Weight Loss Support - Does your tightening budget affect your diet?




tiniree
02-03-2011, 12:01 PM
I have a question for ya: Do you find with a tighter budget these days, its harder to purchase the lower cal, diet type foods AND still buy your regular "family foods" for everyone else??

Last year when I first started WW, I was into buying the WW products (if on sale) and would always buy the low fat, low calorie version of food (ie: Orowheat Sandwich thins, Flat-Out tortillas, etc.). Now with our budget ever tightening, and a family that won't eat this stuff, I find myself starving because I am eating 1/4 of what I did before because its the FULL calorie version.

I know in the long run (health & medical costs), eating healthy is good for you, but buying the more healthy foods is really expensive!

Marie


berryblondeboys
02-03-2011, 12:08 PM
I don't buy myself special foods - only special snacks to have on hand. And yes, even that can be expensive. But on the other hand, before I was eating more overall and so it's probably a wash.

I eat what my family eats - minus the starch. My kids eat healthy, my husband eats healthy and my mother in law who lives with us eats healthy. It's not just good for me to eat right, but also good for my family. Plus, who wants to cook two separate meals?

But, we cut back expenses about everywhere EXCEPT on food. We buy good quality foods because it's important. We don't go out to eat EVER. We all pack lunches for school/work and that saves us a lot. And we aren't eating rabbit food. Well, we do eat a LOT of veggies and fruit, but it's yummy food as I'm a darn good cook! And there are so many great low calorie meals out there that everyone can enjoy, really!

aimeebell
02-03-2011, 12:15 PM
In some cases, such as I can buy a pack of white flour tortillas with 80 calories for $1 versus whole wheat tortillas with 50 calories for $3.50 that only I will eat, so I have to buy the $1 ones too. Then I think.....hmmmm is 30 calories worth an extra $3.50 on my grocery bill x10 because there are so many other examples of this. Of course, there are plenty of healthy inexpensive foods that my whole family will eat, but those specialty foods can add up and many times I just don't think the small difference is worth it.


berryblondeboys
02-03-2011, 12:25 PM
In some cases, such as I can buy a pack of white flour tortillas with 80 calories for $1 versus whole wheat tortillas with 50 calories for $3.50 that only I will eat, so I have to buy the $1 ones too. Then I think.....hmmmm is 30 calories worth an extra $3.50 on my grocery bill x10 because there are so many other examples of this. Of course, there are plenty of healthy inexpensive foods that my whole family will eat, but those specialty foods can add up and many times I just don't think the small difference is worth it.

And see, I would buy the whole wheat tortillas because it's not all about 30 calories, but the type of calories they are too. White flour isn't good for you, whole wheat is better and I want my kids to grow up with a taste for healthy foods so that it tastes better to them and therefore, they won't have those same cravings for junk that I do.

On the other hand, I won't buy some things because of cost period. If we don't need it, I won't get it. One big cost savings I did was to start making my own bread. Costs me 50 cents a loaf to make a whole wheat bread versus $3.50 and up in the stores.

Eliana
02-03-2011, 12:30 PM
I don't buy processed stuff either, so what I buy isn't really that bad. I shop at Aldi's for about 1/2 or better what I would spend at Kroger or Meijer. I never pay more than $100 for a cart full of groceries there but at Meijer I easily spend $300. The only things I can't get at Aldi are my Greek yogurt (can't stand Aldi's version), steel cut oats and quinoa.

midwife
02-03-2011, 12:34 PM
Hi Marie,
Have you checked out this subforum? It's packed with ideas for healthy eating on a budget.

http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/shoestring-meals-235/

Shmead
02-03-2011, 12:45 PM
Losing 140 lbs taught me how to save money. I do it exactly how I count calories: giving myself a budget and writing everything down. We use a spreadsheet, and start out with a budget for groceries. Everything gets charged to me, my husband, or "household". One great thing about this system is that we take more responsibility for our individual spending--before, we both tended to think the OTHER wasted all that money at the grocery store!

Anyway, just like calorie counting, writing everything down (and we itemize everything, down to the penny) has made us so much more aware.

I have found that specialty diet foods seem really expensive for what they are. Rather than try to find low calorie/low carb/whatever versions of foods, I tend to prefer things that are ok in their "normal" state: if I don't want the calories from a regular bun, I'm most likely to just eat my burger with a fork.

mandalinn82
02-03-2011, 12:45 PM
I actually spend less money eating healthy foods than I did getting fast food, snack foods, etc before. A typical week before had me spending (for DW and I) roughly $25 a day on fast food and junk food (a $5 meal for each of us for lunch and for dinner, and some misc junk throughout the day). So, in a week, that's $175 bucks. Now, for the same week, we spend about $40 at the farmer's market for meat and veggies, and another 30-40 dollars at the grocery store on dairy, eggs, coffee, breads, and our one indulgence, no sugar added ice cream. We do tend to spend about $30 eating out on weekends, but still, we're at $100-110 a week now for the two of us (and that is EASILY reducible...I have a taste for a few expensive things, and for eating out, and I prefer to eat organically farmed, free-range, grass fed meats, which are expensive but not necessary for weight loss, so that number is on the high end. When we were tighter on funds, I got it down to $60 per week pretty easily).

How do we do this?
1. Find the spots with the best prices. There are three main farmer's markets in our area. Two of them are expensive. One of them has a HUGE selection and costs about half what the other ones do. So we make sure we get up and go there on Sunday mornings to get the best deals. If we go at the last hour, usually vendors have marked down produce so that they don't have to haul it home, and you can get some great deals.

2. Buy what's in season. Right now, our market is flooded with chard, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, fennel, cabbage, winter squash, greens, and carrots. Since there are so many vendors with these available, prices are dirt cheap - $1 a bag or bunch. So I can get all of my dinner veggies for the week cheaply - this week, we had broccoli in a stirfry, roasted cauliflower, cabbage sauteed with apples and onions, beet risotto, some roasted butternut squash...and the vegetables for all of that ran us a grand total of $7 (and we still have half a butternut squash and half a bunch of beets for next week). Fruit-wise, right now, the market has a ton of oranges, kiwi, and apples...so we're eating a ton of oranges, kiwi, and apples. There was ONE vendor who had somehow managed to coax out some strawberries from this still-wintry weather...but since the strawberries were rare and not quite in season yet, they were super expensive. I won't buy them until they are abundant and cheap.

3. Be open to shopping at multiple places for the best deals. We get coffee at Costco, since it is about 2/3 as expensive as other sources. Chicken broth comes from Costco too, for significant savings, and we'll pick up other things there if they're a good deal (greek yogurt, canned tomatoes, sometimes snack foods if DW wants some to take to work). We look at ads to see which of three stores we should do our shopping at this week, based on their prices on the staples we buy. Often, this means we're doing three separate stops for groceries in a week (Farmer's Market, Costco, Grocery Store), but we save a lot of money doing so.

Have you looked at our Shoestring Meals forum? It's a GREAT spot for all kinds of threads about eating healthy on a budget.

aimeebell
02-03-2011, 01:10 PM
[QUOTE=berryblondeboys;3692369]And see, I would buy the whole wheat tortillas because it's not all about 30 calories, but the type of calories they are too. White flour isn't good for you, whole wheat is betterQUOTE]

Single mom to three growing boys, sometimes cost just wins out. Besides, I am not trying to eliminate anything, white flour, sugar, etc. I buy wheat buns and bread because they are healthier, my kids like them just as well, and they are the same price as white, but I do not buy 100 calorie sandwich thins instead of buns because the $2 additional cost just isn't worth saving 10-30 calories for me.

berryblondeboys
02-03-2011, 01:19 PM
Some of the 'diet' stuff are gimics. Instead of buying diet thin bread, eat an open face sandwich. And the less premade stuff you buy, the cheaper it gets.

I have a friend in California too, and man, produce is WAY cheaper there than here. I do farmer markets too and they are as expensive (or more than) the grocery store.

This year we are going to do a CSA which is supposedly the best route to go. Of course, in Maryland, growing season isn't year round, but the closer to earth it is, the better it tastes and better it is for you. Man... I'm salivating thinking about fresh farmer's market veggies as we speak!

beerab
02-03-2011, 01:27 PM
I used to spend so much on food but now I shop at the local produce store and for a family of 3 I spend on average of $100 a week on food. I buy all my produce and meat from the local henry's which carries local produce (the BEST IMO). I also buy meat in bulk when it's on sale (like when ground turkey was on sale a few weeks ago for $2.5 for 1.25 lbs I stocked up!). Also buying the store brands on things like veggies really helps. I'll buy bags of veggies for less than a dollar and the best part about frozen veggies is they don't go bad! I constantly buy frozen spinach, stir fry veggies, peppers, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. :)

I also cut coupons- that helps a LOT believe it or not. Coupons can cut a bill in half if you shop wisely.

There is website "thegrocerygame.com" and from my understanding it really helps you with coupons and all the things you need to really cut expenses down. I don't know how time consuming it is but from my understanding it does help quite a bit.

Eating on a budget is something you have to work a little harder for IMO but when you watch your bill go from $150 a week to less than $100 (and realize that saves OVER $2,000 a year) it's worth it!

Tomato
02-03-2011, 01:38 PM
Now, for the same week, we spend about $40 at the farmer's market for meat and veggies, and another 30-40 dollars at the grocery store on dairy, eggs, coffee, breads, and our one indulgence, no sugar added ice cream. We do tend to spend about $30 eating out on weekends, but still, we're at $100-110 a week now for the two of us (and that is EASILY reducible...I have a taste for a few expensive things, and for eating out, and I prefer to eat organically farmed, free-range, grass fed meats, which are expensive but not necessary for weight loss, so that number is on the high end. When we were tighter on funds, I got it down to $60 per week pretty easily).
.

I am always left open-mouthed (and somewhat envious of) how cheap groceries are in the US. I typically spend a $100 for groceries just for myself, and there is no eating out. I make all my meals from scratch and I would say I am pretty resourceful. I do shop for produce at a farmers' market (more so in spring/summer/autumn than in winter) but it really does not represent much of saving. Unfortunately, in Canada, a lot of produce is always imported from somewhere so that adds to the cost.
It costs me $4.99 to get a 500 ml tub of Greek yogurt - that is, if I am lucky that the one chain that carries it here has any left on the shelf.

JohnP
02-03-2011, 01:38 PM
Sorry to semi hijack here but for some reason you can't send PMs on this forum.

Mandalinn which farmers market are you referring to? (I'm in Sacramento)

midwife
02-03-2011, 01:44 PM
You can PM after 20 days and 20 posts.

berryblondeboys
02-03-2011, 01:48 PM
I am always left open-mouthed (and somewhat envious of) how cheap groceries are in the US. I typically spend a $100 for groceries just for myself, and there is no eating out. I make all my meals from scratch and I would say I am pretty resourceful. I do shop for produce at a farmers' market (more so in spring/summer/autumn than in winter) but it really does not represent much of saving. Unfortunately, in Canada, a lot of produce is always imported from somewhere so that adds to the cost.
It costs me $4.99 to get a 500 ml tub of Greek yogurt - that is, if I am lucky that the one chain that carries it here has any left on the shelf.

It depends on WHERE you live in the US. I've lived in Iowa, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and Ontario, Canada (Waterloo, ON). And Ontario was cheaper than we live now. Iowa was a bit cheaper too.

Maryland is EXPENSIVE and so was Virginia. We live in the DC metro area. Greek yogurt here is $4.99 USD too. Organic skim milk 1/2 gallon is $3.59-$3.69 wherever you go. Apples in some grocery stores are $2.99 a pound. I found a cheaper alternative for $1.29 a pound. Bananas are 69 cents a pound.

In summer I go to the farmer's markets, about the same prices, but a 'tad' cheaper and better tasting.

For a family of five (2 kids, 3 adults) we spend about $280 a week at the grocery store (including things like laundry detergent, dish soap, toothbrushes, etc. I don't shop at conveniece stores - Wal-Mart/Target as they are relatively the same price for the same things). We do not eat out or order in and everything is homemade - including bread. Though, usually, I buy gingersnaps and pretzels for the boys.

Eliana
02-03-2011, 02:03 PM
I am always left open-mouthed (and somewhat envious of) how cheap groceries are in the US. I typically spend a $100 for groceries just for myself, and there is no eating out. I make all my meals from scratch and I would say I am pretty resourceful. I do shop for produce at a farmers' market (more so in spring/summer/autumn than in winter) but it really does not represent much of saving. Unfortunately, in Canada, a lot of produce is always imported from somewhere so that adds to the cost.
It costs me $4.99 to get a 500 ml tub of Greek yogurt - that is, if I am lucky that the one chain that carries it here has any left on the shelf.

I think your 500 ml translates to about 3 of my 5.3 ounce containers for which I pay $1.40 each. So yeah, yours is more expensive and I think mine is really high! I hate paying that much for yogurt.

We are really fortunate here as far as food prices go, but it's easy to forget that. Junk food really is far cheaper and easier.

mandalinn82
02-03-2011, 02:09 PM
JohnP - Under the I-80 overpass at 8th and W, Sundays from 8-12. I think it's referred to as the "Midtown Farmer's Market".

JohnP
02-03-2011, 02:38 PM
JohnP - Under the I-80 overpass at 8th and W, Sundays from 8-12. I think it's referred to as the "Midtown Farmer's Market".

Thanks I'll check it out!

mandalinn82
02-03-2011, 02:45 PM
Admittedly, CA is cheaper for produce (but then, our cost of living in other ways is much, much higher...housing, utilities, etc). But my point is really to explore as many sources as you can - discount grocery stores, CSAs, produce stands, different farmer's markets which may vary widely on price - and to shop for things in season (which first off, taste better, and secondly, tend to be vastly cheaper no matter where you are). It can be difficult to settle into a seasonal shopping pattern, particularly in areas with very cold winters, but as much as you can do it, it really helps. It can also help to freeze/can/otherwise store in-season veggies when they're cheap and abundant, for use later. I'm still using tomato sauce that I made up and froze in tupperware containers when tomatoes were abundant this summer, I can preserves, apple butter, and reduced sugar jams when fruit is in season so I don't have to buy it, and I froze bag after bag of blanched, peeled peaches (frozen on sheet trays so they don't stick together) and berries (again, on sheet trays) for winter smoothies.

QuilterInVA
02-03-2011, 02:51 PM
I don't eat low cal, fat free, reduced fat or other food that is full of chemicals. I have a very limited budget (Social Security) but still eat healthy. Beans are very cheap. Frozen vegetables are just as good and sometimes better than fresh. I use meat as a side, not the main part of a meal. And why wouldn't we want to feed the whole family healthy? Many good suggestions have been offered.

AZ Sunrises
02-03-2011, 02:52 PM
As of Christmas Eve, I've been unemployed. (Yeah...happy holidays.)

I've found a renewed love of various beans. Cornbread and onions, and I have the soul food of my childhood. Put them in a flour tortilla, add cheese and salsa...and it's pseudo Mexican. Add rice, spices, sausage, and the required veggies...and you have generic Creole.

Salad is cheap and easy. Lettuce, sale veggies, a pinch of cheese, a strip of bacon, chicken boob....oil & vinegar.

Clip coupons and keep an eye on the sale ads.

ThinningVegan
02-03-2011, 06:25 PM
I think that if you are constantly buying the low-fat, low-carb, "diet" friendly foods it can be expensive. However, produce isn't that expensive. I can tell you that as a vegan, eating simply and cleanly really isn't that costly. I eat a LOT of salad. I will pre-make huge bowls of it that last me days at a time. I also have a lot of smoothies that I make with frozen fruit I buy in bags (Those things last forever) Obviously since I do not eat meat that cut out some cost for us because we don't have to buy as much but if you eat meat that doesn't really help LOL. Of course in the beginning when I was buying all sorts of "Special" substitute foods and what not it was expensive, but the truth is you're better off eating most of the regular stuff just in smaller portions. I do not have kids so I don't have that concern, but I do know sometimes it can be hard with buying separate items for my husband. One thing that is good for me though, is he will eat a lot of the stuff I buy so that helps.

Oh and another thing, how much leftovers do you usually end up with? If you have a lot of food going to waste that means you need to buy less and that could cut cost down also.

Horo
02-03-2011, 07:29 PM
The tightening budget is part of what brought around my second-time-around diet(to lose a few more..), actually. After I went vegan(but was in maintenance mode) I initially was buying all sorts of frozen meals and trying various specialty vegan prepackaged meals and.. admittedly.. buying a slice of (EXPENSIVE) wonderful vegan cake every time I went to the store. :o A lot of the specialty pre-packed vegan stuff is pretty expensive.

When the food budget became much tighter this year, I took my own initiative to reduce the grocery bill by cooking everything for myself and in bulk. My grocery list goes something like this now: various kinds of dried beans, whole wheat pasta, rice, tofu, tempeh, vital wheat gluten for making seitan, whole wheat flour, nuts, olive oil, oats, and various fresh fruits and vegetables. All of these things can be bought dirt cheap if you know where to look! Now I devote a few days a week to cook very healthy, low-calorie meals and store half in the refrigerator to eat throughout the week and the other half in calorie-controlled portions in the freezer for easy, convenient, healthy meals for later.

I've calculated the cost of a lot of the things I've made and most of my recipes come down to a few dollars at most per serving. Most are even less, in the $1 or less range. The best part of all is that they're made from some of the most healthy, wholesome ingredients you can find. :carrot:

amasimp
02-03-2011, 07:31 PM
Thanks I'll check it out!

There is also Denio's in Roseville.

Lori Bell
02-03-2011, 09:51 PM
Food in Nebraska is pretty cheap considering we are in the middle of NOWHERE. :) Fortunately I do plant a large garden and can a lot of fruit and veggies, we also butcher a cow at least once a year, so all that helps, but I realize not everyone has a big plot of land to raise a garden, (or a cow!).

I also love fresh stuff, so I often buy in bulk what is on sale. About a month ago cauliflower was on sale CHEAP. Big beautiful heads for under $2 a piece. I bought like 6 of them. I roasted a bunch, washed, separated & bagged a bunch for snacking, froze some for steaming, and before you know it, it was all gone. (I have to admit I did get a little sick of it after awhile.) The next week asparagus was on sale, so I bought a bunch of that....ate it until it was gone. We also had a great sale on oranges and grapefruit. .18 a piece. I bought like 30 oranges and 20 grapefruit. We are still eating them. I just stored them in the garage where it stays cold but not freezing. They will last for a long time!

My point is, you don't have to buy 8 different kinds of produce every grocery trip. Or 5 kinds of meat. Or special "diet foods" Buy the best bargains and eat it (or freeze it if you have the space) until the next great sale comes along. This last week, blueberries were on sale...OH they were delicious! But it was over quick and they are back up to unbelievable prices, so I'll wait until the next good sale to get my next fix. Oh and yogurt...I have several friends who also clip coupons and we trade...So I always have a coupon for the kind I like.

I also don't cook special stuff *for me*. I make all of us special stuff. They eat it, or they don't eat. (Or go buy and make their own...and clean up their own mess!) ;)

shcirerf
02-03-2011, 11:24 PM
Food in Nebraska is pretty cheap considering we are in the middle of NOWHERE. :) Fortunately I do plant a large garden and can a lot of fruit and veggies, we also butcher a cow at least once a year, so all that helps, but I realize not everyone has a big plot of land to raise a garden, (or a cow!).

I also love fresh stuff, so I often buy in bulk what is on sale. About a month ago cauliflower was on sale CHEAP. Big beautiful heads for under $2 a piece. I bought like 6 of them. I roasted a bunch, washed, separated & bagged a bunch for snacking, froze some for steaming, and before you know it, it was all gone. (I have to admit I did get a little sick of it after awhile.) The next week asparagus was on sale, so I bought a bunch of that....ate it until it was gone. We also had a great sale on oranges and grapefruit. .18 a piece. I bought like 30 oranges and 20 grapefruit. We are still eating them. I just stored them in the garage where it stays cold but not freezing. They will last for a long time!

My point is, you don't have to buy 8 different kinds of produce every grocery trip. Or 5 kinds of meat. Or special "diet foods" Buy the best bargains and eat it (or freeze it if you have the space) until the next great sale comes along. This last week, blueberries were on sale...OH they were delicious! But it was over quick and they are back up to unbelievable prices, so I'll wait until the next good sale to get my next fix. Oh and yogurt...I have several friends who also clip coupons and we trade...So I always have a coupon for the kind I like.

I also don't cook special stuff *for me*. I make all of us special stuff. They eat it, or they don't eat. (Or go buy and make their own...and clean up their own mess!) ;)


Yay for Nebraska!

I am lucky, my boss gives us 1/4 beef, 5 chickens, and a 1/4 hog each year, I raise a big garden, my FIL also raised a couple of beef as a hobby, so we also get some of that. Nothing better than lean, grass fed beef.

One of my next projects is a root cellar to store taters, cabbage, cauliflower, etc. in.

Our groceries, in my opinion are economical. The draw back is the selection of a variety of fresh fruits and veggies in the winter is pitiful.

It's just the hub and I and I buy very little processed food, we are not big pasta eaters, I get farm fresh eggs from my boss for free! I do buy a few things for the hub, that I don't eat. He does not have weight problem, although now heart issues, so, I buy one bag of tater chips a month for him, no more, or he comes home and eats 1/2 a bag, when they are gone, no more till later. I have switched him to turkey sausage for breakfast, instead of pork, except on Sunday, we have bacon.

I still have 5 jars of homemade dill pickles, yum! And 6 jars of home made salsa in the cupboard, carrots, green and wax beans and broccoli in the freezer.

One thing I did discover in grocery shopping adventures, while the organic spinach and spring mix that you can get at Wal-Mart is more expensive, it keeps so much longer, that it's worth the price, because you can actually eat it all before it goes yuk.

The great big packages of skinless chicken breasts at Wal-Mart that seem so expensive, really aren't. They are at least 2 servings for each breast, so I cut them all in half, and then package them up and freeze them according to what we will eat.

Things like dry beans, split peas, barley, lentils, are cheap.
It boils down to doing your research before you go shopping, and looking for co op gardens, farmers markets, CSA's.

Also you can container garden, check out Mother Earth News. Lots of great stuff there.

A tight budget does not have to translate to bad nutrition.

PinkHoodie
02-04-2011, 12:36 AM
I can't get my hubby to eat the way I do...he refuses to. So that makes it hard to buy food. Because he has to buy his food, and I buy mine. Granted he eats TONS of cheap processed food. I try to focus on whole foods, little processed, its hard when you live somewhere like I do. We don't have any farmers markets open currently...I would love to live in CA. I know its more expensive, but like I tell everyone you are paying for the lifestyle. You can be a lot more active there then somewhere that it gets cold. And fruits/veggies seem to always be around at decent prices.
Like for example right now, a head of Cauliflower is 1.50/pound. That is the cheapest I have found it. Its SO high...I know in reality its not that bad but it adds up. We have no stores like mentioned, Trader Joe's, Aldi's...we have Walmart (I will NOT buy produce there). Target, where I get my grass fed beef and Just Bare chicken. We had a grocery store that had good deals on produce but they just closed. Smith's and a store called Fresh Market. But none of these places have consistent prices on produce...and none of them sell organic except for very few things and it gets smaller every time I go there. I am longing for Spring when my Dad shares his garden with us!
I will say yes, having a tight budget does effect my diet. We have been financially strapped for about 3 years now, after DH was laid off twice. I dream of one day just being able to fill my grocery cart FULL of yummy, organic, healthy food. But right now its weighing the price all the time!!