Calorie Per Dollar List – Eat For 21 Dollars A Week

UPDATE 2: Please read the article, you will thank yourself. Do not just look at the table.

UPDATE: Our Nutrient Per Dollar list is now complete. This is the ultimate guide to saving money on food.

3 Years ago, my wife and I were starting Grad School, and we needed to save $30,000 a year. I remember in college I’d ask:

What Fast Food Item Will Feed Me Most Efficiently?

  1. Little Caesar’s 5 Dollar Pizza – 420 Calories Per Dollar, 21g Protein Per Dollar
  2. Panera’s Cinnamon Raisin Bagel – 430 Calories Per Dollar, 14g Protein Per Dollar
  3. Taco Bell Beefy 5 – 400 Calories Per Dollar, 15g Protein Per Dollar

Applying this to grocery shopping, I was appaled:

Greek Yogurt only gives us 10g Protein Per Dollar but the Chicken we eat gives us 50g of Protein Per Dollar?”

“Instant Oats cost 5 times more than regular oats?”

Canned foods cost absurdly more than fresh, why do people think canned meats are a good deal?”

That’s when I realized, we think we know what food costs, but we have no idea what nutrition costs. We needed a way to value food.

The results:

We graduated college, Masters and PhD. No Debt.


Download as Excel File

Want More Efficiency? I do the math for everything – you get the results, you save time and money. Get Efficient Tips:

“How can I use all of this data?”

Here is how we build a delicious and healthy meal:

  1. Pick A Low Cost Protein : Lentils, Beans, Chicken, some Pork, some protein powders, and some ground beef get you around 50 grams of protein per dollar
  2. Pick A Flavor : Spend 1 to 1.5 dollars on spices and veggies. Carrots, Garlic, Onions, Frozen peas, Frozen Green Beans, and bulk spices are delicious and healthy.
  3. Pick A Low Cost Carb : Rice, noodles, potatoes, tortillas, all add a base to the meal providing a median to deliver food to your mouth.
  4. Pick An Oil/Fat : Necessary to your life, you need to eat fats. Add some to anything you cook. Feel good about it too, filling, great calorie per dollar, and tasty.
  5. Search: (Protein)+ (Carb) + (Veggie/Spice) on the internet and follow a recipe.


How to google it

30 million results? You will find a few good recipes in there 😛


You should aim for around 700 calories per dollar if your goal is to eat for about $1,000 a year.

“What do you eat?”


Combining high value foods with delicious recipes that are time efficient, we have developed 28 recipes that we rotate through.

Other Tips

  •  The most inexpensive fast food item is almost 2 times more expensive than eating at home – The 5 Dollar Pizza wins at 420 Calories Per Dollar. The cheapest food you can get is at home.
  • Eating only white bread will cost you about $200 dollars a year in grocery bills but thousands of dollars of medical bills when you get Scurvy! Eat diverse foods for your health and sanity.
  • In general, processed foods(ones that are usually boxed, and have a ton of ingredients) are more expensive than their homemade alternative.
  • Canned food is very expensive.
  • Cereal isn’t a value but is delicious with whole milk making it absolutely worth it… to me 🙂
  • Most ‘Junk Food’ is expensive
  • My ‘Super Food’ is (Pinto) Beans and Lentils.  They are give between 80g-140g protein per dollar, give you 60% of your daily fiber in 180 calories, and are loaded with vitamins and minerals. I eat them minimum, a few times a week.


Want to find out if Dried Fruits have better Vitamins Per Dollar? Want to find out if Frozen Vegetables are healthier per dollar than Fresh?

We apply Industrial Engineering to life, to optimize time and save money. Check out more articles and improve your life with studies.