You’ve probably heard people say before that abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. What this means is, even if you work out every single day, a healthy truck driver diet is what’s really going to kick your butt into shape. Exercise and a good diet work hand-in-hand to make us healthier and keep us in good working order. Many of us would like to eat healthier, but one of the perceived hurdles is the price of healthier alternatives.
Does Healthy = Expensive?
A common defense for not adopting a healthy truck driver diet is something along the lines of, “it’s more expensive.” And while a recent study found that it does cost about $1.50 more a day for a healthy diet, it’s all relative. Junk food may be cheaper now, but what about the long term effects of it? What about the cost of potential illness and doctor’s visits? Ultimately, “inexpensive” means something different to everybody, but it’s something to think about.
Regardless of your stance on whether an additional $1.50 a day validates eating junk or not, today we’re going to talk about some inexpensive yet healthy options to keep in your grocery stash on the truck. These are items that have a reasonably small price per serving while still being nutritious buys for the road.
What makes a food “inexpensive?”
When looking at how expensive or inexpensive a food is, there are a few different ways of measuring:
- Price per 100 calories: Pretty self explanatory – how much an item costs for 100 calories worth. This is where junk vs healthy foods ends up being “cheaper.” Since junk food has more calories per serving, you’ll “pay less” for it as compared to lower calorie, healthy food. This study can describe it better than I can:
“When less healthy foods are defined as energy-dense (a higher number of calories per edible gram), the metric suffers…This occurs because the same variable—calories—appears in the numerator of the energy density (calories per edible gram) calculation as well as the denominator of the price metric (price per calorie). Thus, high-energy dense foods tend to have a low price per calorie because the price is divided by a large number of calories, while low-energy dense foods tend to have a high price per calorie because the price is divided by a small number of calories.”
- Price per 100 edible grams: The price of a food after it’s been cooked and had any seeds, peels, skins, shells, and bones removed.
- Price per average portion: The price of the average amount consumed by adults.
Price of Fast Food Vs. Price of Groceries
One last thing to consider is the price of stopping for a fast food meal every day vs stocking up on groceries. How many meals at McDonald’s can you get for $50? How many meals can you get from groceries for $50? Something else to consider.
We’re going to be talking about inexpensive healthy food for truck drivers as measured by price per portion today.
14 Inexpensive Healthy Foods for Truck Drivers
Without further ado, let’s get into it! I tried to pick food items that wouldn’t spoil too quickly on the truck. And please note, prices are based on my local grocery store, so they may vary at different locations.
Brown rice is significantly more nutritious than its white, enriched counterpart. A serving — approximately 1/2 cup of dry rice – contains 170 calories, 2 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of protein. A one-pound bag of brown rice is available for about $1.75, making each serving approximately 18 cents (I even got a bag the other day for 99 cents, so this estimate may be high). Brown rice is great for a multitude of dishes, including sides, salads, fried rice, soups, and stews, and this rice cooker makes it really simple to cook rice even in a truck.
Price per serving: .18 cents for ½ cup dry rice
100% Whole Wheat Bread
Similar to brown rice mentioned above, 100% whole wheat bread is a much healthier alternative than white bread, which has had many of its nutrients stripped during processing. Bread is a staple in many a truck driver diet, and for good reason. It’s easy, convenient, and at about $2 for a loaf of bread, you can get one serving (we’ll say 2 slices because we’re being realistic) for 18 cents.
Price per serving: .18 cents for 2 slices
Not only are bananas an on-the-go snack for an on-the-go driver, but they’re also a bargain! They’re always in season, making them relatively cheap compared to other, pricier fruits. Depending on the bunch, one banana will usually run you between 16 and 40 cents. And eating a banana before a workout will give you a jolt of energy and help sustain your blood sugar. Bonus!
Price per serving: About .20 cents for one banana
Popeye didn’t get those muscles by accident! Spinach, and most leafy greens for that matter, are nutritional powerhouses. A 4-cup serving of spinach (say a full-sized salad) has 2 grams of fiber, Vitamins A and C, calcium, and folic acid, and is only 20 calories! Bagged spinach can be used to make salads or as a topping on sandwiches. A bag of spinach costs about $1.99, making a serving of 4 cups about 66 cents.
Fun Fact: 1 cup of spinach contains 987% of your daily recommend intake of Vitamin K!
Price per serving: .66 cents for 4 cups
This one may be a bit controversial since I am apparently the only person in the world who likes cottage cheese. It’s a great source of protein, especially if you avoid eating meat. A 16 ounce tub of low-fat cottage cheese is about $1.69. A serving is ½ cup, making this protein-laden snack only 42 cents a serving.
Price per serving: .42 cents for ½ cup
Edamame (soybeans) are another protein-heavy snack that’s good for the road. A serving is ½ cup, and you can find a 16-ounce bag of frozen edamame for $1.79, making each serving 45 cents. Not only can you snack on edamame plain, but it’s also great to add to dinner dishes like stir fry, salads, and stews.
Note: Soybeans are a widely planted genetically modified crop, so if you like to avoid GMOs, might be best to knock this one off your list.
Price per serving: .45 cents for ½ cup