Despite the commercials appealing to “meatatarians,” or hawking products like waffle-egg-cheese-and-sausage breakfast sandwiches (is it me, or is Dunkin’ Donuts inching ever-closer to actually making a Luther Burger?) — I believe most people want to eat healthy.

But wanting isn’t doing, now is it?

The fact is, we live in a society where unhealthy food is typically cheaper and more readily available than the stuff we should be eating. And when you’ve had a long day at work, the last thing you want to do when you come home is cook a healthy dinner for yourself. But hold up — before you drive over to Burger King and convince yourself those “burger shots” aren’t as bad-for-you as the Whopper, look in the freezer. You might have the ingredients for a healthy dinner right there in your kitchen!

Part of the 50 Million Pound Challenge is steering clear of things that are bad for you, and nourishing your body with healthy, good food. For folks who need some kind of structure, there’s Dr. Ian’s 30 Day Meal Plan (which is avalable if you sign up). I’ve signed up because it gives me a general dietary guideline. The recipes are up to me, and that’s the way I like it!

I love trying new recipes, but as my disposable income has constricted, so has my food budget. Gone are the days where I splurged on pricey cuts of meats on a culinary whim. Now it’s all about the title of this post — eating healthy, eating cheap.

My three weekly grocery store staples are boneless chicken cutlets, frozen shrimp, and lean ground beef (sometimes I switch it up for turkey, but my husband can always tell the difference, and he isn’t a fan).

We’re talking lean protein, and versatility.

With those three ingredients close at hand, I can whip up pretty much anything. Do I want Mexican, all-American, Italian, or Chinese? It’s all up to me! And it’s gonna be healthier and tastier than anything I can get at a drive-through lane.

For a super-fast dinner, take for example the delicious, super-fast recipe for garlic basil shrimp pictured above. I got it from one of my favorite Food Network shows, Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger. With the exception of grape tomatoes and fresh basil, I already have all of the ingredients, and served over orzo or a fresh salad with a loaf of French bread on the side — less than 20 minutes et voila, dinner is served.

I try to pair my must-buy meats with veggies that are equally versatile. Every week, I need broccoli, spinach, and I love a bag of already-made stir-fry mix where I can get broccoli slaw, carrots, snow peas, and cabbage all together in one $2 bag.

Black beans are another affordable, versatile must-have vital pantry supply; they can be used in quick Mexican- or Asian inspired recipes, on salads or in stir-fries.

My love of lettuce wraps, stir-fry meals and veggies began long before this journey did, and those kinds of recipes save me whenever I’m about to make a bad dinner decision and I need a quick recipe idea.

This month’s issue of Weight Watchers magazine made me a happy subscriber — not only did it include 54 recipes and a section on inspiring new ideas for chicken, but now the mag’s contents page comes studded with a green dollar-sign logo to tell you which recipes will help you save money while you become healthier.

Online, I recently discovered two great recipe sites — Sparkrecipes, which I can’t believe I’m new to but I am… and BrokeAss, a bawdy but hilarious take on recipe blogging. Then there’s Cheap, Healthy, Good, which hey – is all about the weekly menu planning too!

For further fitness inspiration, visit my blog sister Sweet Potato Pie — she’s in the challenge too!

OH and before I forget… this post is all about saving money, but now members of the 50 Million Pound Challenge can make money, too!

The challenge is giving teams a chance to win $10,000. All you need to do is make sure you’re registered at

Join a team of 10 or more or start your own team — each team needs at least 10 members. Then you’ll be asked to submit an essay about your team and your weight loss efforts and experience. The contest runs from March 1 to June 1.

Good luck to everyone who enters!

Bellas, fellas — how do you eat healthy and cheap?

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Beth says:
March 5, 2009, 8:51 pm
Dried whole grain items are super cheap, and usually really healthy, too. Brown rice is cheap and a great base for many meals (you can also make a ton of it, and freeze into smaller portions that can be zapped for quick pairing with a stir fry). Dried beans, soaked over night, can make a super healthy bean soup (again, I make a ton of it and freeze). If you get an air popper ($25-$35; I got mine with "thank you" points from my credit card) you can make your own popcorn, and keep it low-fat by limiting the amount of olive oil--better than butter, anyway--you add to it by measuring out a table spoon or 2 before adding salt, pepper, "Old Bay" (my favorite), curry, etc. Oatmeal--rolled or steel-cut--or homemade granola are cheaper and healthier than cereal.
Beth says:
March 5, 2009, 8:58 pm
Oh! Mark Bittman's "Bitten" blog is a great resource for adding more whole grains into your eating: He's vegan before dinner time, so he's all about whole grains.
Veronica says:
March 5, 2009, 9:27 pm
Beth, you are SO spot on with your frozen brown rice idea! Why didn't I think of that? I always mull over buying it when I'm grocery shopping, but then I think of how loooooong it takes to cook... now I don't have an excuse because of the great tip! :o) Bella, I'm right with you on the eating-at-home tip. I just started getting serious about it this week -- for savings reasons more than anything else -- and it's sooo much more gratifying than running through a drive-thru on the way home. And about your go-to proteins... I have a SERIOUS stash of frozen tilapia in my freezer! :o)
Beth says:
March 5, 2009, 10:21 pm
Veronica, I can't take credit for the idea--I noticed that Trader Joes sells frozen brown rice, and figured it would be cheaper to do it myself!
Michelle says:
March 6, 2009, 3:52 am
I totally second Beth on the dry beans and rice. Rice is so cheap, so easy to prepare, and so versatile. One of my fav ways to eat it is with stewed tomatoes over the top of it. Dont forget about those vegges you can grow in a kitchen garden! That is a huge money saver.
Elana says:
March 6, 2009, 10:07 am
Don't forget to try the Steamfresh frozen veggies. Both Green Giant and Birds Eye make them. Add shrimp and brown rice for the easiest stir fry ever! And it helps you get more veggie variety. The bags are usually between $2-$3 and I always have some to take to lunch the next day. Can't beat it!
Christine says:
March 6, 2009, 10:43 am
Beth! Old Bay on popcorn is my favorite too. I usually pop mine stove top since I don't have a popper - 1 T. of oil, and then I follow Elise of for the directions. Don't add any more butter or oil, but do add plenty of Old Bay and extra cayenne. I agree that frozen beans are best, but I don't hate on the canned stuff either. And if you're in a hurry a can of drained and rinsed black beans, a chopped mango, onion, a clove of garlic, a chile and a squeeze of lime make a great salsa/salad that goes amazing w/ some simple sauteed shrimp.
Tesia at says:
March 6, 2009, 11:17 am
I'm definitely a strong advocate for cooking your own food at home. The food usually tastes better, is cheaper, and you have more control over the quality of ingredients used. I prefer to use fresh vegetables as much as possible (I'm so excited that spring and summer are just around the corner). If you get them from a farmer's market or even an International grocery store (easier to find if you live in a metropolitan area), the produce is relatively cheap. Check out my food blog,, for more recipes and tips. My focus is on reclaiming the culinary legacy of black women and cooking nourishing, flavorful food. I've also taken the 50MP Challenge, and in the time that I've been blogging and cooking more often, I've lost 10 pounds. I'm working on another 10 to get to my ideal weight. So you can enjoy tasty, good food and manage your weight too!
Kelly says:
March 6, 2009, 11:51 am
Bella, I'm with your husband on the ground turkey. I still feel guilty for turning my husband back into a beef eater when we first lived together because I refused to eat meals made with ground turkey. When I decided to kick the red meat habit about a year ago a friend suggested using ground chicken, it doesn't have the aftertaste that ground turkey has. Now I substitute ground chicken for ground beef or turkey in any recipe.
nyc/caribbean ragazza says:
March 6, 2009, 12:09 pm
Veggies, beans and rice, pasta. One in a blue moon I splurge on meat. Since moving to Italy my meat consumption has gone way down. Not sure why. There four amazing butchers within a few blocks but I've been eating more fish, veggies, and pasta dishes. I'm so looking forward to the spring when other vegetables/fruits will be in season. I'm kind of citrused out. Sardines are also cheap and a great resource for omega3 and I think protein.
Miss Cocoa Luv says:
March 6, 2009, 1:06 pm
This is definitely up my alley. i need to change my habits like crazy anywhoo, check out this when you get a moment. I nominated you for a cutsie award. thanks
lina says:
March 8, 2009, 7:42 pm
bella, rachel ray has an awesome curry turkey burger recipe that i cook all the time! it was the first thing i cooked for my boyfriend and he loved it. they are delicious, and really easy to make!
LBell says:
March 9, 2009, 12:02 am
I simply cannot justify buying cold cereal when oatmeal (old-fashioned or steel-cut) is so much cheaper and healthier. Thanks to Mark Bittman, I'm now eating mine with chicken broth, an egg, and extra-sharp cheddar cheese mixed in. It's actually really good! The beautiful thing about beans is that there are so many to choose from. I'm not a fan of red or white beans, but I love black beans and lentils. If you're a coffee drinker, MAKE YOUR OWN! It's ridiculous to spend money on coffeeshop coffee these days.
LBell says:
March 9, 2009, 12:06 am
PS. I realize that putting egg and cheddar cheese in oatmeal doesn't sound healthy, but I need a stick-to-your-ribs kind of breakfast and this does it for me. :)
BekkaPoo says:
March 12, 2009, 4:59 pm
Congratulations on your journey! I would like to add a tip.. make sure you go crazy on spices, oils, vinegars, seasonings, etc. that you've never tried before. If you're satisfied with the flavor of your food, you won't want to try to make up for it with extra fat or sugar calories. Oh one more thing.. shrimp are high in cholesterol (not sure if it's the good or bad kind though). I've heard that if you're prone to getting high cholesterol you may want to eat shrimp less frequently. Cheers, Bekka
Fitness Info says:
March 13, 2009, 11:32 pm
Just found your blog-- nice post!
Johnson Cronshaw says:
November 17, 2010, 8:03 am
Fascinating, thank you so much! I spent my childhood in Yorkshire in the UK, and I've been trying to find a recipe for this tasyy pie I remember eating all the time, but can't remember what we called it!!! Do you know any famous pie recipes from Yorkshire?
explosive exercises says:
June 12, 2013, 9:39 pm
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