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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, 08:05 PM   #1
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Default I KNEW eating healthy foods was costing me more!

I had a feeling that my food budget was going up up up with my new healthy eating regimen. I thought maybe it was just me and poor shopping habits, until I came across this:
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/1...-healthy-food/
It costs about a dollar and a half for 1000 calories of energy dense calorie rich food vs over eighteen dollars for low calorie low energy dense foods.
Like the author says "Veggies and fruit are now becoming luxury items".
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Old 12-07-2009, 08:28 PM   #2
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Well, fancy that. XD It was something I'd noticed, too.
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Old 12-07-2009, 09:24 PM   #3
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Psh, that's not just something I "noticed," that has been one of my main obstacles in dieting.

I'm a poor college kid, and I barely had room in my budget for a few boxes of Kraft Mac and Cheese, some Wonderbread and bologna. I've actually had to take on extra shifts to pay for my diet, and I don't eat extravagantly at all. I buy chicken when it's on sale, bag-o-lettuce and iceberg lettuce and mix them, maybe a cucumber, the cheapest fruits I can. I do manage to eat a balanced diet of 1100-1300cals of nutritional whole foods, but it has taken a lot to be able to afford it.
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Old 12-07-2009, 09:25 PM   #4
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I've noticed this too... and its not good!!
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Old 12-07-2009, 09:29 PM   #5
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Thanks for posting...it was amazing what some of the nay-sayers had to say! I mean, yeah, you can eat lentils every day of the week for cheap, but first you have to know that they exist (which I did not until I roomed with a vegetarian after college), then you have to know how to cook them (which still intimidates me, although I plan to figure it out during winter break), and then you have to want to eat lentils all week long, which is ridiculous!
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Old 12-07-2009, 09:33 PM   #6
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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!
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Old 12-07-2009, 09:34 PM   #7
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See, when I see articles like that I do seriously wonder where they get their numbers from. I often make meals for two people with 1lb of protein (1.49-3.00) with a few added ingredients (spices, etc.) veggies and a salad. I don't work out every detail, but for the two of us I know that we do NOT spend $450 a week on food. I do have a big freezer, and do shop at Costco..... however, WalMart is where I buy greens that last us a week for $4. What I don't do is buy diet food, as it's usually higher priced just because it's highly processed and people will pay more for it.

(I'm using 2 x 1800 at $18 for 1000 cals which would be 64.80 a day and 453.60 a week.)

What I do remember is that when I ate junk food is that I would routinely spend $5-10 a day on crap... and still ate my meals.
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Old 12-07-2009, 09:38 PM   #8
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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.
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Old 12-07-2009, 09:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
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.
I don't think so. I do none of those things. I've never spent even half of what they say on food per day. Something is strange with their figures.
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Old 12-07-2009, 09:42 PM   #10
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misskimothy, you and I are in the same boat.

I keep hearing "buy in bulk! it's cheaper!" First of all, I don't have the money to buy $200 worth of meat to last all winter. Second, I don't have the room to put meat bought in bulk. Third, I'm also cutting out unprocessed foods, and unprocessed foods go bad much quicker than canned and boxed stuff.

My weekly grocery bill went from $25-ish to $40-50. That doesn't sound like a lot, but for a starving student, $40 every week is a chunk of change!
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Old 12-07-2009, 09:44 PM   #11
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I know that I can eat a serving of pancakes from a mix and half a box of KD for dinner and lose weight and it costs me approximately $1.50 for the day. This is my reality. I have no car to cruise from Walmart to Costco and back. I have little to no storage and my fridge is a small fridge with a microfreezer on the top. I am trying to shop better, but a huge box of greens from a place like Costco is usually just at the point of going rotten where I live. They sell things on or just before the "eat now" date, so more often than not, I wind up throwing most of it out. So I don't buy them anymore. Buying fresh food in bulk is great if you have alot of mouths to feed, but what if you are on your own? My menu is posted on the WW site because I really am making the effort! No processed foods or minimeals on there now, but the COST! OUCH!!! And when I think I could lose weight on around $1.50 per day??? Makes me go HHHmmmmm...

Electrical bills are gonna suck this year because my home isn't well insulated, but try getting the landlord to do something about it is ridiculous. I only have so much money and trying to get fed on top of it is going to leave me with some interesting choices to make. Salmon? Or Heat? I work full time and go to school. Finding food bargains is easy if you are say on public assistance and have nothing else to do all day but cut coupons and cruise the stores. What's a girl to do?
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Last edited by misskimothy : 12-07-2009 at 09:50 PM.
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Old 12-07-2009, 09:46 PM   #12
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Yep, per calorie, on food cost alone, you could eat a 1200 calorie diet of corn and soy-based junk food for less cost than a 1200 calorie diet of fresh foods.

But.

1. This is based on supermarket prices, not on in season, locally obtained produce. At end of market, I can get 6 lbs of in season apples for 3 dollars, or a bunch of celery for 25 cents. Supermarkets are rarely the least expensive place to buy anything EXCEPT junk food. Markets and farms are a completely different price point, if you're buying directly from the farmers and in season.

2. You won't be full on 1200 calories of junk, so your total diet cost may not change much...my personal experience is that it takes easily 3 times as many calories of junk a day to keep me full and satisfied as it does of vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Research backs this up - whole foods have a higher satiety factor. So if you can be satisfied on 1200 calories of veggies, but not satisfied until 3000 calories of junk, even if the veggies cost a little under 3x as much, you're still ending up about the same. Take potato chips...1200 calories of potato chips is less than a full-sized bag (about 75%). Or, 4 of the two-packs of Little Debbie nut bars. That'd cost about the same as your 1200 calories of healthy foods, and I'm betting you'd be a lot more full with the good stuff than with the junk. Even three times that, if it didn't make you throw up, wouldn't be as satisfying as a good meal of healthy food, at least to me.

3. This obviously doesn't take into account the health risks of eating junk food, resultant prescriptions, medical care, etc. Which is a whole different discussion.

What I'd be curious about...if we're talking about calories/dollar, why did they pick veggies as their benchmark. What about dried beans and rice? They're filling, have protein and fiber and minerals, and are pretty much lightyears ahead of potato chips and nutty bars...and probably cost about the same or less per calorie, depending where you buy them, as the chips. I'd also be curious exactly what veggies they were choosing...some things like carrots are a lot cheaper than out of season bell peppers.

It's really interesting, but personally, my grocery bill is lower now that I'm getting healthy foods from alternate sources and eating a lower number of calories. Considerably lower, especially if you consider eating out, which I don't do anymore.
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Old 12-07-2009, 09:52 PM   #13
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I also just reread their figures, wow! I spend $200-$300/month on groceries for my husband and I, which at the high point is $10/day and trust me, my husband and I aren't eating 500 calories each. I just posted somewhere else that my husband eats 3000-4000 calories/day and I eat 1500-2500 (low/high days).

If I take my low day and my husbands low day and take the high figure for a months worth of groceries, I get $2.2 per 1000 calories and their figure was $1.76 for 1000 calories. so my estimate is slightly higher but again that is a worst case and I have to say that I've had more 2500 calorie days in the past 6 months than 1500 calorie days (ugh).

And actually a more accurate figure would go for the middle so if I say I ate 2000 calories/day and my husband ate 3500 and we spent $250 in groceries, that would be $1.51 per 1000 calories which I think is a fair estimate.
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Old 12-07-2009, 10:25 PM   #14
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This:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/04/he...on/04well.html

and if you are from Canada:
http://northumberlandnews.com/news/n...article/139983

Things that make you go hmmm...
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Old 12-07-2009, 10:32 PM   #15
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One of my favorite blogs, a woman spend $100/month on groceries for herself and her two teen sons.
http://melomeals.blogspot.com/
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