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Shoestring Meals Budget friendly ideas for healthy eating

Dieting on Food Assistance

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Old 03-07-2010, 11:39 AM   #16
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I'm not on social assistance, but a tight budget.

One thing I do that saves us quite a bit of money is that I adopted the idea of a "smoothie bucket". When I go to the grocery stores I look at the marked down produce bins. Last week I got a 5 pound bag of pears for $1.00 because they were ripe, a bunch of bananas for 50 cents because they were ripe, a BIG tub of strawberries for $1.50. When I got home, I cut them all up, flash freeze them, and throw them in the smoothie bucket. Then when we want a smoothie, we grab a handful of the frozen mixed fruit and throw it in the blender. Saves from using the expensive fresh fruit for the smoothies! We can make a big filling smoothie for under $1.00.
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Old 03-07-2010, 11:45 AM   #17
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I am unsure if the website has been mentioned before on this thread but Hillbilly's Housewife is excellent. If you look at the suggested menus they even have nutritional information so you are able to easily calculate what you are eating.

There is an emergency plan on there to feed a family of four-six for $45 a week. It does not assume you have ANYTHING at all in your kitchen.
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Old 03-07-2010, 11:59 AM   #18
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Babygrant, how do you flash freeze at home?
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Old 03-07-2010, 09:27 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JulieJ08 View Post
Babygrant, how do you flash freeze at home?
Throw the fruit in a single layer on a cookie sheet, put cookie sheet in the freezer for 6-8 hours until firm, then toss the fruit in the bucket or a ziplock. That way it doesn't all stick together.
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Old 03-07-2010, 09:49 PM   #20
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Ahhh! We also freeze strawberries and blueberries and raspberries this way and then just eat them that way...I love a bowl of frozen blueberries, I think they taste like ice cream bon bons, especially when I have a sore throat, I crave them.

Having a freezer (or a dehydrator, or canning jars) is a HUGE advantage when you are looking at the produce clearance section. We look, and buy whatever we might possibly use. Even if a fruit is bruised, if it's 75% usable and 90% discounted, that's a huge savings. So you take it home, eat it fresh, or immediately pare it and bake it into a sugar-free cobbler, make it into sugar free jam, freeze it like babygrant suggests, puree it and make fruit roll ups, dry it in the dehydrator, etc. The key is, process and store it, because it's at risk. I wasted a lot of clearance produce before I figured this out--you have to clean your kitchen before you go and clear the rest of your day (and your fridge/freezer) when you are going "random clearance produce/meat hunting." But you can make some amazing deals. By me, in Cincinnati, Oh, there is a place called Jungle Jim's. They have an entire section of clearance produce that is just amazing...you never know what ethnic veggies you will find, etc. Last time I was there, they had white asparagus for $.50 a pound, and the quality of their clearance is often better than...oh you might find at a Wal-Mart grocery (I mean regular Wal-Mart grocery, not clearance). Likewise, there are Meijer and Kroger stores around here that have excellent short-dated deli items.

Also, our church has a food pantry--I'm not suggesting that you go to a food pantry if you don't feel the need to, but we get donated bread from a big coffee/deli chain store. There is always too much bread at the end of the day, and they are always offering it to everyone who works there. This was the same at the other food pantry I volunteered at in another state. Also, sometimes there are foods that the food pantry customers are not interested in that they want to get off the shelves that they ask, "does anyone want this..." the other day, I took home (I gave a donation) some boxes of tea, because the food pantry customers don't eat foofy foods like green tea. If you were to volunteer every once in a while at a food pantry, you may find some opportunities.
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Old 03-07-2010, 10:29 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by babygrant View Post
Throw the fruit in a single layer on a cookie sheet, put cookie sheet in the freezer for 6-8 hours until firm, then toss the fruit in the bucket or a ziplock. That way it doesn't all stick together.
Ah, I thought flash freezing involved going way below zero degrees.
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:31 PM   #22
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Quote:
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Ah, I thought flash freezing involved going way below zero degrees.
LOL hmm I don't know! That's what I call it though.
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Old 03-11-2010, 03:37 PM   #23
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We're on a strict budget around here as well. What I usually do is go to my local grocery store early in the morning because they mark down stuff that didn't sell the day before. For example, today I picked up the following

10 yellow squash
2 pounds onions
1 pound poblano peppers
bag of golden delicious apples
bags of romaine lettuce and butter lettuce

Each of these items was just a dollar!

Then I headed to the meat department and picked up a pound of organic ground chicken (it never sells because it's so expensive) for 50 cents, lean ground beef for a dollar a pound, and lean steaks for 2 dollars a package. Nothing is wrong with it, just cheap as all heck.

I also watch out for discontinued items on the shelves which saves money as well.

Low calorie hamburger buns are pretty expensive (around 3 bucks here) so I buy 35 calorie loaves of bread and when I want a burger, I cut the bread into circles and toast it. There ya go - 70 calorie buns for a few cents a piece. I also tend to make my own pasta sauce to avoid buying the stuff in a jar.
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Old 03-19-2010, 12:39 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by kaplods View Post
We start our shopping in a store much like Big Lots. We never know what we're going to find there, sometimes a lot of healthy foods, sometimes very little. But because the savings can be very large, we start there.

Then we go to an asian grocery store, because some foods we like are cheaper there (or fresher - so they last longer). .....
.......

We do most of our shopping between Aldi and Walmart, but we do watch the ads for specials. We have a Sams Club membership (mostly because it helps us save a lot of money on our prescription drugs), and we buy a few staples there. They have an organic spring greens salad mix or baby spinach in a large tub for about $4. It's a LOT of lettuce or spinach for the price.

.....

If you have a Dollar Tree Store, they may sell "green bags," (over with the kitchen foil pans and such). Ours does at 10 bags in a package for $1 - they work and they're only a fraction of the price of other green bag brands. They really do slow down the spoiling of fresh produce - remarkably so.
I think I have found a bargain shopping kindred spirit, Kaplods! I can attest to the fact that shopping at places like Big Lots, Dollar Tree, Aldi's, ethnic grocery Stores and Walmart can really save on the grocery bill and still provide a lot of variety to a diet. If I had to chose just one place to shop it would be Aldi's. I really hope that you have an Aldi's near you, Ambi! In my area I know that if something is at Aldi's it is the cheapest I'm going to find it anywhere.
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Old 03-19-2010, 01:09 PM   #25
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You have a wealth of information here and good advice. If you have to go to the food banks, you have to deal with a ton of carbs. I am pretty lucky with one of the food banks here. They offer whole wheat macaroni, beans, fresh vegetables and fruit, eggs and of course the can tuna. I am able to trade off some of the bad carbs with a friend who hates healthy food and looks for the junk. If it is a bag or chips or cake, I either don't take it or re-donate it to another food bank. It is really hard, but if I need the food bank I try to work with it the best I can.

Good luck,

Sharon
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Old 03-28-2010, 01:43 AM   #26
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So many good ideas. I just need to sit down and plan everything out.
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Old 03-31-2010, 02:37 PM   #27
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i'm in the same boat. i can't lose weight eating the way we do but eating healthy is much more expensive. i have to find a happy medium somehow.
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