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Eating right on a budget..."why is bad food cheaper"

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Old 02-09-2013, 12:47 PM   #1
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Question Eating right on a budget..."why is bad food cheaper"

Hi, so I'm just starting out but I swear it seems that "junk" food is so much cheaper maybe that explains why we have such an obesity problem in america. I could use some ideas for healthy low calorie "preferred"ideas for meals and snacks. I love salads but they can become boring. I'd really like some for seafood as its very lacking in my diet. Thank you
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Old 02-09-2013, 12:52 PM   #2
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I used to think the same way, then I had to make some really serious changes to get healthy. Let me tell you, there is no way I am spending our hard earned money on some Cheetos or takeout pizza anymore! Of course there may be times that either of those are on the menu but not as often as they used to be.

I get so excited seeing how much I can buy now in produce, frozen foods, grains...I do shop sales so if asparagus or squash is the sale item, guess what our menu has a lot of?

We used to eat so much frozen chicken and potatoes (think: chicken fingers and french fries). Now we buy a good size pack of fresh chicken and a bag of potatoes and have so many varieties of dishes to make (and it's never chicken fingers and french fries anymore!).

In reality now that we are in a new groove, our food bill has not increased with healthy eating so we are very happy. And our waistlines decreased too!
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Old 02-09-2013, 01:04 PM   #3
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Thats awesome, congrats on your success I try hard to stay away from to much already cooked food "I dont like feeding my boys the preserved stuff" I'm not much of a cook though so maybe I should start trying to make some of the recipes but it doesn't always work without a guideline : p I can be kind of hopeless without my microwave lol
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Old 02-09-2013, 01:11 PM   #4
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Biggest Loser just did a segment about this a couple episodes ago. Here is some great advice: http://www.nbc.com/the-biggest-loser...g-on-a-budget/

I definitely only shop on the outer perimeter of the market and buy seasonal. I'm actually saving a ton of money, but what I'm not saving is time- it takes more time for me to cook, at this point, mostly because I'm just kinda learning to cook.

So a quick recap- Saving money. Not saving time. But saving my life.
Yup- the math is pretty good, really.

ETA: I LOVE this book-
http://www.amazon.com/Mark-Bittmans-.../dp/1416575677
Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express: 404 Inspired Seasonal Dishes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less

I'm trying to learn how to cook like a "minimalist" to save money and time- and to appreciate simple ingredients:
http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.c...es/?ref=dining
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Old 02-09-2013, 01:13 PM   #5
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That's only true if you're allergic to preparing your own food. I can now feed my fiance and myself both very well on about $60/week, that only purchases a couple meals if you eat out a lot. And if you think about how much junk you have to eat to feel satisfied, are you really spending any less? I challenge all the fast-food, convenience food junkies of the world to do some math and figure out their cost per meal vs. mine. Because I can turn a 3 pound chuck roast (about 11 dollars) with about 4 bucks worth of carrots, onions and peppers into pot roast in the crock pot. Then the roast gets shredded into sandwiches the next night, then the meat gets turned into soup, then the last of the soup gets folded into either a pot pie or shepherd's pie. For a total of about 25 bucks once you add the bread and stuff for the other nights, I just fed two working adults dinner for half the week. If you have kids in your household, the savings just get multiplied.

And have you seen the price on decent chocolate lately!? The cheap stuff has been cut with so much soy lecithin I can't even eat it. The texture sucks, and soy is a big migraine trigger for me. I can snack on strawberries, or pears with good Norwegian blue cheese for less than a candy bar these days.
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Old 02-09-2013, 01:15 PM   #6
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Oh- Also- this is an interesting article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/op...pagewanted=all

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Old 02-09-2013, 01:17 PM   #7
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Sorry Lunar, you posted while I was typing my rant. You basically made the same point I did.

Keep up with the cooking! I make sure to always have some stuff for sandwiches and a quick semi-homemade soup in the house for those nights when you're not into cooking, or you're too hungry to wait. I've got a 10-minute French onion soup down pat. Once you get in the groove of it, you'll wonder why life wasn't always that way! It has taken me a year of knuckling down and making myself eat at home to get the hang of it.
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Old 02-09-2013, 01:25 PM   #8
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I want to grow up and be HelloNurse.
I think tonight I'm going to make a quick chicken picatta- I need to get the chicken out of the freezer.

Oh- And holy easy- is it silly that I didn't know how easy it was to roast a whole chicken? I do it weekly now!
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/i...ipe/index.html
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Old 02-09-2013, 01:31 PM   #9
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Like others, I buy seasonally. What's on sale in the produce department is usually the highest quality stuff there, because it's what's in season and what they have an abundance of.

The things I buy a lot of, I look for a cheaper way to make myself. I started making my own yoghurt, and this week I'll start making my own larabar type energy bar for my husband's lunches.

We buy a whole chicken every week or two and it feeds us for several meals - I roast it with root veggies one night, make chicken broth out of the carcass and vegetable scraps, and add the leftover chicken meat, onions, and carrots for an awesome, filling chicken soup! We buy local pastured usually, which is more expensive, but the idea works with ANY whole chicken at any price point! Making my own homemade soups and bone broths was really intimidating to me at first, but I'll never go back to buying soup after discovering how easy it is.

I try to shop at the farmer's market as much as possible. There's always some REALLY good deals and farmer's market seconds are cheap as dirt.

For seafood, we usually have some frozen salmon on hand (we get ours from trader joe's, but I think target and costco also have frozen salmon at a decent price). I'll poach 3 fillet's at a time and use the leftover one as salad topping. We also keep tinned fish (salmon, sardines, anchovies, sometimes mackerel) on hand for quick and easy snacks. My husband is allergic to shellfish, so unfortunately that type of seafood is out for us.
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Old 02-09-2013, 01:34 PM   #10
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Thanks for the advice I'm still really learning what is "healthy" which is why I joined here it seems like for every article saying something is bad for you there is another saying its good. So I'm interested to see what works for people. Like I thought your supposed to avoid starchy food like potatoes? As you can see I'm pretty confused lol
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Old 02-09-2013, 01:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thinforme View Post
Like I thought your supposed to avoid starchy food like potatoes? As you can see I'm pretty confused lol
Depends on what you are going for. People carb counting, especially with the intention of getting into ketosis, avoid things like potatoes. It's amazing how many carbs they packed into those little things.

You can see what some of the ladies are doing on this thread:
No Judgement Zone: What are you doing for weight loss?

And why I have made the choices I have here: Okay, So you can judge me.
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Old 02-09-2013, 01:46 PM   #12
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Thanks Lunar
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Old 02-09-2013, 01:50 PM   #13
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Thinforme - there's lots of different plans for healthy eating, and you're going to have to figure out what works for you. The general points that seem to be common in most plans are that whole foods are preferred over processed foods, and sugar/refined carb consumption should be eliminated or minimized.

For example, my Mom eats a fairly balanced vegetarian diet and includes plenty of potatoes, legumes, nuts, fruits, and veggies with some whole grains and minimal egg/dairy consumption. My husband and I eat a low-carb, high-fat paleo diet that includes plenty of animal products (including animal fats), veggies, nuts, zero grains, zero legumes, and minimal potato/starch, fruit, and dairy consumption. We all eschew sugar and (for the most part) packaged food, and I would consider all of us to be on a healthy diet even though our ways of eating vastly differ from one another. My mom gets sick and exhausted on low-carb. Moderate carb vegetarianism throws my hormones out of whack. Don't be afraid to experiment and figure out what works best for you!
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Old 02-09-2013, 01:59 PM   #14
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So many great posts... Thanks lunar... for that post with the pic's... that McDonald's stuff just does not look appealing to me anymore... in fact I think I would rather take my chances and eat the chicken in the pic below RAW, rather than that Micky D's stuff... lol... Sorry to go off topic with that...

But back to the OP... you mentioned you would like to include more seafood in your diet... I love fresh fish and seafood, so we have it in my house several times a week... What I do for quick meals when it comes to fish is I always keep really good high quality frozen salmon and other fish and seafood on hand... It usually can be defrosted much quicker than meat or chicken, so if I forget to plan ahead it's not a problem... I keep a few different really good store bought quick marinades around to use if I don't have time or feel like making my own... and all I do is sauté or bake whatever fish I've got on hand and serve it with a quick salad and some vegetables... Takes about 30 to 45 minutes to put it all together... so not too bad as far as I'm concerned...
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Old 02-09-2013, 02:04 PM   #15
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I way cheaper to be fat. Flipping through the ads, the vast majority of what's on sale is unhealthy. Thing is though, there are ways to deal with that. I wait for veggie/fruit sales and stock up. If they start going bad before I get around to eating them I make a vegetable soup or cook up dishes using them and stock up the freezer. Seafood sales come about once a month or so around where I live (like salmon filets $1 each) and I do the stocking up thing with them too.
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