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.
“How long can we survive off Ramen(2000 Calories Per Dollar) before we need to take out loans?” Spoilers: We never took out ANY loans.
We went through our expenses:
- “Car costs are necessary.”
- “Rent is cheap, we live in a low cost area”
- “Food – Well hold on now…. how much do we spend on food?”
I had thought about this during undergrad Engineering. We would go to a fast food restaurant and I’d ask:
What Fast Food Item Will Feed Me Most Efficiently?
- Little Caesar’s 5 Dollar Pizza – 420 Calories Per Dollar, 21g Protein Per Dollar
- Panera’s Cinnamon Raisin Bagel – 430 Calories Per Dollar, 14g Protein Per Dollar
- Taco Bell Beefy 5 – 400 Calories Per Dollar, 15g Protein Per Dollar
We went to the Grocery Store and bought our usual groceries. This time, instead of tossing the receipt, I opened a spreadsheet and started plugging in numbers.
I was shocked,
“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.
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:
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Search: (Protein)+ (Carb) + (Veggie/Spice) on the internet and follow a recipe.
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.
What does a $0.90 meal look like? Get Your First Efficient Recipe- Delicious, Nutritious, And Takes 2 Minutes To Prepare:
- 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?
Get notified when the list is expanded to include the nutrition of the foods You buy.
Which of your friends would really like this?
Spread the word, I’d appreciate it
Looking to expand this list to do more, including nutrition, and change the world. I’m looking for android users to collect a grocery store worth of data. Will pay 13 cents per entry. Email me for details.