100 lb. Club - How do you eat healthy cheaply?




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Daimere
09-17-2009, 09:01 PM
I just started college, which means my budget is tighter than ever. I used to spend $400-$500 a month on healthy food for 1 and half people (I say half because my boyfriend only got 2-3 meals out of all that healthy food a week). Is there any way to make healthy food for cheap? I don't want to have to wait till I finish college to finish this journey I started years ago. >.< I've basically have gotten sick of fiber pop tarts and fiber anything bars. I'm approaching that with applesauce. lol Would exercising at this point be pointless even if I'm eating crap?

Also, how do you cook frozen veggies? Or spice it up? I used to nuke it and I really got sick of that. I have a ton stocked up but I haven't been using it cause I can't cook it to an edible state. It's either soggy or flavorful.

I know that losing weight is worth it and that's why I don't want to give up on it completely. I may have to change the way I'm doing it and that's cool with me.


HaleyisLove
09-17-2009, 10:20 PM
I ate healthy in college and definitely didnt spend that kind of money. I think you have to stock up on things when they are on sale and find things that are better for your buck... also coupons can be a big help. I always cooked frozen broccoli with a ton of garlic... I think garlic makes anything taste good. I sometimes feel like I saved money because I was eating less. Yes fresh fruit and veggies are more than a box of little debbies but in the end it is worth it. Also even if you arent eating super healthy dont eat extra junk food like cookies and brownies. Working out will help you to not gain extra weight even when you arent eating perfect.

GirlyGirlSebas
09-17-2009, 10:28 PM
Hi Daimere. First off, exercise is never pointless. Even while eating crap, exercise can still provide benefits for your heart, your bones, your stress, etc, etc.

As far as eating on a budget, my family eats a lot of beans and lentils, whole wheat pasta, frozen veggies and frozen fruit. You can use beans in chili, tacos, burritos, stew, etc. I like my veggies boiled with a tbs of EVOO and a tsp or so of Mrs. Dash. You can still season them this way when cooked in the microwave. Frozen fruit is good in a smoothie with skim milk or yogurt, and a banana.

Hang in there. Anything is possible is you want it badly enough.


bcort
09-17-2009, 10:37 PM
Steam those veggies!

Cook a whole chicken & freeze the meat into ziplocks after you pick it off the bones - that would make several meals for 1 person - my family of 5 eats 1 chicken spread out through 2-4 meals.

nelie
09-17-2009, 10:41 PM
I buy lots of healthy food for cheap.

1) Buy veggies/fruits at farmer's markets if you have any good ones near you or seek out asian grocery stores.
2) Buy beans/lentils in bulk. Whole Foods has a bulk section but often co-ops and other health food stores do as well.
3) Buy oatmeal or other breakfast grains in bulk. You can add things like cinnamon and shredded apples to oatmeal.
4) Pack your lunches and snacks so that you don't have to buy them.

Here is a blog on eating cheaply. This woman feeds her family on $3.33/day
http://melomeals.blogspot.com/

time2lose
09-17-2009, 10:53 PM
Have you tried using steamer bags with those frozen vegetables? I use those in the microwave often and they turn out great. You can even make omelets with the steamer bags.

TaraLee
09-17-2009, 10:55 PM
Here's a book you might find very...very useful; Healthy (http://www.amazon.com/Healthy-College-Cookbook-Quick-Cheap/dp/1580171265/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1253238538&sr=8-9) College Cookbook: Quick, Cheap & Easy.
I'm buying it as one of my rewards and I'm not even in college. The reviews are all awesome on it.
One other I'm getting Healthy Meals for Less: Great-Tasting Simple Recipes Under $1 a Serving (http://www.amazon.com/Healthy-Meals-Less-Great-Tasting-Recipes/dp/0764207105/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1253238708&sr=1-1). This is one that you kind of have to combine with smart shopping (buying on sell or getting generic) but still well worth it if it works.

Couch
09-17-2009, 11:41 PM
It is absolutely worth it to exercise, even if you aren't eating brilliantly well. It's one of the best forms of preventative medicine out there, and there are lots of studies that show that fit but overweight is better than thin but unfit.

As for eating cheaply, planning is often the key. A lot of money is wasted on food that goes off. And frozen veg tastes much better in an ommlette, or in a stirfry, both of which are healthy.

Alana in Canada
09-18-2009, 01:31 AM
What sort of cooking facilities do you have access to? You mention a microwave--is that because you don't have a stove?

By the way, if you can, I highly, highly recomend getting yourself a camping stove. It runs on small bottles of propane and you're just basically cooking on a three burner stove.

If you can buy your food everyday--then you don't have to worry about storage. But wait, you said you microwave frozen veggies--so that sounds like you have a freezer--and thus a kitchen?

In which case, easy, peasy. Eat from home--do not eat anything that does not first come into your home and don't eat anything with more than three ingredients--and honestly? You will lose weight.

And yes, excercise is never,ever not "pointless." It IS better to be fit and fat than thin and squishy.

Alana in Canada
09-18-2009, 01:34 AM
Hillbilly housewife may be able to help with the budget:

http://healthy.hillbillyhousewife.com/index.htm

Bonnie+J
09-18-2009, 04:48 AM
i'm also on a really tight budget, and i have found that buying things in bulk is the way to go. beans are for half nothing when you buy them dried in bags. you can do loads of different things with one bag of beans and it would never taste the same.
pasta, rice, millet, bulgar wheat and quinoa are all really cheap when you buy them in bulk.
i dont go near branded items unless i have a coupon that gets it to the same price as the generic.

also as the other ladies said, plan plan plan. if you like to do your shop weekly (i do) then plan your meals according to how things go off. like i make salads and fresh veggie dishes early in the week when the veg needs to be fresh, then as the week goes on i make chilis, casseroles and stews as the veg isnt at its best but is being cooked for an hour or so so it doesnt matter. if you do it every day, then work out what you need for each meal and snack and make a list. stick to that list and do not stray.

hope this helps, it is tough to work on a budget but it can be done! best of luck with college!

Beverlyjoy
09-18-2009, 07:38 AM
Do you have an Aldi's store near you? I find that they have some of the best prices on produce (if there's no farmer's market nearby) and many other things.

Aldi's is owned my the same folks as Trader Joe's.

kaplods
09-18-2009, 11:34 AM
If you search on Aldi, you'll find a lot of threads discussing ways to cut food costs while eating for health and weight loss. It's a topic that comes up a lot because it's so important to so many of us. Every time it's discussed I learn something new. I also search on it a lot, to review the tips - and I always seem to find something I forgot or missed the first time.

I also love the hillbilly housewife website, and have printed out much of the exchange information on the site and put it in my weight-loss information and tracking binder.

I editied this post, because I originally suggested a search on budget weight loss, but I wasn't happy with the search results when I tested it. I tried searching Aldi instead, and found more pertinent threads (because the discount chain is usually mentioned when the topic comes up).

Daimere
09-18-2009, 06:58 PM
Have you tried using steamer bags with those frozen vegetables? I use those in the microwave often and they turn out great. You can even make omelets with the steamer bags.
Yes, that's what I predominately used to use but I want MORE veggies in the bag than it allows and there is always water sitting in the bottom. Then there is trying to figure out the difference in microwave temperatures cause I haven't tried them since moving here. They either get overdone or not done enough.

What sort of cooking facilities do you have access to? You mention a microwave--is that because you don't have a stove?

If you can buy your food everyday--then you don't have to worry about storage. But wait, you said you microwave frozen veggies--so that sounds like you have a freezer--and thus a kitchen?

I already eat at home. Yes, I have a full kitchen. When I first tried to lose the weight, I predominately used the microwave. I only used the stove for spaghetti. :p Now a days I can use the stove and crock pot more.


i'm also on a really tight budget, and i have found that buying things in bulk is the way to go. beans are for half nothing when you buy them dried in bags. you can do loads of different things with one bag of beans and it would never taste the same.
pasta, rice, millet, bulgar wheat and quinoa are all really cheap when you buy them in bulk.
i dont go near branded items unless i have a coupon that gets it to the same price as the generic.

also as the other ladies said, plan plan plan. if you like to do your shop weekly (i do) then plan your meals according to how things go off. like i make salads and fresh veggie dishes early in the week when the veg needs to be fresh, then as the week goes on i make chilis, casseroles and stews as the veg isnt at its best but is being cooked for an hour or so so it doesnt matter. if you do it every day, then work out what you need for each meal and snack and make a list. stick to that list and do not stray.
The only places around here that I can find that sell in bulk are Sam's and I don't have a membership. I did plan and that's why most weeks I'd hit $100-$120 a week. I'd make 2-3 fresh meals a week and use the rest for dinners/lunches for the week mainly for me.

Do you have an Aldi's store near you?
The Aldi is about 45 minutes away. I really don't like driving that far away with cold stuffs. My boyfriend gets mad at me for just going across town for 10 minutes to get cold food. :p

FreeSpirit
09-18-2009, 07:43 PM
Brown rice... easy to buy in bulk, especially since you have a crock pot. Make a pot of beans and rice, they'll last forever. Even if you don't buy them in "bulk" you can still buy dried bags at any old grocery store and it's cheap. Make extra servings and freeze it.

Oatmeal for breakfast. Healthy and cheap. Throw in half of a banana (if you cut it in half with the peel on it'll seal itself) and some peanut butter and you have a nutritious breakfast. You could even pick up a bag of ground flax and throw a tablespoon in there. It's kind of expensive when you first buy it but it'll last quite a while.

Buy meat that's on sale. If you can't then only eat half a serving of meat and bulk the meal up with other things like beans.

Leftovers for lunch!

Eat soup with your dinners. You can make a big pot of chili or soup that's loaded with vegetables. Freeze it and it'll last for a lonnnng time.

Canned tuna is cheap and good for lunch either on a salad or in a sandwich, just use mustard instead of mayo.

Buy in season. We're getting into fall now, you can look online and see what's in season and what'll be cheaper to buy. Apples are in season and a great snack along with some peanut butter. Squash is in season now and you can make some squash soup.

Good luck!

Daimere
09-18-2009, 07:47 PM
Canned tuna is cheap and good for lunch either on a salad or in a sandwich, just use mustard instead of mayo.
I don't think I could eat tuna ever again. I made a healthy version of tuna salad and I felt so sick afterwards. But my boyfriend LOVED it.

Do you put things in beans when you make them? I don't think I liked beans except beans IN something (like chili) or refried. :(

FreeSpirit
09-18-2009, 07:51 PM
I don't think I could eat tuna ever again. I made a healthy version of tuna salad and I felt so sick afterwards. But my boyfriend LOVED it.

Do you put things in beans when you make them? I don't think I liked beans except beans IN something (like chili) or refried. :(

You can stick whatever you want in them! If you like chili beans then you can cook them with some onion, garlic, chili powder, crushed tomatoes, cumin, and oregano.

What about canned chicken?

Daimere
09-18-2009, 07:54 PM
What about canned chicken?
Yeah, chicken works for me. :)

nelie
09-18-2009, 07:56 PM
Beans are so versatile!

Lentils (a legume but not really a bean) can make excellent indian style dishes with some curry powder, tomato sauce, garlic and onions. I've also seen a dish for a sloppy joe recipe using lentils.

Bean salads - Add some beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, lemon juice, red wine vinegar and a dash of olive oil. You can add various seasonings to give it a bit different flavor but so so easy. Some of the harder lentils like french green lentils also work well for bean salads.

Roasted chickpeas - These are great to snack on and various spices make them absolutely yum. If you roast them long enough, they become very crunchy and are a good substitute to croutons on a salad.

In green salads - Black beans, kidney beans and chickpeas are a regular addition to regular green salads I make. Black beans also make a wonderful addition to a 'taco' salad. Basically top a salad with black beans and salsa.

Bean burgers - There are various recipes online about making beans into a burger type patty. Makes for an extremely good sandwich.

Faux tuna salad - Mashed chickpeas makes a wonderful faux tuna salad by adding mustard, dill relish, diced cucumber, etc. You can also add some sea veggies to give it a fishy type taste without the mercury :)

Cannelini beans in soup - You can make a 'cream' soup by using mashed cannelini beans. It makes it creamy without changing flavor. I've seen various recipes including an italian wedding soup that utilizes the beans.

Hummus - Great as part of a sandwich/wrap or for just dipping veggies.

Various bean dishes - Last night I made a collards and black eyed pea dish that was really good. Added a bit of liquid smoke to give it a smokey flavor. Soo good.

I love beans.

WaterRat
09-18-2009, 08:26 PM
Here's an idea I've stolen from a couple people around here. Bowl of cooked frozen mixed veggies (drain them if they're too watery), mix in a can/pouch of tuna/chicken/salmon, then add some curry sauce (available in many flavors, in jars at most groceries). Very tasty, filling, and inexpensive.

caryesings
09-18-2009, 09:21 PM
= It IS better to be fit and fat than thin and squishy.

Ok, off topic here but Alana, I loved this sentence!

kaplods
09-18-2009, 09:25 PM
It may sound a bit odd, but one of my favorite cheap meals in college was spaghetti sauce beans over a baked potato. I'd drain canned green beans (I liked the thin-cut french style cut) and simmer in an inexpensive spaghetti sauce (or homemade) and then serve over a microwave-baked potato. Fast, healthy, and cheap.

Another fast and cheap lunch option is taking cooked beans (canned or from dried) and puree/mash them in a food processor or with a fork or potato masher with seasonings and/or condiments, and then use them as a dip for vegetables or baked tortila chips or as a sandwhich filling (either on a tortilla to make a burrito, or on bread or toast).

One is so good, I've taken it to potlucks. I take a can of barbecue flavored beans (or pork and beans and a bit of bottled barbecue sauce) and a small piece of onion and whir it in the food processor until smooth. It's really good hot or cold. Hot, it's like a burrito filling, and really good on toasted whole wheat bread. I've been asked for the recipe so many times, and it's always a shocker, when I tell them it only has 2 or 3 ingredients (and Aldi or a store-brand baked beans, are only about 49 cents).