Tag Archives: budget

Idaho has Cheapest Groceries, Virginia Most Expensive: Can You Feed Your Family a Meal for $15?

grocery prices by stateEMBED THIS GRAPHIC

Do you think you could feed your family a healthy meal with only $15? It all depends on where you live, and what you’re willing to buy.

To get the ingredients to make a simple meal at home, you would spend an average of $15. That’s compared to an average of $6.50 for a single meal from a fast food restaurant like McDonald’s. When looking at base cost, fast food certainly seems like the cheaper option, and that’s appealing to a family crunched for cash.

However, the ingredients you could get for $15 would make a meal for four people — we priced chicken breasts, potatoes, apples, and milk — and the meal would be better for you than a cheeseburger and fries from the nearest drive-through.

5 Family Menus for $15 or Less

Unfortunately, not everyone has access to fresh ingredients, nor can everyone afford them. In some states, the cost of a meal’s worth of groceries is far more than $15. In Virginia, for example, you would need nearly $30 for the same amount of food you could get for less than $10 in Idaho. How is it possible that a family can have more or less affordable food depending on where they live?

Food inequality is a growing problem in the United States, as shown in a recent study released by the Harvard School of Public Health. Though diet quality has improved among people of higher socioeconomic status, the same cannot be said for those on the other side of the spectrum. (more…)

Dumpster Diving for Dinner: A Mission to Save $165 Billion Worth of Edible Food


Why would the owner of a marketing company be dumpster diving for food? You could find Rob Greenfield behind your local grocery with his bike propped against the dumpster while he looks for food. He has now completed two rides across America eating primarily from dumpsters. This isn’t a case of extreme cheapskates; Rob’s goal with these rides is to draw attention to how much food is wasted in America.

On his website, he lists these statistics:

  • We throw away 165 billion dollars worth of food per year in America. That’s more than the budgets for America’s national parks, public libraries, federal prisons, veteran’s health care, the FBI, and the FDA combined.
  • About 50 million of our 317 million Americans are food insecure yet we produce enough food to feed over 500 million Americans.
  • Just to create just the amount of food that ends up in the landfills we waste enough water to meet the domestic water needs of every American citizen.

With as many as one in every seven American households being reported as food insecure and one in four children living in food insecure homes, the fact that we waste so much food on a daily basis is concerning. Charity Sub reports that 96 billion pounds of food are thrown away each year by restaurants, retailers, farmers, and individual households. In each major city that he visited on his ride, Greenfield created a demonstration with food collected from local dumpsters. He states that in a single night, he can collect from dumpsters enough food to feed hundreds of people in any given city. (more…)

Weight Watchers is the Best Diet Deal at $377 to Lose 5 Pounds

weight loss cost

Want to kickstart your weight loss journey but unsure where to begin? A new study suggests that Weight Watchers diet program and the weight loss drug Qsymia may give you the best bang for your buck.

ABC News aired a story about Duke University comparing the costs and effectiveness of three diet programs and three weight loss prescription medications. Weight Watchers came out on top with the price of $155 per kilogram lost (2.2 pounds).

“If you are about to embark on a major weight loss attempt, there is more than just the number on the scale to consider. You want to make your money matter,” says ABC News’ senior medical contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton.

The average annual cost of Weight Watchers was $377, and users lost an average of 5.3 pounds, according to the study. Our resident nutrition expert, Mary Hartley, RD, comments that as diet plans go, “Weight Watchers is good for providing peer support, basic nutrition education, and flexibility to individualize food selections.” Though she warns that it is still a “diet” with the external focus of translating food into other quantifiable values.

This means people have two different mentalities of what they can eat when they are either “on the diet” or “off the diet,” and Hartley is “never impressed by weight loss that is only to be regained.” (more…)

The Home Exercise Equipment You Shouldn’t Live Without

If you have the time, money, and access to a convenient gym, it’s a great place to get in shape and stay that way. However, with a relatively small investment, you can create your own gym environment at home and ultimately save time, money, and accessibility. All you really need are a few basic pieces of equipment that will focus on cardio and strength training.

home gym

Having a home gym filled with the right equipment can save you hundreds of dollars a year in gym fees, babysitting services, and even cute gym clothes! Let’s face it ladies, most of us have the gym outfit and then the home gym outfit and I’m guessing the home gym outfit is way more comfy.

Clear the ping pong table out of the way and declare that corner of the basement yours. Add the following gym staples and you’ve got your own circuit training course that can be done any time of day, in any weather. Bonus reason for the home gym? If your exercise playlist includes a heavy metal, smooth jazz, country music shuffle, you just take out the headphones and crank it right up.

Must-Have Home Gym Equipment List

Elliptical: Easy on the joints and limbs, this home cross trainer mimics stair-climbing, walking and running. With the touch of a button you can go from slow crawl to an intense workout. You have the power to challenge yourself every time you step on. (more…)

The $3 Beef, Veggie, and Noodle Dinner: Backpacking Around the World and Still Eating Well on the Cheap

In the middle of March, I packed what I could carry on my back, headed to the airport, and took flight for New Zealand. I’ve never been out of the U.S. before; I could only hope I knew what I was in for. I’m not a wealthy trust fund baby, I’m not a young guy from Europe whose parents are funding a “gap year,” and I still have bills to pay back home. All that being said, traveling on the cheap was my primary objective. I stay in hostels, I use public transportation, and for the most part, I make my own food instead of eating out. The average meal here costs $12-14 NZD (that’s about $10 to $12 USD).


I’ve been in New Zealand for a few weeks now (flew out to Vietnam last night), and wanted to share with you one such quick, easy, and cheap meal many backpackers are familiar with. While the context here is eating cheap while traveling, you could do the same thing at home.

What You’ll Need:

  • Fantastic Noodles / Ramen Noodles / 2 Minute Noodles
  • Cubed beef / chicken / tofu chunks
  • Vegetables of your choice

I went with beef, broccoli, potato, carrots, and fresh green beans. Everything you see in the picture below cost about $12 NZD (about $9 USD), and is easily enough for three meals for one person. At $3 bucks each, you’ll be hard pressed to beat it, especially for a meal as filling as this.



“Hungry Girl” Shares Her Top Tips for Eating Smart on a Budget

HG Diet Cover
You want to eat healthy, but you don’t want to have to dip into savings to fill your belly with good food. There is a better option, and shopping smart is easy once you know how. Lisa Lillien, author of the new book The Hungry Girl Diet  and founder of Hungry-Girl.com, spills her top tips for saving money while scoring healthy groceries:

Bring a list!  Stay on task and avoid those impulse buys for the sake of your wallet AND your healthy-eating habits. (Here’s HG’s most updated supermarket list, if you need some inspiration!)

Two words: Virtual couponing.  Sure, you can clip from the circulars, but you can also surf the Internet for online coupons—they’re everywhere and they could save you lots of cash! Also, ALWAYS apply for those supermarket discount cards. (more…)

Wealth is Health: Poorest States Trend Highest for Obesity, Cancer, and Poor Dental Health

As Americans, we’re competitive people. It’s in our blood. Speaking of blood and competition, a recently released infographic breaks down state by state statistics in categories like obesity, dental health, STDs, cancer rates, and several other quaint reminders of life’s frailty. Thanks to the Top Masters in Health Care—who meticulously compiled the data—you can now see how much better your state is compared to the other union territories! Naturally, we are most concerned with the obesity and health related numbers, and after a quick look, we noticed a disturbing trend. The statistical data suggested that obesity, loss of teeth and cancer were all closely correlated. How could this be? (more…)

Why You Should Absolutely Shop Sam’s and Costco for Healthy Eating on a Budget

For six ounces of raspberries, that usually mold in a day or two, I pay my grocer $4.00. This seems ludicrous, and so raspberries are a “treat” that we get on sale occasionally. My grocery budget is admittedly larger than a lot of families, but it still has a strict cap and has to go a long way.

About six months ago, I visited the Big Box Warehouse Store in my city to pick up something with a friend. I was shocked. Those same raspberries, in a package three times the size, were the same price. And the kicker? They were organic. And I found that to be the case over and over.

I almost exclusively buy my fruits and vegetables at this warehouse store now, along with a number of other items that are always on our “healthy” grocery list. I get them at a fraction of the cost, and when anyone is trying to stretch their dollar further at the grocery store, less cost and more food is always a win.

Yes, the total at the end of your receipt might be higher than what you typically pay, but don’t let that initial sticker shock weigh you down. Remember, you’re getting at least two or three times the food for that price. Where you couldn’t buy raspberries every week before, now you can. And it doesn’t stop at the berries.

Last year, Lisa Johnson conducted an experiment to feed her family on a poverty level budget exclusively at Whole Foods for 30 days. She pulled it off, with wine and money to spare. Just imagine what you could accomplish with that budget at a place like Sam’s or Costco, both of which accept SNAP, or food stamps.

We’ll share with you our shopping tips for navigating the store and getting the most out of your time and money. As well, we’ll share with you the healthiest must-have food items there (at least at our location). (more…)

What the Popes Eat: How Pope Francis Will Keep it Frugal and Healthy

The leader of the Catholic church changed hands yesterday. Amongst great fanfare, Jorge Mario Bergoglio exited the Vatican after a plume of white smoke rose from the chimney and was announced as Pope Francis I. He’s the first pope of modern times to come from Latin America; specifically he hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

He’s described as a humble man and a pope of the people, already declining to stand atop a podium when he first greeted his loyal Catholic followers. So then, can we assume the papal diet will also be a modest one? It appears so. According to Lanancion.com, Pope Francis enjoys a healthy diet, eating things like fresh fruit, skinless chicken, salads, and a glass of wine on occasion.

It may be a leaner and more frugal diet than many of his predecessors. (more…)

Health Care Tax Deductions You Can’t Afford to Overlook

If you’re like many Americans, doing your taxes is a confusing chore. Deductions are crucial elements to filing taxes, especially if you’re expecting a return. However, few people know about all their options, especially their health deductions. And as we move into 2013, the new Affordable Care Act will cause even more changes to health deduction section of your tax forms, but not as much as you might think right away.

“Most major changes brought by the Affordable Care Act will come in 2014,” advised Jean Chatzky, finance expert and journalist whose Jean Chatzky’s Money School debuts this April. However, there are a few things that Chatzky advises taxpayers watch for this year:

  • The contribution limit for Flexible Spending Accounts has been revised downward, to $2,500 beginning in 2013. There was no limit before, though most employers capped it at $5,000.
  • Medicare payroll taxes may increase for some taxpayers. Those who earn over $200,000 as an individual or $250,000 as a couple will pay 2.35% to medicare. Those who earn less will continue paying the current rate of 1.45%.

Where taxpayers can see the biggest advantage will be in their medical-related deductions.

“Many taxpayers assume they can’t reach the 7.5% threshold to deduct medical expenses, but you might be surprised if you add it all up and include everything the IRS allows,” advised Chatzky. She provided a lot of insight on the common oversights we make that can and probably will push you to the 7.5%  threshold. (more…)