South Beach Diet Fat Chicks on the Beach!

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Old 08-04-2009, 09:33 AM   #1  
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Default Ideas to S-T-R-E-T-C-H your dollar

As times are getting tighter, and grocercy prices getting higher, I was wondering what all the seasoned SB'ers are doing to feed the family without breaking the bank. I'm used to using rice/noodles/sauces to stretch out a meal, but all of those are no-nos on SB. Sam's club is awesome for those types of things (cream of mushroom soups for less than $.50/can, 5lb bags of pasta for $3 - even the whole wheat kind, etc) I've tried a lot of dishes I usually serve over rice and I just don't eat the rice, but I'm blanking on ideas, and don't want to have to cook two differnt meals. Sam's is good for frozen veggies too, but little variety.

How have you all fed the family without breaking the bank?
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:55 AM   #2  
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I get meat on sale and freeze it. I go to the farmer's market and freeze veggies and sometimes fruit. I stretch a meal with veggies, while not being as cheap as doing so with carby items still gives more servings per recipe at not much extra cost. We use coupons when possible, and plan exactly how much produce we need for the week so that we don't let stuff spoil.

I often use a whole chicken instead of just chicken breasts. Usually once a week. We eat the dark meat in moderation, but it's still cheaper than breasts.
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Old 08-04-2009, 10:03 AM   #3  
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My biggest money-saver is to PLAN, PLAN, PLAN!!! I plan dinners for two weeks at a time and use my grocery store's circular to plan with. All meals are based on what meats are on sale. I'm in a fairly remote area with two small grocery stores (both owned by the same people) and that results in extremely uncompetitive pricing and we don't have any coupon options unless we have them mailed from the "big city". However, since starting back up on SB religiously, we've actually cut our grocery budget by about 15 - 25%. In all actuality, it's probably more than that since I just spent a good $20 on frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts that were $1.79 lb.

The big thing is to look for sales! Your idea to put their meals over rice, pasta and etc. is great, LaMariposa, but you can take it further! Have baked potato night (if your cravings are in check) and top theirs with a broccoli-chicken saute and put your saute on top of a salad. Also, look into "vegetarian" nights. My hubby is as big a meat-eater as they come, and even he doesn't miss the meat when I make a hearty bean soup/stew. He eats his with a salad and bread and I eat mine with just a salad. I've found a great 16-bean dried soup (1 lb.) for as little as 50 cents a bag. I definitely stock up then.

Thanks for starting this thread; I'm sure we'll all get some great tips from it!
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Old 08-04-2009, 11:18 AM   #4  
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Thanks for the ideas. Eumie - Do you blanche your veggies before you freeze them? I do a lot of whole chickens too, then throw leftovers in w/ the broth to make homemade chicken broth (with less sodium) and freeze for later use - there's always some recipe calling for it! I'm having a hard time w/ subbing beans for meat (although I love them - black bean soup, kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans....yummy!) DH won't eat them for the life of him. lol. He's not picky by any means, but raw carrots and beans are not happening with him. Although as he's seeing the weight come off - he's starting to take bigger portions of veggies at dinner.
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Old 08-04-2009, 01:39 PM   #5  
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Beans, Beans, Beans!!!!
as a side dish, or as a main dish with brown rice or quinoa.
Buying grains in bulk...like cracked wheat. A little cracked wheat goes a LONG way when you add fresh veggies to it. If you have a fresh vegetable market around, I find it's much cheaper to get better quality vegs at a cheaper price.

I also like to keep bags of frozen shrimp or fish in the freezer. Easy to add some quick protein to dishes.

Oh, and eggs! They make a great quick dinner. Frittatas! Egg Frittatas are a great way to use up leftover veggies and meats in the fridge and we can usually get 3 meals out of one frittata...great for breakfast leftover from the night before. And stuffed eggs! A great "filler" on the side of a meal or salad and wonderful for a snack. I make mine with finely crumbled turkey bacon, a little mayo and some yellow mustard. What's better than bacon and eggs?

Last edited by femmecreole; 08-04-2009 at 02:09 PM.
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Old 08-04-2009, 04:25 PM   #6  
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I like to make a big pot of SB-friendly chili. It's tasty, hearty, and no one suspects it's "diet food." It also lasts through several meals with leftovers.

Here's what I use:
1/2 to 1 pound of very lean ground beef
1 big can of petite diced tomatoes
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 can of green chilies
3-4 various cans of beans: dark red kidney, light red kidney, navy, black, etc.

I used to love a dollop of sour cream on my chili, but have found that this is super delicious with a wedge of RF Laughing Cow cheese mixed in for creaminess.


I also have a crock pot "taco soup" recipe that is yummy and easy and not very expensive:
2 large chicken breasts
2 quarts chicken broth
2 large cans petite diced tomatoes
1 packet taco seasoning
Juice of one lime
You can add beans if you want - I don't because it seems more like chili.
Combine it all in a crock pot and let cook all day. I always put the chicken in while it is still frozen. At the end of the day, remove the chicken breasts, shred and return to soup before serving. This give a very meaty presence without using a lot of meat.

Of course, you could use beans you cook yourself and fresh tomatoes, but I'm just not that domesticated.

-Jasmine

Last edited by jrizzle; 08-04-2009 at 04:26 PM.
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Old 08-04-2009, 04:52 PM   #7  
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Jasmine, that sounds yummy!!

re, the laughing cow....
what I like to do with it is to mash up a wedge with fresh herbs, then flatten a a boneless chicken breast and fold it over a glob of the cheese (to "stuff" it) sprinkle seasoning on top, and bake it on a sheet sprayed with olive oil. Sometimes I'll roll it in some almond flour, but it's pricey I usually save the flour for "company".

Last edited by femmecreole; 08-04-2009 at 04:53 PM.
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Old 08-04-2009, 05:02 PM   #8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by femmecreole View Post
re, the laughing cow....
what I like to do with it is to mash up a wedge with fresh herbs, then flatten a a boneless chicken breast and fold it over a glob of the cheese (to "stuff" it) sprinkle seasoning on top, and bake it on a sheet sprayed with olive oil. Sometimes I'll roll it in some almond flour, but it's pricey I usually save the flour for "company".
mmmm!!! Cat, I'll have to try that! It sounds delicious, and my husband and son would probably eat it, too!
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Old 08-04-2009, 05:42 PM   #9  
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One more thing I thought of after cooking today. I got a bag of frozen vegs from target (an asian stir fry) then cut up a couple of frozen chicken breasts and a vidalia onion...added some garlic and some seasoning...pretty inexpensive. Had a cup of fresh fruit on the side (cantalope, cherries and nectarines.)

I also added some roasted pumpkin seeds and ground flax seeds to the stir fry, but not really needed. It made enough for us to eat tonight, plus more for my husband to bring to work for lunch and me for breakfast.

Last edited by femmecreole; 08-04-2009 at 05:42 PM.
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Old 08-04-2009, 05:52 PM   #10  
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I use Uncle Ben's Converted rice. It's allowed on South Beach phase 2 and can be purchased in the big bag. I buy a big one when it's on sale and it lasts a long time. I just add lots of veggies to the meal as well. Bean recipes are wonderful. Sales are worth it and then freeze the extra. I do find I often make an extra shopping trip in the middle of the week to get extra fresh fruits and veggies but I buy what is on sale. I'm a single mom and right now my son is with his dad so I've been going to Costco and buying fruits there and splitting them with a friend since I can't go through them all myself before they go bad.
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Old 08-04-2009, 06:30 PM   #11  
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This topic is near and dear to my heart both because my hours have recently been cut at work and I work with child care providers who are almost always living pretty close to the edge.

Beans, including lentils, are a perfect food both in terms of budget and health. Lots of protein, vitamins and high in fiber they fill you up and are great for you. If you can buy them in bulk you will really save money. I think I figured out that 1 lb of dry beans = 3+ cans with no sodium! I've got lots and lots of links to recipes if you need them. I actually taught a class on using dried beans to feed kids last fall I have a sloppy joe recipe that kids love, much to the surprise of their caregivers and parents.

I'm also lucky enough to get my whole grains in bulk along with spices and flours for bread baking. Sometimes a place like a co-op or natural foods store that is more expensive in general will be cheaper if they have a bulk section.

Use local and in season produce whenever you can. Right now I get summer squash for $1/lb and chard for $1.29. I can even find local, organic tomatoes for $2.69 per. Lightly steamed shredded cabbage is a filling, healthy inexpensive base for saucy dishes. I was surprised to discover it adds almost no taste but holds the sauce quite well. It's also very filling and healthy. Filling is important because some things that seem cheap really aren't. White bread is a perfect example - if you need 4 slices to feel full then it's not as much of a bargain. That doesn't even count the health cost.

i know several people use TVP to stretch their ground meat. I don't eat meat but I'm sure someone can tell you more about that.

Make your own when you can. Homemade sauce, soups, etc are cheaper and healthier than pre-packaged.

In terms of time - on the weekends I pressure cook several lbs of beans and package them up for the week. Sometimes I freeze packages for weekends I have better things to do. I also bake bread and often make breakfast bars for the week. I also freeze and dry as much as I can. I'm a big fan of the dehydrator, but that's another story Finally remember that it might take your kids a little while to come around. Make your foods and mix theirs - some of the stuff they're used to and some of yours. Depending on their age it might take awhile but they will adjust and in the long run they will be healthier for it.

ETA - you can also cook brown rice in large batches and freeze in meal sized bags. Cheaper than the quick cooking version.

Last edited by CyndiM; 08-04-2009 at 06:33 PM.
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Old 08-04-2009, 06:48 PM   #12  
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I have my meat/tvp recipe on my 3FC Blog

http://www.3fatchicks.com/diet-blogs/kaplods/

Most of the recipes on my blog are South Beach friendly (I/m not strictly-speaking a Beacher as I follow an exchange plan, because I have portion control issues regardless of my food choices, but if I don't follow South Beach guidelines fairly closely, I don't lose very well because I find it much more difficult to stick to my exchange plan).
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Old 08-05-2009, 08:23 AM   #13  
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Thanks for the ideas everyone! Keep them coming.

I'm really lucky in the "picky kids" department. They will eat almost anything you put in front of them, no questions asked. Asparagus, squid, eggplant, lentils, - oddball things most kids look at and go "can I have some mac and cheese?".

One question though - What's TVP? Is it an abbreviation for something or do I ask for TVP?
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Old 08-05-2009, 09:27 AM   #14  
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Sorry TVP is textured vegetable protein, the dry mostly soy granules that look like ground meat when reconstituted.
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Old 08-05-2009, 09:55 AM   #15  
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Farmer's Markets!!! SO much cheaper than the grocery store, plus the produce is local and, very often, organic. Most importantly, it's in season, so it tastes fantastic! You can freeze the veggies for later, or use them in soups and then freeze if they don't do well being frozen on their own. You can also get great deals on fruit that you pick yourself--plus it can be a fun activity to do with your family.

You can get some great deals on veggies at Sam's Club, though the whole "local" issue is at risk there.

If you cook dried beans, you can package them in containers after they are cooked and freeze them--it's much, much cheaper than cans and healthier, too!

If you get grains in bulk, try getting wheat berries and other slow-cooking grains, then cook them when you have time and toss 'em in the freezer for later. They are SO filling and good for you, but are often pretty cheap!

One great way to save money is to make things yourself. Making a homemade pizza crust is always going to be much cheaper than buying one. There was a great article on this in Cooking Light. You can find the online version here.

One thing they noted in the article is that eating more meatless meals is a great way to save money. We've implemented that and are now eating 1-2 meatless meals a week, and it's saved us, on average, about $20/week. It's amazing!

Another way to save money in regards to meat is buying during sales (we have a store near us that often has great meat sales), and buying items that require work, like whole chickens. I can get a whole organic chicken at our grocery store for nearly nothing. Most of my whole chicken recipes are easy "fix and forget it" ones, like roasting or leaving it in the crock pot for the day. Then I boil the carcass to make broth and/or soup, which makes another meal. It's a major money saver, though it can take a lot of time.

Hope that helps.
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