eight very inexpensive staple foods that are what I consider to be the backbone of an inexpensive diet.

First, eggs. You can find them for as little as .50 a dozen depending on where you live, though prices vary a lot. An egg has eighty calories in it and is a protein and nutrition winner. Make a dozen scrambled eggs and you have a main course for three or four people for .50.

Second, dry rice. It’s incredibly easy to cook rice. You just put some in a pan with a lid, add some water, and let it simmer for a while. You need to get the proportions right, but you can easily look that up online based on the type of rice you buy. Dried rice is dirt cheap at the store, accompanies practically anything, and is incredibly easy to cook.

Third, dry beans. You can almost carbon copy everything I said about rice. Even better, there are lots of very different varieties of beans, from the tiny lentil to the large chickpea. Buy them dried, let them soak in water overnight, then boil them up and you’ll have the backbone of many amazing meals.

Fourth, on-sale fresh produce. Many, many grocery stores use fresh fruits and vegetables as loss leaders to get customers into the store. Just go into the fruits and vegetables section of your preferred grocery store and pick up whatever’s on sale. Take it home. Figure out how to prepare it. Try it.

Fifth, whole chickens. This is where you get your money’s worth when it comes to a chicken. Just cook the whole thing in a pot and enjoy it for dinner, saving the broth it’s cooking in for later use in a soup. Eat all the meat, then make more broth with the remaining bones. Use that broth with cheap vegetables and cheap rice and cheap beans to make an amazing soup. You can get so much mileage out of a whole chicken!

Sixth, ground turkey. This is a healthy and cheap substitute for ground beef, as you can use it as a substitute in almost any recipe that calls for ground beef. While this is likely the most expensive thing on the list here, it’s still quite cheap and it covers one of the big staples of many American diets in a low cost and healthy way.

Seventh, pasta and tomato sauce. Pasta paired with tomato sauce or diced tomatoes is a great simple meal that almost anyone can make, and it feeds a family quite well and usually provides leftovers. You can get a box of spaghetti, a can of tomato sauce, and a can of diced tomatoes for $4 and it’ll feed a family of five easily.

But how do you make it taste good? That leads us to the next item.

Finally, bulk spices. Alone, all of these options would be bland. Find a store in your area that sells cheap bulk spices (start by checking out ethnic grocers) and get a variety of things to use. Think of dishes you’ve loved, look up how they’re spiced, and then buy those spices. Keep them sealed up so they stay fresh for a long time. Don’t buy those overpriced little jars at the grocery store.

Learn how to cook the “big eight” in a variety of ways. The items above are on this list because they’re inexpensive and very flexible. You can prepare them in a lot of ways. You can spice them in a lot of ways. You can mix and match them in nearly countless ways. The trick is knowing how to do it, and that takes practice and time in the kitchen.

So, the next step here is to simply cook a lot of meals at home focusing on these eight ingredients. Learn how to prepare seasoned rice and vegetables. Learn how to make killer rice and beans. Learn how to make egg drop soup. Learn how to make killer pasta with ground turkey meatballs. Learn how to make hard-boiled eggs for quick breakfasts. It goes on and on and on.

You’ll gain a lot of skills this way and really learn how to use what’s in your kitchen. Cracking eggs and cutting up chicken will become second nature to you. Cooking rice and cooking beans will feel like a nearly automatic task.

When you reach that point, preparing foods at home will begin to feel simpler than going out. Trust me – that’s where I’m at these days. I’d far rather make a bunch of pasta and some steamed vegetables than take my family out to dinner. I’d honestly do it that way if I were single, as I could stow away a bunch of meals in the fridge.

Pick up a few basic helpful tools from the dollar store or Goodwill. At the beginning of this article, I made the assumption that you would likely have only very basic stuff in your kitchen – a stove, a microwave, a couple pots and pans, a knife, plates, bowls, and silverware. There are three other tools that really come in handy when it comes to preparing food at home, and you can get all of them at many Goodwill stores or off of Craigslist for just a few bucks, or at your local dollar store. These are going to save you money, because they save you so much time that they take away the incentive to buy more expensive convenience foods.

A slow cooker enables you to fill it with food in the morning, turn it on low, and come home in the evening to a prepared meal. It works really well for some things – it can make a mean slow cooker lasagna, for example, or soups and stews, or a roast. It doesn’t make everything well. You can find one at most Goodwills or general secondhand stores for just a few bucks. You might want to stop by the library and pick up a book on slow cookers and slow cooker recipes to get started.

A rice cooker is just something I find convenient if you have a lot of meals involving rice. You just put the rice in, put the water in, close the lid, touch a button, and wait twenty minutes and you have perfect rice. It makes rice almost impossible to mess up rice becomes something so simple that it barely requires any thought at all. Again, you can often find these at secondhand stores for just a few bucks. You may need to find the manual online, which shouldn’t be too hard.

Reusable containers enable you to save leftovers in the fridge after a meal. Smaller containers make it easy to subdivide leftovers into individual meal-sized containers that are perfect for reheating for lunch the next day or for a quick dinner down the road. You can pop most individual meals in the freezer for later thawing and reheating, too. You can find such container quite cheaply at the dollar store, though those tend to warp after a while. Make sure they’re freezer safe before popping them in the freezer and microwave safe before microwaving them!

Figure out which store in your area is the discount grocer and use that grocery store for as much as possible. Another valuable step in keeping the cost of food low is to make sure that you’re buying your food from the store that offers the lowest prices in the area. Some grocers charge higher prices than others and do this by having fancier displays, more open space, and a better location other grocers charge lower prices, but might have narrower aisles and less attention paid to displays and product selection.

Check out the stores in your area and judge them by their regular prices on staples. Stick with the store that has inexpensive rice and beans and pasta and milk and whole chickens – the kinds of low cost staples that you need to center your diet around if you’re trying to stay healthy and keep costs super low.

Use that grocery store flyer! Make sure that, each and every week, you’re checking out the flyer from that preferred grocery store. The store flyer lists sales that the store has that week, which, if you’re using a discount grocer, means pretty low prices. Use that information.

You can use it to get discounted fruits and vegetables (remember, I mentioned these as a staple earlier). You can use it to identify other ingredients that are exceptionally cheap this week. Remember these. They’re important. Keep reading.

Check other flyers, and use their loss leaders if the deal is good. Don’t just stop with the flyer of your primary grocer, either. If other grocers are convenient to you, check out their flyers, too, and look for loss leaders – items that are exceptionally cheap and intended to attract customers. It may be worth a stop at that store just to pick up the loss leader.

Plan your meals in advance of going to the grocery store, and make a list off of that meal plan. So, you have a bunch of cheap staples that you use to base your meals on. You know a bunch of very inexpensive items that are on sale this week. Maybe you have some odds and ends from the food pantry to boot. What can you do with those things to make meals for the week? That’s the big challenge of eating so cheaply.

Start thinking about how those items fit together. Can you cook some of the fresh vegetables with rice? Can they be turned into a soup? What kinds of neat things can you do with those items that are on sale that’s a bit unusual for you? What on-sale items pair well with the spices you have?

If you’re struggling, type some ingredients into Google or into All Recipes and see what turns up. You might find some interesting combinations that you hadn’t thought of.

As you come up with those meals, start slotting them in throughout the upcoming week. Slot in slow cooker meals or easy meals on nights when you know you’ll be busy in the evening. Slot in meals with a bit more prep work on other nights where you’ll have more time. If you can, plan on doing some of the prep work for later meals on the weekends or on particularly open evenings, so you can just grab some already-sliced peppers (for example) later on when you need them.

Once you’ve figured out meals that cover all of your needs, make a grocery list. Write down everything that you think you might need to make those meals, keeping in mind to not write down the things you already have. If you’re not sure, write it down and check later – you can always cross it off.

Then, when you run off to the store, you actually won’t be there very long. You’ll just be grabbing stuff off your list instead of wandering about (as you would do without a list). Because of that, you’re also less likely to put unplanned items in the cart, which will save you money – the fewer spontaneous items that wind up in your cart, the easier it is to meet that $1.25 per person per meal goal.

Even with all of this information before you, being able to survive and thrive on a very small food budget boils down to one thing: stepping back and being thoughtful about every dime you spend on food. That’s really what all of this is about. It’s about a transition from just grabbing food at the grocery store or the fast food joint or the takeout place to considering where your dollars go in terms of food. It’s about a transition to thinking about your food purchases when you’re outside the heat of the moment – planning ahead, thinking about recipes, choosing healthy and low cost ingredients, setting yourself up to succeed in your kitchen. That’s the key.

You can survive and thrive on a very low food budget. You can feed your family well with surprisingly little. It just requires you to step back and think about things a little and it requires a willingness to do a bit of planning and become a little more proficient in the kitchen.

Danish Chicken and Asparagus Tartlets

3-4 people
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Danish title: Tarteletter
Cuisine: Danish
Category: dinner

1.5 l (1/2 gal) water
chicken stock powder
350 g (12 oz) chicken breast
150 g (5 oz) white asparagus
40 g (1 1/2 oz) butter
5 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 dl (4/5 cup) milk
2 dl (4/5 cup) water (from the cooking of the chicken)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Start by bringing about 1.5 (2/5 gal) of water to boil. Dissolve the chicken stock in the water.
2. Add the chicken breast filets to the water and let them cook for about 20 minutes. They must be done in the middle but try not to over-cook them.
3. When the chicken is done cut the chicken into smaller pieces about 7x7 mm (1/3x1/3 inch). Remember to save the water used to cook this chicken.
4. If you uses fresh white asparagus clean them and boil them to tender in water - you can also just caned asparagus. Cut the cooked asparagus into smaller pieces with a length of about 2 cm (4/5 inch).
5. Continue by preparing the white thick sauce. In a saucepan add the butter and slowly melt it.
6. Add the all-purpose flour to the butter. Whisk everything into a nice butter-flour mixture.
7. Step-wise add the milk and the water (only 2 dl or 4/5 cup) used to cook the chicken. Whisk continuously until all flour lumps are dissolved.
8. Let the sauce simmer for 5-10 minutes or until it has a good and thick consistency.
9. Add the prepared chicken and asparagus pieces. Let it heat up in the white sauce.
10. Warm the tartlet cups and fill them with the chicken and asparagus sauce. Decorate the top with chopped fresh parsley.

10 Of The Cheapest Healthy Foods You Can Buy

Eating healthy on a budget can sometimes seem pretty impossible—especially when wellness types would have you believe that $12 juices and manuka honey sourced from the center of the earth are the only acceptable food sources out there. Newsflash: They certainly aren’t, and healthy eating absolutely doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You can find affordable, nutritient-packed food at almost any grocery store, provided you know exactly what you’re looking for.

Before you get shopping, there are a few budget-friendly tricks you should have up your sleeve. For one, definitely get to know your local grocery store a bit: Find out when they have sales and when they restock products by signing up for a club card or a newsletter. You’ll also want to keep your eyes peeled for seasonal produce, as those foods will tend to be cheaper than their out-of-season counterparts.

These 10 foods, however, will be cheap, cheap, cheap no matter what time of the year you’re shopping for them. In fact, every single one of them will cost you less than a dollar per serving. We’ve sourced the price information from Stop And Shop’s delivery service, Peapod, but it’s safe to say that those prices likely won’t change too much from supermarket to supermarket.