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Old 06-25-2009, 01:11 AM   #1
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Default Eating Healthy Costs too much????

Is it just me or am I doing this wrong??? It seems to me that the healthier I eat the more money I seem to be spending at the grocery store. I have noticed that since I have been shopping for food instead of running through the drive thru that my grocery bill has doubled or tripled.

I think maybe I am doing this wrong. I think I should be buying some things in bulk but that is expensive too.

any tips???

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Old 06-25-2009, 01:19 AM   #2
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Well, your grocery bill may go up but you aren't spending money at the drive thru which should help you at least break even, if not save. I do spend a bit more but I try to buy organics, foods without chemicals, simple ingredients, etc which I find is more expensive. If you can buy in bulk, do it! That will save you money.
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Old 06-25-2009, 02:09 AM   #3
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I try to think about it in #'s of meals I get. That $10 at the drive thru for one meal can get me a couple of meals worth of food at the grocery store, or that $40 spent on pizza for me and the roomies for one night, can make 10 pizzas at home, and much healthier ones.

The rare occasions I find myself at a drive through now I end up figuring it out in my head, that I could have bought the ingredients to make lunch for a few days instead.
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Old 06-25-2009, 02:41 AM   #4
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There are a lot of ways to eat healthier on a budget, but it takes a little extra planning and effort.

I've eaten healthy and not on large budgets, and small ones. Buying in bulk can help (you just have to do the math, because sometimes bulk doesn't save you any money).

If you search the forums on "budget," you'll find a lot of discussions we've had on ways to save money. There are great money-saving books and websites (I love the Tightwad Gazette three-volume book). Not all the tips are healthy- or weight-loss friendly, but many can be adapted.

Foods that tend to be the most economical (if not bought pre-cleaned and cut) generally (regardless of where yo live) include dried beans, lettuce, onions, carrots, celery, cabbage, white potatoes, eggs and sweet potatoes, tvp (textured vegetable protein, sometimes called textures soy protein - dry crumbles of defatted and baked soy beans that can be reconstituted with water - the granules make a nice ground beef substitute).

In general, the more work you do yourself, the more money you save (so chicken pieces are usually more expensive than whole chickins). There are exceptions though. Often chicken thighs or legs are less expensive than whole chickens because they're less "desireable" pieces (but they're often better than white meat in on the barbecue or in a crock-pot, because they stay moister longer). Walmart generally sell their baked rotisserie chickens for less than a dollar more than their raw whole chickens - that's nice, because it's convenient as well (which also shows there's an exception to every rule).

I've started adding recipes to my blog, and most will be pretty cheap, because hubby and I are on a pretty tight budget.


In many of the threads here I've talked about my tvp/ground beef recipe and I got so many requests for it, that I put it on my blog.

Recently, I made my tvp/ground beef mixture using a larger ratio of tvp than I've ever attempted in a mix before, I also used a lb of ground pork in the mix. Ground pork is a little fattier, which is why I chose to add more tvp (which is fat free) to bring down the overall fat content per serving. I used 1 lb of ground beef (80/20 at 2.89/lb, 1 lb of ground pork at 1.19/lb, and 4 cups (1 lb of tvp granules at 2.69/lb), and 2 (15 oz) cans of canned chicken broth (that I found on sale for .49 per can at a Big Lots type store).

Each cup of tvp is about equivalent to 1 lb of ground meat, but much lower in fat and calories, but by combining the meat and tvp, you can get meat flavor for just a few more calories than the tvp alone.

That makes about the equivalent of 6 lbs of ground meat, browned - a little over $1.00 per lb or $.25 per 1/4 cup serving (not counting the costs of seasonings).

It may seem crazy to make the equivalent of 6 lbs of ground meat for a household of two, but it takes only a few minutes more to make 6 lbs as 1 lb (as long as you have a big enough pot). , I freeze it in tupperware style containers or freezer bags and then stir or shake so that the mixture freezes into easily scoopable "crumbles."

I also recently bought a couple books from thriftstores and amazon.com on "ground beef" or "ground meat" recipes (the most expensive one cost me $5 with shipping). So I have tons of recipes that start with browned ground beef.

The nicest thing about having the tvp mixture on hand is that I cook once, and meals made with the mix are nearly as quick/easy as a microwave dinner. For example, I make sloppy joes by adding a low-sugar bbq sauce and microwaving (great over baked potato). I make "chili" by adding 1 can of any beans, drained to 1 can of diced tomatoes, undrained and/or a can of tomato soup and add a cup of the tvp mix, and then microwave in a bowl or heat in a pan. I make taco filling by adding salsa or adding chili or taco seasonings to the mix and microwaving or heating on the stove top.
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Old 06-25-2009, 05:15 AM   #5
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I think of it as an overall food bill.

Some friends of ours just took over a crispy chicken place. I stopped on the way home from work last night and grabbed a bucket. $33! Now mind that my family will eat this for two days but ... if I stop to replenish my salad stuff and use chicken out of the freezer ... my bill would have been about 12 bucks.
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Old 06-25-2009, 06:06 AM   #6
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Actually, my grocery bill has went down. I went to the grocery store three times a week...to restock my cabinets with junk. Didn't want to run out of cookies, ice cream or chips. Man I purchased so much freakin' junk before. These days, I end of up spending substantially less than I did when I was eating myself out of house and home.
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Old 06-25-2009, 06:40 AM   #7
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I spend a lot of money on food. I shop constantly. For me, I can't really buy bulk, because the major majority of my foods are produce, which won't keep all that long. We eat a TREMENDOUS amount of veggies and fruits in my house. Rice is cheap - asparagus isn't. A box of pasta is cheap - baby spinach isn't. We eat lots of fish also. Salmon is expensive - chicken thighs on sale aren't. A box of cookies at the grocery store while on sale - fairly inexpensive - pints of fresh berries - pretty pricey. IMO, it is money, VERY, VERY well spent. Much better then on doctors bills and medications.

That being said, beans are fairly cheap. That is something I can stock up on when they're on sale. I also try to buy the produce that is cheaper for the week. If asparagus is up one week, but I see that brussel sprouts are down - I'll usually go with the sprouts. If the strawberries are lower one week then the blueberries, I'll take those. And so on and so on.

One way that I have saved. We very, very rarely eat out these days. Restaurants are very pricey, so right there's some extra bucks saved.

It really depends. If you are one that was buying gallons of ice cream, cakes, cookies, chips and oodles of fast food, and now you're not, I would think that switching to a healthy menu would be a great savings.

For me, it's inconsequential. As tight as money is these days, I look at any and all money spent on keeping my family and me healthy as money very wisely used.
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Old 06-25-2009, 07:26 AM   #8
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How about dried pasta, pesto sauce, tins of chopped tonatoes, lots of fresh veg, frozen veg is also good too for stir fries. steering away from meat generally will lower the food bill and lowere the calorie and fat intake

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Old 06-25-2009, 07:56 AM   #9
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If you live in a small, tiny little town, like I do, then yes, your bill will go up for healthier eating. Smaller stores don't order as much of the healthier stuff (if any at all), and charge a premium price for it. And if/when I go out of town to shop for more foods at a cheaper price, I'm paying for gas for a 100 mile round trip, PLUS cost of groceries and anything else I "need" to do while I'm there.

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Old 06-25-2009, 08:26 AM   #10
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When you buy produce try to go to a farmer's market if you can- They usually have better quality and are cheaper- I love mine- i can even getter better meats there... I also use frozen broccoli and peas- They cook up great! I throw them in everything-

Personally, I am saving a lot of money on less resturant meals- Just the other day my BF and I went out to dinner and it was $32.00 I could have bought 2-3 days of food for that!!
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Old 06-25-2009, 08:38 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by akacutie View Post
When you buy produce try to go to a farmer's market if you can- They usually have better quality and are cheaper- I love mine- i can even getter better meats there... I also use frozen broccoli and peas- They cook up great! I throw them in everything-

Personally, I am saving a lot of money on less resturant meals- Just the other day my BF and I went out to dinner and it was $32.00 I could have bought 2-3 days of food for that!!

We went to a farmer's market (50 miles from my town) and it was waaaaaay more expensive than the store. A watermelon was $10...cantaloupes were $3 each, four yellow squash cost $4. Was it good? Sure...but we'll stick with the store-bought stuff from now on...

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Old 06-25-2009, 08:40 AM   #12
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Perhaps it costs more right now because you're building a pantry of items that you weren't using before?

There are definitely ways to cut corners. Frozen fruits and vegetables are a good way to save, especially in winter when fresh food is more expensive. Rice and beans are cheap and healthy!
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Old 06-25-2009, 08:41 AM   #13
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I love our farmer's market, but it's certainly not cheap! Neither is growing my own (at least not this first year). But the flavor... so good!!!!!!!

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Old 06-25-2009, 08:54 AM   #14
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It does take a bit of planning, but my grocery bill is no more now than it was when I was eating poorly. If I really try I can feed my family of 5 on $50-60 a week. Though sometimes I do make less healthy exceptions. For example, ground pork was less than half the price of ground turkey this week at the market. I normally don't eat pork, but I couldn't pass up the price.
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Old 06-25-2009, 08:55 AM   #15
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I admit that a Number 1 at the drive thru for $5 is pretty cheap. It's a whole meal, you are stuffed when you are done and and you burp it up for several hours after so the flavor experience continues for quit some time. If you try to spend that same $5 at the grocery store you can buy a loaf of bread and a package of lunch meat. Which is not a whole meal, but something you can make into 10 (or more) meals with a few extra ingredients. If you take that $5 drive thru meal and X3 for each meal of the day and spend that $15 at the grocery store you can get a loaf of bread, a package of low fat lunch meat, a dozen eggs, 1/2 gal. skim milk, a bottle of mustard, a few tomatoes, a few onions, a head of lettuce and a couple apples. Those ingredients can make approx triple the meals than the drive thru. with 1000's of less calories.

If you can grow a garden I highly recommend it! We've been eating tons of fresh veggies from the garden already this year and not only is it 100% organic, it is a lot of exercise!!!!
Highest weight - 333 pounds. Lost 193 pounds by calorie counting in 2008/09. Regained 73 pounds in the last 7 years and am working on getting back to a normal BMI.

Last edited by Lori Bell; 06-25-2009 at 09:01 AM.
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