How can I have a good diet on very low budget? I work two jobs and I am a reservist in the Marine Corps.

– Joseph E.


It just takes a little planning and perhaps your local grocer’s weekly savings guide for a low-cost healthy diet. Not wasting food is key. If you can buy more, cook it once, then make leftovers, you’ll not only spend less but save on preparation time later. Casseroles, stir fries and crock pot meals are simple one dish meals that you can make in a large quantity and have less to clean after.

Sample savings: A $8 whole chicken can make 3-4 servings for an active man: roast chicken on day 1; chicken tacos on day 2; and cold chicken salad on day 3. Compare with $3-6/lb for precooked, skinless chicken breast.

Dry starches are cheap! Get larger bags of beans, rice and pasta to cook 1-2 cups at a time. By purchasing shelf-stable or frozen goods on sale and stocking up, you’ll spend less. Getting produce in season (e.g. stone fruit like peaches, plums and apricots in summer) saves dough. When it makes sense, it’s fine to use canned (rinsed) or frozen produce without sauce.

Your real challenge will be to cut back on prepared foods since I assume you’re tight on time with working two jobs. But it can be done! Pencil out your weekly meal plan, grab those coupons & your grocery list and shop smart.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

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This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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