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Family and Consumer Sciences

Ohio State University Extension


Healthy Food for Less than $2 per Meal (Part 2)

April 7, 2020

Stocking Up for When You’re Stuck at Home – Part 2: How $180 in groceries fed 2 people for 20 days ($1.50/meal)

Three weeks ago, I wrote about stocking up for staying at home. I had gone shopping on March 13, after being away for over a week. Because many grocery shelves were bare, I had to make some substitutions and compromises and to shop at three different stores in Columbus to get items that would provide weeks of healthy meals. I focused on getting fresh and frozen essentials: whole grains (including low-sugar cereals), beans, fruits and vegetables, fish, nuts, healthy fats, and spices and condiments to make is all taste great. My goal was to stretch the $180 purchase to 120 meals (2 people, 3 meals/day for 20 days).

What did my meals consist of?

To save money, I don’t actually use many recipes.  Instead, I have go-to combinations of foods and flavors. The concept is similar to choosing the ingredients you want in your rice bowl or burrito bowl at restaurants like Freshii, CoreLife or Chipotle. I follow recommendations from know how much you need, take time to enjoy smaller amounts of food (eat less!), choose quality dairy foods, drink water instead of sweetened beverages, and almost always make half your plate fruits and vegetables.

The lists below reveal what I ate throughout the 20 days. Similar meals were provided for the second person in my home. Together, we ate 40 breakfasts, 40 lunches, and 40 dinners. <Read more...>

View Part 1