Last week, a young African American cashier responding to another conversation looked at me in the checkout line and retorted, “It’s too expensive to eat healthy.” When she said this, I heard the calm whisper within my spirit reply, “It’s cheaper to buy the expensive food then it is to pay for the medical treatment.”
According to a published 2010 Center for Disease Control (CDC) report 44% of Nonhispanic African Americans are obese. The same report reveals the African American rate is 4.8, 6.2, and 11.5 percent higher than Mexican Americans, Hispanic Americans, and White Americans respectively. I am one of the 44% of obese African Americans. My story is a little weird in that I actually gain weight when I do not eat regularly. I can go until about 2 p.m. and probably until 3 p.m. before I actually feel hungry. Before this time of day, I am forcing myself to eat.
So I decided to recommit to eating regularly planned meals. However, in response to the young cashier’s remark, I have decided that it would be nice to find out if it is possible to eat healthy economically. I am a big fan of cooking shows, but I never make the meals because generally they seem packed with grease, heavy cream, sugar, and salt. So I thought it would be nice to adapt some of these recipes into reduced fat healthier meals for people on a lean budget and trying to watch their weight. The average cost for weekly groceries for a female age 19-50 on a moderate grocery budget is estimated to cost $46.30 (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity). This number changes depending on where you live. I would say that spending about $50 per week sounds accurate.
The first recipe I’d like to share is a very tasty low calorie breakfast meal. The ingredients include a normal sized bagel not the jumbo ones. My favorite bagel makers are Lenders and Western Bagel Company. I like Western Bagel Company more because itoffers fat free, low calorie, and rich in fiber bagels, while lenders has twice as many calories, contains fat, and has no fiber. Fiber is very important to any eating regimen as it helps you remain full and promotes regularity. So I generally spend a few cents more for the Western Bagel because it has better health benefits.
For this recipe first toast the bagel and top it with a serving of fat free Philadelphia Cream cheese, a thinly sliced onion, a slice of tomato, sliced cucumbers, and an ounce of grilled smoked salmon (enough to cover the bagel). The cost for the salmon (4 servings), bagels (5 servings), and cream cheese (7 servings) is approximately $11. Some people have onions, cucumbers, and tomatoes on hand, but if you have to buy them, then add $2 to your total for one of each. This sandwich can be served with a serving of canned fruit in Lite or No Syrup for an additional dollar.
When you divide the cost of each product by the number of complete servings you can make, you end up paying between $2.75 and $3.25 for each of the four breakfast meal servings. The total fat in this meal will be equal to whatever is in your smoked salmon. I purchase Portlock Smoked Nova Salmon, which has 1.5 grams of fat, and I use an ounce instead of two as recommended because it is high in sodium and it yields twice as many servings. Using half the serving size cuts the sodium amounts in half per serving and it’s plenty for the sandwich.
I eat the sandwich with fresh fruit and a tall glass of water, but if you use canned lite syrup fruit generally these contain no fat. If this meal sounds too light and you need a more filling meal you can add your fruit to a serving of oatmeal, which costs $3 per container and yields at least 13 servings increasing your meal's total cost by 23 cents. The entire meal remains below $3.50 per serving on the high end. Most people spend more than this on one fast food meal per week.
This meal yields four breakfast meals, and you still have oatmeal, cream cheese, and bagels remaining for other recipes. The total calorie count using the smoked salmon, bagel, fat free cream cheese, onion, tomato, cucumber, canned fruit in lite syrup, and oatmeal equals 285 kcal. If you follow a 1200 calorie/day meal plan, you still have 915 calories to consume, and you have included two of the three to five recommended fruit and vegetable servings per day. This low calorie, low-fat meal is delicious, fiber filled, and low-cost.
Meal cost per serving (on high end): $3.48
Total fat: 1.5
Total calories: 285
Total Sodium: 608 mg (30% of 2000 mg/day regimen)
Email Me for the full recipe and place smoked salmon bagel in the subject line.