Affordable, Healthy Food #2 Meat!

I know what you are thinking, “Meat is healthy?” or “Meat is too expensive!”. But I think you should examine those ideas.

Last weekend we went out to eat at a Mexican restaurant, enchilada and taco dinners. It was $50 for three people. Not too bad. Then the next day I went to the store and bought $50 worth of meat, chicken, pork and ground beef. That was enough meat for at least 5 meals for 4 people. That is only $2.50 per serving of meat. I’m going to make burgers, grilled chicken, and pork chops. There will be leftovers. Which was the better deal?

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When eating on a budget, you must consider calories and nutrition, not just the price. Meat provides more calories per ounce than vegetables and is a very important protein source. You should eat your cheap veggies, fresh or frozen, but don’t leave out the meat, because ounce for ounce, it is a good deal even at today’s prices. You will feel more satisfied if you eat some good fat and protein and meat will provide that.

asparagus barbecue cuisine delicious
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I’m not talking about buying Ribeye steaks. Cheaper cuts provide the nutrition you need. Just learn how to cook them because they can be tougher than the pricey cuts. For example, you can put a pork or beef roast in the instapot and have a tender juicy roast in no time. Add some rice or potatoes and a green salad and you are eating healthy. Add a piece of bread if you are into that.

The key to making a roast more affordable is eating a smaller portion per person and eating plenty of vegetables and a starch with it.

Another way to eat your meat without breaking the bank is to cut it up and use it in soups or casseroles.

Ground beef, turkey, chicken, canned meat, or cooked and shredded chicken are all great for adding to soups and casseroles made with rice, pasta, or potatoes. You can make a huge pot of this kind of food for much less than buying pizza or eating fast food or frozen dinners.

A one serving frozen dinner can cost anywhere from $3 to $6! And they usually don’t provide many calories and you end up eating something else with it. You could buy a pound of meat for that or more depending on what kind you choose. Then add cheaper starches and veggies to it and you have enough food for several people or several meals for the same price or less than a frozen dinner.

Here are a few menu suggestions.

  • Roast with potatoes, carrots, celery onion, cooked in instapot
  • Pasta with chicken, broccoli, alfredo sauce or cheese sauce (homemade is cheaper)
  • Fried rice with pork or chicken and frozen peas and carrots, plus onions
  • Baked chicken with salad and a potato
  • Chicken soup with rice and mixed veggies ( my son’s favorite)
  • Roast sliced thin and put on buns
  • Grilled burgers with beans and potato salad
  • Thin sliced pork chops with mashed potatoes (instant is fine) and green beans
  • Grilled chicken sliced or diced and served on a big salad
  • Baked potato with chopped meat on top
  • Pork carnitas with beans and rice
  • Hamburger patties with brown gravy and rice or potatoes and a green veggie

So you see that if you fill out the meal with cheap veggies and starches, you can eat your healthy meat portion and still afford gas.

Don’t skimp on nutrition. Learn how to cook cheaper foods at home and you will save money.


  1. We do cookie sheets of roasted vegetables all the time to serve with some kind of meat. You can slice up pretty much any kind of vegetable, toss it in olive oil and sprinkle on some kosher salt, put it in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Zero effort, super inexpensive, healthy, and amazing flavor as the sugars in the vegetables caramelize. If you line the cookie sheet with aluminum foil first, you don’t even have to clean up.

    I have a variation of this with brussels sprouts where I toss them in melted butter, honey, and a little siracha. Amazing flavor, also super cheap.

    Not sure this would be possible in a rural area, but another easy way to save money on meat is don’t buy it from a chain grocery store. There is a shocking difference in the price of meat between chain grocery stores and private butchers or the butchers in international/ethnic grocery stores. You go to the Latin American grocers (which are supplying the meat for the food you are eating at a Mexican restaurant) and it’s often half the price of a major grocery store chain. The meat is often fresher too, because it’s not coming on a truck from a warehouse on the other side of the country (which is going to add to the price in commodities-driven inflation).

    It’s not effortless, but if you learn to make breads and simple pastas, you can have your starch literally for pennies.

    • Great suggestions. I love roasted veggies !! We donโ€™t have a Mexican meat market , but we do have a small grocery store that has good Texas raised meat . Itโ€™s so good!

      • Hahaha, for some reason I forgot what it was like to live in Texas, where coming by beef and pork is not all that hard. It’s a real change when you are on the other side of the country. For me, eating cheaply means produce and fish. I have seen $30 a pound for prime cuts of beef here, not kidding. And the hamburger sometimes tastes like a science experiment.

  2. Soup is a staple in our house, lol ๐Ÿ™‚ Always has been! I grew up not liking soup but now that I’m “on the other side” it’s a necessity. I can make a pot of soup with 1lb of hamburg from our local farmer and then just add whatever else sounds good (fresh or frozen veggies, lentils, or rice, or potatoes, or beans, etc.) This makes a filling meal for all of us on the cheap and we usually have leftovers for my husband’s lunch the next day. This is all very affordable and I would make soup more often if everyone in the house enjoyed it, lol. Another inexpensive, but filling soup, is potato soup. A bag of potatoes is affordable (we use the whole 5lb bag around here, lol) and you can either add to it (we usually add turnips and a meat) or just leave it as is and either add cream, or just mash up some of the potatoes to make it creamy. Add some spices and you have a filling meal!! ๐Ÿ™‚ God Bless!

  3. I always wondered how Heaven could be Heaven if we couldn’t eat meat!?!๐Ÿ˜‚ You know, the whole lion lying down with the lamb thing.
    But then, while in Hong Kong, a dear friend took us to a Buddhist monastery for a meal, and the dishes they served were sooo delicious!!!
    What was amazing was that one would have thought you were eating beef steak, boneless pork chops or mutton or chicken if you did not know that these Buddhists were very devout and would never kill ANY animal. They won’t even kill ants, but find ways to redirect them away from the food barns. Very cool. Just sad that they do not know Jesus, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the angels preparing the Marriage Supper of the Lamb use some of their recipes. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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