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Shoestring Meals Budget friendly ideas for healthy eating

I KNEW eating healthy foods was costing me more!

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Old 12-07-2009, 10:38 PM   #16
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This is part of why I was so glad that the WIC program put in new guidelines that allow for fruits and veggies. It's a start, at least.

I will definitely agree that eating fresh foods costs more, but fresh is an ideal of healthy...not the only option. Note that the folks living on a dollar a day weren't subsisting on what the originally quoted article called "junk" - they were living on the staples of a low cost diet that are also fairly healthy...oats, beans, lentils, nut butters. These things do take time to prep, and knowledge that is currently lacking (one of the reasons I think cooking should be taught in school to everyone...read another really interesting article about how it is essentially becoming a spectator sport, instead of something people actually do...think Iron Chef or Top Chef). I think a lot has to be done also to get healthy food sources (rather than convenience stores) into areas with higher poverty levels.

My point isn't that it's easy to eat a healthful, less expensive diet, but that it is possible with basic equipment and some knowledge (and again, I acknowledge that many people may not have basic equipment or cooking knowledge and that is a different issue that requires different solutions).

Hillbilly Housewife is also a great resource: http://healthy.hillbillyhousewife.com/index.htm
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Old 12-07-2009, 10:49 PM   #17
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I think the original article saying fruits/veggies cost $18.16/1000 calories is definitely bloated. I wonder what they were buying for that. If you calculate that out to 2 people eating 1500 calories/day, that is $1600/month in groceries. During the summer when I was eating a lot of fresh fruits/veggies, I was reading up about raw foods and reading how much people spent when they were eating mostly fruits/veggies (and some other stuff like nuts). Although the cost seemed slightly elevated, it certainly wasn't that elevated.
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Old 12-07-2009, 11:00 PM   #18
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I dunno - Public Health researchers over 370 grocery stores for a peer-reviewed article? For the University of Washington? Sounds pretty believable to me.
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Old 12-07-2009, 11:03 PM   #19
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$18.16 / 1000 calories of fresh anything is NOT bloated up here in Alaska. And I'm sure there are many other places with inflated rates for fresh food, too. Places where getting vegetables and fruits from a farmer aren't feasible. Certainly not year-round. But, that aside, there are quite a few things you have to take in to consideration. First of all, are you actually consuming 1000 calories a day of fresh fruits and vegetables and nothing else? What I'm gleaning from the article isn't that it costs you that much to eat 1000 calories a day but 1000 calories of things like fruits and vegetables. And, quite frankly, 1000 calories of nothing but fruits and vegetables is A LOT of fruits and vegetables. You consider they average any where between 30 and 90 calories a serving depending on the fruit/vegetable and how it's cooked. A serving of broccoli, for example can be as low as 30 calories. Even at two servings a day, it would still take you 16 days to hit 1000 calories on broccoli alone. The point is that the broccoli, corn, apples, what have you is still, generally going to cost you more per serving than your standard snack food. The catch twenty-two is that standard snack foods would likely end up costing you more in the long run as they just don't fill you up as well.
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Old 12-07-2009, 11:03 PM   #20
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Uh, yeah, there's *a lot* of ground between spending $36 a day for food and rolling your own tortillas and a year's supply of meat.

Articles that greatly exaggerate one or both sides are rarely helpful.
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Old 12-07-2009, 11:12 PM   #21
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I'm a single mother to an 11 year old who eats pretty much nonstop... Or he would if I let him! hehe

I find that a single 2-lb bag of carrots and a single 2-lb bag of petite potatoes is enough starch and vegetables to go with our single servings of meat. Fills us up without wasting food or overdoing the calories... And one meal for the two of us has an average cost of -roughly- $5. Not bad, eh?

Now if my rent didn't take up half my income I could probably get more than 2 lbs of potatoes, 2 lbs of carrots and one bag of pre-mixed coleslaw a week to go with the meat we eat... But you make do with what you have and hope for the best. Unfortunately for me, I keep forgetting I'm supposed to be losing weight so I hit the 7-11 just up the road for their cheap junk food.
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Old 12-07-2009, 11:20 PM   #22
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That picture it looks like a high priced store to me. Personally for the most part I think that's bunk- unless you live in an area where you have limited stores and really are forced to shop at 1-2 places, most people should be able to save money eating healthier. That being said it's not EASIER to save money- I spend a LOT more time in the fridge, prepping food, making healthy meals, etc, but overall I believe I save at least $150 more a month- before I would EASILY spend $200 a week, now I spend more like $100 a week on groceries.

For one- you probably eat a lot less than you used to (I know I do!), another thing is that a lot of people don't LOOK around. You don't have to go to the chain stores- mom and pop grocery stores are still around, farmers markets are still around, and so on. Even in areas where fruit is more seasonal you can change it up and eat the foods in season to save. Heck if you are really struggling you can probably find programs in the area that will help you out- even get some food stamps for staples like milk and grains and so on.

Someone mentioned perishable foods go bad faster- my advice to that is buy smaller amounts of that food- go to the market a little more often if possible. Or take the time to do thing to make your veggies last longer. I will put paper towels in with my produce like romaine and anything that tends to get slimy from moisture- that helps SO much believe it or not. If you can't do that then buy veggies/fruits that last longer- apples, oranges, zucchini, and many other veggies and fruits last a lot longer than bananas, lettuce, and so on.

Also buying in bulk, you can buy a ton of veggies and stuff and then prepare them- once they are say in a large stew you can eat that stew for a few days and that way your food won't have gone bad either. I LOVE to make a pot of some sort of stew with my crockpot and then

Cooking lentils is SO easy- put your lentils in, a TON of water, some salt/pepper and any veggies you want, and set it on the stove, once it bowls turn it down and let it simmer a few hours (this is how I do it). Check on it periodically and add more water until the lentils are as soft as you want them
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Old 12-08-2009, 10:08 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by misskimothy View Post
I dunno - Public Health researchers over 370 grocery stores for a peer-reviewed article? For the University of Washington? Sounds pretty believable to me.
It was 370 foods, not 370 grocery stores. Also, when searching for the article, came across this blog post which is interesting if nothing else, showing some of the American Dietetic Association's bias.
http://agriculturesociety.wordpress....-organic-food/

Also, it looks like that article is 2 years old and I found the abstract from 2 years ago.
http://www.adajournal.org/article/PI...18007/abstract

And for some foods, I can really understand it.

1 lb of greens has 104 calories so you'd need a about 9.5 lbs to get 1000 calories from greens. Prices for greens vary but if I inflate it up to $3 (greens cost me between 80 cents to $2/lb), you'd get $28/1000 calories.

And the bias can show based on what supermarket you shop at. There are certain super markets I don't go into because they are expensive. Here in the DC area, I find Giant to be expensive for produce and other items. If you try to buy organic produce at a regular super market (vs some place like Whole Foods), you also tend to pay more.
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Old 12-08-2009, 10:38 AM   #24
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We've got one store (town of 3,500). Unless you want to drive 80 miles round-trip to the north or 50 miles round-trip to the southwest, you shop at the one store.

The other day I had to go pick up a few things, and my purchases focused mostly on veggies. I needed red bell peppers for a recipe. They were $1.89 EACH. So I got the green...they were 29 cents each, but half were spotted and all were half wilted. I had to cut parts of them off to use them, but I got them. Heads of lettuce: I needed two because my husband is taking salads in his lunch. $2.09 each. Squash? $2 a pound.

Produce isn't cheap here at ALL. So when we can't get out of town to shop, we certainly pay more...
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Old 12-08-2009, 10:46 AM   #25
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I hear ya about the produce prices, Mindi... My son and I both love green grapes, but I don't buy them very often because they're usually $3 to $4 a pound. Apples are much cheaper and they last a lot longer... But every now and then I want a little variety in our fruit bowl. You know? I don't buy oranges because:

1. They're hideously expensive ($5 for a 2lb bag? Come on!)
2. They're these teeny tiny little things (I want an orange I buy to fill my hand.)
3. They never have them on a stand with a set price per pound (I hate waste.)

The bracketed comment on point #3 is the main reason I don't buy a lot of produce... It usually goes to waste before I can use it. Especially cucumbers. That really sucks because I really want to eat more vegetables but I can't do that if it's too expensive or if it just goes to waste in my veggie drawer.
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Old 12-08-2009, 10:46 AM   #26
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Yup. I hear you. And I find it weird that there really isn't much acknowldegment of the realities that alot of us face. Instead, it is "well you don't know how to shop" or "well, the study is flawed" or "well, out here in freaking California I can get cheap stuff year round" or "well, I find it easy". The sad reality is that alot of us face obstacles every single day. Alot of us live in areas without cheap produce. Alot of us have bills to pay and can't afford to eat the way others can. Alot of us are time pinched. Sometimes it would be nice to hear "jeez, I had no idea. I feel pretty lucky that my situation is different" instead of "eat beans and lentils every day. I don't have this problem (and neither should you so you just aren't trying hard enough)."
MindiV, you've done so well! I feel your produce pain! $5.00 for romaine lettuce. $3.00 for the spring mix. $1.00 a lemon. $$3.00 for 8 oz of mushrooms. Megaboxes of veggies that rot within a day of purchase. This is my reality, too. I manage, but just barely.

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Old 12-08-2009, 10:51 AM   #27
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The problem of food going to waste is getting better for me now that my husband is on board with losing weight and eating better. Before I'd have trouble making it through fresh greens and veggies because I was the only one who would eat them. Now we get through what I buy simply because we BOTH eat it, and he's able to eat about a TON more than I can...
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Old 12-08-2009, 10:57 AM   #28
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I had a LOT of trouble with my teeth up until recently... So eating raw vegetables was out of the question for me. I used to be able to cut and eat a raw carrot without even batting an eye. But lately it's been "reach for the chips because they break in shipping so I don't have to bite down on them" instead of "you know what? I want a carrot with ranch dressing to dip it in today". Money had a lot to do with that too... But now that I've gotten my teeth taken care of, I'll be buying (and eating) a LOT more of the veggies I had to go without! Even if it DOES mean buying a 3lb. bag of full grown carrots that I have to cut and peel instead of a 2lb. bag of baby cut ones.

(A little side note here... I have extensor tendonitis in my right thumb, so it's not always easy for me to peel and cut things.)
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Old 12-08-2009, 11:15 AM   #29
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misskimothy - I used to live in California, so I can acknowledge that there are regional differences but I do think a lot of people have figured out how to eat inexpensively and healthfully for their area. I would expect metro Seattle to be similar to my area or other areas I lived where it basically isn't California

I remember the first time I walked into a Colorado grocery store after moving from California, I walked out without buying any produce. I still rarely buy citrus fruits because they are expensive. When I visit California though, I eat tons because its cheap and widely available.

Having said that, for me, learning how to eat inexpensively and healthfully was partially learned but also growing up I was used to eating non packaged stuff.

Also, being that we are in late fall/winter, my own buying habits have switched quite a bit than they were in the summer. I was eating lots of salads in the summer but I don't really plan to have another salad until March/April sometime unless it is eating out and I happen to have one. I would rather not pay the price for salad veggies plus being cold, salads chill me more so I don't want that.

I feel for those that don't have a lot of options.

Of course I wish our agricultural politics would change up a bit so that produce would be cheaper but I also think even if you aren't eating a lot of produce, there are lots of options for healthy eating.
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Old 12-08-2009, 11:34 AM   #30
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The point everyone is missing is its not just the cost of food. Unhealthy eating leads to future health problems. Use the money to buy food or pay the doctor.
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