First of all, I do not eat outside as much as I used to. That is a big savings. I guess some people in other countries might have access to Dollar Menus at McDs and stuff like that but, I normally did not eat fast food at all. So, if I eat even a salad in a regular restaurant, that is a lot of money. I am picky about the places I eat because of hygiene reasons. I buy a whole package of salad greens and two pounds of tomatoes for the price of a salad at a restaurant. Those will last me a whole week.
Second, portion control keeps you from eating too much anyway. A good steak is expensive. Normally, I would eat the whole big piece in one sitting. However, I now have to cut that in half for portion control. I also use red meat sparingly for a heart healthy diet and that helps with the costs. I use only EVOO in my cooking and that is expensive too. However, now I have to measure how much I use. I use probably a third of what I would normally use. There you go again.
There are lots of produce that I need to buy. I buy seasonal items with the exception of tomatoes and cucumbers to keep the costs down. I can eat only one portion of fruit and I eat seasonal fruits.
I eat all sorts of beans and they are very inexpensive especially, if you buy them dry. Soaking them overnight is no hassle.
I normally consume a lot of cheese bu,t with the diet you can only eat controlled portions.
Here is what I have in my diet:
Whole wheat bread (limited number of slices)
Lean cuts of meat, fish, poultry (the size of the palm of my hand, my pinky thick)
Salad, lots of salad, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots...
Cheese (we have a feta like white cheese not as sharp)
Plain Yogurt (1 cup per day)
Milk (max. 1.5 cups per day)
Fruit (sparingly, medium orange, apple etc.)
For me, diet soda is a treat. I allow myself to have a maximum of 3 cans per week. Not more. Artificial sweeteners are not good so, I keep away.
There aren't any exotic specific ingredients in my above list. Very basic stuff. So, this eating plan also keeps my budget at a minimum. Win-win in my book!