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February 28th, 2004

By Christopher Herz
The Health Guru /

You’re tired, hungry and in need of instant gratification while coming home from work. If you don’t have dinner waiting when you walk in the door, the likelihood is that you’re going to make something unhealthy and easy to cook, or, head towards the Golden Arches before you get home. It’s cheap, it’s fast, and it satisfies. It is distinctly, American.

However, there is an alternative to this under-spending of cash and the over gaining of weight.

If your cash flow’s a little tight right now, there is an alternative to Ramen and 99 cent hamburgers. Even if you’re not at that level yet, if you’re still reading, that means you’ve been there before. There are lean alternatives to find for less. Check this out. It won’t cost you more then 20 bones.


You can usually find a bag of chicken breasts in the frozen food section of any supermarket that will run you about 8.00. This bag of chicken can make you about ten sandwiches with about a gram of fat and 22 grams of protein. That’s a lunch of healthy chicken breasts for a week, and extra one for the weekend - all for a little over a dollar a day. A buck fifty if you spring for a head of lettuce and a loaf of bread. Everyone has a bottle of mustard in the fridge, so that wasn’t factored in to the final tally.

Yes kids, mom was right. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you are in a city that has a 99 Cent Only store, they sell non-fat milk, eggs and OJ, not to mention 3 for 99 yogurts. If there is no 99 cent store, up the price about 2 more dollars. So where are we at now? Around 14 - 16 dollars when including tax?

Pasta is essential to add to the mix. While everyone is on a high-protein- low-carb diet, you’re going to have give in here. If you eat your pasta during lunch, your body has more time to burn up the carbohydrates. There is always a bag of pasta on sale for under a dollar.

Make sure you swing by the vegetable section of the market. Veggies are cheap and filled with the essential vitamins and minerals to keep your spirits up when you’re searching for a job or struggling to get through your present one.

Check it out! You’ve got your fridge stocked with food and you only had to make the minimum withdrawal at the ATM. You’ve still got a little left over to buy a burrito or a combo meal at IN And Out. If you don’t, you no doubt have a friend who can loan you 73 cents. You gotta allow yourself to play a few times during the week. After all, if you’re broke, food is one of the greatest pleasures there is. The other is pretty much free.

So, for 20 bucks a week, you can get by. Throw another 20 on top of that, and you might even be able to cook a meal for someone.


Of course you can.

You need to use your poverty to your advantage. Be creative. COOK dinner for someone. It’s much better to get to know someone while they are standing with you in the kitchen while drinking a glass of red wine as you pretend to chop up the tomatoes. You can buy a can of tomatoes for about a dollar. Make sure you pour them into a bowl before the person you are cooking for comes over. When you pull it out of the fridge, it’ll look like you’ve been letting them soak in sauce.

Toss the tomatoes into a pan with some chopped garlic (about 34 cents a clove) and a little olive oil, and the entire house will fill with the smell of southern Italy at the wane of summer time. Que bella!

A can of break crumbs is around a buck fifty. If you take your chicken breast, baste it with some egg whites, and fry it lightly in the olive oil, you’ve got some pretty lean fried chicken. Pour some of the pasta sauce over the chicken for style, and you’re about to put a meal that cost twenty dollars a piece in a restaurant in front of your date for under 10 dollars.

We know that a burger, fires and a coke runs you under five dollars, but if you eat at home and take some things with you to work, you’ll spend less and eat healthier.

What? Are you embarrassed about carrying your lunch with you to work? Let me tell you something. When your coworkers are eating out of Styrofoam boxes they just dropped cash for, they’ll be looking with curiosity at your homemade pasta and chicken. Either that or they’ll think your ghetto, but it doesn’t matter. If you are, flaunt it. The world is pretty ghetto. Remind them of that and enjoy your meal. You’ve made people aware and you’re staying lean.

If you have any recipes for inexpensive, lean meals, we’d love to hear about them. We’ll publish the ones we like in the healthy living section of eCureMe.


The Health Guru - Christopher Herz

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