Frugal Living 

How to Eat Healthy on $10 a Day

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This is a guest post from Vic Magary of Vic helps everyday people like you to build muscle and lose fat with short, but intense circuit training and strength training workouts

Eating on a budget is no easy task. You could eat at Mcdonald’s 3 times a day and probably stay under $10 but is that really want you want to do? You’d feel awful, your productivity would go way down and chances are you medical bills would go up.

The best way to eat on a budget, at $10 or so per day per person, is to employ a few of the “sneaky” strategies I use when picking up my own groceries. Here’s a few of my favorite ways to eat healthy on a budget.

Shop The Perimeter of The Grocery Store

The perimeter is where you’re going to find the healthiest foods. The interior part of the store is dedicated to most of the junk and condiments that are going to make you bloated, tired and fat. Stay away from them at all costs.

Your best bets will be ground beef, eggs, bananas, tuna, apples, a whole chicken, spinach, broccoli, green pepper, celery and potatoes. Pricey things you should stay away from are fish, steak, red peppers, pre-cut fruit and avocados. By sticking with those raw ingredients, you’re already halfway there to staying on budget.

Don’t Waste Money On Sugary, Fattening Drinks

A lot of people waste money on drinks when they go grocery shopping. If you’re buying soda, orange juice, vitamin water and some wine for the whole family, you’re going to add at least $30 – $60 onto your bill.

My personal favorite drinks for health reasons and cost reasons are iced tea, coffee and water with some lemon. All three of these have no calories at all and aren’t loaded with sugar or any other ingredients that will make you fatter. I especially like tea. Tea packets cost next to nothing and will last you 2-3 months.

Condiments Add Up Quickly

When I put a client on a fat loss plan, I recommend they stay away from most condiments. Things like creamy salad dressings are costly and they pack on a bunch of unwanted calories. If you want to slash your grocery bill stay away from salad dressings, teryaki sauce, mayo/ketchup, barbecue sauce, etc. They have a lot more sugar and sodium than you can taste.

When it comes to eating a salad, I recommend only one type of dressing – a mix of olive oil and balsalmic vinegar. It’s the healthiest dressing available but it is a bit pricey. Consider buying the ingredients spearaately and making it yourself. Above all, stay away from the sugary, creamy dressings!

Stop Eating Out So Much!

If you work in a 9-5 job, you’re probably eating out 3-4 times per week. If you have a spouse doing the same thing, then it’s costing you even more. I’m not saying never eat out but if you’re trying to stick to a budget, eating out is very costly.

On top of that, when you eat out you’re usually getting double the calories without even knowing it. Restaurant food usually isn’t prepared with nutrition in mind. They just want the food to taste good (can you blame them?). So that plate of food that looks “normal” to you actually probably has enough calories for two days!

After you factor in the price of the meal, tip, gas to get you there, and parking or valet fees, that’s an expensive bill for a family of four. Rack up two of these per week for an entire month and you’ll start to see where all your money has gone.

Some Final Tips

You don’t have to eat all organic foods to eat healthy. Yes, organic and free range foods are better for you but if it’s not in your budget don’t beat yourself up over it. If you stick to lean meats, veggies, fruits, nuts and a lot of greens you’ll be eating healthier than 99% of Americans.

If you want more tips on eating healthy and quick, but intense workouts, come read my blog, or sign up for my free email newsletter

{ 53 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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53 Responses to “How to Eat Healthy on $10 a Day”

  1. Chris says:

    Go to the farmers market. If you don’t were one is, find it. This is a fun way to get the freshest produce at discount prices.

  2. Andrew says:

    Some great ideas on here. I work a 9-5 and so does my wife – well, we work more like 8-6 but who’s counting?! We try to brown bag it as much as possible. This is usually a sandwich (some turkey breast, cheese and whole grain organic bread) in a reusable container. We try to make a cup of coffee or tea at home and use a thermal mug to bring to the office. We’ve also purchased some good bpa-free quart size water bottles and then use our PUR water filter at home to bring filtered water to the office as opposed to buying bottled water, which saves a good deal of money. I really think that $10 per day is very, very generous. Our monthly grocery bill is probably $300 to $400, which includes sundries for the home, toiletries, etc. We try to eat as healthy as we can, with as much raw fruits and vegetables and very little meat. For eating out, we try to rely on local coupon books that we purchase for the year, which contain some great discounts and free entrees. Hopefully some of my ideas can help those of you who read this blog as well.

  3. Andrew says:

    Almost forgot, we also maintain a small vegetable, herb and berry garden each summer, maybe a plot that’s 5×12 feet or so, which really helps control fruit and vegetable costs during the summer and fall.

  4. Anon says:

    I thought this was extravagant. I live well on ~$200/month, which is $6.66/day. I routinely buy steak, fish, red peppers and avocados! My $200/month also includes lunches for work, the odd bottle of wine, and household goods. However, I cook from scratch, never buy soda-I never liked it-and I make things like my own vinaigrette. Here is a good recipe. The proportions work well for me and the dressing keeps well.

    1/3 cup oil (I prefer walnut as it lets the taste of the greens through)
    2 tbsp white wine vinegar
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

    For beginners-learn to cook!

    Mix the salt, pepper, and mustard in the vinegar until salt dissolves. Add oil, shake well. I do not understand why anyone would buy dressing. Balsamic is much too heavy for salad dressing imo-it drowns all the other flavors out. If you vary the oils and vinegar in this recipe you can ring many changes.

    I dont buy condiments but I do buy spices as Im Indian and I shop a lot at ethnic markets-usually very good value.

  5. ellen says:

    I just subscribed to this blog hoping I’d find useful information but I’ve got to say that anyone who thinks spending $300 a month to feed one person is “frugal” is not going to be of much help to me. I spend about $400 a month to feed myself, my husband, two growing pre-teen boys, a dog and two cats.

    And yes, we eat healthy food including lots of fresh produce.

    Maybe I need to start my own blog. 🙁

  6. It would have been nice to see a financial breakdown of how the $10 was decided in the post heading. The title seems specific, but the post is not so much. Either way I like the ideas, but follow the sentiment of several of the previous comments in that $10 a day is still a bit high for budget conscious shoppers.

  7. msmimi says:

    This depends on where you live. For a person of 1 I spend around $150-175 per month, sometimes less. I live in California, where the cost of living is higher. Most of the cheapest foods you can buy are canned, and packages. I do agree that coupons, buying in bulk, freezing and taking your lunch to work can save on your bill.

  8. Jimmy E. says:

    I am on the opposite end of the spectrum but realize that I do overspend on groceries/dining out. On average I spend $1,100/month on myself. My goal is to get this amount down to around $500 per month.
    -I enjoyed your article and I was able to take away some helpful advice for grocery shopping. Now to try and remedy my desire for gourmet meals when dining out.

  9. Hey, what’s up? My mother and I extremely appreciate the lengthy work you have done for this blog post. In fact, my husband and I have also been producing a website on exotic fruit and their health benefits. Your site’s model has been a great help for our own website. Keep up the great info! Looking forward to seeing more posts from you! I just added this blog to my own bookmarks.

  10. Audri says:

    It really does matter where you live. I struggle to eat for $10/day in my area. Ironically its a low-income area, but food prices are steep.

    My diet is almost exclusively plain oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, eggs, canned beans, frozen veggies, & fruit juice. THAT’S $10/DAY IN MY AREA.

    • Audri says:

      BTW, I get store brand fzn veggies and aim for 12 oz veggies daily. I also drink a glass of fruit juice about every other day or have a cheap piece of fruit (like banana or small apple).

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