Is it really possible to eat healthy on a very tight budget?

8:02 PM, Feb 19, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- If you've been following our series, David Williams is spending the week living on minimum wage. He started the week with $255.

That's take home pay for 50 hours making $7.79 an hour. Right off the top, $100 came out for food. That leaves him with $155 for everything else that's needed.

"Yes, I used to wonder where will i get my next meal?" said Dwayne Carroll, 43, of Jacksonville.

Carroll no longer wonders that. He's earning his GED at Florida State College of Jacksonville. He said being unemployed, life is still hard.

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"I'm having trouble just getting by," he said.

The father of four visits food pantries and gets $200 monthly in food stamps.

"When you go to the grocery store, there's a lot that you want, but you can only get what you need," Carroll explained. "I'm able to get canned goods, and rice and beans, but I make sure I get meats."

Williams said he knows his situation this week doesn't compare to Carroll's. But he made sure to buy ingredients that are healthy and affordable. For the garlic used to make dinner, for example, he bought a whole head to save $2 vs pre-minced garlic. The green onions were only about $1.50 a bunch.

For meat, he went with lean chicken breast. He paid close attention to the unit price per ounce.

About a pound and a half of chicken cost him $3.39.

To save more money, he will chop the chicken up into quarters for 3 additional meals this week.

Williams bought frozen whole Brussels sprouts for about $3. The meal he cooked was about $7.

Even though this meal will stretch for a couple days, a meal at $7 each, 3 meals a day is $21 a day. He would only be able to afford 14 meals. He would need to eat 21 meals this week.

If you're truly living on minimum wage, there's no running to the grocery store because you've mis-planned your meals or not followed through with the budget.

Cathy Trcalek is a registered dietitian and leader of the Medical Nutrition Therapy Group of Florida. She broke down a healthy meal that you can afford right now.

"The beans, the eggs, the peanut butter are more economically fit perhaps for your budget and once-for-ounce," she said. "There's 7 grams of protein so, you're getting virtually the same amount of nutrition."

"I shop smart. I don't want to mess it up," Carroll said. "Because, once it's gone, it's gone."

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