How Simple Dietary Changes Can Save Your Grocery Budget and Improve Your Health

Roasted Chicken 11-29-08For years my husband and I bought lunch meat every week and packed our sandwiches for work.  While we were making a smart financial move by packing our lunches rather than eating out at work and school, we were still spending more than we needed to by buying lunch meat at a cost of $4.99 per pound to $6.99 per pound.  We did try to cut costs by packing egg salad sandwiches occasionally and peanut butter and jelly, but lunch meat was a regular staple in our diets.

In recent years, thanks to my soy intolerance, we have stopped buying lunch meat and have instead begun to rely on fresh meat, which offers us a substantial savings.  Just last week I was able to buy organic free range chickens from Whole Foods for $1.99 a pound.  I bought two whole birds for approximately $7 each, spread a dry rub on them, and cooked them in the slow cooker.

We will use the meat for a variety of meals including:

-a simple taco meal of roasted, shredded chicken meat mixed with salsa and served on tortillas with shredded lettuce, tomato and avocado

-chicken salad sandwiches

-chicken breast sandwiches, and

-chicken soups, to name a few

In addition, we will take the bones and skin and use it to make homemade chicken stock.  One batch easily makes 12 cups, which is the equivalent of 6 cans of chicken broth, and the broth is much more flavorful than canned broth.  Just recently I read that you can use the bones and skin twice, to make two batches of chicken broth.  Using this method, my two organic free range chickens will yield 48 cups of chicken broth (the equivalent of 24 cans) and at least four meals for the five of us and several lunches for my husband and son.

Compare this abundance of food to two pounds of lunch meat, which would cost the equivalent of two of the chickens I bought.

Beyond the financial savings, one also needs to consider the health advantages.  Lunch meat is packed with sodium nitrates, which have been linked to heart disease and diabetes.  Martha Grogan, M.D., a Mayo Clinic cardiologist explains, “Sodium nitrate may damage your blood vessels, making your arteries more likely to harden and narrow, leading to heart disease.  Nitrates may also affect the way your body uses sugar, making you more likely to develop diabetes.” (  In addition, canned chicken broth, even if you buy the low sodium version, also contains a great deal of sodium.

By buying organic chicken to use for sandwiches and making homemade chicken broth, I not only save quite a bit of money, but I am able to feed my family healthier food without added preservatives or sodium.  Who says healthy eating has to be more expensive?

Photo courtesy of stevendepolo.


  1. Mary Janssen says:

    Good ideas, however, to be honest, it sounds like too much work for this non-cook. ha!!

    • It is not that much work since the slow cooker does most of it, but I know what you are saying! You can’t say you are a non-cook; you make great desserts. 🙂

  2. Very inspiring! Have you ever done a post on how you make chicken broth? I really need to start doing that.

    • Thanks for the reminder, Julie. I added a link to the post that explains how to make the stock. It is quite easy and so flavorful!

  3. I used to get whole fryers and do all the work. Now I just get the boneless chicken breasts – less work and less waste as we don’t like the dark meat.

  4. Lunch meat is convenient and I ate it for years, but there are so many reasons why it isn’t good for us.

    Cooking chicken and then using it for a variety of meals is a great idea. I love chicken salad!

    I try to do the same with left over roast beef.

  5. I agree that with simple tweaks like you’ve suggested here, you can eat a lot more healthfully on a smaller budget. That said, prepackaged vegetable broth is one of my cooking cheats. I’ve tried to make my own and it’s HORRIBLE. Inedible. I figure I do enough cooking from scratch, I can cheat on this.

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