South Beach Diet - South Beach on a Budget?

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01-17-2008, 11:58 PM

I have tried South Beach a couple times. I usually end up quitting before the end of the first week of P1, but I am always drawn back to the wonderful recipes (which makes me want to try again!).

One issue that comes up for me every time is the expense. Here in PA, in the wintertime especially, certain things are pretty expensive, like all the fresh veggies and leaner cuts of meat.

Does anyone here have good suggestions for how to make it through while on a tight budget? I recently made up menus & grocery lists for 3 different things I was thinking of doing. South Beach again, Volumetrics, and a "South Beach Shake (convenience foods, really) Diet" I had read about in Women's World or something like that.

Sadly, the "SB Shake Diet" ended up having the shortest, cheapest list. I know I'm not going to want to use bars and drinks for the duration. They help me get back on track when I've gotten off track, and I am able to gradually work into smart options in "real food."

I figure in a couple weeks, I'm going to be ready to get back on the regular SB plan, but again, I'm worried about the impact it will have on my pocketbook.

So, any hints for how to do South Beach cheaply (I try to follow the actual menus and a lot of recipes, which I think affects things) would be very appreciated!


01-18-2008, 12:42 AM
One of my tricks is to use frozen and canned vegetables in soups and crockpot meals. For example I use frozen broccoli in my broccoli cheese soup. This seems to help when things go out of season. I also tend to buy whatever veggies are on sale and then make meals based on those vegetables. This topic has come up before and I know there are quite a few moms on here with great tips for saving at the grovery store :)

01-18-2008, 07:45 AM
I use a lot of frozen vegetables during the winter months, and buy the fresh produce when it's on sale. I recently stocked up on red peppers at $1.99 lb.! You can find good sales on chicken breasts often, and when they're on special, stock up. I think eating the South Beach way, it doesn't cost any more than any other diet, and you may actually be saving money by not buying junk food.

01-18-2008, 08:31 AM
The way we save $$ is by going to costco & sams and buying in bulk - it's a big chunk at once but averages out to be cheaper in the long run

01-18-2008, 09:00 AM
I have a freezer in my basement and I stock up on meats when they are cheap. You have to buy the big packages and portion them out before you freeze them, but I can get boneless chicken breasts, lean ground beef, and ground turkey for $1.99/lb.
I only buy fresh veg in the winter that are on sale and look good, but mostly they're expensive and not tasty, so I switch over to canned and frozen when necessary. In the summer, I have a little garden, and so do friends and family and we share produce. When there's a lot of something, I freeze it for the winter. I also go to the farmer's markets. You can get some good deals there. And we've got lots of u-pick farms around here. I go picking, and also they usually sell things like bushels of "drops" really cheap and you can cook them up and freeze.
I shop at three different grocery stores. Every week I check their sales, and we eat what is on sale. Whatever is really cheap, I buy enough to last as long as it'll keep. I don't go to every store every week, but some weeks I hit two if there's two irresistible sales.
I keep an inventory of frozen stuff and I plan menus every week before I shop. I always rotate and try to use up old stuff or leftovers to minimize the waste.
Trader Joe's is good for frozen veggies, nuts, and cheeses pretty cheap.
I make my own yogurt, especially if I've got some milk that's going to turn soon. I don't compromise on the milk, I buy it direct from a dairy farm, and I pay more than the grocery store, but there's no comparison.
I cook big batches of beans in my pressure cooker and freeze them.

I don't use coupons much any more. I used to, but I found it wasn't really worth the time spent, and also they don't give coupons much for the stuff I buy, mostly for prepared stuff.

I'm surprised the bars and prepared stuff is cheaper than regular food!

little chick
01-18-2008, 09:36 AM
Welcome to the beach. I am like the other chicks, I buy what is on sale and then plan my meals around what I bought. I buy frozen veggies, and the only fresh I buy is lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, turnip and carrots. I stocked up on cheese this week because it was on sale for 5.97 for a big block. I think it becomes a matter of finally making the decision that you want to be healthy and changing your ways of eating forever as this is not really a diet but a healthy way of life.

01-18-2008, 10:56 AM
search this forum for "expensive" or "cheap" and I know you will find that this topic has been discussed many times through the last couple of years. Dry beans are cheap. You don't have to follow the menus and that will save a lot of money. I make up a batch of the Wendy's chili in my crockpot and that makes me several dinners and several lunches out of one batch. The brocolli cheese soup is the same way. I double it and use the big bags of chopped frozen broccoli and then freeze the leftovers.

It is easier when you get to phase 2 but you can still do phase 1 and get your vegetables by using frozen. I used canned beans alot since I have more money than time but even canned is not expensive when you catch them on sale.

01-18-2008, 11:03 AM
I'm all about the canned and frozen veggies!!! I only buy meat on sale. I found the recipes here at 3fc are more wallet friendly than the book!

01-18-2008, 11:26 AM
I'm all about the frozen veggies as well. (Not so much canned because of the sodium content for DH.) I actually read in a health magazine that the frozen veggies are typically more nutritious than fresh because they are flash frozen right after harvesting rather than being shipped and sitting in the produce department for a week or more. The only difference would be in veggies you eat fresh as opposed to cooked. Some of the nutrients leach out when they're cooked.

DH and I have a chest freezer, so we stock up when stuff is on sale. I've been known to clean out all the Boneless Skinless chicken breasts when they have a good sale and fill up the freezer which will last us months. It costs a lot up front, but is worth it in the long run!

01-19-2008, 12:24 AM
Staying fat is always going to be cheaper when it comes to spending money on groceries. Before South Beach a lunch for us could have been hot dogs and Ramen, $2 to feed 5 people! You just can't get that cheap when eating right.

I buy on sale and PLAN PLAN PLAN my meals. I can't stress enough that you have to plan what you are going to eat to avoid buying unneccessary food. Skip the meals with expensive ingrediants and choose the ones you can stretch by adding more veggies (like Taco Bake). DH packs his lunch for work, something he never would have agreed to pre-SBD.

I spend $400 a month on groceries (including diapers, paper products, etc) for a family of 5, ON South Beach.

You can do it!

01-19-2008, 01:14 AM
Also, we have a major chain grocery store in my area (Albertsons) that has a small section of their meat counter marked for clearance meat. It is still GOOD meat, (they can't sell anything that can make you sick) and it is often the better leaner cuts, at half price. I only buy those now, freezing them in packages of two cuts each as soon as I get home.

01-19-2008, 01:37 AM
Leia I do that at the grocery store closest to my place its a little on the shi shi side so I buy something within 2 days of the sell by date then slap that bad boy in the freezer!

01-20-2008, 09:37 AM
I spend $400 a month on groceries (including diapers, paper products, etc) for a family of 5, ON South Beach.

Would you be willing &/or able to post or pm a menu or two or a sample shopping list??? That's an awesome budget!

01-20-2008, 12:46 PM
Jeepifer - part of the reason for my budget is that I shop at the Commissary (military grocery). If I was shopping at a regular store, I would have to add about another $50, depending on what I was buying and if it was on sale. Some thing are comparable to buying at Costco or Sams but we don't have one of those around here. I buy boxes of Huggies at Walmart for $20, a box will last me almost a month.

My biggest thing, if I can't make dinner for $6 (for the family), I don't make it! My kids are not on South Beach so while we eat dinner as a family, the kids eat other things for lunch. My 4yo loves PB&J and eats it almost everyday on WW bread. Also, my oldest eats at school 1-2 times a week but he seems to come home those days and eats more so I don't see how it saves me money ;) I have an 8yo, 4yo, and 1yo who eat a LOT so how much you have to buy would make a difference.

You know, I just remembered that we don't drink milk and that's a big expense for some families that we don't have in our budget. We only use milk for cereal and cooking, so 2 gallons of milk last us a month and usually goes bad before we can use it all. If you qualify for WIC, it would make a lot of sense to be on it.

Some things we have that are "cheap" and the kids like
$6 Pizza Burgers & Broccoli - all beef burgers, pizza sauce, moz cheese
$3-4 Chicken Cesear Wraps - (Usually Leftover) Chicken Breast, parm cheese, romaine, WW Wraps, cesear dressing
$4-5 Taco Bake - all depends on ingredients you add, chips for the kids
$4-6 Pizza! - WW Baboli Crust (don't like our own as much), cost depends on toppings. 1 crust is 4 servings, serve with salad to stretch

1 night a week we have "find your own" and the kids have chicken nuggets or fish sticks with a veggie and DH and I have something SB friendly

so.. didn't mean to but I misled you a bit on my budget. A regular family eating what we do (and buying milk) would prob have to spend $500-550 a month. That's still cheap considering we eat healthy (but not organic) and my mom spends $1000/mth or more on feeding her 6 at home. Next time I talk about how much I spend, I will go into more detail :)

01-20-2008, 01:09 PM
LoveMySgt, I have to commend you on finding ways to feed your family on such a strict budget! That's awesome! And I just noticed that you are expecting again - Congratulations!

01-28-2008, 04:45 PM
Thank you to all who responded to me. I'll take what info I can and go from there, especially the tips about using frozen veggies in some recipes rather than shooting for fresh. We don't have a chest freezer, so buying a lot of large-sized packages of meats and such is kind of out.

In our area we have a Wal-Mart Supercenter, a small, pricey grocery store, and a bigger, less pricey grocery store. There are some chain stores like Giant & Weis about 10-15 mins away, but unless I catch a good sale, those won't be much help.

I know one of my problems is feeling like I have to follow the menu plans, or adapt them. I worry that I'd run out of my own ideas, and most of the cookbook recipes are great. When I'm trying to get started, they do come in handy. But I do realize that part of the problem is the menus! Great recipes, but geared for people with more moulah than we have (has anyone seen the prices on flank steak? Ouch!).

We were away at my in-laws' place for over a week, so I got way off track. Time to make up my menus again and go from there!

Thanks again.

little chick
01-29-2008, 07:31 AM
Have you check out the recipie section. There are a ton of good ones there. Good luck finding some new recipies.