Budget friendly healthy eating tips please!

Hi guys, I’ve been living in Taiwan for a while now, and due to weird work schedules and laziness I’ve fallen into the habit of surviving on takeout.

However, I find a lot of food here to be pretty unhealthy, most options are too oily/fried/high in salt/lacking in fresh vegetables for my taste, and would really like to start taking better care of myself.

I have a kitchen at my place consisting of two stove rings and a microwave. And have, on occasion, attempted to cook more as a way of eating better, but I find buying groceries to be more expensive.

How do you guys eat healthily here without spending more? Any recommendations for budget friendly restaurants, recipes or groceries?


I wouldn’t know either, and I find that groceries are expensive in Taiwan in relationship to the prices of take outs. I do not know how those places make money. I heard the situation is similar in China too, that eating take out is cheaper than buying groceries. Perhaps it’s because groceries here are cream of the crop and that all the cheaper stuff is bought up by restaurants?


Well I think part it retail rent costs and transport costs are higher, In USA (and somewhat in China & even Japan) the trucks are bigger, lots use of rail cargo which are cost efficient. In Taiwan I see lots of small trucks which cost a lot more. Also stores are smaller thus less efficient than most other places in the world be stores are bigger (even Japan has large sized markets thus lower retail prices). I see large container trucks at Costo and Dollars but are items imported are transfer to smaller trucks to smaller shops, its the way things are done I guess in dense cities in Taiwan.

So true :roll_eyes:

Not super cheap if compared to other countries but you can cook at home.

PS: for those who still may say it’s cheap to cook here: no, it’s not. Look at the price of protein (and it’s quality), or bell peppers, or apples, or…m most things.


McDonalds has salads.

Costco card + freezer + oven + shoulder blade steak + milk + eggs + cabbage/carrot … + apple cedar vinegar/olive oil/salt/pepper … = long-term budget healthy meal


It depends on your budget. Are you trying to be healthy by losing weight? I would first start and try cut out all sugar drinks and fried food or at least keep it to couple times a week. I find it pretty easy to eat healthy in Taiwan but I cook mostly at home. I’ve gotten so much healthier the last few months that I stay here tbh. I can try and share my diet with you.


Yea I hate to say this, but grocery is far too expensive in Taiwan. Price of some of the meat (especially meat) is so high, that you could actually just buy lunchbox, eat all the meat and veggies, throw out the rice, and it would still be cheaper than buying the meat even at places like Costco. It is that bad. How do these lunchbox place make ANY profit and not lose money??


First what equipment do you have or you are planing on buying?

If you already have a fry pan, pot, rice cooker, and oven. This is how I I eat. I go to Costco to buy protein. I buy bulk chicken and pork, beef it out of my budget.

I buy frozen veggies as they are cheaper than buying fresh. Eggs, rice to bulk out the meal.

Then I will freeze the protein in meal portions and and bulk cook rice so all I have to do when home is cook the protein and veggies add rice and flavours ( garlic, onion, spices). Bang meal in 10 minutes.

Alternatively, if you have a rice cooker you can make curries, stews and soups and have them prepared before hand in meal portions and then use the rice cooker to reheat that meal portion.

This process makes most meal cost about 150ntd to 200ntd. So for two people that’s not bad prices.

Sometimes I will make pasta at home and that will be about $300ntd per meal.

You need to understand local meal preparation and not rely on your meal presentation skills from back home.


you get very little meat and vegetables in these boxes, few grams only. store buying and cooking is more cost effective.

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Hence so much more to cook than to buy a lunchbox outside.

That’s for two people. Where can you get a healthy lunch box for two for that price? You can get greasy week old cabbage, and deep fried mystery meat lunch box. But healthy?


yep, we are a family of 4, our weekly food budget is ~6500 ntd, including meat and dairy. so if you divide it in 3 meals a day plus snacks per person, its not that bad.

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80nt for a lunchbox that contains one chicken leg quarter, fried, and 3 vegetables of your choice. You’d spend at least that much on the leg quarter alone.


Maybe. But one chicken leg will feed two children. And chicken legs here are sold as the leg and thigh on the bone sometimes.

I need your budget tips. $80 a meal. That brilliant.

When I said leg quarter, I mean leg and thigh as one piece. The 80nt lunchbox contains that. Some contains only the leg portion.

If you go to a fried chicken stand the leg quarter is more than 80nt sometimes.

Either lunchbox place is a money laundering operation, or we’re all getting conned by retailers.

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Or the owner has the time to go to the meat market in the morning and buy bulk or they have someone that delivers them bulk meat.

At retail level you are paying for the packaging and for someone to put it on the shelf.

“3 vegetables” in a lunch box is about 5 spoon fulls :), not a meaningful portion (at least not for me).
i buy a pack of 18 drum sticks in Costco for about 550-600 nt, so the cost per drum stick is roughly 33 nt.
cooking at home can be cost efficient but most most important i know what i put in it, i know that someone actually washed the vegetables and utensils properly and that they didnt smoke above the pot :slight_smile:


Sounds pricy. I pay around $90ntd or less for 4 drum sticks and I hardly buy them in bulk. PX Mart, Surwell or Carrefour shopper here. I always buy fresh vegetables as well. I estimate 2 meals a day cost me around $200NTD at the most. I cook generous portion as well. One vegetable side, at least 100g of meat (mostly chicken), half cup raw brown rice, and a boiled egg per meal.