Cheap Eats for Hard Times: Cheap and Healthful Options

The Physicians Committee

Cheap Eats for Hard Times: Cheap and Healthful Options

A Report from PCRM's Cancer Project
Winter 2008

Findings | Key Factors | Rating System/Detailed Results | Cheap and Healthful Options

Cheap and Healthful Options

Eating healthfully can be quick, easy, affordable, and delicious, so consumers do not have to settle for fast foods that compromise their health.

Here are some cheap and healthful alternatives. At Burger King, a BK Veggie offers a low-fat, low-cholesterol option that costs only 90 cents more than the Whopper Jr. At Taco Bell, a bean burrito without cheese is just 99 cents and contains no cholesterol and very little fat. At many restaurants, a bean burrito can be made more healthful by adding rice or vegetables to increase the amount of fiber and disease-fighting phytochemicals.

Fast-food establishments are not the only stops for convenient meals. Grocery stores offer quick frozen options that can be just as tasty and much more healthful. Amy’s Kitchen offers a line of frozen burritos that include beans and rice or black beans and vegetables in whole wheat tortillas. While the cost is slightly more than some Value Menu items, paying $2.55 will provide a low-fat, zero-cholesterol meal with 4 grams of satisfying fiber.

If more preparation time is available, consumers can make a brown-bag meal that is healthful and cost-effective. Combining a can of pinto beans, tortillas, rice, and salsa creates a delicious treat that only costs $1.22 per serving.


Total Cost


Cost per Serving





Pinto Beans (15.5 ounces)




Brown Rice




Salsa (15.5 ounces)