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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 09-27-2010, 04:00 AM   #61
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I tended to let a lot of produce go bad until I did two things...
1) I tossed the crisper drawers from my fridge. Now all my veg sits out in the open staring at me when I open the door.
2) I finally used the "green bags" my Mom bought me ages ago. I was skeptical about an "as seen on" item, but they really do keep my greens longer.
Incidents of slime are much more rare now, saving me lots of cash.
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Old 09-27-2010, 04:07 AM   #62
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Hmmmm I don't know.

I live in one of the most expensive cities in the world. I spend far less on my food now than I did when I was eating junk.
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Old 10-07-2011, 04:51 PM   #63
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We spend twice as much a month eating healthy. I could do 100/week for a five person household eating unhealthy, and now do 200/week eating healthy.
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Old 10-07-2011, 06:05 PM   #64
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Well, I've always spent about $150 - 200 for each week's food for just my husband and me (and my two dogs---their food is expensive). Then, again, I buy organic meat & dairy, and I will only buy really good quality ingredients. I am blessed that I am able to afford to spend that much on food (even though my salary isn't that great & my husband is retired), but to me, food is a priority. I'm not rich by any means: My car is a 2004 Honda that runs well but has no automatic anything and has a dent on the driver's side. I shop mainly at TJ Maxx & Marshalls and wear clothes until they don't fit anymore or have noticeable damage on them. So, I don't have money to throw around, but eating well is very important to me. In fact, if I were to lose my job or somehow otherwise become destitute, one of the things I would miss the most would be buying quality food items.

Overall, I do think with some effort, it could be just as cheap to eat healthy as it is to eat unhealthy, but it takes more time to prepare those healthy, cheap items (e.g., dried beans, rice, etc.), and/or one must be very organized to figure out how to prepare cheap, healthy foods in a way that doesn't take all one's time.
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Old 10-13-2011, 10:14 AM   #65
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I think I spend the same regardless.
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Old 03-18-2012, 04:57 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by misskimothy View Post
I think that there are alot of people who will disagree with our experiences but thse are poeple who can shop once at big box stores cause they have cars and storage areas in their homes, or have big-a$$ freezers for those enormo-salmons on sale at Costco. They live in areas where there are a number of places they can shop and they have a car and go from store to store for the best buy or better yet, can go to a local farm (!) for fresh produce cause they have the time and money and location to do so. Kind of hard to do when you're frozen in for 6 months of the year -easy to do if you live in California or Texas. They don't realize that while it might cost alot later in heath care, I gotta eat today.
I have to rework my budget. I lost alot of weight by cutting down the amounts I ate in a serious way thru WW cause there if I add up my points, I was able to manage. I'm cooking way more fresh foods and eliminating processed foods but man my budget is tight tight tight. Might have to take another job just to eat better!
I totally agree!!!!! Not only am I spending more but am spending more time shopping. I do not have a car and I live in a big city. Even to get to farmer's markets is a major pain. I work full time and farmer's markets that are open during the week will be closed, even if I had the energy to take transit there and haul the food home. I will go on Saturday mornings but to be honest we have a short growing season anyway. I shop across the street at a major grocery store and pick up fruit and veg when and where I can throughout the week. If buying fresh and eating anywhere near the required servings of fruit and veg I cannot shop once or even only twice per week.
And I do eat lentils and dried beans and do not buy diet foods that some people alluded to as expensive. I buy fish which is expensive but healthy. The crap foods are the cheapest. To buy good quality whole grain organic bread can be as much as 7 dollars a loaf, good old wonderbread you can sometimes get for a dollar. sigh
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Old 03-18-2012, 05:14 PM   #67
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I also wanted to add that if someone has the luxury of perusing circular(s), and the time to shop at several different locations they may save money. But again if one is shopping at one location most of the time due to key transportation is walking and to save time because working everyday in a physically demanding job and working out 3 evenings a week, attending board meetings and so forth time is limited. And since when is eating carrots and potatos considered healthy?
To eat healthy we are to have about 4 servings or more of veg, and of fruit, which includes tropical, stone, berries and cool weather fruit.
I do admit that I spent a ton of money on ordering out and buying junk before and so I am saving that way.
And I am spending the money to eat healthy. But I think it is important to acknowledge that really eating healthy for some people is beyond their means. When I shop most veg cost 3 dollars or more (rapini, kale etc.).
But this being said I appreciate all that has been said and will make the lentil spinach soup found above.
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Old 03-19-2012, 11:32 AM   #68
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o buy good quality whole grain organic bread can be as much as 7 dollars a loaf, good old wonderbread you can sometimes get for a dollar. sigh
Yes, but to make good quality, whole grain organic bread costs less than Wonderbread (I worked out my costs once, and it was about 45 cents a loaf), and isn't particularly hard...no special equipment required. So again, I'd argue that you get any two of cheap/fast and convenient/healthy. If you put time into it, you can get cheap, healthy foods on the table. If you don't want to put the time into making your own breads and etc, you can get cheap/fast food, but it won't be healthy, or you can get healthy/fast food, but it won't be cheap.
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Old 03-19-2012, 11:53 AM   #69
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anybody who's ever been on welfare knows that.

that's why the lower in the annual income, the higher the risk of obesity.

poor families have to decide if they're going to spend 99c on two med apples or a box of KD.

working poor also have to factor in time: many work grinding hours so it's a choice between "simmer for 30min until reduced" or "open can, heat to serve".

mandalinn: i bake bread and where i live, baking home-made bread costs about 3x the price of a loaf.

and yes, i factored it all out myself too using basic ingredients: flour, water, yeast, salt, plus hydro.

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Old 03-19-2012, 12:38 PM   #70
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Some of us will just have to agree to disagree. Some of us really do not have time to bake bread. And yes we can opt out of that healthy bread and eat some other healthy carb for sure.
However there is a huge movement that has been perpetrated by the media and a 'health/green culture' that does not acknowledge their privilege at being able to purchase high cost healthy, local, organic food and to mask the rising costs of such.
I am all for the green culture and I am privileged enough to purchase healthy foods most of the time. What I see is that many people who work full time as does their partner(assuming they have one) and may or may not have children and have other responsbilities cannot make their own bread, travel to several stores to shop etc. That type of lifestyle is rare or only possible for some.
Yes we can get some cheap healthy foods but not many and not often. And it is more difficult, I am not saying more worth it, just more difficult. And there is a reason for that. There is a reason why crap food like mac and cheese is cheap and available. It pays to keep people fat, unhealthy and powerless.
This being said I am committing to going to the farmer's market every Saturday and will report my finds and cost.
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Old 03-19-2012, 12:50 PM   #71
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I do know that food costs vary depending on area, so again, for my food costs it makes sense, for others it may not.

I would venture that every area has SOME healthy food that is less expensive than junk food (either in smaller ethnic markets, or farmer's markets, or grocery outlet type stores, or even grown in a container garden). But I do agree that time is an issue, particularly for the working poor - the dishes you can make inexpensively with a slowcooker (which is a cost that some working poor may not be able to afford, although thrift stores often have them for a few dollars...though you can get the same effect leaving an oven on all day with a pot of food inside it) would get pretty tedious after a while (although a diet of junk food day after day would get tedious as well, I imagine). Another huge issue is that those in poor urban areas often live in food deserts - that is, there are no sources for healthy, fresh food within a reasonable distance. Without transportation, and in unsafe neighborhoods, walking or riding the bus to get healthier foods may not be an option at all. If the only food you can safely access comes from a convenience store or a fast food place, obviously that will affect both your health and your costs.

For the very poor, there are all kinds of serious logistical barriers to making your own healthy food - hard to do with no stove, or if the gas has been turned off for lack of payment, or if you don't have any pots and pans or any way to afford them.

I brought both of these up earlier in the thread, and they are major issues to be sure, that won't be easily solved. Those are both separate issues from the original question being posed in this thread though, I think, which was more "does a healthy diet, per calorie, cost more than an unhealthy diet". It may, and there may not be a lot of choice around that for some people with logistical-type problems (including those I summarized above). But it really doesn't HAVE to for most people.
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Old 03-19-2012, 06:37 PM   #72
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Agree with much of what you said but not sure it I would say 'most' people. I know for me I plan to eat the healthiest food that I can afford to buy. I am currently using only dried beans, lentils and so forth, not canned. I would like to get away from foods that come from halfway across the world but that is another issue.
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Old 03-29-2012, 05:46 PM   #73
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I disagree because my bills have gone down but then again I don't eat meat. Beans and other legumes and whole grains are inexpensive, especially when you buy in bulk. Also, I don't buy most of my veggies/fruits from supermarkets, especially certain super markets, I'll go to the asian market where I can get 5 grocery bags full of fruits/veggies for $20. In season/sale items are also often cheaper at Whole Foods than at my grocery store (I can buy apples for 99 cents/lb at Whole Foods, organic even). Whole Foods and other similar health food stores also sell grains/legumes by the bulk which is cheaper. 1 box of quinoa is $4.99 at my grocery store but $1.50/lb at Whole Foods.

I've also bought foods at farmers markets or on a couple occasions, I've gone to the farms for certain products.
This is exactly what I would have posted. Same thing for me.
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Old 03-29-2012, 09:43 PM   #74
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Where I live there is one Whole Foods and it is in a wealthy part of the city. I do think I can eat a healthy diet on budget with limits. However again there is elitism in some expectations that everyone can. Not everyone owns a car, not everyone drives, many people live in areas that have one place to buy fresh produce and it is over priced. Not to mention people that are 'stuck' due to enviroment/poverty and mental health issues. Not uncommon.
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Old 03-30-2012, 09:48 AM   #75
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My overall food bills went down when i gave up junk food - soda, chips, candy at the gas station are expensive. Yes, the weekly "at the super market" bill probably went up a bit because I was buying more fruits and veggies. But I never bought my junk food at the super market anyaay, those costs snuck in every day at vending machines and every time i got gas.

However my food bills went back up when I decided to try to eat only organic (and for meat/dairy/eggs - only local, pasture raised). But it's a cost I can currently afford. It still is probably cheaper than my junk food addiction...
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