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Does your tightening budget affect your diet?

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Old 02-03-2011, 12:01 PM   #1
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Question Does your tightening budget affect your diet?

I have a question for ya: Do you find with a tighter budget these days, its harder to purchase the lower cal, diet type foods AND still buy your regular "family foods" for everyone else??

Last year when I first started WW, I was into buying the WW products (if on sale) and would always buy the low fat, low calorie version of food (ie: Orowheat Sandwich thins, Flat-Out tortillas, etc.). Now with our budget ever tightening, and a family that won't eat this stuff, I find myself starving because I am eating 1/4 of what I did before because its the FULL calorie version.

I know in the long run (health & medical costs), eating healthy is good for you, but buying the more healthy foods is really expensive!

Marie
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Old 02-03-2011, 12:08 PM   #2
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I don't buy myself special foods - only special snacks to have on hand. And yes, even that can be expensive. But on the other hand, before I was eating more overall and so it's probably a wash.

I eat what my family eats - minus the starch. My kids eat healthy, my husband eats healthy and my mother in law who lives with us eats healthy. It's not just good for me to eat right, but also good for my family. Plus, who wants to cook two separate meals?

But, we cut back expenses about everywhere EXCEPT on food. We buy good quality foods because it's important. We don't go out to eat EVER. We all pack lunches for school/work and that saves us a lot. And we aren't eating rabbit food. Well, we do eat a LOT of veggies and fruit, but it's yummy food as I'm a darn good cook! And there are so many great low calorie meals out there that everyone can enjoy, really!
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Old 02-03-2011, 12:15 PM   #3
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In some cases, such as I can buy a pack of white flour tortillas with 80 calories for $1 versus whole wheat tortillas with 50 calories for $3.50 that only I will eat, so I have to buy the $1 ones too. Then I think.....hmmmm is 30 calories worth an extra $3.50 on my grocery bill x10 because there are so many other examples of this. Of course, there are plenty of healthy inexpensive foods that my whole family will eat, but those specialty foods can add up and many times I just don't think the small difference is worth it.
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Old 02-03-2011, 12:25 PM   #4
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In some cases, such as I can buy a pack of white flour tortillas with 80 calories for $1 versus whole wheat tortillas with 50 calories for $3.50 that only I will eat, so I have to buy the $1 ones too. Then I think.....hmmmm is 30 calories worth an extra $3.50 on my grocery bill x10 because there are so many other examples of this. Of course, there are plenty of healthy inexpensive foods that my whole family will eat, but those specialty foods can add up and many times I just don't think the small difference is worth it.
And see, I would buy the whole wheat tortillas because it's not all about 30 calories, but the type of calories they are too. White flour isn't good for you, whole wheat is better and I want my kids to grow up with a taste for healthy foods so that it tastes better to them and therefore, they won't have those same cravings for junk that I do.

On the other hand, I won't buy some things because of cost period. If we don't need it, I won't get it. One big cost savings I did was to start making my own bread. Costs me 50 cents a loaf to make a whole wheat bread versus $3.50 and up in the stores.
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Old 02-03-2011, 12:30 PM   #5
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I don't buy processed stuff either, so what I buy isn't really that bad. I shop at Aldi's for about 1/2 or better what I would spend at Kroger or Meijer. I never pay more than $100 for a cart full of groceries there but at Meijer I easily spend $300. The only things I can't get at Aldi are my Greek yogurt (can't stand Aldi's version), steel cut oats and quinoa.
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Old 02-03-2011, 12:34 PM   #6
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Hi Marie,
Have you checked out this subforum? It's packed with ideas for healthy eating on a budget.

http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/shoestring-meals-235/
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Old 02-03-2011, 12:45 PM   #7
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Losing 140 lbs taught me how to save money. I do it exactly how I count calories: giving myself a budget and writing everything down. We use a spreadsheet, and start out with a budget for groceries. Everything gets charged to me, my husband, or "household". One great thing about this system is that we take more responsibility for our individual spending--before, we both tended to think the OTHER wasted all that money at the grocery store!

Anyway, just like calorie counting, writing everything down (and we itemize everything, down to the penny) has made us so much more aware.

I have found that specialty diet foods seem really expensive for what they are. Rather than try to find low calorie/low carb/whatever versions of foods, I tend to prefer things that are ok in their "normal" state: if I don't want the calories from a regular bun, I'm most likely to just eat my burger with a fork.
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Old 02-03-2011, 12:45 PM   #8
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I actually spend less money eating healthy foods than I did getting fast food, snack foods, etc before. A typical week before had me spending (for DW and I) roughly $25 a day on fast food and junk food (a $5 meal for each of us for lunch and for dinner, and some misc junk throughout the day). So, in a week, that's $175 bucks. Now, for the same week, we spend about $40 at the farmer's market for meat and veggies, and another 30-40 dollars at the grocery store on dairy, eggs, coffee, breads, and our one indulgence, no sugar added ice cream. We do tend to spend about $30 eating out on weekends, but still, we're at $100-110 a week now for the two of us (and that is EASILY reducible...I have a taste for a few expensive things, and for eating out, and I prefer to eat organically farmed, free-range, grass fed meats, which are expensive but not necessary for weight loss, so that number is on the high end. When we were tighter on funds, I got it down to $60 per week pretty easily).

How do we do this?
1. Find the spots with the best prices. There are three main farmer's markets in our area. Two of them are expensive. One of them has a HUGE selection and costs about half what the other ones do. So we make sure we get up and go there on Sunday mornings to get the best deals. If we go at the last hour, usually vendors have marked down produce so that they don't have to haul it home, and you can get some great deals.

2. Buy what's in season. Right now, our market is flooded with chard, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, fennel, cabbage, winter squash, greens, and carrots. Since there are so many vendors with these available, prices are dirt cheap - $1 a bag or bunch. So I can get all of my dinner veggies for the week cheaply - this week, we had broccoli in a stirfry, roasted cauliflower, cabbage sauteed with apples and onions, beet risotto, some roasted butternut squash...and the vegetables for all of that ran us a grand total of $7 (and we still have half a butternut squash and half a bunch of beets for next week). Fruit-wise, right now, the market has a ton of oranges, kiwi, and apples...so we're eating a ton of oranges, kiwi, and apples. There was ONE vendor who had somehow managed to coax out some strawberries from this still-wintry weather...but since the strawberries were rare and not quite in season yet, they were super expensive. I won't buy them until they are abundant and cheap.

3. Be open to shopping at multiple places for the best deals. We get coffee at Costco, since it is about 2/3 as expensive as other sources. Chicken broth comes from Costco too, for significant savings, and we'll pick up other things there if they're a good deal (greek yogurt, canned tomatoes, sometimes snack foods if DW wants some to take to work). We look at ads to see which of three stores we should do our shopping at this week, based on their prices on the staples we buy. Often, this means we're doing three separate stops for groceries in a week (Farmer's Market, Costco, Grocery Store), but we save a lot of money doing so.

Have you looked at our Shoestring Meals forum? It's a GREAT spot for all kinds of threads about eating healthy on a budget.
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Old 02-03-2011, 01:10 PM   #9
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[quote=berryblondeboys;3692369]And see, I would buy the whole wheat tortillas because it's not all about 30 calories, but the type of calories they are too. White flour isn't good for you, whole wheat is betterQUOTE]

Single mom to three growing boys, sometimes cost just wins out. Besides, I am not trying to eliminate anything, white flour, sugar, etc. I buy wheat buns and bread because they are healthier, my kids like them just as well, and they are the same price as white, but I do not buy 100 calorie sandwich thins instead of buns because the $2 additional cost just isn't worth saving 10-30 calories for me.
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Old 02-03-2011, 01:19 PM   #10
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Some of the 'diet' stuff are gimics. Instead of buying diet thin bread, eat an open face sandwich. And the less premade stuff you buy, the cheaper it gets.

I have a friend in California too, and man, produce is WAY cheaper there than here. I do farmer markets too and they are as expensive (or more than) the grocery store.

This year we are going to do a CSA which is supposedly the best route to go. Of course, in Maryland, growing season isn't year round, but the closer to earth it is, the better it tastes and better it is for you. Man... I'm salivating thinking about fresh farmer's market veggies as we speak!
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Old 02-03-2011, 01:27 PM   #11
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I used to spend so much on food but now I shop at the local produce store and for a family of 3 I spend on average of $100 a week on food. I buy all my produce and meat from the local henry's which carries local produce (the BEST IMO). I also buy meat in bulk when it's on sale (like when ground turkey was on sale a few weeks ago for $2.5 for 1.25 lbs I stocked up!). Also buying the store brands on things like veggies really helps. I'll buy bags of veggies for less than a dollar and the best part about frozen veggies is they don't go bad! I constantly buy frozen spinach, stir fry veggies, peppers, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.

I also cut coupons- that helps a LOT believe it or not. Coupons can cut a bill in half if you shop wisely.

There is website "thegrocerygame.com" and from my understanding it really helps you with coupons and all the things you need to really cut expenses down. I don't know how time consuming it is but from my understanding it does help quite a bit.

Eating on a budget is something you have to work a little harder for IMO but when you watch your bill go from $150 a week to less than $100 (and realize that saves OVER $2,000 a year) it's worth it!
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Old 02-03-2011, 01:38 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mandalinn82 View Post
Now, for the same week, we spend about $40 at the farmer's market for meat and veggies, and another 30-40 dollars at the grocery store on dairy, eggs, coffee, breads, and our one indulgence, no sugar added ice cream. We do tend to spend about $30 eating out on weekends, but still, we're at $100-110 a week now for the two of us (and that is EASILY reducible...I have a taste for a few expensive things, and for eating out, and I prefer to eat organically farmed, free-range, grass fed meats, which are expensive but not necessary for weight loss, so that number is on the high end. When we were tighter on funds, I got it down to $60 per week pretty easily).
.
I am always left open-mouthed (and somewhat envious of) how cheap groceries are in the US. I typically spend a $100 for groceries just for myself, and there is no eating out. I make all my meals from scratch and I would say I am pretty resourceful. I do shop for produce at a farmers' market (more so in spring/summer/autumn than in winter) but it really does not represent much of saving. Unfortunately, in Canada, a lot of produce is always imported from somewhere so that adds to the cost.
It costs me $4.99 to get a 500 ml tub of Greek yogurt - that is, if I am lucky that the one chain that carries it here has any left on the shelf.
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Old 02-03-2011, 01:38 PM   #13
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Sorry to semi hijack here but for some reason you can't send PMs on this forum.

Mandalinn which farmers market are you referring to? (I'm in Sacramento)
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Old 02-03-2011, 01:44 PM   #14
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You can PM after 20 days and 20 posts.
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Old 02-03-2011, 01:48 PM   #15
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I am always left open-mouthed (and somewhat envious of) how cheap groceries are in the US. I typically spend a $100 for groceries just for myself, and there is no eating out. I make all my meals from scratch and I would say I am pretty resourceful. I do shop for produce at a farmers' market (more so in spring/summer/autumn than in winter) but it really does not represent much of saving. Unfortunately, in Canada, a lot of produce is always imported from somewhere so that adds to the cost.
It costs me $4.99 to get a 500 ml tub of Greek yogurt - that is, if I am lucky that the one chain that carries it here has any left on the shelf.
It depends on WHERE you live in the US. I've lived in Iowa, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and Ontario, Canada (Waterloo, ON). And Ontario was cheaper than we live now. Iowa was a bit cheaper too.

Maryland is EXPENSIVE and so was Virginia. We live in the DC metro area. Greek yogurt here is $4.99 USD too. Organic skim milk 1/2 gallon is $3.59-$3.69 wherever you go. Apples in some grocery stores are $2.99 a pound. I found a cheaper alternative for $1.29 a pound. Bananas are 69 cents a pound.

In summer I go to the farmer's markets, about the same prices, but a 'tad' cheaper and better tasting.

For a family of five (2 kids, 3 adults) we spend about $280 a week at the grocery store (including things like laundry detergent, dish soap, toothbrushes, etc. I don't shop at conveniece stores - Wal-Mart/Target as they are relatively the same price for the same things). We do not eat out or order in and everything is homemade - including bread. Though, usually, I buy gingersnaps and pretzels for the boys.
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