General chatter - Recession Pounds?




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alinnell
01-09-2009, 06:22 PM
Will America put on "recession pounds?" (http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090109/hl_nm/us_financial_obesity_2)

I saw this on Yahoo.com today. Interesting how they fear people will forgo healthy whole grains and fresh fruit and vegetables in lieu of saturated fat items because of cost. (or perceived cost, IMO) While I can see a trend away from organic (as it generally costs more), I have a hard time understanding not eating healthy. Well, I guess it's part of my "training" here for the past several years!


leela0730
01-09-2009, 07:06 PM
Hmm....I certainly won't be trading my healthy, fresh foods for cheaper, processed food. Saving money isn't worth feeling icky and unhealthy, to me. Don't get me wrong, I have my fair share of splurges on TastyKakes and potato chips, but I'm trying to change my entire way of looking at food....and an "economic downturn" as they call it isn't going to stop me. I'm willing to cut back other things in my budget to afford healthy food, if the prices go up much more. I realize not everyone can do that and a lot of people legitimately can't afford good, healthy food for their families....to me that's a symptom of something wrong with our society, that we allow corporations to charge more for good food and so much less for food that is killing our children slowly.

Anyway, that's my soapbox. :) I hope the economy eventually begins to improve so more people can include healthy, fresh foods into their diets without feeling a budget pinch.

cbmare
01-09-2009, 07:34 PM
That is why a lot of cities (LA) are banning fast food places in low income areas. I don't agree with them. It isn't up to the city to legislate what my family will eat. Let's face it, if you are on welfare or close to it, the dollar menu will let you get quite a bit of food for very little money.

I'm glad there is something like WIC out there to help get some good food for the kids.

It really frosts me that they charge so much for the better food. Then again, they have to because they can't stretch it with HFCS.


zenor77
01-09-2009, 07:49 PM
I'd put in a garden where my lawn is if I couldn't afford my veggies! Actually, I already plan on growing some things this year to help with food costs.

The biggest problem with the poverty and obesity link (in my mind) is that in low income areas, people don't always have access to fresh foods. I know in most Oakland neighborhoods there aren't even grocery stores, just convenience stores. Add into that the fact that many in these types of neighborhoods don't have cars and you have an access problem. I also think that if you are really poor and you have a dollar to spend, you might reason that a dollar burger will keep you full longer then an apple.

I think people who already eat healthy, will try to continue to do so. They might substitute certain things (frozen instead fresh, apples and bananas instead of pricier fruits, etc...), but I don't think someone who has already has changed their diet for the better is going to go back to eating junk because it's cheaper. People who don't care about nutrition are a different story.

Glory87
01-09-2009, 08:45 PM
I don't know, I am going to have to cut back a little. My favorite Annie's BBQ sauce was $4.49 in the store. I used to always buy it because it was great to know I was getting a product without HFCS, but now I'm going to have to either skip BBQ or read labels of cheaper products carefully. My days of cheerfully buying 4.99 packages of fresh blueberries in February are also OVER. I'm still going to eat healthy - but it's going to be a lot harder and less fun.

CountingDown
01-09-2009, 10:00 PM
but now I'm going to have to either skip BBQ or read labels of cheaper products carefully.

While I don't have a solution for fresh blueberries, why not make your own BBQ sauce? I have found that making my own sauces and condiments is way cheaper and a good way to control the calories and quality of the ingredients.

cbmare
01-09-2009, 10:08 PM
I wish I could make a decent salad dressing. I can make 1 from scratch. It is mixing some olive oil and seasoned rice vinegar.

I make some dressings from packages but it is easier to use the bottled ones.

We already grow quite a bit. We grow tomatoes, onions, peppers, sage and several other herbs. We have orange and lemon trees.

I hope they will look at more fruit and veggies instead of meat. While some produce is $5 (like those blueberries), they will go further than a $5 steak and be better for you.

kaplods
01-09-2009, 10:27 PM
There really are folks who won't have a choice. Their incomes already aren't covering all of their basic needs. My husband and I are very lucky - because we had good jobs before we got sick, we make more on disability than some families make to feed their entire family, our housing costs are relatively low (we moved here because of them, knowing I was having to quit my job), and and last year we still ended up in a financial situation in which we had to choose between food and medicine from early November until the end of December. We were ineligible for assistance programs, because we make too much money (just by a hair, but a miss is as good as a mile).

I've never been in that situation before - having to choose between two necessities (I've experienced tight times, and have had to cut back on optional purchases, and when going onto disability I found how many things I thought were necesities were actually optional). I went without some medicines I probably shouldn't have gone without, because there just wasn't room in the budget for them, and we didn't qualify for any help.

I'm thankful, because out of it we learned that NSAIDs were responsible for my asthma symptoms. I may never have found that out, if I had had money for my prescription naproxen (or even enough cash for otc ibuprofen), but since we didn't, I went without. A blessing in disguise, but what was a luckily a blessing for us, is a true curse for many families.

Thighs Be Gone
01-09-2009, 10:33 PM
My food bills are cheaper buying whole foods than they are processed foods. Beans are cheap and you can do lots with them. There is always some sort of fresh produce for great prices. Of course, we are flexible in my house and do eat all fruits and veggies and any lean proteins. We do not eat red meat.

Fat Chick B Gone
01-10-2009, 04:55 AM
My food bills are cheaper buying whole foods than they are processed foods. Beans are cheap and you can do lots with them. There is always some sort of fresh produce for great prices.

Agreed completely. I realize not everyone has access, but most people do, to bulk bins or discount stores. I can get a huge pound of rice for a fraction of the cost of prepackaged items. Beans for just a ridiculously low price. Same thing for nuts, seeds, flour, sugar, oats, quinoa, etc etc etc. There are also farmers markets year round some places and if not then there are sales if you're flexible in your menu. I understand times are tough and cutbacks must be made but why sacrifice your health?

Twice
01-10-2009, 11:16 AM
I understand times are tough and cutbacks must be made but why sacrifice your health?


because it's cheaper.

I've been a single parent for 12 years. I'm raising 3 teenage boys on one income and no child support. I got laid off in October so I'm trying to pay the rent, bills and buy food on a little less then $2,000.00 a month (not easy when your rent is 1300 of that).

The pizzaria up the street has weekly specials. On Tuesday and Wednesdays you can get a large pie for 5.99. I budget that in. How else can I feed 4 people on 6 bucks? I only do it once a week but I know people who have pizza twice because of the price.

Many years ago I worked in a school. Parents would send their kids to school with a 50 cent honey bun for lunch. That honey bun was nothing but empty calories but was big enough to fill a childs stomach for a little while.

The store brands dont always offer a low fat alternative. I'm looking at a box of store brand wheat thins. It cost me 2.50 on sale for the box. Nabisco Low Fat Wheat Thins are almost 4.00 and not on sale. Sure it's only a 1.50difference but that 1.50 is another box of oatmeal (also on sale) or 3 cans of soup.

Sometimes, healthy or not the lowest price has to win. :(

alinnell
01-10-2009, 11:39 AM
I'm actually surprised at what you can find at the dollar store. My MIL, while not in any financial crisis, shops there a lot. She finds perfectly good fruits and vegetables for a steal!

I agree beans are really, really cheap and healthy. Especially if you buy them dry and cook them yourself. It really isn't that hard to do.

Glory~I've found that several of Annie's things are also at Trader Joe's under their brand--even the exact same bottle with a different label. You might luck out and find the same BBQ sauce there.

I agree that the government should not dictate what people eat, but it is unfortunate that those who might be on food stamps or other assistance aren't given perhaps a list of foods that can easily be stretched to fit the budget so that they don't end up buying endless boxes of mac and cheese and other gross, but cheap stuff.

djay
01-10-2009, 11:53 AM
I have to admit...I spent ALOT less at the grocery store when anything quick and cheap would do. Eating healthy is expensive and I can see where those who are trying to fill their bellies and strech a dollar end up streching their pants.
This is a particular concern for me right now since both of my daughters are pregnant and their young families are struggling. That is why I keep alot of healthy foods around...invite them over for supper at least once a week and encourage them to stop by and grab a bite to eat anytime...I know that mac-n-cheese is a frequent cheap meal for them and I will provide all the nutritio that I can get them to accept...for my kids as well as my future grandchildren.

mayness
01-10-2009, 03:28 PM
It's like a variation on that old saying... there's convenient/easy/quick food, cheap food, and healthy food, and usually you can only get 2 at a time! There are some exceptions (frozen fruits and veggies, canned beans) but mostly I think it holds. I've decided to devote more time to preparing food, because cheap and healthy are both essential to me right now.

So I'm willing to cook brown rice even though it takes longer (make some to freeze for later), skin and bone my own chicken thighs and legs (and use the scraps for chicken stock!), cook the 80% lean ground beef and drain and rinse it because I can't afford that super lean stuff, make my own pasta or pizza sauce because canned tomatoes and bulk spices are cheaper than jar sauces, buy meats that are close to expiring and find uses for them right away or prep them for the freezer, etc. And most of all, I've spent hours looking up recipes and tips!

But I think many people would choose cheap and easy -- either out of necessity or just not wanting to change their habits and their schedule. I know it's tough -- I go to school 8-10 hours a weekday and then have a few hours of homework when I get home. (Luckily DH does all the cleanup for my cooking.) So I can easily see how people would turn to unhealthier diets in these times.

Well, I'll stop rambling, I'm off to boil 5 lb of potatoes and make mashed potatoes to freeze for later... they were BOGO last week...

Twice
01-10-2009, 03:41 PM
....buy meats that are close to expiring ...


The manager special meats!! :lol: I love those deals! I just bought 4 packages of 6 center cut pork chops for around 3 bucks each :D


sorry..... I get excited over sales! .........

back on topic

Beautiful Ace
01-10-2009, 03:50 PM
I wish I could make a decent salad dressing. I can make 1 from scratch. It is mixing some olive oil and seasoned rice vinegar.

I make some dressings from packages but it is easier to use the bottled ones.

We already grow quite a bit. We grow tomatoes, onions, peppers, sage and several other herbs. We have orange and lemon trees.

I hope they will look at more fruit and veggies instead of meat. While some produce is $5 (like those blueberries), they will go further than a $5 steak and be better for you.

Try olive oil with lemon juice, a tiny bit of salt, and fresh smooshed garlic, all to taste (if you like those flavors!) It's delicious. Also one I made which isn't on the healthy side or anything, little bit of mayo, lemon juice, and pickle juice. :P

RN BSN 2009
01-10-2009, 03:52 PM
it is a really tough debate.. although I do know of bad neighborhoods, they won't even invest in chain grocery stores there because of theft of food and/or shopping carts. They just can't stay in business. So folks are stuck having to buy stuff at smaller conveience stores where food is MUCH more expensive. Terrible all around.

Fat Chick B Gone
01-10-2009, 04:27 PM
because it's cheaper.

The pizzaria up the street has weekly specials. On Tuesday and Wednesdays you can get a large pie for 5.99. I budget that in. How else can I feed 4 people on 6 bucks? I only do it once a week but I know people who have pizza twice because of the price.

Many years ago I worked in a school. Parents would send their kids to school with a 50 cent honey bun for lunch. That honey bun was nothing but empty calories but was big enough to fill a childs stomach for a little while.

The store brands dont always offer a low fat alternative. I'm looking at a box of store brand wheat thins. It cost me 2.50 on sale for the box. Nabisco Low Fat Wheat Thins are almost 4.00 and not on sale. Sure it's only a 1.50difference but that 1.50 is another box of oatmeal (also on sale) or 3 cans of soup.

Sometimes, healthy or not the lowest price has to win. :(


I'm going to have to disagree since I've cut my food bill since eating healthier foods. Yes it requires more planning and more then opening a box but I could make that pizza cheaper then buying it at the restaurant and it would be nutritious. Now if we're talking time - of course cheap and easy is quicker then cheap and healthy.

RN BSN 2009
01-10-2009, 05:02 PM
I'm going to have to disagree since I've cut my food bill since eating healthier foods. Yes it requires more planning and more then opening a box but I could make that pizza cheaper then buying it at the restaurant and it would be nutritious. Now if we're talking time - of course cheap and easy is quicker then cheap and healthy.

You've got a really good point there. The more time you can invest in the preparation of foods, the healthier the dish.

kaplods
01-10-2009, 05:43 PM
Often the poorest folks aren't terribly well versed in either nutrition or cooking skills. I remember in graduate school, reading studies found that both the wealthiest and poorest were the most likely to buy brand names, and the least likely to use generics. The rationale was that both associated name brands with value, the fact that the poorest relied on convenience stores which only carried name brands, and the fact that the poorest were reluctant to take perceived "gambles" with the food budget. The poorest were also least likely to buy foods they'd never eaten or cooked before (not wanting to "waste" their money on foods they or their families might not like or which they might not know how to cook properly.

It's amazing how many people (of all classes, and for that matter, school boards) consider macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, and hot dogs "healthy foods," and count potatoes (even french fries) as a vegetable.

It is true that if you're fairly well-versed in nutrition, have a decent understanding of basic cooking skills, are not afraid of trying foods you've never eaten or cooked before, are creative and resourceful, and have relatively easy access to an affordable, well-stocked grocery store (that is you have transportation and/or live within walking distance) - eating healthy can usually be cheaper, or at least as cheap as eating junk - but those are a whole lot of "if's."

My husband and I have a very creative approach (and luckily the time to do it) in that we start out at the farmer's market (when they're open) and then to a store that is a closeout, overstock store (sort of like a Big Lots, but privately owned - we also would stop at Big Lots, but our local one is closing). Mostly the store's food is convencience foods, so we've got to be careful (of course it's tempting to by 10 cent snicker bars), but at least once a month, they get in stock from health food and gourmet shops. The overstock store has a very "bad" reputation in town, and many of our friends are shocked that we shop there, because they all think the stuff is outdated food, but it isn't it's stuff that perhaps was labeled incorrectly (the label might have been put on upside down for example) or that the stores had ordered too much of, or whatever. I've bought things like gourmet sea salts that would sell for $7 a jar, for about 50 or 60 cents. Artichoke hearts for ($4 in the grocery stores) for 50 cents. We buy some clothing there also ($5 sweat shirts) and yarn (I crochet, and love cheap yarn, especially when I can get skeins that sell at Michael's for $6 a skein for 69 cents).

Our next stop is an oriental grocery. Snacks are more expensive, and we avoid them, but there are some really great buys there. We buy bonito (tuna) flakes - great for making fish stock, but we buy them primarily as treats for our kitty (at PetCo, nearly $5 for a tiny jar). Gourmet soy sauces (mushroom soy is our favorite) for about the same price as 12 ounces of Walmart's brand. Fish sauce (great substitute for Worcesteshire sauce). Mushrooms (huge cans for the same price as a tiny can of mushroom pieces). Bean sprouts, bok choy and other cabbages, green onions, cilantro, mint, basil.... sometimes they're as expensive as in a regular grocery, but are often fresher and last longer in the fridge...

We go to health food stores in town for some things (like granulated tvp or spy protein).

We go to Aldi (a discount grocery store) for some things. Walmart for others, a bakery supply store for others (seasonings in bulk, mostly) and one of the "better" grocery stores for others.

We don't make a trip to every store, every week - or even every month, but we would have to spend at least three times as much as we do on groceries, if we didn't cook, weren't pretty brave and open-minded, or didn't have the transportation or time to bargain shop. We could probably save even more if we had a freezer or even just more space to store dry goods (as it is, our tiny extra bedroom - doubling as my craft room - has a set of shelves for what we didn't have room for in the kitchen - we've even considered creative storage options - like under the bed, but I think we'd forget was under there).

RN BSN 2009
01-10-2009, 06:11 PM
Kaploids

I do the same! I go to several different stores and take advantage of each one's speciality deals. It really does make a difference. I can make $90-$110 stretch to feed 4 people... by shopping around, couponing, and being creative!

Wolf Goddess
01-10-2009, 07:28 PM
Ibuy meats that are close to expiring and find uses for them right away or prep them for the freezer, etc.

Dairy too. I haven't bought yogurt that isn't expiring in several months. A 32-ounce container of fat-free yogurt that's expiring tomorrow for $1.50 compared to $2.50 normally? That adds up. I always check at the library for the local adds the stores all put out to compare which has the best price on what.

It really doesn't come down to healthy food vs. cheap food; it comes down to convenience and pre-packaged vs. time and effort cooking.

kittycat40
01-10-2009, 07:43 PM
My experience is that preparing my family's food is less expensive than eating lesser healthy but more convenient options. It is though, still, quite expensive. I buy the cheapest meats and fowl, but I realize beans, soy products and veggies are the least expensive options out there. My body does best with animal proteins so as I enjoy the beans as protein, my body benefits less than my pocketbook.

I've tried looking for those bulk stores I read about on 3fc but have had no luck in northern NJ.

Violin Jenn
01-10-2009, 07:43 PM
I don't spend as much as I used to, but a nice big pot of vegetable soup doesn't cost much either. It's a "use what you got" type of receipe.

Twice
01-10-2009, 10:49 PM
I've tried looking for those bulk stores I read about on 3fc but have had no luck in northern NJ.


bulk stores? Like Costco and BJ's?

kaplods
01-10-2009, 11:34 PM
bulk stores? Like Costco and BJ's?

Or do you mean stores that sell foods and spices by the pound or ounce from bins. I buy a lot of food items this way, but I've not been to a store that was primarily bulk stuff (except candy and nut shops in malls).

Higher end grocery stores and many health food stores offer bin items. And even though their prices are generally higher than in other grocery stores, the bulk prices still tend to be lower, but you've got to search them out. I believe Trader Joe's and Whole Foods have large bulk sections (I'm nudging hubby about a field trip to Madison to shop at both).

We do have a "sort of" bulk shop in town, called U-Bake. It's a private chain of only a few stores, and they sell spices, flours, frozen doughs, pastas, candies, baking staples, soup mixes etc, but it's all been packaged so technically, it's not a bulk store (they buy in bulk and then repackage in the back, they also make some of their own cookie doughs, others they buy). The packaged spices come in little plastic tubs and are about 1/3 the cost of grocery store spices.

cbmare
01-12-2009, 02:03 PM
I believe Trader Joe's and Whole Foods have large bulk sections (I'm nudging hubby about a field trip to Madison to shop at both).

My TJ's doesn't have bulk bins. I wish they did. As it is, I get a bit discouraged by the fact that they have produce prepackaged.

One of my local Asian markets prewraps veggies. I don't buy very many veggies there unless it is something the American store doesn't carry. I don't like being forced to buy 4 heads of Romaine when I only want 1.

We have a Canned Food Outlet around here. I used to shop there. Maybe I should put them back into the loop. They are between my home and 1 of the farmer's markets we frequent.

Great thread. It's making me rethink some things. I buy a lot of frozen Lean Cuisine's for lunch at work. I can nuke it and eat. I wait until they are on sale. Perhaps I should look into freezing more of what I make at home for dinner and start bringing that for lunch.

We do make our own stock from chicken and beef bones. I've just about cut out beef so the beef bones in the freezer take longer to make a batch. We then freeze it in quart bags and have stock readily available all year round. We control the sodium that way, too.

alinnell
01-12-2009, 03:06 PM
Mare~I so agree about the prepackaged produce! Why do we HAVE to buy 4 when we only want/need 2 or 3? I much prefer picking out what one I want anyway! This is one reason I refuse to shop at Fresh & Easy--it's ALL prepackaged.

kaplods
01-12-2009, 03:20 PM
Many very small grocery stores prepackage for a very practical reason - the produce stays fresh longer, and there is less handling and manhandling by customers. Any store or produce manager will tell you that customers wreak havoc on bin produce, they often tear off leaves (to pay less per pound), squeeze, scrape, and taste the produce in bins for ripeness, etc. There is a large amount of waste and loss if you allow customers to choose their own produce. Large grocery stores can take the loss, but small stores either have to charge ridiculous prices to do so, or come up with anouther solution (like individual wrapping).

I've never had a problem with Mom & Pop stores breaking down packages - if I would want only one head of romaine in a package of three, I'd take it to the counter and ask if I could please buy only one. I've never had a problem with this. I've occasionally, but politely been told that no, they wouldn't repackage - but that's been pretty rare.

One of the stores I go to frequently is a hmong owned family grocery. All of their produce (except for fruit, which is displayed very close to the counter, so that staff can see that customers not abuse the privelege of choosing their own) is sold in packages. Sometimes the packages seem huge to me, because I'm not going through bean sprouts and bok choy as quickly as most of the shoppers (other asians, mostly). But a huge package of bean sprouts costs less than a tiny package in the chain grocery stores and lasts three times as long. I don't ask them to break down bean sprouts simply because the price is so cheap in comparison to what I would pay elsewhere. The owner watching me shopping among the rice (most in 20 lb bags, because that's how asian families buy it), even though I hadn't asked, offered to sell me a smaller quantity - even though that meant opening a bag, and possibly having to use the remainder herself, just to give me the option of trying some of the more exotic varieties of rice.

cbmare
01-12-2009, 03:22 PM
Mare~I so agree about the prepackaged produce! Why do we HAVE to buy 4 when we only want/need 2 or 3? I much prefer picking out what one I want anyway! This is one reason I refuse to shop at Fresh & Easy--it's ALL prepackaged.

I can understand that it keeps the place cleaner because there is less chance that a head of Romaine will be on the floor, or lemons will roll around on the floor. BUT - I don't like it & won't buy it that way.

We had a small family owned chain around here. It was Cosentino's. They originally started as a produce stand and eventually grew into a very nice grocery store. There were several locations. After the parents died, the kids started fighting. Same thing happened with Food Villa. We ended up losing the store near us. A Korean market owner bought it and turned it into Green Earth. It was very much like the old Cosentino's store. In fact, most of the same workers were there. He then decided to expand his Korean grocery store and closed Green Earth. He reopened it as a larger version of the store he has several blocks away. We lost the fresh meat market. It is all prepackaged. The seafood section isn't as good as I'd like. Most Asian markets have a nice seafood section since it is so big in their diet.

OK. I'll shut up and quit my barking because my grocery shopping life is no longer going my way.

kittycat40
01-12-2009, 03:54 PM
yes-- I guess I meant the bins like at whole foods-- and not at our trader joe's.
I was thinking maybe there was a better and less expensive "bin" out there.

I do all my produce shopping at costco, they have great produce. if a supermarket has a sale item, that's the only way one will find it less expensive.

keep in mind I shop for a household of seven-- six in family and our au pair. I need a large shop every 7-10 days. and that is with those large costco items!

cbmare
01-12-2009, 05:35 PM
I gave up my Costco membership. It was great when the kids were at home. After they left, I found I was spending all that money for membership and buying TP.

Sometimes I will go with a fellow chickie and use her membership. Not very often, but a couple of times a year. I don't buy much produce because it is in such a large amount. If I had to buy for a family, I'd be there weekly like I did before.

mushroom22
03-28-2010, 02:10 AM
I think the posts here are mostly being made by people who already have jobs, have established a home, et cetera.

I'm in college, I still live with my parents and they buy all the food. Back when I had a job, I could always buy healthy foods that I liked. If I was bored, instead of staying home and binging, I'd go out.

My parents are great, but I've never been able to get their support where weight-loss is concerned. They're too busy telling me that I look precious at any weight or convincing me that the rich food they've made isn't that fattening.

I've never liked mooching off my parents, so I equally hate the idea that they should buy food that only I'm going to eat. It's cheaper for them to buy canned vegetables (which I've never liked) than for them to buy fresh. I don't even like meat, so I'm mostly living on starch and sugar -- beige foods.

Without any money, I've also canceled my gym subscription.

The 'No Money = Starving' thing isn't true in modern America for the most part.