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$20 a Day in Santa Monica and Venice: Eat Like a Healthy Bargain Hunter

Can one Andrew Jackson bill pay for an entire day's eating?

Spicy Tuna Bowl at Poke Poke
Spicy Tuna Bowl at Poke Poke
Keyla Vasconcellos

One in a many-part series about eating on a strict $20 budget around Los Angeles for Cheap Eats Week. This installation explores affordable dining in Santa Monica and Venice.

Some may call eating breakfast, lunch and dinner for $20 on the Westside a difficult feat, but you just have to be privy to the great promotions in the area. It may take some research or word-of-mouth, but it’s surprisingly easy to eat well in Santa Monica and Venice without taking the fast food route.

You won’t break the bank or feel unsatisfied with these three meals under $20, so check it out.

Breakfast: PB Bowl from Nekter | Cost: $7.50 | $12.50 remaining

Time: 10 a.m. 
Post-Meal Hunger Level (10 is starving, 1 is fully satiated): 2

Nekter is in the perfect Santa Monica location, right next to yoga studios and gyms. Walk in and feel like you're starting the day off on the right foot. With plenty of fresh-pressed juices, smoothies and açai bowls here, the PB bowl gives great morning sustenance. And while açai keeps you energized, the peanut butter, bananas, dates, frozen strawberries, and cashew nutmilk will help you stay full until lunchtime. Bonus: Nekter offers 10% discounts on Mondays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. to locals in the area.

Lunch: Poke Poke | Cost: $7.63 | $4.87 remaining

*** Their Yelp page has a check-in for 10% off any poké, putting my cost at $6.87 and my remaining at $5.63.

Time: 1 p.m. 
Post-Meal Hunger Level: 3

Now that it's summer and the poké craze is in full swing, I researched the most affordable ahi tuna spot for a light and healthy lunch. Poke Poke is steps from the Venice Boardwalk, where ordering from a take-out window makes it easy to enjoy by the beach or on the go.  The small bowl is $7 and the best part is customizing yours with complimentary options like kale, chopped jalapenos, chili oil, carrots, seaweed and macadamia nuts to name a few.  Additionally, choose white or brown rice to help keep you full.  Also, remember to check in on Yelp for an extra 10% off.

Dinner: 800 Degrees | Cost: $5.22 | $ .41 remaining

Time: 6:30 p.m.
Post-Meal Hunger Level: 1

Since breakfast and lunch were healthy and light today, I treated myself to dinner with an 800 Degrees pizza. The eatery promotes a pizza of the day on Instagram and it's a whopping 50% off. There are no substitutions or add-ons but you get a whole pizza for around $5 and change. Today's pie of the day was a wonderful verde (pesto) pizza with mozzarella, artichokes and shredded chicken, and it tasted all the better knowing the whole day's eating cost less than twenty bucks.

Total expenditures: $19.59