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Help! Healthy food on a budget?

Monday, August 06, 2012

College budget + healthy food= not happening! I am doing my best to eat healthy but it is breaking my bank! I have about $60 to last me two weeks! Any main course ideas that are fairly inexpensive and healthy? I know I can google it but I wanted some real world talk. Let me know if any of you are having success in this department.

On a side note: Day 1 30 DS happens tonight after work! Woooo :)
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  • CATTY512
    Yay for day 1 of the 30DS!!! I just finished day 10. It got much easier around day 5 or 6. I'll be moving on to level 2 on Friday. I'm excited.

    I buy all of my fruits/veggies from a farmer's market, and rarely spend over $20 for a week worth of bananas, various apples, pears, peaches, lemons, romaine, spinach, green peppers (and red/yellow if they're super cheap), 1-2 cucumbers, 1 onion. If I walk in with a $20, I make sure to weigh everything so I know I won't go over. I grow my own tomatoes (those puppies can get SO expensive!) and small peppers (anaheim and jalapeno). I make a list each week based off of the grocery store ads in my area, and use coupons on breads, orange juice, cereal, yogurt and other healthy snacks... basically whatever I can find coupons for that works in my diet. I also buy reduced price meats. My other weekly staples are eggs, tuna, fresh fish, chicken, milk, beans and rice. Eggs, milk and tuna are on sale at one of my grocery stores this week so I will be taking advantage of that! I only buy 1-2 "cheap" fresh fish fillets so that's less than $2 per week. I buy chicken in bulk, so I only get that about once a month. Hope that helps a little! Good luck. :)
    2676 days ago
    Great ideas - the one thing that helps with budgets is to buy what is in season and what is on sale for produce. Talk to the produce man ( they have become my friends at multiple stores), request the mark downs - like bruised or mishappen foods - you can typically get them marked down - not pretty but useful and nutrients. Watch you sale papers - frozen is great for veggies - store brands are also manufactured by the main stream vendors, so check out those prices.

    Do you coupon? Yup - that will help you in the grocery store and especially on the frozen food aisle. There are many great tips provided here - blessings. Oh BTW, if you can get one, thrift store or budget store- or borrow one - a crockpot is your friend -dried beans are a life saver and also if you eat meat, a little goes a long way in the crock pot. Canned beans go on sale as well, and they are your protein, carbs and when you add in rice, you got a full meal, a filling meal and it helps with the weightloss. Work it girl. For our team, I am going to be posting some recipes with budget in mind. I know we forgot to ask you, but what do you like to eat and what part of the country are you in?
    2678 days ago
  • no profile photo LOVINSHERRY78
    looks like you got lots of help already so i'll make my response short, lol. i have a meal plan on my page you can check out some pretty easy cheap ideas but here are a few things that last me a long time.

    1. bags of frozen veggies
    2. a tuna egg salad mix (can get you my recipe if you need)
    3. frozen veggie burgers or ground turkey patties
    4. 100% whole grain oats
    5. chicken tenders (boneless/skinless)
    6. eggs

    another idea is shop at your local farmers markets b/c they always have fresh veggies and fruits for way cheaper than most grocery stores. :)

    2678 days ago
    Hooray! 1st day of 30DS! Let me know how it goes!
    As far as eating healthy, I like the idea of the bag of frozen chicken breasts and eggs. I always buy the huge family size back of vegetables mixed because they can be added to any meal, omelet, on their own.
    Keep up the great work!
    2678 days ago

    I can help you in so many ways on how to eat on a budget.
    I learn how to eat on a budget with a die-t years ago.
    I ate what was affordable and healthy for me, and skinless chicken still goes along way with me. I take 2 bags of skinless chicken and cut them all down to the size of 1oz, and enjoy them for a month and a half.

    It’s all about thinking outside of the box. Less is more so to speak. And when you have tight funds –and is trying to eat healthy you begin to budget what goes into your mouth more. No overeating while on a budget.

    I love to eat simple, and simple dishes are my thing.

    A can of corn is about 68cents here in Alabama. A bag of frozen corn is a 1.99 or so. Sometimes you can get those for a buck; you can get a lot of frozen foods for a buck and sometimes under a buck if you catch a sale. You have to become a menu shopper, what you plan on eating throughout the next 2 weeks or 3 and shop like that.

    Oatmeal is 4.99 the brand I eat, and that’s breakfasts for 3 weeks, if you use the portion size and measure each meal. A box of whole grain rice “brown” is about 4.99 too… I’m going off the prices here in Alabama, so the prices may vary from state to state.

    Eggs… We all love eggs and you can get eggs, and make wonderful dishes... Breakfast, lunch, and dinner –tuna….you can’t forget about tuna... A few cans of tuna cans run about 64 cents. It’s how you eat and what you eat that will put you on top, and already setting out your portions ahead of time, and freezing or putting them always.

    Raw eats don’t have to always be raw finds. You can use frozen produce to get the nutrition your body needs.
    It’s how you think when you go into the grocery store.
    How you plan your meals for the week or for the weeks ahead. Sit down and plan what you like to eat out. Plan it out. Spark mail me your eating plan, and I will help you get all the things you need for a deal, and how to think outside of the “fat” box. Because when we get tight with funds, we tend to eat the fatty foods –because they are so called cheaper for us, and we must eat, but you don’t have to cheat yourself because your pockets aren’t deep. You can get around this with ease.

    Back to the chicken breast idea –

    I’m known for taking chicken skinless chicken and pre-cooking it and freezing it. I can eat off that for weeks.

    I make wraps, and whole wheat wrap bread is 2.99 here.
    I can get a bag of frozen spinach and make chicken spinach wraps and add in cheese, and cheese is up to 4 dollars a bag, but if you measure you can make that cheese last for 2 weeks. Salas
    is a wonderful add in these wonderful wheat chicken wraps, and I place it in the oven for 8 mins and I let it bake.. All is already pre-cooked, but you can nuke the chicken to unthaw it.

    So, look into things like that. You can do this… I know you can.. I believe in you.

    I didn’t mean for this post to be so long.
    Sorry. I’ll e mail you on how to eat on a budget.

    2678 days ago
    I did the whole college thing.... unfortunately I never ate healthy... things I have found now that are healthy/kind of cheap are:

    Frozen bag of chicken breats, may feel expensive but I get a TON of meals out of those especially if you are the only one eating it.

    I eat a lot of eggs (depending on how your dieting, I do low carb)... and those are pretty cheap! I can eat them scrambled for breakfast... boiled and deviled at lunch... and make an omlet for dinner.

    I always had a hard time learning to eat and buy for just one.... instead of buying a ton of single item buy it in its smallest unit and only buy more once its gone. It is so easy to waste food!

    You may stock up on some lean cuisines and look around for who has them on sale... I know it isn't the freshest food but is a great thing to have as a back up when the cash flow is low.

    I don't know what part of USA you are at but you make take up couponing... pretty easy and there are a lot of sites. I envy places that have krogers and other stores that double your coupons. Here, I just have a walmart so you can't do intense coupone shopping, but maybe you can!
    2678 days ago
    PLANNING and FLEXIBILITY are really important for healthy eating on a budget.

    Plan your meals ahead of time and use the ads in the paper that tell you what will be on sale - Chicken leg quarters often are less than a dollar a pound - skin them, de-bone them and look for recipes that use either light or dark meat. Hit the dollar store for inexpensive spices and such (may not be the BEST or freshest but on a budget will give you more flavors to work with). Ground beef on sale - but it is the 70% lean kind, not the 93% lean - buy it (it often has more flavor) cook it and drain it and use less in your recipes. Hit the Day-Old bakery - we have one that sell Pepperidge Farm breads - even the lite and whole grain ones - for $1.00 instead of the $3.99 they sell for in the grocery stores. Hit the farmers' fruit and veggie stands - this is the time of year that fruits and veggies are often really plentiful. Cook REAL food and less of the processed (read as convenient, unhealthy, MORE expensive) foods. Instead of relying on pastas, try using spaghetti squash instead. My son made a lasagna using zucchini instead of lasagna noodles and while it was a LITTLE bit wet (zucchini is wetter than pasta) everyone LOVED it and ate second helpings. He also used zucchini instead of eggplant or meat/poultry to make a nontraditional parm. Try things you KNOW you will like (or at least that sound good to you) but also try some things that might not work out quite so well and surprise yourself. Substitute less expensive foods for more expensive - you MAY prefer spaghetti to macaroni but the elbows are on sale for half price - make your spaghetti sauce and put it over the elbows and do the opposite when the spaghetti is on sale. In many college towns, there are often co-ops and such where you can get food at a discount by volunteering for a couple of hours a week. You can often find health food stores and markets that offer healthy produce and other products and that accept volunteers too. As a college student, NOW is the time you can play around and experiment. Get friends to come together and each bring a single item for a more expensive dish - watch some of the cooking shows - Do your own version of Chopped - each person bring ONE item to start with and each of you has to make something delicious out of what was in your cupboards. I don't know of MANY people who were born KNOWING how to cook. Some had the chance to start learning while they were still kids at home, but many don't start until your age or older. Hope some of these ideas help..
    2678 days ago
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