What Do Poor People Eat In America? Poverty A Lingering Pandemic

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The term “poor people” may not move most people. But when you use the word “poor people in America,” you’ll get many people interested in what you have to say. America is a blessed country in all ramifications. Nevertheless, a considerable number of Americans are poor. 

Shockingly, the projected poverty rate for 2021 is 13.7 percent. It means one out of seven American’s family resources would be below the country’s poverty threshold. 

The truth is many Americans sleep with empty stomachs daily. Some can’t afford three square meals. They may only manage to eat two or one meal per day. But even so, the meals’ quality is nothing to write home about. 

So, yes, poor Americans eat. That’s the fact. However, the question that one should seek answers to is what do they eat? 

Now, let’s rephrase the question.

What do poor people eat in America?

Poor people in America eat cheap food. But just because they are eating doesn’t mean they are eating well. The majority eat foods that are high in fats and sugar, with little fruits and vegetables. 

The Supplementation Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP) helps tons of poor people to feed. Yet, it hasn’t improved the quality of their diet.

That’s why today, it’s easy to find people who don’t appear hungry but are barely getting by. They drive cars that are more of necessities than luxuries. 

Such people buy cheap clothes from yard sales and thrift shops and purchase consumer electronics through installment plans. So it’s not easy to see that they struggle to feed. And most of them feed their families through SNAP assistance.

How To Eat Healthy Food When You’re Poor

Here are some tips to help you eat healthy food on the cheap.

Tip#1: Plan and prepare meals in advance: 

Always plan your meals; it’ll save you lots of costs. It’s important to think ahead of the week and plan what you’ll eat during the days. That way, you can easily prepare meals in advance.

Furthermore, write down a list of what you need to get from the grocery store. Make sure you scan your cabinets and fridge to know what you already have when making your list. You’ll be able to get the right things that you need to prepare your meals in advance without buying what you don’t need. 

It’ll also prevent the urge to eat out or eat junk food since all you have to do is take food from your fridge and reheat it.  

Tip#2: Buy in-season produce: 

In-season foods are generally cheaper. They’re not only cheap but are also very nutritious. They are cheap because you’re buying them out of abundance. That is when the food is highly available.

However, you can go for frozen fruits and vegetables if they’re not in season. They are still nutritious, and they’ll save you the cost of buying fresh ones, not in season.

Tip#3: Buy in bulk: 

You’ll save some money if you buy in bulk. But it’s better to buy non-perishables like lentils, dried beans, and grains. You don’t want your food and money to go to waste by buying perishables in bulk.

You can also store them in containers for a long time. That way you’ll always have some food available at home.

Tip#4: Replace meat with other proteins: 

You can save money if you cut down on the meat you buy. Replace meat with other proteins like eggs, beans, canned tuna, and so on. That doesn’t mean you won’t eat meat at all, but replacing it with other proteins a couple of days per week will save you some dollars.

Not only are these other proteins cheaper, but they’re nutritious. Most of them are quite nutritious compared to meat. For instance, lentils are more nutritious than beef, as they are higher in protein and antioxidants.

Tip#5: Always pack your lunch: 

When you pack your lunch, it ensures you have no reason to eat out. It’s also cheaper than eating out. Additionally, it gives you control over what you eat, so you’ll be able to eat more healthy foods.

If you plan and cook ahead, you’ll easily pack your lunch and have no reason to eat out.

Tip#6: Grow your garden: 

You can save costs on food by growing your garden or join a community garden. It’ll ensure you always have food at home or at least most of the ingredients you need for meals. 

It’s a cheaper means to ensure you eat healthy food with a tight budget. All you’re going to do is to buy seeds (very cheap) and put in the effort to grow your produce.

Some Healthy Foods You Can Eat If You’re Poor

Frozen mixed vegetables: 

They are essential parts of our diet. Fresh vegetables are expensive, but frozen vegetables are a great alternative if you’re looking for a cheap option. And the good thing is that they’re just as nutritious. 

The most nutritious vegetables are from the local farmers’ market. Frozen vegetables are a great side dish, but you can also prepare a vegetable omelet.

Another advantage of frozen vegetables is that they can last for a few days more than fresh ones. That way, spoilage won’t be much of a concern.

Brown rice: 

This food’s preparation is a breeze, and it can go with about any meat. However, the price you pay for it will depend on where you purchase it; else, it’s relatively cheap.

It’s a source of manganese, magnesium and has a high fiber content. You can utilize it for dessert (like brown rice pudding) or with burritos.


They are relatively cheap food, especially when you buy them dry and cook them at home. You can choose from various varieties. They include red beans, black beans, pinto beans, and so on.

You can even prepare beans or use them in pretty much anything, from sandwiches, chilies, tacos, soups to snacks and curries.


They are cheap, but the price still depends on your state, including where you shop. They’re quite nutritious and rich in proteins.

You can prepare them as hard-boiled, poached, scrambled, or as omelets. They are healthy when you prepare them alone. But you must be extremely careful about the things you add to eggs so they’ll remain healthy. For instance, butter may not be such a healthy choice. But you can prepare them with veggies.


They are another cheap food that’s also a healthy meal when you have few dollars left for feeding. Although it’s cheap, it’s a delicious meal; all you have to do is add some spices. You can prepare oatmeal, oatmeal bars, oatmeal cookies, or other oat-based recipes that are budget-friendly.

The good thing is that it comes packed with vitamins, fiber, minerals and even lowers cholesterol levels. It’s also a great meal for people with diabetes as it slows down glucose absorption. 

There are various types of oats, such as rolled, steel-cut, or instant oats. They have varying prices, but their prices still depend on where you purchase them.


They are very affordable. Although you can’t prepare a meal with only tomatoes, you can add them to meals or use them as condiments.

You can take tomatoes as a snack or add them to your salads. Additionally, they are great with pasta and some other dishes. Other recipes include stuffed tomatoes or tomato cake. 


It’s great to have fruits now and then, even though you have a low income, and banana is a good choice. Not only is it pocket-friendly, but it’s also high in antioxidants, vitamin C, B6, potassium, and manganese.

You can make pancakes with them, add them to your oatmeal, or eat them as a snack.

Peanut butter: 

Another cheap food you can consider is peanut butter. It’s high in protein and is satisfying. It is also long-lasting so that you can buy large jars of peanut butter. 

You can make some snacks from peanut butter or use them as part of some dishes. Examples include peanut butter cookies, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, and peanut butter sauces.


You can add spinach to about any meal to increase its nutrient value. It’s a great source of vitamin A, C, K, manganese, iron, magnesium, and riboflavin.

You can make a spinach salad, spinach with whole grain pasta, spinach omelette, and so on.

Canned tuna and salmon: 

It’s an inexpensive and nutritious food. It’s high in protein and omega-3. What’s more, you don’t even need to refrigerate them. 

You can quickly prepare a meal with canned tuna or salmon. Examples include tuna noodle casserole, tuna sandwiches, and tuna melts.

Chuck roast: 

You can prepare a variety of meals with a chuck roast. Examples like pot roast, Irish stew, beef stroganoff are affordable and delicious options for dinner. 

Chuck roast is fatty, and you don’t need to eat much to be satisfied. It’s cheap and perfect for a tight budget.


One of the good things about potatoes is that you can prepare them in numerous ways. From mashed, baked, roasted, to fried, the recipes are endless. 

You may even decide to add them to your soup or make bread. They are a good choice for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Potatoes are also very cheap and full of nutrients. 

Ramen noodles: 

These are extremely budget-friendly. They’re a lifesaver to lots of people who are struggling financially and are broke. 

However, it’s best to avoid the flavor packets in ramen noodles. They contain lots of monosodium glutamate (MSG). You can prepare it with pepper, salt, bouillon cubes, or broths, and it’ll still have a great taste. You can also add parsley, garlic, parmesan, and butter, and stir-fry.


Close to ramen noodles, most pasta is cheap. You can cook it alongside varieties of other cheap food like frozen veggies (add nutritional value and bulk), chuck roast, tomatoes, and spinach.


It’s inexpensive and versatile, as you can make lots of food from it. Examples include cookies, pancakes, bread, pies, and so on.

However, it’s best to make a healthy choice when preparing food with flour. For instance, you can prepare homemade pot pies and fill them with whatever veggies you have.


Poor people in America eat affordable food, but most times, the food is not healthy and nutritious. But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat healthy meals if you’re broke. All you need is to stick to buying cheap and nutritious food.

Finally, if you plan and cook your meals in advance, you’ll have healthy meals with your tight budget.

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