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Grocery shopping on a very limited income?

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Old 06-09-2006, 12:30 AM   #1
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Default Grocery shopping on a very limited income?

How do you do it and still buy foods that are healthy? During the school year there are times when I may only have 25$ for groceries that week and often I end up going for the cheap junk just so I can eat. I rarely eat meat anymore, because it's so damn expensive, and fruits and veggies can get really pricey here during the winter. Any tips/ideas on how to buy decent foods on a limited income?
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Old 06-09-2006, 12:39 AM   #2
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I lived on soups and stews...

I'd buy whatever veggies were in season and cook up a huge batch of stew and freeze it. I too rarely ever bought meat (and as a consequence now I may as well be vegetarian lol since I STILL don't each much).

Legumes were my saviour and lentils, split peas, barely etc - things i could buy in bulk and would last for ages.
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Old 06-09-2006, 12:53 AM   #3
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I've found that in the long run healthy eating is FAR less expensive than buying prepackaged stuff. Legumes are AWESOME and soooo cheap. A bag of brown rice will last you FOREVER and only costs a couple dollars... Frozen chicken breasts are pretty inexpensive... Produce is fairly inexpensive especially if you buy in season. When it's out of season you can buy it frozen and it has just the same nutritional content. Keep it simple, shop around the outside of the store and you'll do well! Good luck!
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Old 06-09-2006, 08:13 AM   #4
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A tip from an old gal??? My daughter used a crockpot in college ... alot! You can batch cook brown rice and put it in little containers, make a cheap roast nice and tender, make your soups and stews ....
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Old 06-09-2006, 08:21 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lyria
I lived on soups and stews...

I'd buy whatever veggies were in season and cook up a huge batch of stew and freeze it. I too rarely ever bought meat (and as a consequence now I may as well be vegetarian lol since I STILL don't each much).

Legumes were my saviour and lentils, split peas, barely etc - things i could buy in bulk and would last for ages.
That pretty much sums it up for me. Lentils have seen me through some pretty lean (money wise) times. And $10 worth of vegetables and some lentils goes a looooooong way in a stew.

And ditto on the vegetarian thing.
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Old 06-09-2006, 08:24 AM   #6
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I'm very back-and-forth about this. Is healthy eating more or less expensive than junky eating? I've been buying fresh produce more often lately (since it's that time of year when most of the good stuff is in season), and I've been spending on average about $75 a week just to feed my boyfriend and me. Fresh strawberries are fabulously healthy--and $3 a pound on sale right now. Baby spinach--$3.99 a bag. I can never get the fat cut off of chicken very easily, so I buy the 98% lean chicken breasts--$5.99 a pound. Stoneybrook natural fat-free yogurt 6-pack (no aspartame or sucralose)--$4.99. Ground turkey breast (the ground turkey has about the same amount of fat as beef--has to be turkey breast to be much healthier)--I don't recall the exact price, but I know it ain't cheap It all adds up so fast...I feel like even when I just have a third of a cart full, it can be $50 or more.

I used to be the one who said, no, eating healthy is cheaper than eating junk. I often feel the opposite now. If you can live on beans and soup, then power to you--I can't hack it I bought a Kashi trail mix snack bar yesterday--$1.19 for a single bar. Little Debbie frosted cakes--$1.29 for 12

I guess what I would do is stock up on the weeks when you have a little more money. I'd stockpile the frozen fruits and veggies (especially when on sale), whole-grain/light bread products (you can keep these frozen--I have like 6 packages of light wheat hamburger buns in my freezer because they were buy one, get one free a couple months ago ), canned beans (or raw bags of beans if you take the time to soak them), and brown rice. In addition to the staples, I'd stock up whenever anything was on sale (natural peanut butter, salsa, chicken broth--things that don't go bad overnight and are very versatile).

I guess it depends on where you live, too. Around here (DC area), everything is so darn expensive
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Old 06-09-2006, 09:12 AM   #7
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Do you live in the US? I'm only asking because the 25$.

If you live near an Aldi's. They have basic foods for a great price. When I go visit my parents I stock up on a lot of products. They don't have gourmet type foods, almost everything is a store brand. They have a very limited selection of items. http://www.aldifoods.com/

If you live near some ethnic grocery stores, many times they have beans, lentils, fresh vegetables and some meat for a good price. If you have a health food store around you, check out their bulk items. Many times bulk foods items are a better price.

Check out the store ads and shop the ads, which ever store has a good price on something stock up when you have the money.

And if nothing else, count calories-mac and cheese isn't the most healthy but when the store brand is 4/$1.00 can you really pass it up when you are on a severely restricted budget? Romen noodles at 10/$1.00? There are ways to make them more healthy, don't add the spice packet to the noodles or only add a small amount-cook up a bag of frozen vegetables and mix it with the noodles or mac and cheese. Remember serving sizes-the label says a box of mac and cheese is 4 servings??? who ever only eats 1/4 of a batch? Just try to limit it to a few times a week and not several times a day.

Soups are another great way to stretch the budget, I use the distressed produce and thow it all in a pot. Some grocery stores will put the veggies that are a little on the not so fresh side at a reduced price calling it distressed produce. I only buy it because sometimes when I buy fresh, it sits in my fridge until it looks like that anyway.

The farmers markets in my area are super expensive, but maybe in your area they are better priced.

Good luck and let us know if any of our suggestions helped.
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Old 06-09-2006, 09:54 AM   #8
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i would search for farmer's markets. i NEVER buy produce from the grocery store anymore. it SHOCKS me to see the prices (i can't believe i bought my produce there for years). my bf and i leave the farmers market with every type of produce imaginable (5-6 FULL grocery bags for $20-$30 which lasts us about 2 weeks). i supplement this with brown rice, oatmeal, egg whites, beans, and cheese. i don't eat meat though. i do a lot of fat free vegetarian refried beans ($1.00) on whole wheat tortilla ($.059 a bag) with toppings. i also always have juice, frozen berries and veggies in the freezer so i can add the veggies to rice/beans/torillas, and make smoothies from the berries (with protein powder which is expensive). the more you get into the packaged stuff (yogurts, sour cream, cheeses, frozen meals, and meats, the higher your bill will go up).
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Old 06-09-2006, 01:15 PM   #9
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With fruit - trying sticking to the basics that you can buy in bags (apples & oranges). It's not so exciting but they're good for you & usually very cheap.

You can also use cereals like puffed rice & oatmeal (store brands). They're filling & cheaper.
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Old 06-09-2006, 01:45 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the help, much appreciated. I think that making soups and stews now and freezing them may be the way to go. I'm in sw Ontario so there's a lot of local produce available in the summer and it's much cheaper. I also have a crockpot pasta sauce recipe that can be frozen as well so I'll make some of that too. My sister has a huge chest freezer that she and her husband never use so they've agreed to let me use it as storage which is helpful.

I'm jealous of those that have a farmer's market. We used to have a huge market downtown and a few years ago the city decided to renovate it and started charging more for stalls to pay part of the cost. Now it's all flower shops and gourmet chocolate and candy. There is still produce but it's incredibly expensive. I miss the market .
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Old 06-09-2006, 09:07 PM   #11
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Thanks, so much for all of you that posted suggestions, it was a great help to me. I am self imposing a strict budget in the hopes of paying some debt off sooner and this was very helpful.

To tell you the truth my biggest problem is that I really don't like cooking, but it's something I need to start doing again. I did once when I was newly married I've gotten lazy and that maybe why I packed on the pounds as well.
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