Yea it's totally possible to eat within a budget while keeping it healthy. I wouldn't necessarily say I could do it for $4 a day, that's taking it to the extreme. Ever since living off campus, I've been really planning my meals more carefully, keeping it as cheap as possible. I've learned to have a high protein, carb, veggie & grain diet for around $30 something a week.
Here's something I get for an average week, keep in mind this is sans milk and eggs, but I do buy them sometimes as well, since my friends/roommates and I take turns.
- A Bag of Rice - not instant, from the Chinese Grocery Store, I was able to get one whole bag for around 20 bucks, lasts at least 3 months
- 1lb bag of dry red beans(Substitute for Canned Black or Red Beans if you wish)
- loaf of bread
- peanut butter
- 1lb of ground beef
- spaghetti/pasta of your choice
- spaghetti sauce/or any other pasta sauce of your choice
- can of chili beans
- can of chili tomatoes
- can of bamboo shoots
- Bag of Frozen Vegetables
- green bell pepper
- onion (not peeled)
- a jar of oatmeal (brown sugar to make it yummy)
- oranges, apples or any fruit of your choice
- couple pack of ramens(Get the ones from chinese grocery store)
With all of this you can make, breakfast: oatmeal, Scrambled eggs, Omelettes oranges, lunch: beans & rice, PB & honey sandwich, ramen, and dinner: stir fry, chili, spaghetti and sauce. I usually have OatMeal with brown sugar and cinnamon for breakfast, ramen or sandwiches or a salad if I got lettuce, for lunch. For Dinner I either go with Spaghetti, Chicken Stir Fry, Red Beans and Rice, or Chilli. Sometimes even Chilli with Rice.
Get nutmeg, cinnamon, garlic salt, & regular salt for the red beans and rice. Buy in bulk and cook in bulk. By cooking in bulk, I'll usually have enough for the next day. In between meals, I snack on fruit, PBJs/honey, and Ramen.
Sure, I hear my tummy growl about once a day, but that's the college student life and knowing my other foods have plenty of protein and carbs to keep me energetic, I usually don't remember I'm all that hungry.
If I ever want snack foods (not gonna lie), I'll take some from my roommates. Or even more simply, ask family to bring me a couple bag of chips or something when they come in town. Not many moms and grandmas will say no to that.