“7 Ways to Eat Good on a Hood Budget” by Stic of Dead Prez

By : | 161 Comments Category : Blog

Dead Prez has been the most inspirational Hip Hop group in my life. I first heard their album “Lets get Free” when I was in middle school, and it introduced me to ideas of healthy living, questioning authority, the importance of happiness, being proud of my brown skin, among many other powerful ideas that I wasn’t familiar with at the time. 13 year later, it has remained a strong motivator  in my life.

It brings me great pleasure that Stic has written this article for Plant Based on a Budget. It perfectly touches on everything we stand for and I couldn’t be more grateful. Please help me show appreciation by spreading this far and wide, adding him on Facebook and leaving a thankful comment.

Thanks, Stic!

<3 Toni

Check this, “Healthy is the New Gangsta” shirt. 😉



Photo credit: B FRESH Photography and Media

7 Ways to Eat Good While on a Hood Budget by Stic of Dead Prez founder of www.rbgfitclub.com

In the work I do in promoting holistic health and fitness through the RBG FIT CLUB, I have run into the following sentiment more than a few times: “I want to eat healthier but it’s too expensive!”. Many people are interested in ways to upgrade their diet without breaking their bank. Well, I can dig it. And since I been striving to sustain the healthy grind in my life personally since way back in the food stamp days, I think I may have a few tips to share.

The following are 7 Ways to Eat Good While on a Hood Budget. But bottom line always remember, we can pay now or pay later (in suffering and doctor bills etc) when it comes to our dietary discipline and choices.

1. Choose Produce not Packages: People think eating healthy is about buying a lot of expensive boxes and packages of processed foods, but that isn’t the case at all.

The cheapest most nutrient dense food in a grocery store in the produce isle. Fresh vegetables and fresh fruits. Trying to buy costly packaged goods, potato chips and sugary juices and all kinds of over processed items, even at a health food store is when the budget starts to soar. When we feel we don’t have time to cook we often go for a lot of “quick fix” items like pizzas and pre-cut bags of French fries and stuff like that. That’s where the money adds up. But if you fill your basket with fresh greens and fruits and some basic staples like rice, noodles, beans you will not only have an optimal basket of nutritious foods … you will have saved a great deal of money of the food bill and subsequent doctor bills. Eat real foods and save real money. If you worried the fruits and veggies will spoil before you eat them, read on to number 2!

2. Cook Big and Save Some for Later: Cooking meals in large batches and freezing the leftovers for later in the week or month can save you a lot of time and money.

Instead of buying fast food or eating out at restaurants, or even cooking a full meal every time you get hungry, it’s way more cost effective and time saving and healthy for you to pull something out of the freezer and warm it up than it is to wash/chop/slice/boil/bake/wait in line/wait to be served etc.

Pre-preparing and freezing weekly sized portions of rice or salad choppings or beans etc will simplify your meal duties. Even if you have to do a little cooking you will still save money and time seven days a week. Spend an hour or so over the weekend like on a Sunday evening preparing food for the week. Then, during the week, all you have to do is pull something out of the freezer and heat it up. Them big Ziploc bags ain’t just for the D-boys! Lol

3. Soup Up your Options: Large vegetable soups over brown rice or whole grain noodles pack in vitamins and nutrients, fill you up and are easy to make and delicious. Also Bean burritos, chili, and bean soup can be easy to prepare, cheap and good for you. Going totally meatless a couple of times a week (or for good) also helps your budget and gives your palate a variety to enjoy. Frozen veggies, which are inexpensive, work great in Soups. Nothing compares to that good and filling, good feeling of a hot and hearty bowl of Soup. Cheap, packed with nutrients, easy to prepare. Its the new “Soup-er” food! Lol!

4. Make A Plan and See Where Ya Values Are:. In the hood, in all honesty, We spend a gang of money on cable, hair dos, sneakers, weed, parties expensive bottles of alcohol,video games, big screen tvs, rims, jewelry, strip club tricking, trendy name brand clothes, car accessories, headphones, cigarettes all kinds of overpriced things. But when it comes to our health, we often skimp and look for the cheapest food we can find.

But in our best interest, We have to value our health above all these other things, and make eating healthy a priority in terms of how we spend the resources we have. Makes no sense to be fronting like a rich person on the outside ,but in reality, in poor health on the inside, right? But it’s easy for any of us to make excuses without looking at at a budget, so that’s where budgeting comes in handy.

Budgets help us see where our money is really going not where we feel like its going. Budgeting is also a master ingredient to financial stability in general, so not only will it help identify funds that can be used toward more healthful food choices; its an essential tool to manage our financial responsibilities better in general. Usually when we make a budget we can see plenty of stuff we can do without to make room for healthier eating choices. You may say “shoot, I dont make enough money to budget it!” lol, but you don’t have to make a lot of money to benefit from budgeting. Budgeting helps what ever we make stretch farther and get more of what we truly value out of what we have. When we values ourselves more than our things we make healthier choices. Budget, prioritize and prosper.

5. Season your Food: Eat fruits and vegetables that are in season, that is! Otherwise you’ll be paying a much higher price. For example, if you live in the north east United States and you want some watermelon in the middle of the Winter of December, it’s gonna have to be shipped from where ever it is in season to your local market and you pay that extra cost. Also, eating foods that are current in their natural growing season helps strengthen your immune system for that season. Seasonal Fruits can be frozen and blended to smoothies. Frozen vegetables also can be used to make a stir fry. They’re convenient and they don’t spoil quickly like fresh fruits and veggies.

6. Join a Co-op or Local Community Garden: You get discounts on your groceries by being a member of grocery store co-ops. In exchange for your minimal volunteer work hours per month, you get your groceries at Co-op member’s only price. Same thing goes for community gardens. And not only that you get to learn a WHOLE lot about nutrition and health being in that kind of environment.

There are many urban farm movements popping up all over the place where folks are going back to the land, utilizing whatever small plots there are right in the hood, to grow food. Participating with these farms are awesome ways to educate ourselves on growing food. Also, there are usually harvest markets where the food is sold for really affordable prices and you can get first dibs by being a community member. Places like DTown Farms and Freedom Freedom in Detroit and Truly Living Well Farms and Habesha Gardens in Atlanta are great examples of gardens in the hood that you can google and “dig” into! If you have even the smallest plot of land in your yard growing your own food from heirloom seeds (non-gmo varieties) is also another way to save on the grocery bills while mastering a very useful and fun survival skill.

My wife Afya, has been a great source of inspiration in this area in our household. You can Follow her instagram (@AfyaIbomu) blog to see our latest harvests. And last but certainly not least….

7. Drink more water. Many times we think we are hungry, it may be actually a sign of thirst.

The fact that it is recommended by holistic healers and medical experts alike that we drink half our body weight in ounces of water each day, it’s safe to say many of us are chronically dehydrated and as Rocko’s song lyric says “we don’t even know it”. When we are drinking enough water it curbs our appetite so we don’t over eat. Drinking water also says us money on all the sugary drinks on the market that are often what we choose to wet our whistles due to the drug effect of the high sugar, high fructose corn syrup content of most beverages sold in the hood. We can save our money and our internal organs by saying no to the liquid sugar caffiene crack juice aka sodas and artificial energy drinks and just sip on nature’s good old original elixir -H20!

oh…Bottle water getting too expensive? Get a basic filter for your tap, some for as low as $20 bucks and like Kendrick Lamar’s song says “pour up, drank!”



In summary, the main thing to remember for eating good on a hood budget is that it is doable! People often say things are not possible that they haven’t truly dedicated themselves to figuring out. Many of us say it’s too expensive to eat healthy but we spend and waste a lot of money that could have been spent in a wiser manner. The reason that many of us think health food is expensive is because we are not clear on what health food is. Health food is not going to Whole Foods and stocking your pantry with fancy processed boxes and packages of this and that. Health food is simple and is the least expensive most nutrient dense food in the grocery store, basically fruits and vegetables, beans and simple whole grains. Those are affordable staple foods and even on a food stamp budget (I know from experience) have been scientifically applauded for their health benefits.

It’s important that we not be intimidated by all the health information nor swayed by all the different opposing views on what health is. A lot of it is simple common sense, if you will. We know a bag of chips isn’t a health food. We know that McDonald’s isn’t exactly a health food restaurant either. We can begin to take ownership and be ever vigilant in studying and learning all we can to educate ourselves on how to make healthier choices. Do your own research and take ownership for your health. To live a healthy life its not about always depending on the doctors and medications. One has to in essence become a lifelong student of your own holistic health so you can make wise choices for yourself and your families. Most graduating Doctors spend very little class time studying nutrition when getting their degrees. So they may have a lot of knowledge on surgery and medicine but few mainstream minded doctors are trained in Nutrition. They are trained to diagnose symptoms and prescribe medication, for the most part. However, a holistic nutritionist (as opposed to even a conventional nutritionist) is trained to help us understand the ways in which our food choices can help us heal and keep us healthy without the use of medicines and surgeries.

As mentioned, its important to plan ahead and have a weekly goal and vision on the meals and needs your family has so that we are making less impulsive decision when hunger strikes and more pre-planned long term health affirming choices based on wise consideration and preparation before hand. When we cook in bulk for the week it’s one of the biggest helpers in saving money and eating less fast food and junk food. With realistic budgeting we can see what we really have to work with and choose consciously to value our health over things. Each season nature gives us plenty of fresh foods to nourish us in harmony with our environment and these foods are plentiful in there natural seasons so they are less expensive.

And lastly, but not leastly, we need to realize that our taste buds are conditioned and can be re-conditioned. When we only eat for taste we become slaves to taste alone. And as we learn from seeing far to many of our relatives sick and miserable and overweight and diseased, eating for taste without regard to health leads to self destruction. We can eat healthy on a hood budget. We deserve the best and we can start living like we understand our value by choosing to adopt healthier habits. When the hood is strong, we are truly unstoppable. Salute!

Share This Post!

Comments (161)

  1. posted by Sarojini on October 3, 2013

    Brilliant! Thanks so much for sharing that common sense and wisdom- applicable wherever you live on this planet.

  2. posted by Jeannette on October 3, 2013

    This is fantastic and inspiring. Thank you so much for posting!

  3. posted by Colleen on October 3, 2013

    Love it! I shared this on FB Twitter and Pinterest!

  4. posted by Rebecca McDonald on October 3, 2013

    LOVE THIS! Adding tons of vegetables to my diet has been the best thing I have done all year! (And I didn’t go broke!) Also love the fact that you are using my photo of Stic for this blog. I will most definitely share with folks.

    Photo credit: B FRESH Photography and Media.

    • posted by Toni on October 3, 2013

      Hi, I’ll definitely edit it with photo credit to you. Great photo!!

  5. posted by mae majesty on October 3, 2013

    Awesome for reals!! Sharing!! 😛

  6. posted by Ameen on October 3, 2013

    Also I would add, purchase your fruits & vegetables from local farmer’s markets instead of grocery stores. They are usually filled with pesticides in the grocery stores.

    • posted by 9planets on October 5, 2013

      unless you buy organic from farmers markets the veggies and fruits are covered in chemicals as well.

      • posted by Tiffany Malone on December 1, 2013

        Yes but, I think that it’s important to mention that it’s not always necessary. Certain fruits and vegetables have a protective outer layer or skin that often times when cleaned and cooked properly will do away with said chemicals. However, fruits and vegetables like strawberries and celery for example are items that if you can afford, keep in mind we are shopping often times on very limited budgets, should be organic.

        • posted by Beth Markhart on December 15, 2013

          You are correct, Tiffany. But think about this: what are the working conditions of the field workers in the chemically sprayed environment? Our food choices are more than just our own budget and health, but also a social justice issue.

    • posted by anthony on October 6, 2013

      and i recently went to a farmers market and what i got for less than $10 would have definitely cost me near $30 or more at my usual market.

  7. posted by andy schine on October 3, 2013

    word! spread. this. word.

  8. posted by B Creamer Jr on October 3, 2013

    Good Stuff!!! . . .

  9. posted by julia on October 3, 2013

    great! loved this! excuses no more!

  10. posted by Nadia on October 3, 2013

    Stic….THANK YOU! This is making the rounds on facebook and twitter, and I’ll do what I can to help it. organic food and the whole health food industry is oftentimes a disgusting display of class/race/geographic privilege, but you show how people can be healthy without it, and on a budget. BADASS.

  11. posted by paul g on October 3, 2013

    Great article stic! The part about growing your own food is where its at! That’s not only an opportunity for us to take control of our health, but it can also be a significant economic empowerment angle. For example, most people dont know that SNAP benefits (food stamps) can be used to purchase seeds and seedlings! Imagine that!

  12. posted by YurtGirl on October 3, 2013

    Wonderful article. Check out Stic’s interview with Erin Red on Red Radio. Fantastic interview.

  13. posted by Mama Charlotte O'Neal aka Mama C on October 4, 2013

    Stic is always ‘on it!’ A real wise man! His wisdom inspires millions around the world including me. He is able to impart some of the most practical, brilliant life solutions in words that we can all understand and relate to. Brother Stic is indeed a blessing to us all and I give thanks for his sharing!

  14. posted by Isaac on October 4, 2013

    This was awesome. Good work.

  15. posted by Mrs.Midnight on October 4, 2013

    This was well worth the read. I have shared it with friends. I will use a few of these tips this weekend!

  16. posted by Cara on October 4, 2013

    Excellent post, I especially appreciate three salient points: 1) we have a huge budget for looking good and then think we are too broke to eat good, 2) if we don’t take care of our health now we are going to pay later anyways in poor health and high doctor bills, and 3) it really ISN’T expensive to eat well from the produce ~ from the produce aisle ~ eating well never comes from a box. Thanks again …. very informative and full of great information for our community.

  17. posted by Timothy Rhyme on October 4, 2013

    Stic should run for office with the Green Party. We need more people speaking about this on a bigger level and actually rallying citizens to implement healthy friendly and environmentally friendly policies.

  18. posted by Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty on October 4, 2013

    Great post and so true! It’s easy to get caught up in the “dairy free” stuff, but honestly it gets so expensive! This is so true!

  19. posted by cOURTNEY dANGER on October 4, 2013

    This is a very great article… very good points that can be very valuable minor changes to every day life….

  20. posted by Terence Clark on October 4, 2013

    This is just plain good advice in general. I love to see this kind of thing packaged for a wider audience. I’d add to the “season” comment the other meaning of “season” works, too. A lot of people say “I don’t like that food” when all they’ve ever done with it is boil it or fry it and serve it unseasoned. Look up a recipe, there are millions of them. Learn how to cook it flavorfully. I hated squash, kale, peppers, etc, which is all cheap and healthy, but I was eating it just essentially boiled or cooked up straight. But squash in a soup or kale in homemade enchiladas is great.

  21. posted by malaika salaam on October 4, 2013

    Helpful and practical information. And I love that Stic referenced Rocko and Kendrick Lamar, I would’ve never guessed he listened 😉

  22. posted by Aisha on October 4, 2013

    Word! Much props for your words of wisdom to the people! We need more of this!

  23. posted by Sara on October 4, 2013

    Stic is so awesome! Love this!

  24. posted by Glenda on October 4, 2013

    Timely and informative and definitely “doable”…thank you!

  25. posted by Jelani on October 4, 2013

    Excellent, excellent info that our people DESPERATELY need to hear. Especially the points about sugar (and salt and fat) being DRUG addictions that we have sadly accepted. I learned all the things he spoke of (“health food does not come out of box”, “health food is no more expensive than unhealthy once we learn HOW to shop”) by years and years of trial and error. Definitely will be sharing the article. Bless up Stic.

  26. posted by SAESO on October 4, 2013

    Word! Dead Prez has always been about that life. We have been doing similar interviews and recipes at our dot com site. Please check out thekitchenmix for more of the same. Peace.

  27. posted by max on October 4, 2013

    Great article and solid advice.
    I would recommend closer editing as basic spelling and grammatical mistakes will lessen the perceived value of any written work.
    Again, for those of us who see through grammar mistakes and get to the heart and meaning of the article, well done!

  28. posted by David on October 4, 2013

    Another great way to save on food is to not buy with the trends such as organic or Non-GMO Project foods. They are often more expensive for no additional health, safety, or environmental benefits than simply using more fresh veggies and plant products.

    • posted by julie on October 4, 2013

      @david, I agree with you on not buying into health food trends or wasting money on processed “healthy” foods like organic mac and cheese, however, organically grown fruits and veggies are extremely important. Organic produce is grown without the use of harmful chemicals. Pesticides and fertilizers are bad for the environment, are leached into the foods and harmful to the workers that harvest the crops. Pesticides are essentially poisons used to keep bugs from eating crops, but those poisons are harmful to humans too. Organic farming requires more time and care and are usually smaller scale farms that pay workers fair wages. They also have to pay for organic certifications which are costly. I bet if you toured an organic farm and an industrialized farm, you’d see first hand why there’s a difference in price. That said, eating organic produce on a budget can be done, especially if you stick to local/seasonal crops. I work at a co-op in Florida and it’s really important to me that people understand the difference between organic and conventionally grown foods. Supporting local small scale organic farms is the only way we’re going to see a change in our current food system. The only thing I’d add to this article filled with awesome advice is to buy in bulk! The co-op I belong to has over 200 items in bulk from dried beans to body wash. Buying in bulk reduces packing waste and is often so much cheaper by the pound. That and score a crock pot at a thrift store. Crock pots are awesome.

      • posted by David on October 4, 2013

        Uh, you do know farmers growing organic food do use pesticides and herbicides, many worse for humans, animals, and the environment? (http://bit.ly/15NEMeC) Organic is also often has much lower yields than conventional which leads to more land being used rather than being available for wildlife habitat. (http://www.biofortified.org/2011/02/todays-organic-yesterdays-yields/). And yes, I have visited both organic and conventional farms. I do see why conventional farms have lower prices. It is because they know how to grow food without the costs of the added labor needed to control weeds and pests, certifications, and expensive inputs. They do also care for the land. If you want to read more try http://thefarmerslife.com/ or http://weedcontrolfreaks.com/. All websites are excellent starting points to learn more.

        • posted by Beth Markhart on December 15, 2013

          David, I can see you have convinced yourself that organic is a trend that does not merit the expense. The evidence for yield being equivalent or greater is mounting rapidly. Large scale organic farms and the U.S. Organic standards have now distorted the original intent. So the new savvy shopper is applying new criteria, which include getting to know your farmers. Granted Costco at least pays a better wage than Walmart, but I still haven’t their organic certified products in a long time. I have several local sources for my various animal products and produce for which the farmers have not gone through the certification process, but the food is organic. I wish you well in your pursuit of data on yield comparison. Here is one research program to follow. http://swroc.cfans.umn.edu/prod/groups/cfans/@pub/@cfans/@swroc/documents/asset/cfans_asset_236362.pdf. I can send you others if you are interested.

        • posted by Linda Davidson on April 14, 2014

          David, if you think that organic and non-GMO is too expensive you should try cancer.

      • posted by craig on October 7, 2013

        “Organic farming requires more time and care and are usually smaller scale farms that pay workers fair wages.”

        Usually, like in more than half of all cases? I doubt it. Most organic food I see in grocery stores is produced my large companies who buy organic ingredients at the lowest possible prices from other large companies.

    • posted by 9planets on October 5, 2013

      and you work for Monsanto?

      • posted by David on October 5, 2013

        Good one. I’ve been called a shill before and it still is not true. Actually I’m a masters of nutrition student deeply in debt, owned by no one but my wife. But if anyone wants to pay me the big bucks to independently shill for science I’d be delighted. Until then I’ll keep taking out loans to shill for science.

  29. posted by Anne on October 4, 2013

    Great article. Regarding drinking water, you can add some very cheap flavorings to plain water to make it more interesting. I have two quart-sized pitchers in the fridge at all times. One is a green/black tea blend (no sugar) and the other is water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (which weirdly has kind of sweet after taste). Water with a little bit of lemon juice is also good. These probably don’t taste too good if you are used to soda. But two weeks off of crappy food, and your palette will change.

  30. posted by Jason Howlin on October 5, 2013

    Listen, it’s hard to find decent grocery stores with fresh meat and produce in the hood. Usually you find these quik-mart places stocked with tastycakes, sodas, chips, cigarettes etc. There’s not even an apple or banana in sight.

    I agree with everything listed here. Just make step 1 to find some transportation to a real grocery store to get your food shopping done.

    Lastly, many people have no idea how to cook, which forces them to eat mcdonalds or packaged foods. I suggest watching these cooking shows on the food network, especially ones that have a healthy focus — ie not that paula deen crap. its free training.

    • posted by Toni on October 5, 2013

      Fortunately for the people that don’t know how to cook, they’ve stumbled onto a food blog that specializes in budget food. 😉

    • posted by Beth Markhart on December 15, 2013

      Jason, those of us involved in the urban agriculture movement are not allowing the food desert concept to influence our conviction. Where do you live? I am certain there is a local movement there. You should get involved! This is one of the most revolutionary acts out there, and it will give you hope.

  31. posted by silvina pro on October 5, 2013

    lo amo!!!!!!

  32. posted by Qiana on October 5, 2013

    This is awesome!! Healthy living is the key.

  33. posted by Martín Perna on October 5, 2013

    Vaya! This is so good to see, and I will share it with friends and family. One other thing that might be added to this is the social aspect of eating healthy by friends and family (healthy eaters, and not-so-healthy eaters) together for pot lucks. The community aspect of cooking and breaking bread (or carrots) together is a part of every culture that is rapidly disappearing in the fast food age, and we are all the worse for it. In the past I have seen people normally unsympathetic to healthy foods become big fans when a healthy dish is prepared right. Also, it is a good way to share recipes and learn new ones so as not to keep cooking the same things all the time for yourself. Again, thanks.

    • posted by Jon Law on October 7, 2013

      Well said. You’re right fast food is destroying community eating. It’s true in terms of family eating or even work lunches. So often we’re rushing and eating in front of TV or the PC, work, work, working.

      A few years ago a Spanish lady came to work with us and just didn’t get the lunch at your computer. We’re losing out by doing so.

      AND, you’re spot on regarding the introduction of healthy foods to people. Sharing is caring!

  34. posted by Nay Marie on October 5, 2013

    THANK YOU for posting!

  35. posted by Derp on October 5, 2013

    Wtf is gangster about this? This is food network basic advice.

  36. posted by Charlotte on October 5, 2013


  37. posted by Vivianne on October 6, 2013

    Nice idea but a lot of the same assumptions I had when I started researching food insecurity issues. To do this you need cooking skills, cooking equipment, storage space (not everyone has a large, working freezer or fridge, or electricity to power it), live not in a food desert, have access to transportation of quantities of groceries home from the store (hard to do if you don’t have a car), super careful budgeting to stretch out the WIC and SNAP benefits so you can actually buy in bulk, and belief that you and the kids are going to eat it, because why waste money on kale that will take forever to cook and just get thrown out when you know the kids will eat the cr** from the corner store, and you had a really rotten time at job #3 today, and you deserve a break.

    Community gardens are great too, but require a learning curve, soil testing (got lead?), and a way to store produce in areas where growing is a seasonal activity.

    Would love to see some new ideas on overcoming these barriers!

    • posted by Beth Markhart on December 15, 2013

      Vivienne, researching food insecurity issues as you have done, well I might say, is the first in discovering the umpteen new entrepreneurial opportunities for reshaping everyone of the issues you’ve brought up. Hopefully soon in your journey you can move beyond seeing them all as impassable roadblocks. Good luck!

  38. posted by frugalscholar on October 6, 2013

    My hip daughter sent this to me, her middle-aged mom. My son and I wrote a little ebook on cheap eating w/ no skills. It was directed to college students in dorms. See our blog (not updated for a while, but lots there): collegecookingcrashcourse.blogspot.com.

    Lots of cooking tips. Mostly based on rice-cooker, a cheap appliance.

  39. posted by Samuël on October 6, 2013

    Tip number 6 is a very good one for people that don’t have their own garden because fresher, healthier or tastier then locally grown is impossible in my opinion! Checkout my healthy 1minute bok choy duck video, there are also some vegan recipes on my cooking blog!

  40. posted by Kathy on October 6, 2013

    Love the comment either pay now or pay later (with Doctor bills)

  41. posted by Brian on October 6, 2013

    Be serious, hood food huh?
    Written by a 2 yr old.

    • posted by Jennifer on October 6, 2013

      You’re an asshole Brian. I think this article shows leadership and at least puts promising ideas into reader’s heads. I’ll take poor grammar over a bad attitude any day.

    • posted by Beth Markhart on December 15, 2013

      Brian, looks like you need a hug. Here’s one for you!

  42. posted by Israel Tan on October 7, 2013

    As a general rule I try and stick to the outside (circumference) of the supermarket. Which is usually your fresh foods, bakery, dairy, butcher etc. Of course you’ll need other items but when it comes to food most items in the isles will be processed.

  43. posted by Shenica Odom on October 7, 2013

    This was wonderful. I work with parents in East NY and this article will make a great topic of discussion during my next parent workshop!

  44. posted by P@ on October 7, 2013

    Great content, horrible font color. Really strains the eyes to read.

  45. posted by AJ on October 7, 2013

    Where are you living that fresh produce is cheaper than packaged crap? There’s also a pretty huge presumption here that poor people have the time and equipment to do a lot of preparing and cooking food.

    • posted by Beth Markhart on December 15, 2013

      AJ, see my comment to Vivienne. She pointed many more barriers than you that need to be overcome. About the cost differential. The argument you made is too narrow. It is a whole systems approach to not just our food/beverage choices but also other expenses. You basically reconfigure your whole pantry (and lifestyle at some point). This is the holistic scale that the leaders in the food movement, especially in the hood, are engaging people on.

  46. posted by rande on October 7, 2013

    Great suggestions. We all need to become our own “healthcare programs.” Sam-Care, Angela-Care, Rebecca-Care… etc., costs for elder care are astronomical now, they may be stratospheric when folks who are currently in their twenties and thirties now need elder care. Much of the health foundation that you lay in your youth will pay you back exponentially as you age, whichever way you lay it… good habits will bringing you closer to a long healthy life and fewer healthcare expenditures, all other things being equal, and bad habits, may keep you in the doctor’s office or hospital and from an earlier age and those costs really add up. There is absolutely no real benefit in being the richest and the sickest person on earth. Also, re budgeting, it actually allows you to direct your money where you want it to go, rather than you finding out later where your money went. You can say (until the cows come home) that health is your number one priority, but a quick look at your spending history will tell you what your priorities really are. Figure out what your priorities are and take care of those first in your budget, the other stuff really can wait. Its a great exercise to determine your current status and to help you move in the direction that you want to go, even if you can only make 1% adjustments at a time to get to your goal. This post may be helpful… http://radfordemerson.blogspot.com/2008/05/were-you-better-off-than-your-parents.html

  47. posted by Jane Obligacion on October 7, 2013

    After working in food justice for a while, I get really tired of hearing the same thing. I second what @Vivianne mentioned.

    Eating mindfully in a hood budget is NOT easy and can get real expensive. Let’s be real for once and settle on the fact that if you really want to sustain your body with good food, it will be a serious financial investment and can take time. I just wish someone said that to me when I started my journey towards health, instead of convincing me it was easy. If it was easy, everyone would be fit and we would not have health problems in our communities.

    When I work with overweight/obese young people and adults, I tell them right off the bat that they will have to make cuts in other aspects of their life in order to make way for a lifestyle change. It will be a huge sacrifice. It will be hard. This is not something that you can be half-assed with, because this is your life. You are either feeding a disease or preventing it. And living off processed shit from the bodega and eating fast food is a hard habit to break, and it will take a lot of strength, support, wisdom, and willpower. Cutting back on “cable, hair dos, sneakers, weed, parties expensive bottles of alcohol,video games, big screen tvs, rims, jewelry, strip club tricking, trendy name brand clothes, car accessories, headphones, cigarettes” is HARD. Making a commitment takes a lot of determination, and people need to be completely aware of that at all times.

    I don’t completely agree that processed shit is more expensive. Last time I checked, it is cheaper for my students to go to the corner bodega and buy chips (75 cents) from the change in their pocket, than go to the grocery store 2 miles away and pick up a bag of carrots ($2-3/Ib). And what kid wants to eat just carrots, especially if they were raised on McDonald’s? If you wanna spruce a carrot up with hummus or dip or peanut butter to make it more enticing, that’s already another $5, and more effort. What if their parents don’t have time to make nutritious food like this because they have 2-3 jobs and get home at 1 AM? I remember subsisting on fast food myself when I was a teen, because I had a single mom who had to work 2 shifts to support my brother and I, and she did not have time to cook breakfast, lunch or dinner.

    As an adult and fitness/nutrition queen, living in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn on a hood budget is hella tough! A huge chunk of my paycheck goes to pay for fresh veggies and free range meat because I can’t waste it on the nasty ass old meat and rotting produce that they push at the Associated Market and Met Foods in my hood. Yes, I have to make time to go to TJ’s, Whole Foods, and some of the nicer groceries in the more gentrified parts of BK to get food I need. Shit is hard!!!

    Other than that, I really like the other tips laid out here. My students have access to vegetables gardens, which is great, but their fam sure as hell can’t live on that shit. Thank god for food stamps though. It’s a real lifesaver for their families, and they get to go to the nicer grocery stores in the hood where the food isn’t rotting. I look forward to hearing more solutions to the issues around how we can get more folks out there to motivate the kids and their families to make lifestyle changes. Also, what are ways where we can talk about nutrition and fitness that isn’t self-righteous and becomes such a turn off? How can we disseminate information about fitness and health better in low-income communities of color (because even though there are great programs out there, there is major room for improvement)?

    For example, can we talk about this guy: http://www.ted.com/talks/stephen_ritz_a_teacher_growing_green_in_the_south_bronx.html ?

    • posted by Mary E Tyler on April 30, 2014

      As an (incidentally white and somewhat carnivorous) rural homesteader, crunchy type mama, I do find the one thing in this article (mentioned by the previous commenter): there is often NOT a good source of produce “in da hood.” Decent grocery stores with crunchy, tasty, non-rotting produce are often a bus or long hike away. They are not convenient, not available, and in the big cities NOT affordable for the average working class budget. I felt like this guy’s rich guy privilege was showing when he blatantly forgot how tough it is to GET to good food when you live in urban, poor neighborhoods. The people in food justice call them “food deserts.”

      You also incidentally find food deserts in rural poverty where there may be small, country stores (no produce) easily available, but it is 20 minute or more drive to town (which may or may not have a real grocery store depending on its size) and a 45-90 minute (or longer) drive to the city. In rural areas, you find more people gardening some, but not NEAR as much as you think. That little old lady down the street? She can’t dig her garden herself after she had a minor stroke last year. Often the most food insecure are the elderly. At least that is what I saw whle volunteering every month when the metro food bank came out to make a delivery to a local church.

      That said, in most suburban cities, like where we lived in Newport News, VA, there was plenty of green space to plant vegies, if only people DID IT. I had 3 raised beds and a 10’x16′ in ground bed in my side yard, where I raised enough cucumbers for us, 6 neighbor families, AND the day care center down the street. I was a terribly popular person the following March when people started asking me if I was going to plant a garden again!

      In TN, where the soil was poor and hardpan clay, I could only amend and double dig the flower beds in front of my house. I planted lettuce as greenery among my flowers. People would ask what those wonderful green plants were! I had a single tomato plant in a cage, the seedling bought from the local Walmart. No tomato off that plant every made it to a salad. It would get eaten like an apple, right off the plant.

      In Portsmouth, VA, we built a three tier raised bed over a recently ground tree stump, filled it with compost from the city dump, and planted strawberry plants: berries in the spring, green in the summer, and lovely red foliage in the fall. The trees we planted in the landscape gave apples and cherries. Neighbors asked, “Aren’t you afraid people will steal your fruit?”

      No one did.

      There is always green-space, everywhere you go, even a windowsill garden can produce foodstuffs. The key is to be interested enough to DO IT. Lots of people have said what a great thing this article is, and it is a very cool article, I agree. Unlike a lot of other of the suggestions, raising food yourself, in your urban space isn’t hard, and it is fun and relaxing, rather than a chore. If you want to try some urban gardening for yourself, the place to start is the granddaddy of all space-scarce gardening books, “Square Foot Gardening.” It is also a long running show on public TV, if books are not your bag. The internet has a WEALTH of information on urban gardening. Look up “urban intensive gardening” on Google. Urban Intensive Gardening concentrates on producing a large amount of food in tiny spaces. Five gallon buckets, raised beds made from discarded lumber, a window box, a cheap grow light in your dark apartment, the key is to learn how and then to do it.

      Gardening success (and great food) is waiting for you.

  48. posted by Torrie Pattillo | Holistic Voyage on October 7, 2013

    Thanks so much for writing this article. I am always pleased to teach people how to eat a plant based diet, without breaking the bank, so of course I was happy to share this article. People especially in urban areas need more education and support to realize healthy eating is available to all. Especially now that local farmer’s markets are popping up everywhere.

  49. posted by Christa on October 8, 2013

    I love this article!, as a recent college graduate, money is tough but I made a commitment in college to change what I ate for the better. I made myself a promise NEVER to eat MCDs again and to avoid any and all other fast foods at all costs. It is frustrating sometimes and you quickly notice your addiction to sugar and fats…..I drink almost 3 liters of water a day and when i have my bi-monthly non-water drink i can almost always simply taste the added sugar in everything. My problem was that I didnt know how to cook. and i find that this is a bigger community problem as a whole (especially here in the south where everything is fried…even the oreos). I at first walked into the produce aisle and didnt even recognize half of the stuff in it much less how to cook it in a healthy way or even cook it all. I had to slowly learn and follow recipes and I had to invest in cooking things…and your fun budget will suffer but eventually you wont miss it because cooking healthy will become fun. I also say that “some” processed food isnt all bad. for instance, canned spaghetti sauce. I use it. (I painstakingly read the labels to find the few kinds without added sugar or fake sugar) I first cut up as many veggies as i can without meat and saute them with a little olive oil and then add the sauce. paired with some “real” whole wheat pasta it isnt a bad meal health wise. and things like this so that peoplee raised on hamburger helper can be weaned off of the processed crutches.

  50. posted by milaxx on October 8, 2013

    I would add that it’s a good idea to create a freezer stash as well. In the summer I buy fruit when on sale, wash dry on paper towels and freeze half of what you buy. My farmer’s market has a mix of things that are labeled organic and things that are not. I do a vinegar rinse on some things, make a concerted effort to get the organic as much as possible.

  51. posted by Nicole Breedlove on October 8, 2013

    This is a great article and excellent tips but why the improper English?! Was the use of the word Good in the title meant to rhyme with hood? Is it because it is assumed that people in the hood are not educated?! It should have read, ‘7 Ways to Eat WELL on a Hood Budget’.

    • posted by ethno-linguist on October 12, 2013

      Your ‘Proper English’ is often called Standard Written English (SWE), a dialect of English created by white people which by it’s very nature upholds a system of white oppression which has been extant since time immemorial (at least since the Greeks started sailing to Africa, but if I had any decent knowledge of history I could probably name events long before that!). Though usually not written down in formal essays, Standard Black English, or Black Rural Florida English or what have you, are all proper enough forms of English, and are fully functional languages in their own right. Though it is true that SWE is the language of power, of the mainstream media, and of ‘respectability’ within English speaking cultures, this article is apparently (and for good reason) not targeting those structures of power. In my view, it seems as if its goal is empowering the common folk, the people who might speak SBE natively, and definitely the people who speak SBE as a second or third language. So on one side, we do indeed live within the grim reality in which anyone who wants to get out of the ‘hood’ and/or make a big impact will have to study and master SWE even though they may not speak it natively (as MLK, Malcom X, Belle Hooks etc. all did very well), it is also probably worth respecting their native languages (or dialects really) as much as they invariably are forced to respect the language of the majority white establishment –the very establishment which caused them to be placed into ghettos and segregated from white culture in the first place.

      • posted by Em on November 30, 2013

        Languages do not have races. English is English. There is no ‘Black English.’ There is no ‘White English.’ There are Black people speaking English; there are White people speaking English. There are people of either race speaking English properly and people of either race speaking English improperly. End of story.

        While I believe the original commenter was nitpicking Stic’s grammar (he was writing colloquially and using slang. Big deal), you went a tad off the deep end with your pseudo-theoretical rant. If you were truly any sort of linguist, you’d know the difference between a language and a dialect; you’d be able to distinguish between its and it’s; and you’d know when to use the word that instead of the word which. While your lexical choices (Immemorial! Extant! Oooh!) attempt to dazzle us, your first sentence belies your supposed training.

  52. posted by Andrea on October 8, 2013

    This is awesome. Thank you for sharing 🙂 So Real

  53. posted by LLTaylor on October 10, 2013

    Great article and I love the t-shirt! Thanks for spreading the healthy word =)

  54. posted by yasetshego on October 12, 2013

    Great article!

  55. posted by Vonmiwi on October 13, 2013

    Eating a diet like this is one that I basically abandoned when I was overwhelmed with work and raising a family. Not only is he telling the truth but his message can resonate with anyone, especially if you’re on a budget. Loved it!

  56. posted by Rachel on November 8, 2013

    Many thanks for this enlightening and thoughtful piece. I don’t know if anything is more fundamentally important for change than helping people, including myself, gain tools to feed themselves in a powerful and healthful way. It’s the root of change IMO. I am a student and my husband is also. We are on a tight budget and I find that it gets draining to try and figure out how to feed our family well on our small food budget. Any advice is always appreciated!

  57. posted by REGINALD CHERRY on November 12, 2013


  58. posted by Mark on November 25, 2013

    *7 Ways to Eat WELL on a Budget

  59. posted by BigCozy on December 13, 2013

    When it suits them they can go either right or left. Never will forget the show I went to where they were sponsored by Swisher Sweet Black. How healthy is that??? There were a million and one banners and the whole Dead Prez show was sponsored by a very disgusting industry with a direct aim at exploiting and marketing to black folks. I still cant get over it.
    Soooo… I think I already know how to eat well on a “simple” budget. Dont need any advice from him.

  60. posted by Maria Whittaker on January 31, 2014

    Hey Stic, I appreciate these great survival tips but I work with communities that are hungry; selling their food stamps for rent and no money. Lets stop beating up those who have not succeeded and recognize that the system creates hunger, poverty and malnutrition and more of it day after day until most of us will be poor and hungry; let’s fight the system, not each other.

    Maria Whittaker, Program Director
    Local 2 Global Adovactes for Justice
    KC Food Justice
    GKC MO and KS

  61. posted by Alexandra on April 14, 2014

    Everyone should check out his song “Be Healthy”. It’s really good!

  62. posted by Knute on April 14, 2014

    #8 – Bulk Bins. Flour, nuts, beans, rice … it’s all usually less at a Winco or Sprouts in bulk.
    #9 – Go vegan. Use the money you’d spend on meat and dairy to get better, tastier, organic ingredients.

  63. posted by Lizzie on April 23, 2014

    This warms my cold, black heart. With a little effort and planning, it can be done.

  64. posted by Mary E Tyler on April 30, 2014

    Also, a tip for the SNAP crowd (been there, done that)… just because your local city’s farmer’s market seems affluent, don’t discount that it MAY take SNAP. Here in our small town, near a lerge metro area, we have both rural and urban poverty. The Farmer’s market has a fabulous program where they let you buy fresh foods with your SNAP benefits. And if you commit $20 worth of the benefits, you get TWICE the tokens ($40 worth)! I believe this last is a charitable program supported by private entities, but if your market doesn’t take SNAP, IT SHOULD! Ask your market manager, or call your city and ask.

    Here is the USDA page on using SNAP at a farmer’s market, something the gov’t, th providers of SNAP highly encourage.



  65. posted by Elizabeth on June 7, 2014

    Love the common sense and no nonsense matter of fact! Right on the nail head 🙂 We do need to take our health seriously over anything else. I am a living testimony that this method works because I live it and it is our lifestyle. It really is easy! Takes a little time to plan, and acceptance that working a little to prepare the food is for a good cause; yours and your loved ones 😉 Convenience food is a luxury we can all do without.

  66. posted by Maritza on June 12, 2014

    “In the hood, in all honesty, We spend a gang of money on cable, hair dos, sneakers, weed, parties expensive bottles of alcohol,video games, big screen tvs, rims, jewelry, strip club tricking, trendy name brand clothes, car accessories, headphones, cigarettes all kinds of overpriced things. But when it comes to our health, we often skimp and look for the cheapest food we can find.” Excuse me? A) Most people who are actually poor are working poor leaving us little time to follow some of these tips like spending lots of time cooking all at once, or joining a co-op, or taking care of a garden. I’ve seen poor people my entire life and all of them work AT LEAST 6 days out of the week, 65+ hours per week, leaving little to no time to do any of this (especially if some of us have kids or need rest to take care of our bodies). But what is most infuriating about this article is the quote above. Toni, I have no idea what “hood” you come from, perhaps a lively, upper-middle class neighbor(‘hood), or perhaps you get your idea of what a “hood” is from over-glorified rappers, but let me PLEASE assure you that that comment, as well as the article, was quite disrespectful and ignorant of actual conditions in what most people would consider “hoods.” Perhaps next time you should title a piece like this something along the lines of “7 ways to eat well while on a broke college student budget.”

    • posted by SJ Bennet on April 11, 2016


      you said “little time to follow some of these tips like spending lots of time cooking all at once”

      you imbecile, doing precisely this ^^^^, saves you time doing only ON SUNDAY 1x per week, you can hack the 38 min it takes to rapidly make some shit hot and portion it out in containers


  67. posted by Nancy (@Buenanueva1) on July 10, 2014

    Love the suggestion of growing your own food; its so fun to see the products of your work afterwards. However this article is overlooking the fact that you do need to buy organic produce in order to truly be eating healthy. Organic food that is not commonly in the hood (though this is changing) and that is more expensive than regular produce. USDA standards for organic produce are much more rigorous. Also,there are foods, such as tomatoes. (Source: Tomatoland), that are pretty much devoid of nutrients if bought non-organically at a grocery store. Farmer’s Markets are great places for fruits and veggies. Also, fruit street vendors tend to get their produce directly from the source as well. And as the article suggests, growing it yourself or community gardens are another option.

    • posted by SJ Bennet on April 11, 2016

      your not right about tomatoes, they release lycopene when heated and you ignored that thereby discrediting yourself by you lack of botany or science or even mollecularly nurtions…. #SMOKEMYPOLE