LETTER: How to eat healthily for less money

Friday, April 22, 2011 | 12:51 p.m. CDT

Sometimes it helps to hear how another person eats very well on very little money. The example that follows is not a diet guide so much as it is perhaps an inspirational guide for those who wish to eat organic and vegetarian, yet also eat a lot on a restricted budget.

This is to demonstrate that one adult can live grandly on $20 a week.

Breakfast: (All organic) 1 banana, 1/4 cup toasted oatmeal, 1 tablespoon carob powder, a few raisins and sunflower seeds, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons ground chia seed (which is high in omega-3) stirred with water.

Lunch: 3 corn tortillas toasted in (all organic that follows) olive oil with grated cheese, onion, lettuce (all available at Hy-Vee or Clover's) and "salsa" of choice.

Dinner: (All organic) 2 cups of cooked beans, 1 cup of cooked grains with spices, and 1 organic apple.

Dinner: (option—all organic) 1 slice of homemade bread toasted, 1 free-range egg (fried or poached), greens, shredded cheese, spices.

One Dessert: (all organic) 1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan), 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, splash of salt, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, 1/2 cup water (all mixed) fried like a crepe and covered with 1 tablespoon of jelly/jam and rolled up with powdered sugar.

Drinks: 1 coffee from 1 heaping tablespoon of ground coffee, or tea from any organic loose leaf, or water from home-distilled water (it is worth the investment to buy a home distiller, and one could add a sliver of fresh organic citrus to each glass).

The initial outlay, of course, would be over $20, but to continue on such a diet would average out to about $20 a week or even less depending on the season. I currently grows my own greens, squash, onion, garlic, tomatoes and peppers all by using containers and within a small area of land.

I also own a dehydrator so that the summer produce can last through the winter. I buy large quantities of sweet potatoes and potatoes in the fall at the farmers market.

All suggestions of course are made to suit those with low disposable incomes and those who wish to save money.

Julia Williams lives in Columbia.

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Mark Foecking April 22, 2011 | 3:41 p.m.

It'd be interesting to know the percentage of purchases made at Columbia Farmer's Market with EBT cards. I've never seen it happen, myself, and I go every time it's open.

Nothing against the writer, but I'd lose a pound a week or more on this diet. This may be great for a relatively sedentary female, but it's not a diet for an active male.

Distillation is a good way to purify water (not that you need to - CWL serves up some pretty good stuff right out of the tap) but it costs 30 cents per gallon just for the electricity. I have a reverse osmosis system from Clear Choice/REOPure:


that makes drinking water from rain water. It's delicious water, and costs a lot less in the long run. BTW, I did this at my off-grid house just to have drinking water there, not because I think there's anything wrong with Columbia's municipal water.

It's easy to lose track of the cost of growing your own food, and while I do a lot of it myself, the produce I grow is a lot more expensive overall than what one could buy at the store (plus the gov't doesn't subsidize me). There's a reason that CFM produce is a lot more expensive than the California produce you buy at the supermarket.


(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock April 22, 2011 | 4:44 p.m.

This entire list of food wouldn't even make a single meal for me. lol Here is another reason to eat more meat.

(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote April 23, 2011 | 12:58 p.m.


What do you do about mosquitoes? I had two 50 gallon rain barrels, but ended up disconnecting them due to all of the mosquitoes.

My tomatoes and other vegetables really loved the rain water.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking April 23, 2011 | 5:01 p.m.

@Christopher Foote:
I collect the rain at the off-grid house in two interconnected tanks with a total capacity of 1600 gallons. They're polyethylene ag mixing tanks with 16" openings on top (from Orscheln's), and the tops of them have window screen over them that the rainwater from the roof (actually from the "first tenth separator") falls through. It doesn't really harbor mosquitoes. At my house, I cover my rain catchments with plastic (when it's not raining) to try to keep the problem down.

Plants do like non-chlorinated water, although most everyone I know waters with city water. There's a level of biological activity in collected rain water, and I wonder if this adds some nutrients that aren't in city water.


(Report Comment)

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