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Dining out healthy and on a budget, is it possible?

By Yogi Baba Prem 

In the U.S., one of the most common complaints I hear is regarding eating healthy on a budget. One of the more common criticisms (and rightly so in some cases) is that ‘junk food’ receives government subsidizes early in the production cycle of what inevitabily becomes 'junk food', while those that enjoy or value organic or conventional  grown foods pay more.  No doubt it can easily appear that way. And no doubt a visit to the health food store can result in only a few bags of groceries for $60.00.  This has lead  many to people believing dining out is even less of an option.  But is this a myth or reality?  My wife and  I wanted to know.  We asked a simple question., ‘Can two people dine out for around $20.00?’ To make it more interesting, we decided to ask,  ‘Can two people dine out for all three meals for about  $20.00?’ note: this is not each, but $20.00 for both of us. 

Our criteria was simple,  three meals for two people for around $20.00 for both of us--total. Additionally the food must be vegetarian,  organic or conventional grown, but could be processed to a degree.   Surprisingly, not only were we able to achieve the goal, it was surprisingly easy.  Here is the dining plan we created: 

For breakfast- we had 2 sprouted grain bagels with Wild Blueberry cream cheese. from Panera total cost: $3.98 Note: We had only one cream cheese and shared it. 
For Lunch, our local health food store deli featured that day two vegetarian burritos, these were filled with organic vegetables and tofu.  They were quite large and were a meal unto themselves.  Cost: $8.99. 
Dinner: Chinese Take-Out. A dinner portion from our local restaurant.  Mixed Vegetables in a sauce (no MSG).  Brown Rice and some fried crispy things with sweet/sour sauce or wasabi (we had both). Cost: $8.99 We shared this and it was a tremendous amount of food.  

Our total cost: 21.96 The food was great and reasonably healthy for dining out.  As well as including some highly valued foods such as sprouted grains and organic vegetables, as well as fresh sprouts.  We were able to eat all day for slightly over $10.00 (U.S.) per person.   Which was considerably less  than most people spend on a single meal.  
Some might argue that we invested a huge amount of time in planning this program. In reality, we invested about a minute thinking about where we would eat all of our meals.  If we had invested more time and energy, we might have been able to find better deals, if we really thought about it.  

There are always options and opportunities, but most importantly, one can eat healthy and on a budget, while enjoying a lovely day of dining out. 

Copyright 2016.  All Rights Reserved.

Yogi Baba Prem

  • Yogi Baba Prem has two books published in India, and has written numerous other books published by Universal Yoga. 


  • His articles have appeared in several traditional magazines and a variety of e-magazines.