Cooking Tips and Questions - Veggies. . .but at what cost?




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Nadia
01-02-2014, 09:05 PM
My meals right now generally consist of fast food and frozen dinners. Obviously, this needs to atop. My budget is a big issue, though, and usually it seems that 99 cent burger is just too much of a bargain to pass up. I never ate vegetables other than potatoes when I was a kid, but now I like a lot of different kinds. So, I would like to start making wraps or something healthy, but can not figure out how. Vegetables in the produce section are a small fortune, the frozen kind always has holes in the bags, and I have heard cans have more sodium than vegetables. Is anyone else on a tight budget, and if so, how do you make it work?


EasySpirit
01-02-2014, 09:13 PM
I buy bags of frozen corn, green beans, mixed vegetables. I buy fresh carrots, onions, squash and sale items. Be sure to plan so nothing goes to waste, and you might find stir-fries that are mostly veggies with a bit of meat to be much healthier and less expensive in the long run than the fast food.

Larry H
01-02-2014, 10:29 PM
I am retired and on a very tight budget yet I buy all three, Fresh, Frozen and Canned vegetables. How?

Walmart has no salt added vegetables in cans. I had their cut green beans at dinner today. The sodium per serving in this can was 10 mg. In my pantry is the Walmart Great Value brand can of peas, again no salt added. The sodium per serving in the can of peas is also 10 mg. I also have a Libby's can of sweet corn with no salt, no sugar added. I bought this at Walmart and once again the sodium per serving is only 10 mg. The best part is most of these cost under a dollar.

If you have a Save A Lot store near you, they always have low prices on fresh and frozen vegetables. They usually do not carry the low sodium canned vegetables. For that I shop at Walmart.

The bottom line is that vegetables can easily fit most budgets.


Sheridan
01-02-2014, 10:56 PM
Hi,
This is off point but the cat pictured by your post is the cutest I have ever seen.

Good luck with the veggies. Aldi's has great prices on all vegetables so try them out if you have one near.

Sheridan

3LMCM
01-02-2014, 11:06 PM
Hi,
This is off point but the cat pictured by your post is the cutest I have ever seen.

Good luck with the veggies. Aldi's has great prices on all vegetables so try them out if you have one near.

Sheridan

I agree! The cat is so cute…frozen veggies and cans is the way to go! Good luck. :carrot:

Nadia
01-02-2014, 11:45 PM
Thanks for all the advice. :) There is a new Aldi's down the road, so I might give them a try. The no-bag stores creep me out a bit after bag experiences with them in another town (moldy fruit, moldy cheese, et cetera). But what a generalization, of course. Beggars can not be choosers, I guess. ;-).

I love the kitty, too. She was not mine, but her expression matched my overall mood that year. :-D

amandie
01-03-2014, 12:34 AM
Don't forget about legumes and beans- cheap and a good source of fiber and protein! Just soak overnight, rinse then throw in crockpot with fresh water or broth along with some onions, bell peppers and spices if you'd like and cook on high for couple of hours. You can make a soup out of it or some sort of dip/spread on your wraps. I love using whole black beans in taco salads (and are excellent in wraps too.) I think adding beans to meals with meat in it helps stretch it out and adds bulk as well. Chili is a good one- you can make it vegetarian or with a little meat, delicious on top of a baked potato and maybe a dollop of sour cream and/or cheese. Cheap and filling.

As for your wraps, the store bought tortilla wraps can be expensive, well for me, it is. Homemade is cheaper and you can add as much flavor as you want like spinach, tomato, jalapeño, and/or herbs like basil, etc to your homemade tortilla wraps as well as your choice of flours. Although, I'll admit it isn't easier unless you have a rolling pin of some sort and patience, lol.

On the veggies, I buy them all, although mostly frozen and canned since it lasts longer and is usually cheaper than fresh. However if there's a huge sale on fresh, I buy a ton, blanch (if applicable), ice, pat veggies dry and freeze. I buy a big bag of potatoes since it's cheaper and store it all in my fridge.

I don't think anything is wrong with your frozen dinner habit, in fact there's a thread on here utilizing frozen dinners/entrees and supplementing them with a ton of veggies, but not sure what else goes along with it. It's called the Simple Diet or something like that. Perhaps that may be something you want to look into?

Best of luck with whatever you decide!

Suzanne 3FC
01-03-2014, 03:57 PM
Do you have a Sams Club in your area? I eat a diet very high in veggies and fruits, and buying many of them at Sams helps.

Romaine hearts are just $3.98 for a pack of 6. They are large, about 8 ounces each, so each one makes a huge salad. I go through 2 bags per week.

Organic baby spinach is $3.98 for a large one pound container. I eat a few per week, using them in salads, smoothies, or cooked and seasoned.

I also buy bags of sweet mini peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, and other veggies there. They sell a wide variety of fresh and frozen vegetables.

I buy frozen blueberries at sams for about 6.50 per 3 pound bag. I eat a cup or two daily, or one bag per week.

Lentils are another good budget food. You can eat a serving for just pennies, if you buy them in the bulk section of a local natural foods market. They are packed with protein and fiber, and they are very versatile. I usually add some to my green salads. I keep packets of precooked and measured lentils in my freezer.

kaplods
01-03-2014, 04:59 PM
Cabbage, whole carrots and onions are usually much cheaper than other veggies, so the tighter our budget, the more of those we eat.

Canned veggies are good too, and if they contain more sodium than you want, just soak them in cool water for 20-30 minutes, then drain and cook as you'd like.

I've never had problems with holes in frozen vegetable bags, so maybe you'd have better luck with a different grocery store.

We used to buy the Sunday paper for the weekly grocery ads, then we found out the ads were also in a local free paper available at a few banks and other businesses in town.

Usually, there's some kind of veggie on a super good sale. Locally, frozen cauliflower is usually $2 for a 16 oz bag, but goes on sale for $1 frequently.. Fresh cauliflower usually runs $2.50 per head (2-3 lb heads), but goes on sale regularly for $1 per head.

The fresh cauliflower on sale is the best price at 33-50 cents per pound).

Check out the shoestring meals forum and you'll find these and many other tips for saving money on veggies and other groceries.

pluckypear
01-08-2014, 10:26 PM
I hear you on the tight budget and you have already been given great tips. Personally I prefer fresh vegetables to frozen and I don't eat canned as I find them too mushy for my tastes. I prefer al dente veggies if cooked. I live in a city where veggies can be very expensive especially in the winter season. I value buying local and organic when possible however I buy the best food I can afford. I also do not drive and rely on public transit or walking to do my shopping. The nearest grocery store is across the street and it is not cheap. However even this store has weekly sales and as has been mentioned I check out the flyer every week to plan my shopping. I plan my meals around what is the cheapest and healthiest options.

So this week broccoli is 99 cents a head so I purchased 4. It is not my favourite vegetable but it is cheap. I also got yellow onions, carrots and nappa. Also try the discount vegetable rack. Every two weeks I go to an organic grocery store (I am in the area for an appointment) and purchase from their discount rack only. I often find great deals including sunchokes, yellow plums, rapini and so much more.

There are some vegetables I simply won't be having until the summer like peppers and tomatos. They are just too expensive and where I live they are imported from overseas when I try my best to buy local.

It can be tough but I find ways to prepare the vegetables I get so I don't get bored. :)

seaurchin
01-08-2014, 10:36 PM
I actually spend less now buying fruits, veggetables, nuts and beans than when i purchased meat products along with fruits and vegetables. The local Walmart where I live has several organic options as well. Depending on where you live, you may want to consider farmer's markets. They are open year round in South Florida, but i'm sure that they may be seasonal other areas around the country. I buy a lot of smoothy foods (apples, pears, bananas) in the clearance bin $(1 per bag) because they are slightly bruised or the bananas have spots. Cut around the bruises and they are just fine!

Pattience
01-09-2014, 07:53 AM
Seaurchins comment is along the lines of what i was thinking. I think take a look at how much your normally spend on food in a week.

Try and make do as a vegetarian buying your own food on the same amount. The thing is, you don't need to eat just vegetables. Tehre are many foods in a vegetarian diet that are cheap and go towards making a fabulous dish.

If you don't know how to cook, get some recipe books. I would suggest starting off with some mediterranean countries cookbooks e.g. french, italy, spain, also turkey. We are used to the flavours of these sorts of foods and they are never as difficult to prepare as we think they must be. many of them do not take long either.

Think about risotto. Its a rice dish, usually got two veggies in it. You can used canned peas and fresh mushrooms and an onion. A small salad on the side of just green leaves with a nice dressing, a few nuts, and you are done.

Or spaghetti with a tomato sauce using onions and mushrooms. again a green side salad. Or maybe just some chopped cucumber

In india, i was pleasantly surprised to see that with each meal, came a small plate of raw chopped vegetables. Just a bit of carrot, usually a small onion which they all love raw (but not me) and a piece of lime. Or it could be a different combination of two three raw veggies. It doesn't have to be a great wapping plate full to get some veggies into you.

If i make a cauliflower dish, i can eat it for days. Usually at least one recipe does me for four meals. So you don't need to be buying a whole shopping trolley load of vegetables. i.e. it shouldn't' bankrupt you.

And yes canned veggies are a useful addition to the food cupboard.but not all of them. I use asparagus, peas and beetroot but that's all. I would never willingly buy canned beans, carrots, potatoes, corn, etc. I don't like frozen veggies. I find them tasteless and i don't eat them. My father does alright with them though.

And its a myth that pasta rice and bread make you fat. If you analyse them they are quite low calorie foods for their bulk. But otherwise you can buy dried beans which are more nutritious and these are excellent value for money because they swell up so much when you soak them. They are also a vegetable, albeit not fresh anymore.

Buy veggies according to whats in season and best value on the day. Then go and find a recipe for it.

Mara
01-09-2014, 10:14 AM
Kroger's has canned veggies with no salt added. And I go to alidi's just to buy fruit and veggies. You go have to check to make sure there is no mold on the produce, but you can get some great deals. Some weeks they have bags of green peppers, tomatoes, onions, etc. for $.99! I always check their ads to see what is on sale there before I make the trip out.

Munchy
01-09-2014, 11:55 AM
Aldi is my go-to for almost all groceries. 3 pack of romaine hearts for .99, bagged spinach for 1.69, zucchini are 2 or 3 for around 1.50, cauliflower for .99, 3 peppers for 2.00, mushrooms for .99, 5 pack tomatoes for 1.50, over 1lb frozen Asian mixed vegetables for around 2.00, frozen peas, corn, and green beans for under 1.00 each.

The vegetables are truly never killing my budget. What does eat into my financial and calorie budget is meat. I stretch almost all meat by incorporating around 50% vegetables into it.

For example, 1lb of lean ground beef becomes much larger (and better for you) when you food process 1lb of mushrooms and mix it right in. Things like meatloaf are made with finely chopped onion, pepper, mushroom and spinach. Meatballs are made with shredded zucchini, chicken nuggets are made with shredded yellow squash, chicken breast is pounded and stuffed with spinach, etc.

Fast food is not that great of a deal. I buy 10lbs of potatoes for $3. If I cut and make those into fries, I will beat the price of a "value" fry at any fast food restaurant.

http://www.budgetbytes.com/ is a great recipe blog with cheap and delicious meals. It's not "diet" food, but most of her recipes are pretty balanced.

The ultimate thing that has saved my budget is cooking once, dividing, and freezing. 1 pot of chili = 8 individual meals to divide and put in the freezer. 1 stew = 8 more individual meals to divide and freeze. Cook one burrito filling and buy one pack of tortillas, roll, and freeze for 8 individual freezer burritos, and the list goes on.

diamondgeog
01-09-2014, 02:28 PM
I don't know your age, but for your height is your diet is mostly fast food and frozen meals you are doing relatively OK. But your body could change and you could find yourself at 250-300.

Also fast food and frozen meals have A LOT of salt. You might be setting yourself up for high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, I will be frank a shorter life or at best a worse quality of life.

How much would medications cost? And Dr. visits? How much is health worth? When we look at things holistically veggies are a bargin many times over. Plus a serving of veggies is comparable to or less than junk food. A little veggies go a long way.

If you look for sales and frozen is fine, even canned but do not buy canned tomatoes from what I hear, I bet your budget would not take much of a hit at all.

I call the 99 cent burgers the most expensive meal on the planet because you will pay, with health costs and quality of life down the road.

And I had heard this before but the last time I read it, it stuck. The modern fast food beef is using animals that they are using every trick in the book to get them as fast as possible as fast as possible: lowest quality possible diet, every hormone in the world that will get them to gain weight the fastest, and of course antibiotics. That is low quality meat to make it 99 cents.

I can't sit her and say that those hormones are still in the meat. I do know study after study shows a real increase in mortality for people who eat fast food regularly. I do know stopping eating at fast food coincided with my weight loss. I did/am doing many other things beside, but I am sure that was huge.

JennyT
01-09-2014, 11:57 PM
Plan for a garden this spring if you have the room for it, do some canning and freeze some for the winter :)

jiffypop
02-16-2014, 05:01 PM
In addition to these great tips above, I've also discovered that unusual veggies like kohlrabi, celery root, and jicama offer a lot of possibilities for very little $$$. I've been grating combinations of these with carrots, onions, perhaps a little cabbage or beets, and making cole slaw out of it. I thought it would taste weird, but it's DELICIOUS - and tastes incredibly good on a sandwich. or even just wrapped with some sliced deli meat.

Also save all those scraps and peelings for either stock or for soup. Tough broccoli ends can be turned into really good soup with a little onion and chicken broth or water plus seasonings. so can carrots, celery root, tomatoes, and all kinds of veggies. Get out your handy blender/stick blender/potato masher to turn it into something thick and luscious.

you can add all kinds of stuff to soup. even topping some of these soups with some plain yogurt for added protein and mouthfeel. Oh. did you know that most 'cream' soups are made with a small amount of roux mixed with milk? neither did i. it was a nice surprise.

in fact i'm going to be making a carrot and red lentil soup tomorrow - it has cumin and another 'warm' spice or two, and it sounds DELISH.

jiffypop
02-16-2014, 06:45 PM
In addition to these great tips above, I've also discovered that unusual veggies like kohlrabi, celery root, and jicama offer a lot of possibilities for very little $$$. I've been grating combinations of these with carrots, onions, perhaps a little cabbage or beets, and making cole slaw out of it. I thought it would taste weird, but it's DELICIOUS - and tastes incredibly good on a sandwich. or even just wrapped with some sliced deli meat.

Also save all those scraps and peelings for either stock or for soup. Tough broccoli ends can be turned into really good soup with a little onion and chicken broth or water plus seasonings. so can carrots, celery root, tomatoes, and all kinds of veggies. Get out your handy blender/stick blender/potato masher to turn it into something thick and luscious.

you can add all kinds of stuff to soup. even topping some of these soups with some plain yogurt for added protein and mouthfeel. Oh. did you know that most 'cream' soups are made with a small amount of roux mixed with milk? neither did i. it was a nice surprise.

in fact i'm going to be making a carrot and red lentil soup tomorrow - it has cumin and another 'warm' spice or two, and it sounds DELISH.

MsMatic
04-20-2014, 09:51 PM
Lots of good tips in this thread!!
Eating healthy isn't all that expensive.
It might seem that way only because the unhealthy food is so cheap.
But at the end of the day you can't put a price on your health.
Can't expect to look like a million bucks if you eat off the dollar menu. lol