Shoestring Meals Budget friendly ideas for healthy eating

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Old 11-17-2009, 08:21 AM   #1  
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Default Cost Of Weight Loss

I've been going over my budget for the last couple of months and it seemed that my grocery bill has been getting higher and higher. Of course with the recent economical situation I've been getting used to that but I have been spending an awful lot more on food since I stopped eating rubbish.

This got me thinking about all of the other little 'extras' I've been spending to treat myself before, if I was feeling a bit down I'd get a bar of chocolate or an iced bun and have change out of a pound but my little pick me ups are now about going to the hairdresser or beauticians, which, is costing about fifty times as much.

Then I get to the new clothes and I don't even want to think about how much my 'in-between' clothes have cost. And the books, I must have bought thirty books trying to work out why I was eating the way I did.

Has anyone else managed to do the whole weight loss thing on the cheap and does anyone have any suggestions for feel-good treats that don't cost a fortune?
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Old 11-17-2009, 08:48 AM   #2  
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Hmmm. I first of all think that any penny spent on "weight loss" is money VERY well spent. Certainly better then remaining fat, getting sick and losing wages from being absent at work and spending money on doctor's bills. That to me is frightening!!

I know that I spend LOTS on healthy foods. Veggies and fruits are LOTS more expensive then rice, pasta and packaged cookies. But I also rarely eat out and eat very little processed expensive foods, which saves $.

As for buying clothing, it's all part of the package. Yes I had to buy some "interim" clothing that I gave away fairly quickly, but I was thrilled to do so. I also get great bargains now that I can shop in regular sized stores.

I really think at the end of the day it's much cheaper to adhere to a healthy lifestyle then to not. Even given the fact that I've become a HUGE clothes horse, have more frequent haircuts, pedicures, etc.
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Old 11-17-2009, 08:50 AM   #3  
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There's no reason to spend more on food when eating better.

The clothes...not much you can do there. I shop second-hand stores and beg for hand-me-downs. From time to time, I'll buy some nice clothes if they really strike my fancy, but I'm not going to invest much money in clothes for sizes I won't be in for very long.

I don't buy books unless I know it's going to take me a long time to read them. The library is a great resource and, if your library doesn't have it, ask them to do an inter-library loan. I've gotten dozens of books that way.

I know that I spend LOTS on healthy foods. Veggies and fruits are LOTS more expensive then rice, pasta and packaged cookies. But I also rarely eat out and eat very little processed expensive foods, which saves $.
This has been so counter to my experience. My family eats less, so I can buy less. F.ex. the other night I made grilled tuna steaks (~$4 TJs), wilted greens (~$2 worth) and oven-roasted veggies (~$2 worth). Yeah, this was just for me and hubby, instead of heading out to a restaurant. Coupled with half a bottle of 3 Buck Chuck, the whole meal came to a whopping $10, about a quarter of what the same meal would have cost at a restaurant.

When we were eating "junk," our grocery bill was around $100-$125 a week for our family of 5. With "real food," I've managed to pare that down to $75 a week.

Last edited by Altari; 11-17-2009 at 08:58 AM.
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Old 11-17-2009, 09:15 AM   #4  
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I never really calculated how much I was spending before, and sometimes I feel like it's more now, sometimes less. I mean, yes, fruits and veggies cost a LOT of money. And I find that seafood is really helpful for me in weight loss, because I love love love it, but don't overindulge, and if prepared properly, is very very good for you. But it's really expensive.

However, I don't order out once or twice a week just for me, which is also very expensive. But the pasta and cheese that I used to buy was super cheap. So I think that it might come out to about the same, or mabye a little more. It's worth it though, and at the moment, I can afford a little bump in food money, although not a lot (I'm a grad student, making a pathetic stipend!)
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Old 11-17-2009, 09:18 AM   #5  
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I think mastercard had the right idea,
Healthy whole foods...$125
New pants b/c the old ones don't fit...$30
Being fit, healthy, and capable of walking a flight of stairs...PRICELESS!!!

I do spend more on food now, but as the weight comes off I will be able to shop in regular sized stores and not spend an arm and a leg for jumbo clothes anymore...its a win-win really
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Old 11-17-2009, 09:21 AM   #6  
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I don't buy treats or rewards, and I don't eat any sort of processed or diet foods, so my food bills have gone down. In fact, it's become an issue with food possibly going to waste because it sometimes can't be eaten quickly enough. Since I was cooking from whole foods before I started eating better, there really hasn't been a change in the food I buy, only the quantity.

I'm resisting interim clothing buying and plan to wait until I can't take in my clothes. I think that's going to be the only expense I anticipate with losing weight.

It's going to be hard to say this without it coming off badly, so I'm going to preface it by saying that absolutely no judgment or attitude is intended in this statement, but I don't want to reward myself with special purchases as I make progress. I want the progress itself to be the reward. I think that eating properly is something that I need to view as normal, not as something which I need to give myself presents for doing. That's just for me though. It's not my concern how others motivate themselves. If something works for you, more power to you!
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Old 11-17-2009, 09:28 AM   #7  
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Trudiha, seeing as you live in the UK too, you might want to look into getting fruit and veg at Lidl, usually it's quite cheap and good quality, class 2 veg is cheaper too if you don't mind that they look a bit funny sometimes Also some asian shops sell big packs of spices and rice etc. for cheaper than most supermarkets.
As for rewards, maybe little things like nail varnishes or a new dvd could be nice. Maybe you could sell the diet books and clothes you don't need anymore on Ebay and use the proceeds for something fun like a weekend trip or clothes or a photo session.
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Old 11-17-2009, 09:43 AM   #8  
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I am a frugalista in many, many respects. (But in a good way and you wouldn't think it by looking at me!) I don't do gym memberships, programs, personal trainers, etc. That saves some money. Also, I almost eat out zero--no fast food, usually no restaurants, etc. I focus on buying whole foods. I like fresh fruits and veggies and lean proteins. Fruits and veggies--I buy what is in season and usually the least expensive. Right now we are eating apples, squashes of all kinds, berries (great sale this week) and vine tomatoes--also very cheap right now.

I love the bulk bins. Oats, raw almonds, raisins, quinoa, brown rice, etc. Money saving compared to packaged varieties and deelish--seems much fresher too. ETA--LENTILS! Oh, the beauty of lentils/beans of all types. Beautiful protein for such little money! You can cook them in soups, make burgers with them, make hummus. OMG--possiblities are limitless!

Protein--we like fish and lots of it. When the sockeye salmon went to $4 a pound I bought an entire case. We also eat turkey--again, I wait until the sales run. I am getting free turkeys right now because of the grocery store specials for Thanksgiving. I may not use all of them--some may go to the food pantry actually.

As far as "rewarding" myself I do it often. Like, everyday! My "rewards" are never foods of limited nutritional value. I do however, purchase things like fresh raspberries, a high quality bottle of Olive Oil, $18 a pound Halibut on occasion, etc. I also reward myself with a new lipstick ($5 or something), high end running socks, etc. Anything to keep me focused and encourage my new found lifestyle.

I cannot really see that my grocery bill has gone up since we ceased eating out. I see our food as an investment in our health and happiness. My entire family eats this way and it makes me proud as a mom and a wife to know I am giving this to them as well as myself.

By the way, I have an enormous second freezer that stays packed. I wish I didn't have to freeze back food but because I buy on sale it's a necessity. You might find freezing back to be budget friendly as well.

Also, last tip. USE WHAT YOU HAVE. Don't let it go bad! Check the bins daily in your fridge to decide what needs to be used up and find a way to prepare it. In general, people throw way too much money down the drain on food that has just been neglected!

Last edited by Thighs Be Gone; 11-17-2009 at 09:47 AM.
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Old 11-17-2009, 10:04 AM   #9  
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Originally Posted by Altari View Post

This has been so counter to my experience. My family eats less, so I can buy less. F.ex. the other night I made grilled tuna steaks (~$4 TJs), wilted greens (~$2 worth) and oven-roasted veggies (~$2 worth). Yeah, this was just for me and hubby, instead of heading out to a restaurant. Coupled with half a bottle of 3 Buck Chuck, the whole meal came to a whopping $10, about a quarter of what the same meal would have cost at a restaurant.
It's funny, because I think we're eating MORE. We eat enormous portions of vegetables. Just enormous. And those veggies DO cost more then say a pound of pasta. Or cups of rice, cans of corn, etc. For example, the other night, I made two bunches of broccoli at $1.79 each = $3.58. One pound of pasta = $1.00 or less if it's on sale. But I'm fine with it. That pound of pasta comes with a much bigger price tag that's got nothing to do with money.
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Old 11-17-2009, 10:10 AM   #10  
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I found with searching around I was able to find produce cheaper at smaller stores than the large chains. I used to pay $6 for strawberries- at a local market it's $1.50! I used to pay $3 an avocado- local market 2 for $1! ONE pomegranate for $4, local market $1!

Check around your area- I probably spend like $10-20 on produce a week now and it's a TON of produce!
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Old 11-17-2009, 10:32 AM   #11  
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Well, for me the cost of weight loss HAS TO BE cheap. I admit I bought a few exercise gadgets. One I think that has made a HUGE difference is my pedometer which I call my "lazy meter". I love it, it has a heart rate monitor and alarms you if your HR is above maximum or below target. It also has calories burned per step. (about .045 for me). $40

I also have to brag on the perfect pull up bar. I love that nifty thing especially the pefect abs, and dip bar package. all 3 were $88

NOW about food. I buy nothing "diet". I buy whole wheat bread, salad, veggies, fruit, whole milk, fish, beef, chicken, soup**(this is so important to fill me), and drink only water and green tea. Right now, I'm not buying much meat, because we have a ton of Deer meat to use up. I use frozen pizzas (390cs 12g), and egg rolls (130 cs 2g fat) when we have to have TV dinners or I need a quick lunch. I don't buy the pre-packaged meal things.

I am guilty of trying plans, I loved WW (shortened form of cs counting). I DID IT ONLINE. For free. I got the formulas from a friend, and made a chart in excel. I tried Fast 5 and it curved my gross binging habits. I lost 20 lbs! Cost me nothing but discipline. Now I'm back to the TRIED FOR ME AND TRUE. Calorie counting.

Weight loss REALLY IS less food in than expenditure. So if you have some exercise stuff (if not walking is great!), and the ability to track calories expended, then it really costs nothing more than a pen and piece of paper EXTRA than what you have been spending on groceries.

Last edited by jendiet; 11-17-2009 at 10:33 AM.
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Old 11-17-2009, 10:34 AM   #12  
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My grocery bill isn't very much and has gone down over the years. When I starting eating a lot more beans, the cost went down (a pound of dried beans is $1-$2 versus which equals something like 2 lbs of cooked beans, maybe more). Now that I'm vegan, my groceries basically consist of veggies(often organic), fruits(often organic), beans (most often bulk organic), grains (most often bulk organic), spices (which last a while) and some other stuff. It really doesn't cost much.

The other day I was shopping with my husband and he wanted some cereal but even the value priced organic cereal was $3/lb. I told him to just get it and stop whining about the price. I feel it is ok to splurge once in a while on certain things and besides, the cereal (2 lbs of it) will last him a month.
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Old 11-17-2009, 10:34 AM   #13  
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wow, I've spent a small fortune on diet programs (lost and gained back the weight). at the same time, I wouldn't have been able to lose it and keep it off if I hadn't learned what I had from doing those programs. I learned to eat a balanced diet that way too.

The money for the gym I consider extremely well spent, about $50/mo.

we're willing to spend bogus billions on education and other self improvement. it's definitely worth staying healthy to ward off all those possible medical costs being overweight can bring on, not to mention quality of life.

cheaper rewards for me might be planning a day trip to go hiking/walking somewhere nice. maybe give myself the time to go to a museum, or do something else, like Central Park, that I like to do, that's basically free that I wouldn't do otherwise. Plan a picnic (make the food at home and take it somewhere nice). well, sorry, this isn't actually the time of year to do that, ha.

I like the "doing" rewards.
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Old 11-17-2009, 10:55 AM   #14  
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The biggest extra expense for me has been interim clothing. Our food bills have actually gone down, since we rarely eat out, and I do cook everything from scratch, including our weekly loaf of whole grain bread, from whole foods. Beans, rice, other grainy-type staples I buy dried and in bulk, we've got any number of small, independent greengrocers, fishmongers and a traditional market in our town, and unlike practically all the major grocery stores, the fruit & veg aren't wrapped in plastic, so I don't need to buy four or six of something, when I only want or need two. Also, I only really buy seasonal produce, which does save money. Transportation costs have gone down, too, because I don't drive anywhere I can possibly walk. I've also all but given up meat entirely, although the spouse still eats it, and that will shave a pretty penny off your food bills. Be all of that as it may, good food is something I don't mind spending a lot on.
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Old 11-17-2009, 11:09 AM   #15  
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I'm one of those people for whom buying healthier food IS more expensive. I can't even get a head of lettuce for under $2 ON SALE. Chicken breast? $7 a pound. Fish? Can't get it in my town really, if it's not in the stick variety. Lean beef? Not sold here. Ground turkey? A no go. Whole wheat bread? $3 for a small loaf. If I broke down and wanted a hot dog, the regular variety is .99 for a package, and the Oscar Mayer "Light" weiners are $4 a pack. No low fat cheeses, and the regular is $3.50 per bag, shredded. Don't even ask about block cheese - it's crazy. A single red bell pepper is $1.50. I can't even make a good salad for less than $6.

And my store doesn't have or accept coupons.

Shopping for healthy groceries absolutely CAN be more expensive, depending on where you live. Before healthy eating, a week's worth of groceries at my local store cost $80 for TWO PEOPLE. Now it's far over $100 if we shop here. We've started having to travel out of town for our groceries...for two weeks at a bigger store it's $120, PLUS a bunch of money for gas to get there and back.

As for rewards, I like the idea of DOING something that doesn't cost much, or anything, as a reward. But if that's not your thing...why not save $5 for every 5 pounds you lose, put it in a jar and splurge on something BIG when you're done?
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