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Packaged Meals and Clinics - Nutrisystem, Medifast, Jenny Craig, Etc For support and questions about diet meal delivery programs, or weight loss clinics that offer prepackaged meals and products.

Are any of these affordable?

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Old 04-07-2009, 02:30 AM   #1
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Old 04-07-2009, 06:44 AM   #2
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What I can tell you about being a picky eater is tastes may change while you are on a diet because you get to learn different ways of cooking and seasoning food.
I used to hate asparagus, now you wonder what I'm eating right now? Asparagus, lol. And I like it too, but it's way different from how I was used to have it. remember that different cooking methods and different seasonings chemically change the taste of many foods so, it's all to try.
 
Old 04-07-2009, 07:21 AM   #3
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One person's "cheap" is another person's "outrageous," so it's impossible to say if any are affordable for you or not. Nutrisystem is about the cheapest one out there - about $70 a week or more (they sometimes run specials, and/or partial week packages. Check the prices both at the nutrisystem and qvc websites).

Being able to pick and choose your meals is a perk that most meal delivery services do not offer - and when it's available, it's a perk you will pay dearly for (the programs with the most "choice" are generally the most expensive). For example, the cheapest plan Nutrisystem offers allows little or no choice.

Nutrisystem is all shelf-stable food, dehydrated and/or canned products. The grocery store equivalent would be Hormel chili or Spaghettios in the little microwave cups, instant cup-o-soup, granola bars..... The only fresh food is the vegetables, milk and fruit you need to purchase yourself. Because you need to add your own vegetables, milk, and fruit - I don't know that Nutrisystem is any cheaper than Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating - the next cheapest meal plan I've ever found (provided you are near a distribution center and can pick up your own food - if you need it delivered it becomes one of the most expensive plans). Prices seem to average about $110 to $150 a week in IL and WI.

Seattle Sutton's is all "fresh" food, but there is absolutely no choice to the program at all - you get what they give you. The fruit is sometimes rather unripe, and some fruits will not ripen once they've been refrigerated. You do have to add your own milk, 2 servings daily, but everything else is included. Their menus are on a four week cycle, I believe and are all on the website.
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Old 04-07-2009, 07:32 AM   #4
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have you tried calorie counting, if you're worried about price and not being able to eat what you want? It's a good alternative.
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Old 04-07-2009, 08:43 AM   #5
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When you look at the cost of these plans, be sure to figure in shipping costs. As kaplods pointed out with the SSHE example, it can make a huge difference. eDiets (fresh delivery) is running a 'free shipping for life' special, which makes it on the inexpensive side (99 for 5 day, 139 for 7). You can pick your meals. You supply 2 fruits and 3 milks a day.
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Old 04-07-2009, 10:44 AM   #6
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Like Kelly, I'd suggest calorie counting. You can cook meals that you love (just healthier modifications of them). It's all about portion control and moderation. I still eat cake and candies on occasion and they fit into my diet. I can go out to eat as long as I plan ahead and pick from the healthiest things on the menu. I still eat lots of breads and pastas. I personally think it's the best for the long haul. I wouldn't be able to go for years without bread, pasta, or some junk food sometimes. With calorie counting, you could eat junk all day as long as you stayed within your limit, but I wouldn't advise that. You want to eat as healthy as possible.
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Old 04-07-2009, 02:06 PM   #7
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Old 04-07-2009, 05:27 PM   #8
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I dont know how you can eat 3 meals a day for 2-3 dollars but let us know!!
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Old 04-07-2009, 08:16 PM   #9
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Four years ago, when our financial situation was at it's worst, my husband and I found ways to eat on $50 to $80 each month for the two of us (sometimes less so about $1.50 per day for each of us). Sadly, we didn't lose any weight, because the cheapest foods are high in carbohydrate and fat.

The secret, thrift websites and books (mostly borrowed from the library, but a few worth buying from garage sales and amazon.com "The Tightwad Gazette," "Good Cheap Food," "The TVP Cookbook," and several cookbooks on thrifty eating that I bought in thrift stores).

I'm currently writing a book on eating healthy on a tight budget. Not everyone would be interested in some of the things we did and still do, but there are often many ways to cut a food budget in half without much effort. The simplest tip is to buy in season and if you can avoid it, don't pay for others to do work you can do yourself (like buying whole celery rather than celery hearts - heats more expensive than whole celery and one cut can turn a head of celery into a celery heart - only cutting off the leaf ends, and voila instant heart).


Some of the things we still do -

learn to like cabbage, carrots, and celery and other cheap vegetables
learn to clean and chop vegetables
buy what's cheapest
learn to like tvp - it's 1/4 the price of cheap ground beef, and it's so low in fat and calorie that even if you don't like it "straight," you can combine it with the cheapest grind of "real" beef and create a mixture that has a similar calorie and fat content to 95-98% ground beef, chicken or turkey - for less than the price per serving of 70% lean ground beef.

Shop around. Shop the discount stores (Aldi's and Walmart), and unconventional stores (the dollar store, ethnic groceries, even health food stores - which are more expensive for some things, but cheaper on some).

Buy in bulk, if you have the space. Ethnic groceries can save you a lot of money on condiments, rice, and some produce. Cook in bulk, and freeze in a way you can scoop and use (For rice, pasta, beans, and ground beef/tvp mixture - I cook and then freeze in a ziploc bag or tupperware container and shake and "smoosh" so that as it freezes, it freezes in small chunks that can be scooped out for future recipes).

Buy only the basic condiments, and make the rest yourself (with oil, vinegar, catsup, mustard, mayonaise, sour cream and seasonings, you can make a wide variety of salad dressings, and dips).

If you have access to a farmer's market, produce is often cheaper than the grocery. Often, even if the prices are comparable, since the farmer's market produce is fresher, it lasts longer and there's less waste.Shop early in the day (best choice) or just before closing (some vendors will make deals, so they don't have to lug everything home). Also, be VERY friendly to the vendors, and compliment their wares, and just be nice. They don't owe you "free stuff," but many will throw in extras to good customers.




Know which foods keep indefinitely (even though a box of pasta or a can of vegetables may have a buy by date, if properly stored it doesn't actually "expire.")

learn to make soup (we buy a rotisserie chicken at Walmart for under $5, it's usually only $1 more than a whole chicken). We have one meal for both of us off of the chicken, sometimes we even get a sandwhich or two the next day, and I make soup off the carcass. If we eat all of the "easy-to-reach" meat off of the chicken, I'll freeze the carcass and make stock for soup only after I have two or three carcasses (I can make one huge pot of soup). If there's a good amount of meat left on the bird, I'll make soup with just one carcass. To make the stock, I add the root end of the celery and the leaves, cabbage cores, and the outer layers, including the skin of the onion (but not the root itself, which I shave off thinly), and a whole, unpeeled carrot. By not peeling the stock veggies, and using the parts of the veggies we normally wouldn't otherwise eat, I get "more" out of the veggies.

Most people don't realize that you can eat very well on very little money, but you've got to make it a very serious "hobby." It's not a whole extra job, but it does take time and effort - not nearly as much time as you think it might, if you develop a "system."

For example, we still start our shopping at a buy out store (like a private Big Lots). On canned veggies we save about 75%. Snack foods can be up to 90% of the retail price, so you've got to be able to "pass" on good deals that aren't healthy. On pastas and other shelf stable products, we save 50% or more. On health food and gourmet products we can save up to 80% or more. The biggest problem is that you can't shop from a list, because the store gets in what they get in. Then we go to an asian grocery for soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce and some veggies. Bean sprouts, cilantro, bok choy, cabbage, and eggplant are often much cheaper than in the regular grocery - or come in much bigger packages. Fish sauce is inexpensive, comes in a large bottle, and lasts forever, and I use it in asian dishes and in place of worcesteshire sauce. Rice is cheap, if you buy it in the 25 lb bags. Gourmet soy sauce comes in a quart bottle at the price of 12 ounces in the regular grocery. Rice wine vinegar is inexpensive, especially if you buy the large quart or gallan size, and is as mild and delicious at the same price as a small bottle of "champagne vinegar."

Then we go to the health food store for tvp. We get the Sunday paper once a month and go to stores for the "loss leaders," the sale items that are designed to lure you into the store with the hope you'll buy a lot more when you get there.
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Old 04-07-2009, 08:37 PM   #10
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Old 04-07-2009, 08:45 PM   #11
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Want2B, you can calorie count on that amount of money. There are lots of easy whole food recipes that aren't difficult or time consuming to prepare. It really is about priorities.
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Old 04-07-2009, 08:56 PM   #12
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Old 04-07-2009, 09:23 PM   #13
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If you're not already getting your medications at Sam's or Walmart, or another pharmacy with a large $4 list - consider the switch. When I went onto Medicare, we had to switch our prescriptions to Sam's Club and have the doctor switch most of my meds to similar meds that were on the $4 list. I'm only on a few medications that aren't on the $4 list (and I get a 3 month supply, because most of the $4 meds are $10 for a 3 month supply). My only expensive medication is one that my doctor often will give me enough samples to make it to my next appointment.

I know from my last post, it sounds like I do a lot of cooking, but I really don't, at least not in the winter, when I tend to have more flares of my health problems.

Once a month I cook a large batch of beans (I cook them in my large crockpot, overnight while we sleep). I freeze them in a zip loc bag and shake the bag every 20 minutes or so so that the beans freeze seperately so I can scoop out what I need. I do this with a large batch of rice or pasta also (usually one or the other). You can cook rice like pasta (lots of extra water, and then drain - so you don't have to worry about the rice burning or sticking). And I do it with my ground beef mixture (I'll post the recipe in a minute).

Yes, I've cooked three things, but I didn't stand over the stove except for the ground beef/tvp mixture and that only took 20 minutes or less - and I have stuff to make fast meals for the whole month.

Often the ground beef/tvp mixture, I will just heat a cup or so in the microwave and eat it plain or stir in (either before or after microwaving) a bit of barbecue sauce, salsa, soy sauce spaghetti sauce or even a bit of ketchup, and eat plain or serve over pasta, rice or beans (which I sometimes microwave from fozen separately, but usually microwave it at the same time in the same bowl) or folded into a tortilla or over lettuce (I usually buy the organic baby greens at Sam's Club or the bag of cut romaine lettuce from Aldi).

For even less cooking, even if you don't make soup, rotisserie chicken is a good "eat cheaply for several meals" food. A Walmart $4.50 rotiserie chicken, if my husband isn't eating off it too, will give me 6 or more meals. For one meal, I'll eat the meat hot off the bird, for another I'll make a fast tortilla rollup, or spread some cream cheese on a bagel and top with some chicken, or add some to a lettuce salad.
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Old 04-07-2009, 09:28 PM   #14
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I really like that bean idea kaplods and am going to do that myself. Dried beans are very affordable and very versatile and have a fraction of the sodium or cost of canned. The time cooking them sometimes deters me from using them. Freezing will work great. Thanks.
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Old 04-07-2009, 09:30 PM   #15
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Here's the tvp/ground beef mixture recipe


The entire recipe (using all ingredients I listed) has about 3200 calories, and yields about 16 (3 oz) servings. That is about 200 calories per serving or 67 calories per ounce. The more tvp you use in the recipe, the lower the calorie and fat content. Without the beef, the mixture has about 50 calories per ounce.

Beef/tvp mixture for recipes calling for browned ground beef
(like chili, spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes, tacos…)


2 lbs ground beef (80/20) optional (read “variations” part of recipe)
2 cups dry tvp (looks like grape nuts cereal, and is available in most health food stores, and some groceries)
1 (15 to 16 oz) can chicken broth (or 2 cups of hot water with 2 bouillon cubes dissolved in it)

Seasonings of your choosing (these are mine)
1 medium to large onion, diced
1 medium to large bell pepper diced (or a couple tablespoons dehydrated bell pepper)
2 medium stalks celery, diced fine (or a tablespoon dehydrated celery or celery flakes)
Garlic powder, or granulated garlic
Salt (I use chicken soup base - like powdered bouillon or “better than bouillon“ which is a paste, but regular salt is ok, also)
pepper
1-2 tsp oil (or if you’ve got a nonstick pan, you can use a spray of cooking pray or less oil)

Saute:

In large Dutch oven, over medium heat, sauté vegetables (onion, bell pepper, celery) until soft. Add dry tvp and stir. You’re not wanting to toast or brown the tvp, just allow it to absorb any liquid from the vegetables, and pick up flavor from them.

Pour mixture into a bowl.
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