We’re Wendy and Jess of Food Heaven Made Easy, an
online resource for nutritious and delicious living. We’re both
registered dietitians and BFFs. We love to cook, eat, travel
and save money. We also host the
Food Heaven Podcast, where we nerd out on all things
In the spring we wrote
this post, which explains how we manage to eat healthy and
delicious meals every day without going broke. And the
discussion continued in the comments, where one reader
challenged us to eat healthy for an entire week for under $50
Since we love a challenge, we decided to (at least
attempt) to prove that it was possible to do just that.
And here’s what happened…
If we were going to turn $50 turn into a week of healthy meals
(for one person), we had to plan it out — all of it. We sat
down for about half an hour to brainstorm meals and lay it all
out. Next, we did a rough estimate of what we thought each
ingredient would cost. Google calculator said we would come in
just under $50. But could it be trusted?
We took our list and headed off into the sunset — er, grocery
store. (Side note: Are we the only ones who feel like a trip to
the grocery store on a Friday night is more exciting than the
club? Just us? Cool.)
We filled our cart with all of the goodies and prayed that it
would check out at checkout. The cashier slowly scanned the
groceries. The suspense was excruciating.
$45.59, ALSO KNOWN AS: Forty-five dollars and fifty-nine cents!
That’s right. We got everything we wanted and came in right
under budget. We totally got this.
Here’s a PDF grocery list you can print out of everything
we used for this week.
1. We are vegetarian, so all of these meals are, too. We
do not think being vegetarian is the only way to be healthy.
(Although the benefits of a plant-based diet are basically
endless.) And this means we will not be making any
meat-based recipes. This does not mean that you
can’t substitute chicken or ground turkey instead of beans as
the protein in some of these dishes.
2. We love Mexican food. We chose a Mexican theme because
this type of cuisine is super inexpensive and delicious. It
literally doesn’t get much cheaper than beans and tortillas.
Whenever we have a dinner party, tacos are our go-to because
you can feed a whole group on a tight budget.
3. We drank water. Mostly because it’s healthy. But also
because it’s free.
4. This challenge assumes that your kitchen is equipped with
some of the basics, namely salt ‘n’ peppa, vinegar and cooking
oil. If you don’t have these things, you’ll have to buy
them if you intend to recreate any of these recipes.
5. We had most of these meals and snacks more than once.
Our motto is: recycle, reduce, reuse. If you have the time,
money, and energy to cook a different meal and snack every day,
that’s fabulous. We don’t. And we’re OK with that.
6. Take the time to prep cooked grains at the beginning of
the week, so they’re ready to use for these recipes. If you
cook a pot each of brown rice and quinoa in advance, you can
just warm up as much as you need in the microwave or a pan when
you’re putting together the dish.
300 calories; 10g fat, 45g carbs, 12g sugar, 9g protein.
This recipe is as basic as they come, which is a good thing.
Just cook 1/2 cup of oatmeal according to the package
directions and top with 1 tablespoon peanut butter and
half a banana, sliced. We added cinnamon to amp
up the flavor, but it’s not mandatory.
Morning Snack: Greek Yogurt and Fruit
179 calories, 1g fat, 17g carbs, 9g sugar, 17g protein.
Layer 1 kiwi, sliced, with 3/4 cup of Greek
yogurt. This makes a great work snack; just pop on the lid,
throw in your bag and enjoy when you’re ready.
Lunch: Sweet Potato and Black Bean Bowl
413 calories, 15g fat, 63g carbs, 8g sugar, 12g protein.
Cut a sweet potato in half, poke several holes all over
it with a fork, and bake at 400F until tender (this usually
takes about 40 minutes). Then just layer it with 1/2 cup of
cooked black beans, 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice*, 1/2
cup of cooked broccoli florets, and a quarter of an
avocado, sliced. To spice up the flavor, we added smoked
paprika, cayenne, and ground black pepper.
Afternoon Snack: Apple & Peanut Butter
174 calories, 8g fat, 25g carbs, 17g sugar, 4g protein.
Slice 1 apple thinly (which makes it feel like you’re
eating more) and dip in 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.
If you want to take the flavor up another notch, top with
cinnamon and nutmeg.
Dinner: Sautéed Spinach Tacos
538 calories, 28g fat, 54g carbs, 3g sugar, 21g protein
Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a pan over medium heat
and sauté 3 cups fresh spinach with 1 sliced clove of
garlic until the spinach wilts. Remove spinach from pan and
heat 3 tortillas in the pan (one at a time) for 2-3
minutes or until soft; you can also heat them in the oven. Then
stuff the tortillas evenly with the spinach, 1/2 cup of
cooked black beans, and 1 ounce of shredded cheese.
We topped these tacos with smoked paprika and sea
salt to bring together all the flavors.
Total nutrition for Day 1: 1603 calories, 61g fat, 205g carbs,
46g sugar, and 63g sugar.
221 calories, 6g fat, 25g carbs, 17g sugar, 20g protein.
Smoothies are perfect for breakfast; they’re simple and take
less than 5 minutes to make. Just blend 2 cups of fresh
spinach, 1 cup of almond milk, ¾ cup of Greek
yogurt, and half a banana until smooth. Tip: Add the
almond milk (or liquid) first for better blending.
156 calories, 10g fat, 1g carbs, 1g sugar, 12g protein.
For tips on how to perfectly hard-boil an egg, click
here. We topped with salt and fresh cracked
pepper for more flav.
532 calories, 26g fat, 46g carbs, 5g sugar, 25g protein.
Head to our site to get
the recipe for this beauty.
521 calories, 3g fat, 103g carbs, 9g sugar, 23g protein.
Start by cutting the top off a green bell pepper and
remove the flesh and seeds inside of it. Stuff the pepper with
1 cup cooked brown rice, 1 cup of cooked black beans, 2
tablespoons of chopped onion, and 1 clove of garlic,
chopped. Some of the stuffing may spill onto the baking
dish, which is totally fine. Bake at 375F for 20 minutes. Top
with half a large tomato, chopped, and add salt and
pepper to taste. We also season this PYT with a dash of
cumin and smoked paprika.
Total Nutrition for Day 2: 1610 calories, 54g fat, 201g carbs,
51g sugar, 84g protein.
110 calories, 0g fat, 30g carbs, 19g sugar, 1g protein.
All you do here is chop up one banana and freeze it.
Once it’s frozen, let the food processor work its magic; blend
until a smooth, creamy texture is reached. This “nice cream”
works best if the banana is super ripe.
623 calories, 21g fat, 98g carbs, 5g sugar, 23g protein.
Chop onions, cucumbers and tomatoes, and mix with the
juice of half a lime to make a simple “salsa.” Heat 3
or 4 tortillas for 2-3 minutes or until soft, using a grill
press or pan. Then stuff them evenly with 1 cup of cooked
black beans, 3/4 of an avocado, mashed, and the homemade
salsa. Top the tacos with smoked paprika and sea
Total nutrition for Day 3: 1601 calories, 56g fat, 237g carbs,
45g sugar, 57g protein.
284 calories, 18g fat, 10g carbs, 6g sugar, 22g protein.
Coat a 12-inch nonstick skillet with vegetable oil and heat
over medium heat. Sauté 1 cup spinach with 1 sliced
clove garlic until soft, and then remove from pan. Repeat
with 1 cup sliced mushrooms and 1 tablespoon chopped
onion and set aside. Beat 2 eggs with salt and
pepper until blended. Spread the egg mixture around the pan
— it should set immediately at the edges. Once the egg mixture
has mostly set, fill with sauteed vegetables, 3 slices of
tomato, and 1 ounce of shredded cheese, and then
fold in half. Flip one or two times until cooked and then
378 calories, 16g fat, 42g carbs, 4g sugar, 21g protein.
Poke some holes around 1 large potato, and then wrap it
in aluminum foil. Pop it in the oven at 425F for 45 minutes.
Uncover the potato, slice in half, top with 1 cup of
broccoli florets and 2 ounces of shredded cheddar
cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and bake for another
10 minutes. Enjoy with smoked paprika (I’m sure by now,
you can tell we love this stuff), cracked black pepper,
and salt to taste.
Total nutrition for Day 4: 1648 calories, 78g fat, 152g carbs,
38g sugar, 88g protein.
461 calories, 19g fat, 52g carbs, 9g sugar, 20g protein.
Slice up 1 bell pepper, 1/2 cup mushrooms, and 1/4 of
an onion. Heat a skillet over medium heat, add 1
teaspoon olive oil, and sauté the sliced vegetables for
about 4-5 minutes or until soft. Salt to taste, layer half of
the sautéed vegetables onto a corn tortilla, top with
one ounce of shredded cheese, and cover with the
other corn tortilla. Repeat with the remaining veggies,
cheese, and two more tortillas for your second quesadilla. Pop
these on a grill press or cook them on a pan until the
tortillas are crisp and the cheese has melted. Sprinkle a dash
of smoked paprika and cayenne pepper for some
You can get
the recipe for this salad on our website.
Total nutrition for Day 5: 1604 calories, 78g fat, 162g carbs,
50g sugar, 73g protein.
Total nutrition for Day 6: 1761 calories, 63g fat, 222 carbs,
57g sugar, 90g protein.
Total nutrition for Day 7: Calories 1711 calories, 67g fat,
244g carbs, 57g sugar, 53g protein.
Eating healthy meals on a $50 dollar budget was definitely a
bit of a challenge (we were scanning for deals and coupons
throughout the supermarket). Nonetheless- it’s doable — and
The MOST important strategy for success is proper meal
planning. If you need tips for planning, check out our
Was this enough food? This meal plan was super filling.
We had a full 3 meals and 2 snacks per day, which satisfied our
5’2” / 120-pound and 5’ 4” / 131-pound female frames,
If you feel like you need more or less food, you have two
options. Either eat fewer snacks ( = fewer calories) or
increase the portion sizes of the meals and/or snacks (
= more calories). Just keep in mind that this will affect how
much you spend on groceries.
Now. We want to hear from you! What are your go-to
affordable healthy meals? Let us know in the comments below
what you chow on when you are trying to keep it healthy on a