Normally, the two words 'healthy' and 'budget' to not mesh in a sentence. I am not normal, however. So in this post I will make them mesh!
So let's take a look at a 'normal' meal. That usually includes a meat, starch & vegetable (please tell me you include vegetables, I think they're becoming a mythical creature). Great! The cheapest meat is probably ground beef, so we'll make hamburgers with potato fries and green beans. Our ingredients are listed below:
Beef $1.29 for 1 pound
Buns $.49 (.99/2 because it's 2 meals worth in the package)
2 large baking potatoes $1.28
2 cans green beans $1.34
Meal total: $4.41
Not bad at all. Of course that's assuming you have all the condiments in your house. Ketchup, mustard, mayo, oil for the potato fries, butter for the green beans. If not, that can add up.
Let's take a look at the cost of a salad. Don't groan. I can hear your cells crying out for live nutrients from fresh vegetables. Even if those vegetables are covered in a smothering of dressing. Below are the ingredients that I buy for our family when we eat salad:
Lettuce $.90 (Artisan lettuce costs $2.69/3...it really makes 3 meals)
Carrots $.39 ($.79 for a pound we use half)
2 large roma tomatoes $.75
Eggs $.68 (2 eggs each)
Cheese $.50 (half ounce each is great)
Grand total $2.47
Again, if you have to buy dressing, that's another $1 for a cheap bottle on sale. I realize that you can't buy a third of a package of lettuce, a half bag of carrots and a quarter bag of cheese. But we're looking at actual cost here. Triple that and it's $7.50 for 3 meals. That is still a steal!!! And a healthy one at that.
Your intestines are thanking me already ;)
Be creative with your meals. Buy more fresh ingredients. It's not going to hurt the grocery budget as much as you think. Really.