So just like the title suggests we are not well off by any means. We spend at most $200 a month on groceries. Its all we can afford. We litterally do not have $1 extra at the end of the month. We are catching up on things and hopfully we will be better off in a few months but I am not gonna hope to be better off in a few months money wise before I start a diet.
SSOoooo are there any suggestions as how to actually diet on a TIGHT budget?? Its hard to buy fresh fruits and veggies because they go bad quickly and we need stuff to last us the entire month. Also I need to be able to buy some fattening foods for my fiance. He has a hard time keeping weight ON! Must be nice ha.
Any suggestions would be great cause I suck at this stuff but I am more then willing to learn how to get it all right! :chef:
06-08-2013, 07:46 PM
There's a really good forum on the site called Shoestring Meals you might want to check out. Lots of good ideas there!
Fresh fruits and veggies are expensive so I often buy them frozen. The same with chicken breasts. Buying things on sale and using coupons will help as well. Tuna and beans are other good sources of protein that are reasonably priced.
As for keeping fattening things around for your fiance, I think I would just consider them off limit for myself. Much too tempting otherwise!
I wish you good luck!
06-08-2013, 10:37 PM
Watch for sales at your grocery store. Many stores will have buy one get one free. I got two baskets of strawberries and two baskets of blueberries last week in each case I only paid for one. Do you have Big Lots store and/or a Dollar Store in your area ? They have inexpensive canned goods and cereal . Walmart and Target are also good sources of inexpensive items.If you are making something like spaghetti sauce that calls for a pound of hamburger, half a pound will do just fine, no one will know the difference.
06-08-2013, 10:56 PM
Ill check it out taj thanks! I dont generally touch foods that I buy special for him. Bargoo we have walmart, price chopper, tops, and dollar tree. Oooh and I have taken a liking to Aldi lately. They have produce very cheep but right now its still just not in our budget. I do buy a lot of canned veggies. Less then a buck for a can woot woot.
06-08-2013, 11:32 PM
Of course you ideally want to eat healthy foods, but you can start your diet by just eating less of the things you eat now. It will always be cheaper to eat less than it is to eat more, so don't let the fact that you can't buy the food you think of as "diet food" stop you from losing weight!
06-09-2013, 12:05 AM
I also recommend the shoestring meals forum there are a lot of shopping tips and recipes. You'll find several versions of my tvp/meat recipes. I brown dry tvp granules with cheap ground beef, ground turkey, ground chicken or even ground pork, ground italian sausage or chorizo, whatever is on sale the cheapest (tvp is a soy ground beef substitute found in health food stores and even Walmart - it's usually by the other Bob's Redmill products like almond flour), and is usually about $4 per pound (that sound expensive, but one pound of tvp is equivalent to about 3-4 lbs of ground beef.. If you can find a store that sells it in bulk bins, it's even cheaper, usually under $3
(These are suburban midwest prices).
Because tvp is very low-fat, mixing it with fattier cheap cuts results in fat content more like that of higher priced ground meats.
The recipes, how I freeze the mixture after browning so it freezes in a scoopable crumbles form (like the boca and morningstar farm crumbles) and what I use it for (any recipe that calls for ground beef) are in the shoestring meals forum.
Frozen veggies are often cheaper than canned if you compare only the weight of the vegetables, becaused canned veggied often come in a 14 ounce can that is half water, so you're often only getting 7-8 ounces of veggies.
We shop at Aldi quite often. We shop at Dollar Tree often as well. The sweet potato fries are awesome.
As for budget diets, calorie counting and exchange plans are the easiest. I prefer exchange plans, because they're flexible and have some balance built in. I often use a high protein exchange plan like the one on frugalabundance.com - which is a great website all about living cheaply. The diet section offers several calorie level plans for three different carb levels (high protein, which is moderately low-carb; high carb; and middle of the road.
Carbs are cheapest, but also make me hungriest so I tend to eat more. I lose best on the lower carb options. I often will use the higher carb plan occasionally.
I also like that exchange plans assist me with the weekly shopping, because I can shop by serving sizes. For example if my exchange plan allows 3 fruit exchanges I need to buy 21 exchanges worth of fruit. Bananas, apples, and oranges are usually the cheapest locally especially at KwikTrip a gas station. I highly recommend if you have one near you, because bananas, onions, and potatoes are 38 cents per pound, and apples, oranges, and pears are 3 for $1 or 12 for $4, and the apple varieties are often quite good. I prefer the ambrosia and braeburn.
It makes it easy to calculate prices. Since the apples and bananas each count as two fruit exchanges, they're actually cheaper than the oranges, because an orange is one fruit exchange, although the oranges are still a good value. I also set a price limit for each food category. For fruit, I want to pay less than 50 cents per exchange/serving and try to hit closer to a quarter.
I do occasionally splurge, because our food budget isn't as tight as it used to be. Early in my weight loss journey, hubby and I had a food budget averaging about $125 a month and we had a few months when we had to get by on $25 (we didn't qualify for assistance programs but our medication costs were eating up our budget).
We could have used food banks, but never did, Because we were able to get by without them. We did a lot of shopping at salvage stores (Big Lots and privately owned salvage groceries).
We almost never pay more than $2 for a box of cereal and often pay $1. Salvage stores can often be hard to find, because they rarely advertise, but you can usually find them by searching online.
When we find a really good deal, we stock up. We have a grocery store that usually does markdowns on Thursday mornings, so we shop late morning to see what's been marked down. A couple months ago we found gourmet turkey and chicken sausages on sale for 99 cents per pound. Their regular price was $6.99 per pound. We bought ten packages.
It helps tremendously to create relationships with people that can help. Hubby is extremely talented in that regard. For the most part, we're just really friendly and complimentary and chat with produce or meat dept managers (and farmers market vendors) and so when we ask "any good sales today?" We will not only get pointed to sales, we'll often be told of upcoming sales.
As for farmers market vendors, we'll talk to the vendors, tell them that we liked what we bought the week before, or how good what they're selling looks and ask questions about produce we're not familiar with and often vendors will give us free stuff along with our purchases. One vendor in particular sometimes gives us 20 - 30% of our purchase free. We also shop farmers markets just about closing time when vendors are more willing to haggle and make special deals. Also if the weather is rainy or cold, you can often get better prices because the vendors want to sell what they can and go home.
We also shop Goodwill, thrift stores, garage sales, dollar stores for everything we can because it's become habit. Now that we have a bit more money, we're still used to all our thrifty habits, especially since we often can afford nicer things in thrift stores and garage sales even now, than we could buy new.
Oh and check for local freecycle groups online on facebook, yahoo groups and through google. Often gardeners will give away surplus produce (especially tomatoes and zucchini).
06-09-2013, 07:07 AM
Calorie counting is your best bet. There are a lot of tools online that are free such as Fitday, MyFitnessPal, Sparkpeople, etc. Sign up to one of those site and start counting :)
06-09-2013, 07:13 AM
I have found calorie counting to be very affordable! My grocery bill has gone down considerably because I'm not eating huge portion sizes, processed food, and fast food which is all more expensive than what I'm buying now!
06-09-2013, 08:42 AM
If you just want to continue buying the same things then portion control seems the best alternative, just what you´re eating but half. Ive seen many people drop lots of weight, specially in he beginning just by eating half or 3/4 of what they did...
06-09-2013, 09:06 AM
I do buy a lot of canned veggies. Less then a buck for a can woot woot.
I strongly suggest not buying cannned veggies unless it's tomatoes. Canned veggies are loaded with sodium and nutritionally speaking they don't hold a candle to frozen vegetables. Frozen veggies is the way to go.
Your plight is one that many face. The most affordable foods are the ones that are the worst for us (wheat based, soy based, sugar based). Healthy eating begins and ends at the perimeter of the grocery store where the produce and refrigerated sections are, all the processed, boxed, non perishable stuff in the aisles should be avoided.
Could you grow some of your own veggies and herbs? I've seen some commercials for hanging tomato plants and it's crucial to eat some raw things every day. Is there a farm share in your neighborhood?
06-09-2013, 11:58 AM
We do not have a lot of money either and we've been able to eat fairly healthy and lose weight over the years. We both calorie count
When I first started losing weight, I started out more with portion control. We still ate the processed things like Hamburger Helper and cheap meals like that but I would eat A serving and also added in frozen vegetables, to try to make it healthier. When you portion things out - it lasts longer which then makes it cheaper.
Once looking around our stores and looking at the prices of things, it really isn’t that much more to eat healthy and have fresh fruits vegetables in the house. I've found that it's cheaper compared to eating out or buying junk. Maybe it's where I live? I don't know. But I remember always having that thought too but once I actually started to look at the food and really compare it, it's not as expensive as I thought it was. Granted, there are some things where the healthier version IS more expensive (like lean ground beef compared to 85/15 ground beef). Our stores will put frozen vegetables on sale often and we will stock up when that happens.
But for example, I bought a container of organic baby spinach last week for $2.99. I took salads for lunch all week and the one container lasted the week. I added in an egg each day (the eggs were free - Kroger sends out coupons every so often for free eggs!) along with baby carrots (bought on sale with a coupon) and a healthy trail mix (not on sale but one of the things I will buy anyway).
I also agree with the poster who said to shop farmers markets near the end of closing time - I did that a few times and you do get decent deals.
06-09-2013, 01:24 PM
Hi pixie!! I have some ideas on how to stretch a buck and still be able to afford healthy meals. My husband and I spend $4-500 a month for us and our three kids and our cat. That includes all paper products, detergents, cat food etc. We have Walmart, Trader Joe's, Dollar Tree, Food Basics, and Shoprite. I usually go to at least three of them to make my dollar stretch. All in one day because of gas prices of course. Just plan it out, look at their circulars, and buy what is on sale. I usually have 3 fruits for the week and 3-4 vegetables for the week.
For example, this week I bought lots of bananas in different levels of ripeness, some green and some ripened. They are 0.19 ea at Trader Joe's so I bought $3 worth. That way throughout the week we have bananas. If they are getting too dark, I chop and freeze them for smoothies or I smash them and make banana muffins.
I bought a 2 lbs container of strawberries at Walmart for $2.98. I used half to eat for breakfast, 1/4 of them for strawberry/yogurt frozen pops, and the remaining 1/4 I froze for smoothies.
I bought 2lbs of peaches for about $2, they were 0.99 lb. We'll just use these for snacking but yesterday I sauteed some with a little cinnamon on my non-stick pan and served it for dessert with a couple of tbsps. of vanilla ice cream.
Vegetables this week are romaine lettuce for salads, carrots for dipping in hummus or just snacking, frozen broccoli, frozen corn, and frozen mixed onions/peppers. I bought those last 3 at the Dollar Tree for one dollar each. The same brand at other stores are an average of $2 a bag so I stock up there.
I buy lots of eggs. My kids love them, they are versatile, great protein, and we eat lots of them. If you are concerned about the cholesterol in eggs then limit them. I eat eggs at least 5 times a week for breakfast.
I know food prices are ridiculous nowadays. We are all trying to make ends meet with what we have but trust me you can do it. I have been struggling with my weight for a long time. Luckily, I have a supportive family. My kids try new vegetables and fruits all the time. My husband is extremely supportive even at times going food shopping after a long day of work. We all have to make it the best way we can. Since your monthly budget is a maximum of $200 monthly break it up and go shopping weekly, $50 every week.
For $50 a week, I would purchase
2 dozen of eggs $2 (Dollar Tree),
a loaf of whole grain bread $3-4,
1 gallon of milk $4, (I buy almonds milk for myself, darn lactose, $1.69 at Trader Joe's),
bananas 10 ($2 Trader Joe's),
a big container of oats $1 (Dollar Tree),
large container of organic yogurt 32 oz $3 (Trader Joe's),
strawberries 2lbs $3 (Walmart),
dried beans $1 (Dollar Tree),
rice $1 (Dollar Tree),
frozen vegetables and fruits at least 6 broccoli, mixed onions/peppers, corn, etc $6 (Dollar Tree),
olive oil small bottle $3,
apply $10 towards meat,
canned tomatoes $1 (Dollar Tree),
whole grain pasta $2,
sweet potatoes 2lb bag $1.69 (Trader Joe's),
popcorn kernels about $2,
salt free seasoning at the Dollar Tree $1,
parmesan cheese taste like the Kraft brand $1 (Dollar Tree)
All this for almost $50.
I really hope this helps sorry for making it so loooooonnnggg!! lol Take care!
06-09-2013, 04:01 PM
Wow Vivian that's a really great list and I'm sure it's reAlly helpful to the OP!
06-09-2013, 05:13 PM
Wow thank you so much everyone! These are all really great ideas! You guys are all really great and helpful and judgement free and I love that. I will be trying lots of these ideas. I am glad I got some great answers by people who have been where we are because you understand so much what it means to HAVE to make that dollar stretch.
We go grocery shopping again next pay check so I am very greatful for all the advice! :-D
06-09-2013, 05:39 PM
When I could only spend $40 a week on groceries here is what I bought.
First I bought a 5lbs bag of lentils off of Amazon for $15 and it lasted me for a really long time.
This requires eating the same thing almost every day which is annoying.
Oatmeal with canned pineapple (half a can everyday), ground flax seed, and sliced almonds with a hard boiled egg on the side.
Chicken (the thighs more fatty but cheaper and you can take the skin off I got 14 pieces for $6.00) with lentils and carrot and a banana for dessert. This was the biggest meal of the day and I ate a rather large portion of lentils.
Chicken with Top Ramen/Spinach/Kale mix top with Parmesan Cheese (I didn't make a soup with it but I did use the seasonings for the Chicken and yes I know it is unhealthy but I needed to be frugal)
I also would buy a big bag of apples and munch on one when ever I was hungry.
I actually spent less on groceries on average. The lentil bag lasted a long time and the Top Ramen could be bought in bulk so I didn't have to rebuy those every week. Also the oatmeal lasted about two weeks. Eventually I cut out the Top Ramen once I got better at cooking and could make inventive lentil recipes.
06-09-2013, 05:43 PM
but you can start your diet by just eating less of the things you eat now. It will always be cheaper to eat less than it is to eat more, so don't let the fact that you can't buy the food you think of as "diet food" stop you from losing weight!
x2. My family's grocery bill is down $50-100 a week because of my diet. I eat a lot less than I used to. Cutting the chips, candies, juice, cakes and cheese helped the $$ too.
06-09-2013, 05:49 PM
And don't forget your staples, the less you pay for them the more you have to spend on groceries. I go to Dollar Store for shampoo, deodorant, paper towels, hand soap ( 2 or 3 bars for $1), really nice greeting cards and gift wrapping, room spray( not Glade but just as good), hand lotion , hand cream ,tooth paste, nothing is over $!, sometimes less.
06-09-2013, 08:51 PM
Bargoo we deff buy the cheapest of the staples that we can. Everything except maybe deodorant cause I neeeeeddd my secret. Just the regular one. Shower fresh. Or I am smelly ha
IanG besides a couple things for my fiance we dont buy any chips, cakes, candy, heavy cheeses, desserts. I wont even buy icecream. Haven't in months because I will eat it all in a week. We do buy some soda but once again I dont really drink it so that my fiance will have it the month.
06-09-2013, 10:49 PM
And you can split a membership to Costco with someone. We buy so many things there in bulk.
06-10-2013, 10:06 AM
I'm glad I was able to help! Take care and good luck.