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Cal Counting on a budget & when to start counting.

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Old 07-05-2007, 05:39 PM   #1
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Default Cal Counting on a budget & when to start counting.

I was just wondering if anyone has ever started their daily calorie count with dinner and carrying through up until dinner the next day? (I lead the average 8-5, M-F, day life.) I have no problem staying low in calories until dinner time. I always eat dinner with my parents or my boyfriend and his daughter... as a family. This is where I sometimes blow my count for the day. That means same food for everyone. So, it's not really a situation where I can pick what everyone else will be eating.

Which brings me to my next dilema... I work full-time, my boyfriend is a full-time college student (online). I am the only one working. Since we aren't married, he recieves food stamps but it's not a ton so we really have to watch our food budget (and everything else). I've noticed that eating healthy at home can get VERY expensive, VERY quickly. While my boyfriend is more supportive than I could ever hope for (cooking low calorie meals with lots of fresh veggies and protein whenever he can), the reality is that we can only afford those "great for you" meals twice a month or less. Most times, we're stuck with Hamburger Helper (and sometimes canned veggies), which I love, but not the healthiest. I can handle the 1 cup prepared portion and a buncha canned veggies and be VERY satisfied. I just can't help cringing at the thought of what I might be putting in my body with all the processed ingredients.

For lunches I usually have a Nissan Cup Noodles (again to save money), with the juices drained after cooking, hopefully that cuts down on some of the sodium.

OH! Just this weekend we discovered that ground turkey is healthier and cheaper than ground beef! Now, let's just hope my BF likes it enough to choose that over beef, lol. (He does most the shopping and cooking, since he's home during the day.)

HELP!!!
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Old 07-05-2007, 06:06 PM   #2
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I plan my meals for the day staying within my calorie allottment. In other words all the calories I am going to eat that day, starting with my first meak of the day.I usually plan my meals for the following day the night before, this takes about 5 minutes.When I get up in the morning I know exactly what I will eat that day.I usually stay with what I have planned but sometimes make changes depending on the situation. I don't think it is more expensive to eat healthy food, as a matter of fact prepared food, whether it be frozen, canned or whatever is more expensive.
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Old 07-05-2007, 06:20 PM   #3
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While I always value any input people are willing to give... =) I'm still a bit confused... Is it really so easy to plan what you're going to have? Is your situation similar to mine? (Not the one doing shopping or cooking and always eating dinner in a family environment, with others?)

I have researched Cup Noodles versus things like cottage cheese and tomatoes for lunch... it was NOT cheaper, I think it was almost double the cost.

I promise, I'm not debating, I just don't understand how healthy eating is cheaper. Whenever we shop healthy, we seem to get "less food for more money", everytime.

Guess I need to do more research.

Thank you again. =)
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Old 07-05-2007, 06:45 PM   #4
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Since your DH is at home and doing the shopping as well as much of the cooking, while (I think ) you work and support the two of you, it is great that he is helpful and supportive! Perhaps he can learn to scan online and in mailers/fliers for the sales and shop accordingly. Hamburger helper isn't something I have ever eaten but I don't see how it could be less costly than pasta, rice, beans, tomato sauce and bulk spices.

Around here (California) there are many 99 cent and dollar stores that sell very low cost spices and even some produce. There are discount stores that sell pasta at 3 or 4 pounds for $1 (even places like "Longs" and Savon" that aren't food stores).

Frozen veggies or things like cabbage, potatoes and carrots are usually the most inexpensive staples everywhere I have been across the USA.

It is possible to eat well on little, focusing on fresh/frozen and dried bulk goods. Fruit can be tricky, but buying in season is a good bet.

Best of luck!
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Old 07-05-2007, 07:02 PM   #5
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Thank you SoulBliss! That information is very helpful! I will try to persuade my BF into these kinds of choices when he shops! (What does DH mean?)

And yes, you are correct, he goes to school full-time, excellerated classes. (He's a 30-something, so he wanted to do it quickly.) We decided together that it would be best for him not to work while he's in school, it already takes up so much of his time and stresses him out. Actually, I decided he wasn't going to work and talked him into it! JK. So, I provide everything that the state doesn't take care of for him and his daughter. He gets food stamps, lives in subsidized housing and the state helps with his power and gas bills. So, yes, he's a very wonderful man to do whatever he can to pamper and take care of me in return. =)
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Old 07-05-2007, 07:14 PM   #6
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I have to feed a family of 5 (mostly boys) so it can be done just takes some thing. One thing I do for supper time is modify what or how I cook something so I can have what they have. Tonight is a good example. Tonight was spaghetti night. I took out 2 oz of the ground beef for me and boiled it. I used 2 teaspoons of regular spaghetti sauce and whole wheat noodles (2 oz). For them I cooked spaghetti the regular way with regular noodles. My husband tried the whole wheat noodles (a bite) and liked it so I may switch them to the whole wheat noodles. On nights we have pork chops I pan fry them for everyone with canola oil no breading. Mine though I cut away the fat and bone before I cook. And I make me 2 oz of whole wheat brown rice. You can pick up a microwave pouch for .98 (made by Comet) and there is enough for about 5 meals there.

Needless to say it can be done with some thinking, prep work, and budgeting. I spend about 100.00 every 2 weeks just in groceries (I buy meat at a meat market). Thats for 5 people and my healthy foods. I spend roughly around 60.00 at a meat market for the meats.
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Old 07-05-2007, 07:26 PM   #7
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It can be done. Planning, planning, planning is the key. I don't know your area but I know around here there are much cheaper grocery chains around and much more expensive ones. By reading the flyers and looking for sales each week, you can probably find some great deals on meats etc.

I agree about the veggies...they should be easy to find cheap and frozen can be a great staple. Fruit can be more difficult but I can always find something reasonably priced.

I don't know some of the products you mentioned but I would try, one time, to go with your boyfriend to the store to look around together and get an idea of prices and selection. Maybe he just doesn't know what to get or try.

I plan (when I'm being organized) all my meals (breakfasts, lunches and dinners) at once. Here we get our flyers with the weekly specials on Friday so I can spend a bit of time looking for what I need and planning out all meals for the week. Then you make your list based on your meals and you know ahead of time what you'll be eating and your calories for the day.

Like someone else said, I know in the morning what I'm eating for the whole day. It helps a lot. If we're having a bigger dinner, I can account for that earlier in the day.

It takes some work and I sympathize with you because I'm not saying it's easy on a tight budget but it can be done.

Good luck and keep us posted!

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Old 07-05-2007, 07:44 PM   #8
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i like to look for recipes online you can find many out there. i use Campbell's low fat soups to flavor things when i can not buy a lot of spices.

adah
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Old 07-05-2007, 08:41 PM   #9
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I know what it's like to not be able to spend a lot on groceries and not have a lot of time, I'm a full time student too. It sucks! I think that whether or not it is more expensive to eat healthy depends. It depends on how much meat you buy, what kind of meat, if you buy seafood etc. I spend kind of a lot (for us...$85-90 for lunches and dinners for 7 or 8 days...2 ppl) on groceries but that is because I buy fresh blueberries AND raspberries at $3 a pop and I buy some seafood, which is a lot, and other "luxury" items. If I am trying to spend as little as possible, some things that help me are:
1. buying all my produce from a produce store (I can get enough produce for a week, lunches and dinners, for about $15-20). Some ppl say that farmer's markets are cheap, too.
2. buying everything I can at Target (or Walmart, whichever you prefer)...at the one near me, they have a huge frozen foods section, dairy section, canned goods, cereals etc. all for a lot less than in the grocery store. I still shop at the grocery store, but only after I have bought everything I could at Target.
3. If you eat beef, use cheaper cuts of beef that can be cooked in a slowcooker or roasted to tenderize it. If you eat chicken breasts and have a Costco membership, you can buy a huge bag (I think it is 6 lbs) of individually-frozen breasts for about $14. And watch out for sales on meat and freeze it for later use. I agree with you on the ground turkey, you can make just about anything with it that you can make with ground beef. It makes great meatloaf! I know you don't do the shopping or cooking, but maybe you can "suggest" it to your boyfriend.

DH is "dear husband," by the way.

Making your own soups can be pretty cheap, not as cheap as Cup O Noodles, but a lot healthier...and you could make some on the weekend and freeze it in individual portions.

I plan my meals out on Friday mornings before I go to the grocery store. It does take some time to do this, but I find it helps me stay on track, eating wise, to do this. It might actually save me time because then I am not standing there with the cupboards open, scratching my head for 1/2 hr wondering what I can make for dinner!

Good luck to you!
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Old 07-05-2007, 08:41 PM   #10
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So, to answer your first question about when to count your calories. You can start with dinner and go to dinner if that works better for you. Many folks on Weight Watchers do that. However, if you sit down and plan your meals, you can do it from breakfast through to dinner.

Do you have access to a food bank? Lots of times you get staples there. Other folks have given you some good ideas. Only you can know how much your budget will allow for food.

Keep asking what you want to know. None of us came into this knowing everything. Oh, and DH stands for Dear (or darn or ?) Husband.
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Old 07-05-2007, 09:37 PM   #11
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I learn that buying brand name is a no no. Most of the time the cheaper store brand is just as good as the name brand.
like a 1 pound tub of vanilla yogut. (I use alot of yogurt for cooking and desserts every week lol ) Name brand is almost $4... while the store brand is $2 and is the very same thing. When Buying name brand, all you're paying for is the name.
And often times, the stores will have specials on their store brand. (10 for $10 or buy one and get one free) not to mention that stores like Bashas and Safeway have discounts for members (becoming a member is free in most stores) the discount can knock off a good chunk most of the time.

I got lucky, I work at wal-mart and we get a 10% discount on fresh fruits and veggies. every week my BF and I load up on the fresh stuff.
Oh that also brings me to a good tip. Only buy your fresh fruit and veggies for the week. It keeps them from going bad. I use to buy enough for two weeks. but by the time the second week rolled around, the fruit n' veggies didn't look so good and had to throw them away.
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Old 07-06-2007, 12:53 AM   #12
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LillMiz .... eating healthier can be more expensive, but it all depends on what you mean by *healthier*. Eating lower calorie --- and usually that means lower volume of food--- drastically cuts down on the cost of food simply because you are not buying as much. In terms of organic foods, etc ... yes, it can become pricier. But here is the thing: eating organic is not really an option for you at the moment anyhow. Nor is purchasing expensive designer foods. So what are you left with? Regular brand names, generic, and whole foods. Even with processed foods, I promise you that you can eat healthier.

Puffed wheat, for example, is one of the cheapest cereals ... and doesn't usually have added sugar. You can chop some fruit into it, skim milk, etc.

Even things like Kraft Dinner can be added too .... just add veggies and cut the butter in half.

I eat a lot of canned soup ... yes, the cheap condensed Campbells version with tons of sodium. I just add twice as much water as called for, this cuts down the sodium. I throw in about a cup of frozen veggies, and a few whole wheat crackers.

I use the Aunt Jemima buttermilk pancake mixes ... and I whip up a batch, adding some grated carrot or instead of water I mix it with half apple juice and water, I add chopped fruit, etc. Then I freeze them, making them small enough to pop into the toaster when I want to eat them.

Once you start rethinking the processed foods, and trying to figure out how to healthy them up, you will find a groove

Think of it like this. How can you healthy up a meal of Kentucky Fried Chicken, as an example? Peel off the skin and breading, and the chicken now has half the calories as it did with it on. When you eat at McDonalds, order the kids sized burger and skip the fries. And so on. I mention the fast food items because you said you don't often have control of what you eat due to family functions ... sort of a similar thing when eating out.

Sorry I rambled .. middle of the night and all that LOL
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Old 07-06-2007, 01:21 AM   #13
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It's really a matter of planning, yes. And you won't be able to do wonders all the time, but more than twice a month is doable. I live alone, but am a student on a part-time job, so I guess this must amount to a somewhat similar situation in the end? The key for me is to buy season fruits and veggies (bananas, for instance, sell by 6 for 1$ in my local supermarket), and do what I can with that. Of course, since I also watch my calories intake, I tend to eat less than before, and some foods last me longer than expected. But I agree it does take 1) some research (comparing prices...) first, 2) planning. It's next to impossible to waltz in a supermarket and stay on budget if you're not sure yet of what to buy (that's the case for everyone, I guess--with all the tempting foods, tempting so-called sales offers, etc.).

Good luck!
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Old 07-06-2007, 11:06 AM   #14
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Thanks So Much Everyone, Very Helpful Advice... I Really Appreciate It And Will Try To Keep You Posted. =)
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Old 07-06-2007, 11:23 AM   #15
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I was thinking about your problem ... mostly because I am very frugal ROFL---that really means I am cheap

I checked the price of Hamburger Helper, which in my area goes for about 2.25$ and I am guessing that is only good for two meals at most for the two of you.

For 2.25, you can instead purchase a bag of barley and a bag of dried beans, or two bags of rice. Each in my supermarket go for 1.19 to 1.25. This probably has about 15 to 20 servings per bag. Also, for the same price as the hamburger helper, you can purchase a bag of whole wheat pasta to mix with your hamburg meat instead. You have to put out another dollar for some cheap tomato sauce, but you get about three times the servings for the same amount of money.

Also, go to the more expensive grocery stores and check for the damaged fruit and veggies. In the better stores, even if the fruit is perfectly fine but doesn't look as nice, they put it on this rack. Just don't do this in the cheap stores, since the fruit could actually be bad.

Pitas .... you can buy cheap pitas, usually 12 in a bag, and just cut them into halves or fours and freeze them. Just warm up in the oven for a minute before using.

Potatoes are also another option. They are full of vitamins and super cheap and you can buy them in the big bags.

I started cutting my full fat salad dressings in half with vinegar, which not only saves calories, but money as well.

I love Kashi cereal, but its almost five dollars for a small box. I make a knock off with puffed wheat and the all bran nuggets ... I just mix them. It usually lasts me, eating it everyday, two months for the cost of 4.50. The Kashi usually only lasts me a about three weeks for about the same cost.

Yogurt drinks .... rather than buying them, use a regular small container which goes for 33 cents in my store and split it in half. Mix each half with skim milk. You can even blend in some fresh fruit.

Healthy snacks ... here is where it may get expensive. But there is always popcorn kernels, which can be air popped, and they only cost just above a dollar and will last forever.
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