A $3 Healthy Meal Challenge

  • Resistance to change is created by one excuse after another like an avalanche of wet cement blocking progress. One common roadblock on the road towards improved health is cost. Watching every dollar and penny in a household is very important especially today with looming foreclosures, layoffs, and inflation. A common misconception is that McDonald's, Burger King, or KFC offer the cheapest way to feed a family. Nothing can be further from the truth because in other parts of the world, that do not have the fast-food conveniences, families have been fed with just a few dollars and cents for centuries. Americans have just forgotten how to gather and prepare food-healthy food.

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    Today, I am challenging each and every one of you to try to prepare a healthy meal for just $3 per person with nothing but cooking oil, salt, pepper and sugar in your pantry. Laying down the gauntlet, I offer my healthy meal of Tart and Tangy Baked Beans with Roasted Asparagus.


    In order to come within budget, I had to slightly modify this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks: The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. Her recipe calls for molasses which adds a nice deep flavor but is cheaply substituted with sugar.  Her recipe also list cheese as optional, but we know that is an expensive option that we do not need. So, here is my cost breakdown based on prices at my grocery store:


    1 pound bag of pinto beans:         $1.19

    2 onions:                                   $0.66

    Cider Vinegar:                             $1.89

    Chili powder:                               $1.49

    Garlic:                                        $0.45

    Cumin:                                       $1.69

    1 pound canned tomatoes:             $1.49

    3 Granny Smith Apples:                  $2.05

    Asparagus:                                   $1.39


    Total cost for meal:                        $12.30


    Divide that total by four people and that averages out to $3.07 per person, not quite under $3 per person but pretty darn close. But if you also account for the fact that this meal could actually feed six people, I would say this budget-minded meal is a winner. Besides, the benefits of eating healthy meals are priceless.


    Challenge yourself to eat healthier within your budget and without making excuses.  If you have a healthy meal suggestion, please share it because sharing creates solutions.


Published On: March 11, 2011

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