Dieting with Obstacles - I don't know if you'd call this an obstacle or not...

11-26-2008, 05:46 AM
Well, I was watching a show with a friend of mine called "You are what you eat" and it's a show on the BBC channel all about a woman who goes around to people who have been nominated by someone else about their out-of-control eating habit... and changes their lifestyle and whatnot. I'm watching and going "How much I'd LOVE to be able to eat like that... a TRUE vegatarian diet of fruits and veggies and beans and whatnot but my finances wouldn't allow. I WANT to do this but living on 30$ or less a week is challanging when you are trying to make meals of things. You can't get a week's worth of fruit and veggies in today's market for less than 30$. I just cannot see that being done. My grocery bag doesn't EVEN reach the top on 30 bucks. I am surprised I can get by on what I get. I was on the Raw Food thing for about a month but I had the help of a friend on Food Stamps who was getting a bit more than me with NO income BUT FS and we could not do it more than that and most of it was the Master Cleanse. I am trying to figure this out! I am also challenged in taste. I have tried a LOT of fruits and vegetables but I found that I don't like a whole lot of them. I don't like apples (except green sometimes) or melons or most oranges or most berries. I like Bananas alright and grapes are ok (green) but I just can't find much I like. I don't like meat, I don't like fruit and I have a hard time finding lots of veggies I like... So I end up eating breads, cereals, beans and prepared veggie patties to get by.

Can anyone give me help on this? Today I was able to get 2 bell peppers, a thing of celery, 1 package of frozen bean and cheese burritos, 1 package of frozen Brussels Sprouts, 1 Salad, cube sugar (for coffee which I don't drink more than 4 to 6 cups a week) and that's ALL for 20$. (Because I went out to eat since I was starving and on the move not knowing when I'd get home.)

I have a fricken dehydrator and a juicer and all that since I was planning on going raw but... I just don't see it happening again...

11-26-2008, 10:58 AM
Hello :) It is hard when you first change over to vegetarian eating, but there are ways to save a lil money. Most of the staples of a vegetarian diet are cheap. (inexpensive basics such as beans, rice and corn)

If you drop red meat, poultry and fish from your diet, you'll find plant proteins cheaper than the equivalent amount of animal protein. The cheapest cuts of beef, such as ground round, average $3 per pound in U.S. cities (lean and extra lean); boneless chicken breasts cost $3.40 a pound; and canned tuna is about $2 per pound.

Compare that with dried beans and lentils at less than $1 a pound and rice well below $1 per pound. (Although Whole Foods offers expensive wild rice at $6.99 a pound, it also has basic brown rice for 69 cents per pound. And though pine nuts are exorbitant, you can get sunflower seeds, with nearly the same amount of protein, at a fraction of the price.)

Even tofu, the chicken of the vegetarian world, is usually well under $2 a pound.

The prices of fruits and vegetables vary widely with the season and source. Locally grown fruits and vegetables are sometimes cheaper than those imported from far away and can be much cheaper in summer when there's an abundance. Of course, canned and frozen varieties are available year-round

In the long run, no matter how much you spend on a vegetarian or semivegetarian diet, you'll likely see a payoff in better health, lower risk of chronic disease and reduced health-care costs compared with someone who eats a typical American diet.

Take inventory of what you have on hand so you don’t overbuy, create a detailed shopping list based on your needs and weekly menu plan, and take into account how you plan on using leftovers.

Have a light snack before you go shopping, and stick to your grocery list to help avoid impulse purchases or costly mistakes like falling for the displays at the end of the aisles.

Before you plan your weekly menu, check the ads to see what’s on sale and use coupons to take advantage of sales and money-saving coupons. You can even sign up online to receive coupons and email alerts from your favorite grocers.


1. Buy produce in season.

2. Use sales and coupons.

3. Brown-bag it. Making lunch and taking it with you is a great money-saver.

4. Think frozen, canned, or dried. Next time you're gathering ingredients for a recipe, try using frozen, canned, or dried foods. They may be less expensive than fresh, yet are equally nutritious. I always check locally grown fruit first.

5. Go generic.

6. Buy prepackaged only if you need it. Unless you have a coupon or the item is on sale, buying prepackaged, sliced, or washed products comes with a higher price tag. Still, people living alone may find that smaller sizes of perishable products or bags of prepared produce eliminate waste and fit their needs best, despite the extra cost. You can also save money (and boost nutrition) by passing up the aisles with processed foods & snacks.

11-26-2008, 11:40 AM
I watched Gillian McKeith make bean patties one day for about 10 or 15 cents each! Check out her website for recipes.

If you have a crockpot your possibilities are even wider. Rice, dried beans ... make a bunch and keep them in plastic containers in the fridge. A scoop of beans in your salad is dirt cheap!

Do you eat alone? Is the $30 for you alone?

11-26-2008, 04:01 PM
Yes, for myself and no one else...

And I have been vegetarian for YEARS not days or weeks...

But for the past decade that I've been veggie I had hardly any in my diet. I was eating more breads, pastas and other processed foods.

I don't have a job or anything I need to take lunch with me to go to...

It's just I had an appointment yesterday then my mother wanted me to come over and clean for her then I had to go grocery shopping... I left at 1 and got back at 10.

And no, lentils and tofu are NOT under a buck. Lentils are about 2 bucks and tofu is around 3... but I don't like tofu anymore.

11-26-2008, 04:36 PM
I don't know about your area, but I know around here there are several charities that do hand out fresh fruits and veggies with their food distributions. Before I got a better job I went to a few. I have a lot of food allergies, so I would just give the things that I couldn't have to the people in line with me, which you could do with any meat or unhealthy stuff that you received.

11-26-2008, 04:37 PM
You know, Arthwen, maybe it would be easier if you didn't try to change everything at once. Maybe, eat what you would normally eat, but make one or two healthy changes at a time. Your blog says that you really enjoy homemade suchi rolls, maybe plan to have that a couple of nights a week with other healthy meals, and then after a week or two, pick out another healthy meal to replace.

For me, it was having a regular breakfast - I either have oatmeal with raisins, or yogurt with whole grain cereal, or cottage cheese with sunflower seeds and grapes. It took months to get that all in place, and I tried lots of different combinations until I found a routine that worked for me. (Yeah, and oatmeal is really cheap, too!)

It hasn't all come off as fast as I would like, but I am making steady progress now. I eat minestrone or split pea soup or lentils for lunch a couple of days a week, and have gradually learned about low-cal healthy snacks to keep me from scarfing when I come home starved.

For me, bread and pasta are like my favorite foods, so I do plan to have a pasta meal once a week, and sometimes my snack is a piece of toast with jam (more likely a year ago, but it's still good once in a while). I have also discovered spaghetti squash, which, with tomato sauce all over it, is a dead ringer for pasta, and takes care of all my veggies for the day.

You'll find tons of ideas like this scattered around this web site - just keep comin' back!

11-26-2008, 04:50 PM
I was thinking about this thread while I was grabbing a few things for dinner. I buy three heads of romaine in a bag which is often 2.99, more often 3.59 and today 3.99 TSK!
Canned beans (chick peas, black beans and lentils) were 67 cents but I was walking and didn't want to carry them. I have a few cans anyway.

What I really wanted to say was yes ... this is an obstacle! And becoming more and more of one as the economy falters.

But stick with us. There's some frugal gals on this site!

11-26-2008, 06:16 PM
I had already stopped eating pasta... I haven't had pasta in almost a month. I still eat a fair share of bread... not as much as I used to though and I am trying to get salad in there without swimming in dressing...

I'd eat veggie sushi every night if I could ween myself off of so much soy sauce and make enough for more than one meal. I love it so much that I eat 1.5 cups of uncooked rice (I dunno how much that is cooked) about 8 sheets of nori and a half a cucumber or whole cucumber in one sitting... PLUS about a quarter cup or so of soy sauce...

I'm terrible!

11-26-2008, 09:52 PM
I'm a vegan and due to recent financial issues, I've cut my grocery budget to about $20 a week. It's a challenge, but it can be done!

In addition to the good tips above, I try to buy fruit/veggies in season, buy things like beans and rice in bulk (check the prices carefully--this is usually cheaper, but not always), and plan, plan, plan. It's always mentioned, but totally true--don't shop when you're hungry! I don't even make my weekly menu or shopping list when I'm hungry. Also, try creating a "core menu" of cheap, tasty meals that you really enjoy (I enjoy oatmeal with raisins, red beans and rice, sushi, chickpea salad with homemade pita bread).

It's true that fresh produce is the Achilles heel of the budget vegan diet (or any budget eater, I suppose), but I try to keep my eyes open for the best value for my fruit/veggie dollar. Frozen fruits and veggies are often good buys--and you don't have to worry about spoilage if you stretch them out for several meals. Store brand frozen broccoli is a friend of mine!

Since I've switched to a leaner budget, I've actually lost four pounds. Having another reason to avoid more processed foods has been a big help! When I'm trying to fill a week with food on the cheap, there is just no room in my cart for the juices, tortilla chips, and soy cheeses that have sabotaged me in the past. Good luck!

11-26-2008, 11:50 PM
All the ladies have given you some good advice here. I always look to see which veggies and fruit are on special each week and plan my list and meals around them. The only exception is bananas which are always low here @ about .59c pound, so I get them all the time.

Sometimes, I buy oranges in the box when they are a good price ie 4.99 for about 24 like mandarins or tangerines. You can have one a day for 24 days if you keep them in your crisper. I also buy a bag of 3 bunches of romaine lettuce: good deal and easy to prepare into a quick salad. Lots of basic veggies are lower priced like carrots, onions, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes; buying the ones that are the best price at the time. When broccoli or cauliflower are on special, I buy extra; wash them and freeze it.

Plan your meals around the veggies and fruits you like the best; and don't be afraid to try new ones. You may be pleasantly surprised and find something new that you like. You can always just buy a handful of somethings like mushrooms for a stir-fry: you don't have to buy a whole pound of everything. I do that with sweet black cherries or grapes; I just buy enuff for 1-2 meals or a few snacks.

BTW ~ 1.5 cups of white long-grain uncooked rice comes to about 4.5 cups cooked; brown makes a bit less as it doesn't puff up as much. That is a lot for one meal; see if you can cut that back a bit and add something else. You could have a stir-fry with veggies and then add some cooked rice with that. Don't worry about that cuke, it is very low cal. Those are the very veggies you can eat lots of and not worry about.


12-02-2008, 03:04 PM
Yea, the thing is that I might be able to get enough fruit and veggies for a couple days with what I'm given and I don't like a whole lot of fruit. I don't like berries, red apples, melons, oranges are OK, ummmm. anything else? Better to just list what I know I like... Green apples, Green Grapes, Bananas, Oranges (which are over a dollar each so I never get them) and I think that's all.
Veggies are a little better in variety I like but not much. Oh, and did I mention I don't know how to cook anything veggie? All I have had is microwaved meals for so long and lived with a family that I rarely cooked my own meals unless they were microwaved. I had a HUGE vegetarian cookbook but my old friend and I kinda broke up and she placed a lot of my belongings in front of my door and someone took the box... my cookbooks included... (who knows what else was in that box) and I used to make a few things out of there... and that book was a gift. We are friends again but I still sort of blame her for that bit of stupidity of putting my stuff out where people can grab it. She knows we have thieves in the building.

Anyways... I'm kinda just left going... I have no idea what to do, what to make... Might as well go out... nope, can't go out because there is no healthy restaurant nearby and I don't have the money for it... and so on...

12-02-2008, 06:24 PM
Arthwena ~ you could go to a library and get cookbooks for FREE; and you are young and smart; and have your whole life to learn how to cook. If you can read and write, you can learn to cook.

ABOUT THE ORANGES: that's why I suggested a box or bag of them like clementines which are much cheaper than those ones that are over a dollar each; and you can just buy a few oranges at a grocery store that lets you do that.

Most restaurants are a bad idea if you are short of money and want to lose weight; unless you can find a place like Swiss Chalet that will let you have a grilled steak or chicken with a salad; or just a nice big salad, but even that would have to be on special occasions if you have limited funds. The thriftiest way eat is still cooking at home!

You can take an oven pan or dish; put in any clean, washed & prepared veggies like small potatoes, carrots, turnip, sweet potato, corn, celery, onions, mushrooms, sweet peppers, green beans or whatever you like; then add just enough water so it doesn't burn (1-2 cups); and COVER and BAKE for about an hour or so until tender. This is easy and filling.

And you know that pasta with veggies is very healthy and inexpensive too. You can do this; you just need some imagination and determination, that's all! Many other people do this, all the time in this world. And, so can you ... one day-at-a-time!!!

12-03-2008, 02:57 AM
Arthwena ~ you could go to a library and get cookbooks for FREE; and you are young and smart; and have your whole life to learn how to cook. If you can read and write, you can learn to cook.

Or check out online recipe collections.

We do what we have the motivation to do. You've successfully listed all the reasons making changes could be hard--I think we all face challenges. I didn't know how to cook when I first moved out. I didn't know how to cook healthy when I began losing weight. I didn't know how to cook without animal products when I became a vegan. And I certainly had no idea how to eat within a budget when I suddenly found that I had to do it! It's all about looking about it as a problem you can SOLVE instead of an obstacle that will derail you. You're not going to like every vegetable or fruit out there (I personally don't really like green peppers or kiwis), but focusing on the ones that you do like (and can afford) is much more positive than the opposite.

12-03-2008, 05:00 AM
Oh, I'm fine on the motivation side... I'm just having troubles with the "budgeting" and "fixing meals" side. haha

I get told the same things over and over on here, from friends and from professionals... but where the **** are you going to find a FARMERS MARKET in the middle of a BIG CITY that has fruits and veggies year round? I know of one place but I don't get my money until Thursday of each week and it happens the day before and is a pain to get to on the bus... and I'm not even sure how good the prices are compared to everyone else...

Anyways... I'm doing alright now. I guess...

12-21-2008, 12:06 AM
I would try eating more canned beans or beans in a bag most are under a dollar a pound.
also I would check out frozen berries that is what I buy and then just use a bit at a time on cereal or as a snack, its to expensive for me to buy fresh usually.
I always get bananas and whatever fruit is on special.

Eating smaller portions will stretch out the food you do buy thus saving more money.
also food pantries/soup kitchens may be of help to get some fruits and veggies

12-21-2008, 12:26 AM
Arthwen - I don't mean to be harsh, but it sounds like to me that you're just making a bunch of excuses. It's too expensive. You don't have your old cookbook any more. You live in a big city.

I used to live in Portland and let me tell you that it's one of the BEST cities for getting low cost veggies and fruits. You think you've got it bad there, come live in a big city that is so far away from any good farming areas. here is no reason with a little creativity that you can't eat very cheaply and ESPECIALLY in Portland. Portland is one of the top veggie-friendly cities in the US.

And maybe it's a little harder in winter when the big farmer's markets are closed, but you cannot tell me that you can't get fantastic veggies, really cheap, come spring, all through summer, and well into the fall. You can also go out to Sauvie's Island and U-pick a ton of stuff in season, and then either can or freeze it yourself so that you'll have it to eat on in the winter.

First of all - so you don't have your veggie cookbook anymore? You obviously have Internet access. Google "vegetarian recipes". Look on this very site at the Veggie recipes board ( When you have Internet access, not having a cookbook is a lousy reason to not cook.

Also, yes you CAN find lentils for $1. And beans. And peas. And quinoa. And oats. And all those things. The People's Food Co-Op downtown used to have an amazing bulk section where you could buy all kinds of stuff for a fraction of the price you could buy it at Fred's.

You can also go shopping at Sam's and/or Costco and find things pretty cheaply - although not always. You have to be careful and monitor prices carefully. I can get lots of fruits and veggies in bulk at Costco and then chop and freeze them and save money. You can also buy huge bags of mixed frozen veg from these wholesale places and use them in soups and stews and casseroles.

Also ... the thing about "I don't like it" ... I have a pretty strong opinion there. :) I'm not very tolerant of picky eaters. The thing is that there are so many ways to fix veggies that I think just blanket saying "I don't like it" is nothing more than being obstinate. For example, for many years I said I didn't like Brussels Sprouts. I've always thought they were bitter. Someone here suggested that I cut them in half and roast them until crispy on the outside - and lo and behold, I LOVED them that way. I still don't like them steamed (I tried again) but roasted and drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar, they are just wonderful.

So instead of approaching this with the attitude of "I don't like it" ... which pretty much guarantees you won't ... try approaching things with a *positive* attitude. And try thinking about differing ways of fixing things. I find that I love roasted veggies FAR more than I like steamed. And I'll eat just about anything made into a soup - so I make a lot of veggie soups.

Honestly I could probably sit down and with about an hours worth of work put together a pretty solid weeks menu for about $30. I'm not saying it's not going to take a little thought and planning ... but it's entirely possible.


Thighs Be Gone
12-21-2008, 12:43 AM
This must be something you want before you will be successful. Nothing tastes as good as thin feels someone has written. :) If you really want it, you will find a way to make it work for you.

Before all of this, I wasn't a huge fruit/veggie person either. Now, I buy whatever produce is on sale and find ways to prepare it online. The beautiful thing about eating "clean" is the more you do it, the more you WANT to do it. There are more recipes online than you could even keep in a warehouse as someone else mentioned. 3FC is a great help for tips too. If budget is the concern, just do rice and beans and whatever produce is available.

I have a brother living in the bush in Alaska. There are no roads in or out of his town. All must be brought in by air. HE even has f and v's. I am sure you can muster something in Portland. :)

PhotoChick, thanks for the tip on Brussel Sprouts--normally a veggie I somewhat avoid. I will try it next time I find them on a good sale.

12-21-2008, 01:12 AM
Sounds like you are buying prepared foods rather than cook for yourself. Home made salads and burritos would be much cheaper than buying them ready to eat. I make delicious burritos for about $1 each. I make a batch up ahead of time and keep them in the freezer. How much are you paying for your frozen burritos? And salads are pretty expensive if you let the deli make them for you.

You can prep stuff ahead, so there isn't so much cooking and food prep each day.

It really is expensive to let someone else do your cooking.

If you like lemon, you can make lemon sauces to try on your veggies, to see if that will make some of them more palatable.

You probably should not be eating that much rice every day either. When I make stirfry, I limit myself to one cup or 1/2 cup cooked rice under the veggies. I think one cup of uncooked rice makes about or almost four cups of cooked rice. You are eating an awful lot of rice every day.

12-21-2008, 02:27 PM
another thing I just thought of sometimes farmers markets are still around in winter they are just indoors. I saw a little ad in my local paper letting me know they are still around just indoors.
Maybe out there the farmers markets are still going on just inside somewhere. Maybe your local paper could help you find them.

12-21-2008, 04:11 PM
hello! I am not veggie entirely, but I also don't eat much meat at all. Tuna is the only meat I eat on a near daily basis. ...Chicken every once in awhile. I do not go out to eat very often...maybe once a month (although this has changed a little since I began dating my boyfriend). I eat a LOT of soy meat though... and tvp is a good way to go if you're having trouble affording foods and getting enough protein.

Although I make pretty good money, I tend to spend between $25-$40 dollars a week. It mostly depends on what staples I have to buy---those are what usually make my bill higher. I buy around 8 apples a week (I only really like honeycrisp and golden delicious---unfortunately the 2 most expensive kind. You could definitely bring the bill down by buying gala or fuji...or even red delicious). I'll buy oranges, grapes, strawberries or whatever other fruit the store has on special that week. I also LOVE fresh sometimes I splurge on that.

I get a bag of romaine lettuce, a couple green bell peppers, mostly because the green ones are cheap. Red and orange bell peppers are around $2.00 a piece!!! Unless they're on sale, of course. Beans are pretty cheap if you buy them dehydrated...and tofu is SUPER cheap if you shop at the asian food markets. It's even the same brand the supermarkets sell!

I get bread from the "day old" bread about half or even 1/3 the cost! Sure, you only have about a week to use it...but throw it in the fridge. It'll extend the shelf life.

I buy frozen brussel sprouts and broccoli. The other day my store had the birdseye steam pack bags on sale for 97 cents each. STOCK UP!

Unfortunately I do not use coupons. Most of the foods I eat do not typically have them. Once in awhile though you can find the morningstar and boca foods on sale, and sometimes have coupons attached on the boxes. I also tend to watch for this when I buy my veggie cheese or soymilk.

Hope some of that helps... but yea, it can be hard.

12-23-2008, 02:12 AM
Huh, thought this died... Thanks for the suggestions and stuff but I'm not really doing much about it right now. I'm more focusing on eating at least 2 meals a day right now. I caught something and it has hit me hard. I am at 291.9 though... yay... *coughhackcough*

01-14-2009, 01:33 AM
I live just north of you near Olympia Washington, and our dollar stores have started selling vegetables, and you can find some pretty good deals in there!!

01-14-2009, 03:20 AM
Wow... I forgot I had this up...

I am no longer having that issue. I am getting more this year a month so I don't have a problem anymore... Now it's the actually picking up the veggies and whatnot I have to work on. lol