5 Steps to Building a Nutritious Eating Pattern with Pork on a Budget

Building a Nutritious Eating Pattern with Pork on a Budget

Follow this step-by-step guide to enjoy pork within your budget!

Every bite counts for your health and wellbeing! Luckily, you can build healthy habits and a nutritious eating plan that includes your favorite foods, fits your budget and supports good health – at the same time. The key is choosing a variety of foods and beverages, and specifically, those that offer high-quality protein and have lots of vitamins and minerals.

1. Start where you are

Think about what you currently eat from each of the five food groups – fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy. Are you getting a mix of all the food groups each day? Try getting at least two or three in each meal and snack!

Have pork leftovers? Pair with veggies and your favorite whole grain and enjoy a sandwich for lunch or dinner to pack on the protein!

2. Choose based on you

What impacts the meals and snacks you choose each day – time, money, taste, routine? Nutritious and delicious dishes can be affordable and flavorful without taking hours to make. Select recipes with fewer ingredients and steps – say no to fancy equipment.

Opt for one pot! Combine cubed pork shoulder with garlic, canned tomatoes, green salsa and jalapenos in a slow cooker for a tasty, fuss-free dinner!

3.Makeover your meals

Did you know that many cuts of pork (chops, steaks and roasts) are largely made up of healthy monounsaturated fats and free of added sugars yet provide many vitamins and minerals?1,2 Swap nutrient-dense and easy-to-prepare foods, like pork and frozen fruits and veggies, for less nutritious and time-consuming ingredients when cooking.

Ground pork is versatile and can easily and inexpensively be subbed in many popular dishes – try in chili, lasagna, tacos and more!

4. Optimize for health

Cook with little to no fat and salt and replace with spices and herbs for maximum flavor and nutrition. Bake, broil or braise seasoned pork tenderloin or pork chops and serve with fruits, vegetables and whole grain.

Pork chops are delicious as is – just give them a rub with a mix of your favorite spices and herbs and pop in the oven!

5. Stretch your food dollars

Research shows that pork is a high-quality, nutritious protein, that can be part of a healthy diet at a low cost.3 Select cuts of pork, including roasts, chops and cutlets and try recipes that use them. Don’t let your hard-earned dollars go to waste. When preparing pork to cook, save bones and scraps for later to make a soup, stew or broth.

Stock up on value packs of pork chops or cutlets and freeze what you don’t use for later!

Sample Daily Menu

Enjoy this nutrient-rich, affordable sample menu to meet MyPlate recommendations for protein foods, fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy!


Start your day with fruit – topped oatmeal and a glass of 100% fruit juice!
  • 2 oz. instant oatmeal
  • 1 cup 100% orange juice
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar



  • 2 oz. – eq grains
  • 1 cup dairy
  • 1 1/2 cup fruit


Enjoy a ham – stuffed pita pocket with veggies and dip!
  • 6″ whole wheat pita
  • 3/4 cup sliced cucumber
  • 2 oz. reduced – sodium sliced ham
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. store – bought bacon ranch dressing
  • 1 1/2 oz. cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cup avocado
  • 1/4 cup sliced tomato



  • 2 oz. – eq grains
  • 2 oz. protein foods
  • 1 cup dairy
  • 1 3/4 cup vegetables


Wrap up the day with pork and veggie stir – fry in garlic sauce!
  • 3 1/2 oz. broiled pork chop
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup carrots (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup green beans (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/8 cup onion
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tsp. low – sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut oil



  • 2 oz. – eq grains
  • 3 1/2 oz. protein foods
  • 7/8 cup vegetables


Nibble on a yogurt fruit parfait!
  • 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, thawed


  • 1 cup dairy
  • 1/2 cup fruit

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1 US Department of Agriculture FoodData Central
2 US Department of Agriculture Thrifty Food Plan, 2021.
3 Drewnowski A. Pork in sustainable healthy diets: A Thrifty Food Plan perspective. Talk presented at: National Pork Board webinar; September 22, 2022; Virtual.