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Old 03-16-2006, 09:56 PM   #1  
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Default Getting Healthy without Getting Poor!

Three questions in regard to eating healthy on a budget:

*Does anyone have suggestions for trimming a food budget when you're trying to eat healthy?
*Any recipes or sites for low-cost, healthy dishes (particularly anything geared towards singletons who are only cooking for one)?
*Also, does anyone know if it's worth it - in regards to nutrients - to stick solely with fresh veggies instead of frozen?

My grocery bill has gotten crazy since I started my "eating healthy" kick at the start of the new year. I enjoy the general feeling of wellness that I get when I eat properly. I don't enjoy the emptiness of my wallet!!

Thanks!!
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Old 03-16-2006, 11:16 PM   #2  
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Eating healthy doesn't mean breaking the budget. I feed DH and I healthy foods and our grocery bill is $100-$120 every 2 weeks.

Nutritionally most frozen and canned veggies are just as good as fresh. Get your fresh ones in season to save money. Also try Farmer's Markets for cheaper costs.

For fruits it is the same as the veggies.

Buy lean meats in larger family packages (you get a cheaper cost) and them separate into individual or smaller packages (invest in a FoodSaver or VacuumSealer).

Buy your whole grains such as brown rice, couscous, etc from the bulk section.

If you have a bread thirft store buy your low cal/carb/diet breads and buns there. TIP: to freeze wrap buns in papertowels, repackage in ziplock bags and freeze. To thaw leave in papertowels.

For dairy try the store brands rather than major branks for yogurt. Many times you can get a larger size for less cost. For example my Light Yogurt I get the Kroger brand 8 oz for 49¢ wherease Dannon or Yoplait is 6 oz for 69-79¢.

Many times we try to find the cheap or conveient way out. I make my own sugarfree jello (either storebrand or major brand) and all I did was buy these 'cute' Rubbermaid TO GO containers and make my own. Same with sugarfree puddings rather than the already prepackaged kind. The jellos run ~$2.00 for a package of 4. I can make one for 38-59¢ depending on if I do generic or storebrand.
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Old 03-16-2006, 11:18 PM   #3  
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Oh yeah I forgot...I have some great "for 1 or 2" recipes if you e-mail me at [email protected]
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Old 03-19-2006, 04:32 PM   #4  
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I do not buy fresh veggies except for salad fixings. Everything else, I buy frozen.

Fruits I'll be fresh but I have bought frozen -- light packed in juice.

Sometimes, when the budget is tight, I'll buy the cheap ground beef and rinse it after it's cooked and THEN season it.

I don't buy any snacks pre-packaged (much to the kids' dismay) I'll divide them up once I get home.

And ya know..I find that just limiting your intake of food is a big plus when a meal that you've prepared isn't exactly in your 'best interest'.

I didn't choose the screen name 'frugal chick' for nothing. I, too, am always on the lookout for ways to cut my grocery budget.

I've done pretty good. I can't (won't) go meatless on some meals (and excellent way to save money) and I won't buy powerdered milk (also a cheap and nutritious way to save money)

My grocery budget for the four of us runs anywhere from $75-$150 every two weeks (depending on what meals we're eating or what meats are on special)
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Old 03-19-2006, 04:36 PM   #5  
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frozen veggies are just as nutritious. as 4 cooking for one, you can always freze leftovers for other meals
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Old 03-19-2006, 04:51 PM   #6  
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A trick I use is to make a large amount of a soup or casserole and divide it up into meal sizes. Use one for supper and freeze the rest. I then just thaw and heat when I have to work late. That way, you can cash in on specials in bulk.

I also make a sweet potato/squash/carrot mixture that I divide into 2 cup portions and freeze. Again it can be thawed and you have your starchy vegetable for the meal.

I use a lot of frozen vegetables, not many canned. When I have leftover fresh vegetables, I partially cook them and freeze them so they can be thrown into some sort of mixture. I try to make my desserts (once a week) count, by making a fruit or a milk based concoction.
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Old 03-19-2006, 05:00 PM   #7  
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Hey Erin! I'm not sure what to tell you. I know that we just are not in a financial position for this to cost more money than our food budget used to be. I use frozen vegetables too. Frozen fruit. I watch for sales. I buy protein powder in a bulk food store. Tuna is a life saver cheap cheap cheap.
Maybe if you tell us what you do eat, we can tweak it costsaving wise
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Old 03-19-2006, 05:10 PM   #8  
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My Wal-Mart super center will ad match their competitors prices, and since I live in a smaller area they also ad match competitors up to about an hour away. I make my shopping list by looking at the competitor's weekly ads online. I also love to shop at the Aldi's here. I buy store brands whenever possible and I make my meals simple. It's just easier for me that way. If you have a Wal-Mart supercenter near you, and you can tolerate shopping there see if they ad match. It takes a little longer in planning, but it is worth the time.
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Old 03-19-2006, 05:47 PM   #9  
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MAN, I miss having a Walmart SuperCenter nearby! I had 2 that were open 24 hours within 15 minutes of my apartment in college, but now the closest one is about an hour away (without traffic--more if you try to actually go at a decent hour!).

Anyway...yeah, I definitely use almost ALL frozen veggies (I think the only ones I buy fresh are lettuce and spinach, and occasionally, I buy canned corn instead of frozen). The nutritional value is still the same--they're the same veggies, after all, regardless of temperature! If I do use anything canned, though, I usually rinse it before I use it to get rid of some of the additional sodium.

As for cost-savers, I used to buy those Lipton's instant noodle side dishes (the ones that come in a million different flavors and come in a big white envelope). They were usually only a little over a buck a piece, so I thought I was oding well. Now, I just buy whole-wheat (or whole-wheat blend) thin spaghetti and just measure out 2 servings (I cook for me and my bf) and then break the noodles up so they're not as long as spaghetti. I cook that and add some frozen chopped broccoli and frozen chopped spinach and maybe a splash of marinade for flavor, and voila! A more nutritous side with less sodium that takes about the same amount of time to prepare, plus there's about 8 servings of noodles in a $2 box of spaghetti versus the 2 servings of the Liptons that cost $1 Just gotta get a little creative
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Old 03-19-2006, 07:35 PM   #10  
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I just cook for myself, and it can get just as pricey as cooking for two or more. However, i have found some tricks. I recently found this discount grocery store about four miles from my house. Its tricky because a lot of products are labeled in spanish because the store is geared towards the growing immigrant population in the city. However, for example, I got a four pound bag of NICE looking apples (1.56), a green pepper(49 cents), a tomato (69 cents), and soy milk (1.75) for less than five dollars today. If you can find a store that is marketed towards immigrant populations, chances are it will be cheaper. Walmart is good also, though i hate to admit it for groceries.
Frozen fruits and veggies are a godsend! I prefer certain fruits fresh (strawberries, apples, you know) but like the frozen raspberries and peaches just the same. I like frozen more then canned because they aren't packaged with sodium and you can usually use them the same as raw veggies.

If you like tofu, use it instead of meat. I buy it for 1.15 a pound at the organic grocery. When was the last time you saw chicken for that cheap?
Convience foods will cost you money, as Jill mentioned. They are also processed and not as good for you.

If you like pasta and have the time, make your own. Spaghetti is hard without a machine, but fetticine is pretty easy to roll out and cut. You can flavor it with herbs, and all it costs is a few cups of flour, some water, and an egg or egg whites. I can give you a recipe if you like.
Drink water instead of soda or juice. Juice is good for vitamin C but not much else. You'd be better off eating fruit.

check out allrecipes.com for recipes. you can modify the servings and stuff which is pretty neat.

Good luck and happy losing!
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Old 03-21-2006, 04:46 PM   #11  
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I also buy the store brand of sugar free jello and sugar/fat free puddings and make my own. We buy milk and eggs and bulk meats at Sam's Club as they are way cheaper than the grocery stores or Wal-Mart.

One of the best investments we ever made was to buy a food saver machine. We can take a bulk package of pork chops or steaks or chicken from Sam's Club and portion it out into 2 person packages. We use the food saver to vacuum seal the packages and they do not get freezer burn at all.

I also buy cheese in bulk at Sam's and it will stay fresh without mold in the food saver bag in the refrigerator for months.

I buy giant bags of green beans and stir fry veggies and others at Sam's. We spent $150 for a small chest freezer and it's been great.

When things go on sale, buy multiples. For instance, at Thanksgiving I bought two turkeys and froze one to cook later. I'll buy two hams close to Easter when they are cheap and freeze one. I watch for buy one/get one free specials and I use coupons. I only use coupons for products I buy, but I can save $10 to $20 at the grocery with them. My King Soopers (Kroger/Frys/City Market) doubles coupons up to $1.

I buy fruits in season -- right now strawberries are $1.50 a carton at my grocery so I buy a bunch and freeze them. When grapes go on sale for 99 cents a pound, I do the same.
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Old 03-21-2006, 05:29 PM   #12  
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Thanks for all of the suggestions. I need a food saver and a small freezer. Unfortunately, not having the money to spend on food means not having the money to spend on those either! I know something that'll be on my Christmas list, though!! Part of the problem I have with buying frozen veggies is that I don't have room for them. My freezer is sooooo tiny!

Oddly enough, meat isn't what the majority of my food bill goes towards. I actually have a free supply of low-fat meat, since my dad is an avid hunter/fisherman. I've just been so focused on healthy food that I've probably overlooked a lot of options that are just as healthy but lower priced. It seems like the stuff marketed as "healthy" is automatically more expensive. I guess they're bringing in the suckers like me who don't like to think too much!!
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Old 03-21-2006, 05:43 PM   #13  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluedevil
Part of the problem I have with buying frozen veggies is that I don't have room for them.
Yeah, me too. This is also why I can't buy meat in bulk and split it up for later. And I can't buy another freezer because I live in an apartment, so I have NO space

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluedevil
It seems like the stuff marketed as "healthy" is automatically more expensive.
That's because the stuff that pays for advertising is usually full of chemicals and other ingredients that replace the fat (or sugar or calories or whatever it happens to be "low" in), so the food is even MORE processed, making it more expensive (plus they have to pay for that advertising somehow!). The healthiest foods are the ones that are as close to natural or "whole" as they can be, which are not nearly as widely-advertised as the processed junk
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Old 03-21-2006, 05:52 PM   #14  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jillybean720
Yeah, me too. This is also why I can't buy meat in bulk and split it up for later. And I can't buy another freezer because I live in an apartment, so I have NO space
Amen!! It just seems like it would be easier (and cheaper, at least per person) for me to feed three people than just me. I can't do things like stock up on canned veggies when they're on sale because I only have one small cabinet for canned food. But, I'm saving for a house (hence the desperate effort to save on the food bill!), so hopefully I'll at least be able to solve the problem of not having storage space!!!
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Old 03-21-2006, 08:34 PM   #15  
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A few other frugal things:

cottage cheese (store brand or on sale) mixed with dried fruit is a good breakfast or snack
a healthy pancake mix (I like Arrowhead Mills organic)--you can freeze extra pancakes and reheat for breakfast or dinner
eating more vegetarian meals in general--a healthy option and cheaper than meat-based. Dried beans can be as low as 50 cents/pound.
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