Cheap Nutrition · Step 4: Cutting Costs

Four Meals: Cheap, Easy, Sustaining

Many people with involuntarily low income face distinct challenges. Often, their income is low because of a disability, limited transportation, the responsibility of children, or other factors. At the same time, people with low income are often required to complete far more paperwork, visit far more agencies, and give greater accounting for their lives. As such, people with low income—more than anyone—require food that is highly nourishing, quick to make, yet low cost.

The following is not the absolute cheapest option, and obviously not suitable for vegetarians, but one I feel meets this critical trifecta. It is based on two people.

Chicken Day 1: Rotisserie

Grab a rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store. Still hot when you get it home, carve out as much meat and skin as you like in the moment. Put the rest in the fridge, as is.

Chicken Day 2: Tostada or Stir Fry

Use some of the remaining meat in a simple tostada, sandwich, or stir fry. While you’re here, tear out every ounce of available meat, breaking it into small pieces as you go. Store that in a sealed container.

Chicken Day 3: 10-Minute Curried Ginger Lentil Chicken Stew

Preheat a pot.
Add oil or butter to it.
Chop an onion, add to pan.
Mince some ginger, add to pan.
Saute (medium heat) 5-10 minutes.
Drain and rinse a can of lentils, add to pot.
Add chopped chicken.
Add Thai curry paste.
Add salsa.
Add salt.
Simmer 5 minutes or so, until the chicken is hot.
Serve as is, with rice, or with flat bread.

Chicken Day 4: Broth or Soup

Throw the carcass, including joints, into a pot of water. Add a splash of vinegar, preferably apple cider vinegar. Simmer for at least four hours. Add salt. Enjoy the broth as-is or as a soup base.


For $4-$8, a family of two can extract heaps of nutrition—quickly, easily, and deliciously—for four or more days.

When we focus on eating this way, we become well-nourished on relatively little money. The nourishment heals some of our ails naturally, sustains us against stress, and energizes us for the excess work broke people are required to do. Although costlier than accepting free gifts of bread, in the long run nutrition makes all the difference in our pursuit of abundance.

3 thoughts on “Four Meals: Cheap, Easy, Sustaining

  1. followed here from CaptainAwkward – this looks interesting, but Day4: soup broth is not really a meal, even if you throw veggies in while its cooking.

    Still, 3 days of meals off one chicken is a good bargain!


    1. Fair enough, SylviaMcivers 🙂 For me it works like a meal because it warms me so thoroughly, and because its dense nutrition has such an impact. (I do it the traditional way, keep the fat in, etc.) For sure it wouldn’t be enough for me, either, in some moments. I have a pretty big appetite!


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