Eating Clean on a Tight Budget? Yes You Can!

Dear Boys and Girls,

Is it possible to eat clean when on a very tight budget? People think it’s not, but I’ve been saying for years that it is. It’s time to prove it.

My plan (upon the suggestion of a friend) is to post three meal plans: one for folks looking to lose weight/eat clean on a shoe-string budget, one for those with a bit elasticity in their wallets, and the third, for those who are looking for optimum health without having to worry about cost.

Ideally we would all be able to eat farm-raised, chemical free poultry/beef. ¬†After watching the documentary Food Inc., I’m sorry to say that when it comes to eating chicken and beef, folks on a tight budget really do get the short end of the stick. Organic, farm-raised chicken or beef can cost around $8 to $9 a pound. For many, that’s just outside of the budget. Well, you do what you can. You can still get good quality food for cheap.

Okay, here we go.


Quaker Oatmeal ($3.59 for 18 ounce canister), 6 egg whites or egg beaters (15 ounce $3.99)


2 Quaker rice cakes $2.69 (you get 7 days’ worth in a bag), 1 tablespoon of Smucker’s creamy natural peanut butter ($3.69 for jar), 1 scoop of whey protein (Beachbody brand $39.99. It will last you about a month if you use a scoop per day) mixed with water


6 ounces of boneless, skinless chicken breast ($3.29/lb for family pack), sweet potato (.99/lb) or 1 cup of Lundberg brown rice ($3.69 for 2lb bag) , 2 cups frozen veggies (you can find these for 10 for $10 on sale!)


hummus (Tribe 4-pack $2.69) and 2 cups of veggies, or cup of fat-free cottage cheese ($3.59 for 16 ounces), or whey protein and 1/2 serving frozen fruit


6 ounces of chicken/fish/beef (keep beef to once a week) and veggies

Water: 8 to 10 glasses per day, more if very active

Supplements: at the very minimum, take a multi-vitamin.

Note: I stay away from dairy and wheat. I feel less bloated without it. Also, I eat very little fruit.

Total price for the week: Around $35 to $40.

Most people eat out at least once or twice a week. If you cut back on just one dining out experience, you’ll find that you can put that towards your groceries.

Happy eating, boys and girls. Don’t let your tight budget keep you from eating clean and reaching your goals.

Barbie Decker, PhD

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6 Responses to Eating Clean on a Tight Budget? Yes You Can!

  1. Tom Hirt says:

    Nice job Barbie!! Such a common myth that is brought up almost as an excuse. I’m sharing this with my folks. Retweeted!!

  2. Jessica says:

    Good article! And if you buy store brand oatmeal its even cheaper:)

  3. Shandus says:

    This is such a great blog post! I tweeted it for others to see!

  4. Eric Piper says:

    Nice post Barbie!
    Anothre point to mention about affordability and healthy eating: if you want everything prepared for you before hand…it costs more. If you are willing to make everything from scratch…which takes planning and time….eating healthy can be very affordable. Case in point, last night at the produce section I was buying cauliflower and broccoli (which I love as snacks). I had a choice between a fist sized bag, already cut into small portions in a cool resealable bag for $3, or I could get an enormous head of for 1.89. Oh no! If I get the big one for less, I’ll actually have to get out the cutting board and…and.. prepare my own food!
    We live in a society of Give it to me Now!… Instant Gratification is King. Fitness is one of those things that takes time investment and patience, which is why the average American struggles. But our impatience is evident even in how we purchase food. I have retaken my kitchen…and yes, buying healthy foods can cost a heck of a lot more than processed, crappy foods….if you want it all made up for you. Take time to prepare your foods from scratch, and it is actually very affordable after all. Plus…I am having way too much fun choppin’ up stuff in the kitchen on my cutting board!

  5. Cathy says:

    I am not sure exactly how you did your calculations. I add up all of those prices (assuming enough food for 7 days, 6 oz of meat at lunch and dinner and 200g of sweet potato)—and I get $50.69. Then, if I add in the costs of the protein powder ($39.99/4) I am up to nearly $60 bucks per person per week! Assuming 4 people in a family, that is $240 a week. That, sadly, isn’t going to fit into many people’s “tight” budget. Also, it allows for very little variety in what you have to eat during the week.

  6. Get Fit With Barbie says:

    Thanks for reading, Cathy. I can’t remember, but I think I didn’t add up the protein powder. Not sure since it was written a while back. However, you could cut back on the amount of protein, since we really don’t need 6 ounces per person. And children eat less, too. As for variety, I was just providing an example. I acknowledge that it’s tough, just trying to provide some options and alternatives. It’s too bad that eating nutritiously has become a luxury.

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