Not too long ago, I conducted a little experiment. I bought $100 worth of groceries and decided to see how long they would last if I didn’t spend another penny on food until I had eaten everything I bought. So, no eating out at restaurants or grabbing a quick snack somewhere.
Now, I’m someone who pops into the grocery store about twice a week and eats out about every other week. So, full disclosure, what prompted me to do this little experiment was that my car was in the shop, so it wasn’t as easy for me to go out as it usually is. 🙂
And what I found was that I could eat for 10 days on $100 worth of groceries. That’s 3 meals, 2 snacks, and a little taste of dessert each day for 10 days. (Or 30 meals, 20 snacks, and 10 little desserts.) All for $100.
Now, as a public health nutritionist and a 33-year vegan, this really isn’t surprising to me. I teach this all the time. It’s just that most folks, myself included, rarely eat at home exclusively until their groceries run out. In fact, the average person eats out 4 to 5 times a week, in addition to buying groceries.
So, how did I do it and what did I eat? Here’s a look at my grocery shopping list — and everything was organic.
Grocery Shopping List:
Fresh Kale (1 bunch)
Fresh Collards (1 bunch)
Fresh Dandelion Greens (1 bunch)
Sunflower and Beet Sprouts Micro Greens (1 large pack)
Purple Cabbage (1 large head)
White Button Mushrooms (1 pack)
Red, Purple and Yellow Bell Peppers (1 each)
Cherry Tomatoes (1 pack)
Bananas (1 bunch)
Frozen Mixed Berries
Chickpeas (I bought these and the next 3 beans in a carton packed in water, but they can be purchased dry from the bulk bin for less)
French Lentils (from the bulk bin)
Walnuts (from the bulk bin)
Sunflower Seeds (from the bulk bin)
Tempeh (2 packs)
Extra Thick Oats (from the bulk bin)
Millet (from the bulk bin)
Whole Grain Pasta Noodles (made from corn and quinoa flour)
Sprouted Corn Tortillas
Raw Coconut Macaroons
At home, I already had things like fresh herbs, dried spices, fresh garlic, olive oil, quinoa, whole grain crackers, hemp protein powder and flax seed oil for my smoothies, brown rice, and tahini. (And that’s pretty typical. Most folks have a range of staple items in their pantry at any given time.)
And here’s what a sample day of eating looked like during those 10 days.
Sample Day’s Menu:
Breakfast – Green smoothie with banana, flax seed oil, hemp protein powder, dandelion greens, kiwi, and frozen mixed berries
Mid-morning Snack – Oatmeal with chopped apples and walnuts
Lunch – Kale salad and soft tacos with corn tortillas, black beans, avocado, tomato, olives, purple cabbage, and brown rice
Mid-afternoon Snack – Nori sheets with sriracha hummus and avocado slices
Dinner – Broccoli ginger stir-fry over pasta with grilled tempeh, mushrooms, mixed peppers, onions, garlic, and whole grain pasta
Dessert – 1 Raw Coconut Macaroon
So, family, you CAN eat healthy on a budget. In fact, it can be cheaper to eat vegan, especially if you’re buying from the bulk bin, and you’re eating a wide variety of beans and lentils as your main source of protein.
So, that’s an example of how well I ate for 10 days with $100 worth of groceries.
Try this experiment for yourself. Eat what you buy from the grocery store only, until it’s gone. Wherever you are on your healthy eating journey, go ahead and give it a try — for a week, if you can, or at least 3-4 days.
What you’ll probably find is that you not only save money, but you’ll eat better, too. That’s because you’ll likely be using less fat, salt, and sugar than what’s in typical restaurant food, and your portion sizes will likely be smaller, too. And you may end up feeling much healthier in the process.