I see several people have mentioned farmers' markets, but that's not always a good bet. Some people live in areas where produce from these markets is lower cost, but where I am it is not. I live in an agricultural area famous for its melons. I can buy them (the exact same melons, from the exact same farms) far cheaper at the grocery store than at the farm stands. The same goes for most other produce as well.
The Dollar Tree in my town has some surprising deals. I discovered that quite by accident - so that might be worth checking out.
Coupons can help, but I can usually buy store brand items for less than name brands with coupons so be careful there. Try to watch the unit price as well, sometimes spending a few extra dollars up front on larger quantity of a shelf stable item will save you lots of money in the long run. A lot of grocery stores have a discount program that can really be worth the effort of setting up an account too.
Rice, beans, oatmeal, apples, carrots, and potatoes can all be had for a fairly low cost almost any time of the year. Stores have frequent sales on canned vegetables, and more brands have low sodium options. Even canned soup is a good option for a quick meal and in my area usually one brand or another is on sale most weeks. Looking for meat near its expiration date can save you money too if you are willing/able to use it or freeze it immediately and you're not particular about what cut of meat you are buying. Casseroles are cheaper to make and create leftovers. Also, most grocery stores have a bargain bin somewhere and I make a point to look there every time I shop.
Edited by: JUSTME29 at: 7/13/2018 (23:23)
I'm looking for my inner athlete, but I'm afraid I may have eaten her. If I'm very quiet I can hear her screams of terror.
When I go shopping I look for buy 1 get 1 sales. I just bought boneless skinless chicken breast buy 1 get 1 each package was about 4 pounds. Breast were thick. I rebagged them. There is 3 adults I got enough for 5 meals each and spent $22.00 came to $4.24 a meal for 3 about &1,30 each. Aldi's is great I start my shopping there then go to Dollar tree for can goods and some frozen foods.
I have a job (7.25 hours a week) at a family owned store that sells local products mainly meats and produce. The amount of food I get for free is astounding. The things they can’t sell because it has a tiny amount of freezer burn, blood on the package, produce that is not fresh enough or is just past the best before date.
I am competent, work hard and they appreciate it. The hourly pay isn’t great but when I add in all the free food it is totally worth it. Plus I get a discount and some items at cost!
JERF - Just Eat Real Food
I'm a Non-Practicing Certified Personal Trainer.
I'm not a doctor or dietitian. I'm just a real whole foods nutrition nerd.
I eat mostly vegetables, fats, meats, some fruit and dark chocolate. Unprocessed and preservative free food. And it's changed my life!
5'4" Maintaining my goal weight of 124-128 lbs since 2012 40 years old 2 kids
Lowering my A1C and keeping my blood sugar levels steady eating LCHF.
I bought dried legumes and whole grains (mostly oats and barley) from the bulk bins, and picked up tins of plain tomato sauce or tomato paste or diced tomatoes when they were on sale. I watched for sales on tinned meats (tuna, salmon, chicken, or spam / klik), picked up eggs for lower prices when they were just about at the expiry date, and used mostly powdered milk. I would stock up on frozen fruits and veggies when they were on sale, or would try to get versions canned in water if they were on sale.
While I wasn't actively trying to eat "healthy" (I was mostly concerned with being able to eat "period"), I look back and realize that during that period I was actually eating a far more healthy diet than I managed after my income increased! Adding income (by working 3 jobs), for me meant adding "convenience", and I started included a lot more meat and a lot of "side starches" (usually pasta with sauce of some kind, or rice pilaf sort of thing) --- and in far too much volume. All of the fresh grown vegetables got replaced by the "fancy" frozen ones complete with sauces (which could be quickly microwaved), since I no longer had the time / interest in maintaining the indoor garden (the worms got re-housed in my Mom's garden).
If you can possibly afford the time and effort, and have a sunny window (or can rig up a growing light), then growing your own greens and herbs and other veggies will give you the absolute best nutrition for the least amount of money.
Sir Terry Pratchett:
"Science is not about building a body of known 'facts'. It is a method for asking awkward questions and subjecting them to a reality-check, thus avoiding the human tendency to believe whatever makes us feel good."
Aldis!!!! I LOVE!!!!it. The Fruits & Veggies are always so fresh, prices are great!! Fresh Chicken is very good to. The beef I m not fond of. my Children love their frozen veggies, corn taste just like its off the cob. If You have an Alsid by You, yiou have to check iy out! It helps on a budget!!
Hi everyone! I completely agree with everyone who sung the praises of frozen veggies!! I have lived through several phases of my life where budget was highest on the list of priorities and worries, so I had to be extra careful about food - and I was feeding myself, my husband and two small kids! It CAN be done!! I also have to say that frozen meat, while not the tip-top best quality that one might find at the health food store, can be a life saver! I can't tell you how many times I've purchased a bag of plain frozen chicken breasts and used them to make yummy meals! They keep in the freezer for MONTHS so you can stock up when you have a few extra dollars and hold on to them and use when you need them. They're uncooked and depending on your cooking method (oven, crock pot, grill, etc...) you may not even have to thaw them out before cooking them!
My family's favorite recipes lately have all been "sheet pan" dinners. They're super easy, super healthy and super inexpensive! I use chicken breast, cut up (fresh or frozen - your choice), potatoes (boil them a bit first to make the cooking process quicker), frozen broccoli, frozen green beans, frozen mini ears of corn, and baby carrots (also super inexpensive) - season with EVOO, butter or margarine and some Mrs. Dash (a low cal FAVE in our house) and cook at 425 for about 30 minutes. Healthy, easy and the whole thing cost about $8ish dollars depending on whether your chicken was fresh or frozen. Also - in our house, this typically gives us at least one additional meal from the leftovers! Two for One!! YAY!
I think I drifted off-subject for a minute, but that's my favorite recent example of inexpensive healthy eating!
I've never tried soaking and crock pot cooking dried beans before. I've looked at them but have never found any recipes using them that I'm actually brave enough to try. But I think I might give it a shot! They're SUPER cheap and my kids will probably love it too!!
Rules for Living: 1. Never Panic. Stop. Breathe. Think. 2. Nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems. 3. The key to success lies in how you pick yourself up from failure. 4. Never regret anything. Remember there wasn't anything else that could have happened given who and where you were at that point in time. *from "Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination" -Helen Fielding
In addition to good ideas posted below, I strongly recommend cooking beans and lentils from dry. they are much, much cheaper. If you have an indian store near you, I've always found the prices there to be better (but not always for produce!). Also, reducing waste is another important way to save money, so if you can meal plan for the week you can make sure nothing goes to waste. If you're a meat eater, make it a part of a dish, not the main star. For example, if you're making tacos, use half the meat you normally would and add in diced mushrooms or use some black/pinto beans.
Healthy choices and actions have positive impacts, even if the scale doesn't move!
Re-start: 1/2/18, -10 met 1/30, - 20 met 3/27, -25 met 4/18, -30 met 7/4 Next goal: -35 by 7/31
Great thread...for those who keep forgetting to soak the beans overnight, you might try LENTILS. I/4 cup dry gives you 9 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein. I just rinse a cup of dried lentils, put in a pot with 2 cups hot water and cook for 30 minutes. They don't have a strong taste of their own, so can be combined with many different herbs or spices. I actually just put a cup of dry lentils in my mini crockpot with a clove of unpeeled garlic for flavor. On low they should be ready by supper time, on high, a lot quicker. They can be eaten hot or cold as a salad with chopped veggies and dressing (very French)...oooh la la. Bon Apetit
current weight: 146.6
Fitness Minutes: (26,490)
6/23/18 3:56 A
I really feel that it costs less to eat healthy. Get rid of the processed foods. You can make similar dishes yourself that are healthier and cost less. I buy fresh produce when it's in season. Even then, there are times when frozen costs less. Read the circulars and check out the sale items. I can often find boneless chicken breast for $1.99/pound. I'll buy several pounds and freeze some to use later. For me, 1 pound gives me 3 servings of protein which is about .67 for each. Add a potato and veggies and you have a great meal for under $2.00.
I like to have a pot of soup or chili on hand. You can use some of the chicken as a base or pick up lean beef as your base. I often add cooked lentils to a lean ground beef to extend it in dishes like chili, soup and tacos. Red lentils cook down and can provide protein to a tomato sauce to have with pasta. Add a bunch of chopped veggies for more nutrients. It also makes for a larger meal and that much healthier. Frozen chopped spinach or kale is one of my favorites to add. I like to top a salad with chili and might add some jalapenos for extra spice. Soups and chilis freeze well if you have a big batch.
Don't miss out on overnight oats for breakfasts. So easy to make and not expensive. We add fresh fruits when they're in season, peanut butter, or even just a bit of brown sugar. Lots of recipes here on Spark for them.
Also consider making a roast beef, whole chicken or a turkey breast. It may seem to be expensive at first, but when you break it down, it's very reasonable. Besides a few meals, you can do tacos or burritos, soups, served over salads, sandwiches, or freeze it for future meals. Again, if you consider the cost per meal, it is usually less than processed food.
Also check out some of the teams here. Some are geared towards eating on a budget and have great tips and recipes.
"I have not been placed on this earth to fit your mold or conform to what makes you feel more comfortable with my existence." Michelle Steinke
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
Everything I will suggest will probably already have been suggested. Regular grocery stores with coupons, using canned goods, like beans and veggies are often cheap and easy to make into delicious foods. Also getting a cookbook that features cheap eats. There is a magazine called cheap eats that has lots of recipes and tips to eat healthy on the cheap. I also buy big box items, rice, pasta, quinoa in large quantities which keeps price down. We have a discount store in our area. It is an awesome place to shop.
Even their organic produce is cheaper than other stores. I don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs, so I usually only spend $15-20 a week for food, and some items I actually buy in bulk (brown rice, nuts and seeds) and can stretch them throughout the month.
Eggs and milk prices are also much cheaper at Aldi’s. Meat also.
Hopefully there is one in your area.
Edited by: LIONESS627 at: 6/21/2018 (11:07)
BLC37 - SPICY SPARKOLOGISTS
Virtual Travel walks (Spicys only) - week of 7/02: Treasures of Tuscany (if you can track your steps in any way, then feel free to join us!) worldwalking.org/groups/6qjp4
Just to help with the budget. I find having a menu planed out a huge help. I grocery shop twice a month. So I come up with dinner menus for those time periods and then based on what is on the menu, I shop for what is needed. I usually stick to the same thing for breakfast except on the weekends so I make sure those things are taken care of as well. And a lot of the time lunch is simply leftovers from dinner the night before, which cuts down on the costs as well.
I also would look for sales and check out the reduced priced section in the meat section. You can freeze those to use later. If you can afford the really good ground beef here's a trick I came up with. I save my money for the good stuff and buy three pounds and freeze. Then the next trip I'll but a three pound chub of ground beef that is less good. Like 80% 20%. Spilt it up and freeze it. Spilt up the good stuff too before freezing. Then I use the good stuff for things I can't drain, like hamburgers, or meatball and meatloaf. I use the less than good for things I can drain the fat, like taco meat or sloppy joes. Then when you drain you also rinse the meat with the hot water. I know that sounds wrong but will flush away the excess fat from your meat. It's not perfect but in a pinch it'll help. Though after surgery I don't have a choice anymore it's the good stuff or no stuff at all.
I also suggest you look at your major stores websites to see their sales and get coupons. And build up your food stores in your kitchen. There's nothing wrong with five or ten pounds of one kind of beans. You never know when you just might be stuck eating beans for 7 days a week for one week of the month.
Go and look up healthy recipes here on SparkPeople and on Pinterest or anywhere else. These will help you with making menus and being able to make your grocery lists. Never, NEVER EVER go grocery shopping without a list!
Thank God I live in Florida and can find fresh produce year round and it's not as expensive. Meats however are usually expensive so I buy in packages and breakdown for meal size preparations. I drink only water, coffee, diet Snapple teas, occasionally very little skim milk. So I stay on track.
I second the idea of bulk grains. I got a 15# bag of wheat berries (whole grain, very similar to barley) from amazon for about $1.50 a pound, and if you can afford to make that investment all at once you'll get way more nutrition and food out of it than you would out of cup noodle.
Rule 1: Don't eat foods with ingredient lists containing numbers, colors, or the word "flavors".
current weight: 306.6
Fitness Minutes: (165)
55 6/18/18 2:38 A
I agree with what AMYBETTY1 said. Beans and rice as a staple in your diet are a very low cost solution. Add various vegetables and fruits on the side, and you've got a healthy and affordable diet that's very high in protein.
“And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” —Genesis 1:30
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” —Matthew 5:7
jmo but it's not hard to eat healthy while poor. What it takes though, is a commitment to spending the time to cook-- and depending on a person's life circumstances it can be hard to find that time. Baking your own bread takes time, cooking dry beans means remembering to soak them the night before, etc. As cooking from scratch becomes more routine for you, it doesn't take as long nor seem like such a burden-- but in the beginning, there's a learning curve.
As for fresh fruit & vegetables-- we eat what's in season. I don't buy things such as watermelon, fresh corn, squash, or tomatoes except when they're in season. Apples, carrots, potatoes are almost always pretty cheap because they keep well, so the "season' doesn't apply. But when I buy apples, I get the bagged ones (cheaper than those you choose individually) and whatever variety is cheapest.
DH and I are pretty excited right now, because zucchini and yellow squash are coming into season here-- and we love either of those grilled with a little olive oil and black pepper. We will be eating it every day while we can.
I'd agree with checking out Aldi, if you have one near you. I always shop there for produce-- our Aldi has good quality stuff at good prices.
Ruth in Cookeville, TN Central Time Zone
Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think - Christopher Robin to Pooh
Fitness Minutes: (99,758)
2,206 6/16/18 8:25 A
Also, I noticed you mentioned you loved tomatoes and cucumbers....have you tried growing them?? Seeds are so inexpensive and with a little skill/luck, you could have fresh veggies for practically free all season!
current weight: 135.0
Fitness Minutes: (99,758)
2,206 6/16/18 8:22 A
For snacks, I love roasting edamame. You can find frozen bags for $1-2...just coat them with a small amount of oil and whatever seasonings you want and roast them in a 400 degree oven or toaster oven til they're crispy! Filling, and high in protein and fiber. You can also do this with chickpeas, and probably any other bean!
Cereal is also an overlooked source of nutrition. They often fortified with all sorts of vitamins and minerals, and if you keep the sugar content fairly low, it's a great snack or meal. Usually the store brands are just as good as the name brands, for way cheaper. Oats are cheap too!
Remember, too, that you often pay for convenience. For example, baby carrots and pre-chopped veggies can be twice the cost as whole veggies that you cut yourself. Same with boneless, skinless chicken breasts vs. whole chickens. One convenience item i do love, though, is rotisserie chicken. Makes a few good meals, plus I make soup with the carcass after pulling the meat off.
I've also noticed that Target will frequently have coupons on their meats to sell quickly. I just bought 3 packages of ground beef, each of which had a $4 off sticker (making them like, $3 each). The use by date was only a day or two away, but I froze them right away and they should be fine to use later.
Stop and Shop also has a "reduced price" produce cart (in mine its in the back, by the seafood section. They're usually a little bruised or something, but perfectly fine to eat.
Hope this helps!
current weight: 135.0
Fitness Minutes: (5)
146 6/16/18 7:13 A
Thank you so much. My food stamps were cut and eating healthy with fresh this and that is just too expensive. I have been eating eggs for protein and love the idea of beans! For snacks I have been eating green apples with pntbtr. I would love to know of some other good ideas for cheap but good snack foods. Tomatoes and cukes I like but expensive!
I am currently in that position, trying to eat healthy but am really low income. It is to the point that people are really surprised that I can make things work without going to the food bank every month. I discovered "flexitarian" eating. Meat is expensive. I like meat. I only eat it 2 or 3 times a week. Beans are cheaper and you can get a pretty good variety. Smothering them with sugary stuff defeats the purpose though. You can find lots of ideas for things to do with them online. Fruits and veggies? I usually go for frozen. The growing season is pretty short the further north you get. If you have the room for a small garden, that would really help. As for bread, making your own is usually cheapest, and healthier because you know what is in it. Around here, big stores have reduced items. These items are just past their best before date and getting a little older. I would check them out and freeze it if I don't need it right away. Oh, and plain oatmeal is usually pretty cheap too. Eating cheap does not have to be that bad. It just takes a little creativity. That is what I keep telling myself.
For starters get your bodyfat tested. That is going to tell you what you actually have to lose. People who are 200 lbs who lose 2 lbs a week are about a foot shorter than you. 194 lbs is within the healthy weight range for a male your height, and just barely over for a woman. What that means is that, if you have any weight to lose, you're going to be aiming for about 1/4 lb per week, which means it is perfectly normal for it to take six weeks to see a pound loss on the scale due to normal weight fluctuations. There is nothing wrong with this, it just comes with having very little weight to lose.
Start at looking at foods by cost per serving. Beans and rice are cheap staples for a reason. You can buy a pound dry for under $2 without really shopping for sales or buying in bulk (shopping sales and buying in bulk can further bring your cost down). A pound dry will have between ten and sixteen servings in it, thus topping out at .20 per serving. So a serving of beans and a serving of rice is forty cents as your base. Frozen vegetables will run you about 5 servings in a $2 bag, or another twenty cents. Shop around and you can easily cut this in half. By randomly grabbing the first rice, beans and frozen veg in my cabinet and freezer (the rice is 190 cals, 1 g fat, 40 g carb, 3 g fiber, and 4 g protein; black eyed peas are 90 cals, 23 carbs, 10 fiber and 9 protein; Publix frozen mixed vegetables are 60 cals, 12 carbs, 3 fiber and 3 protein) that's a meal of 340 cals, 1 g fat, 55 sodium, 75 g carbs, 16 g fiber and 16 g protein. Yes, you'll need to add some sauce, oil or other flavoring, but compare that to three packs of Ramen at 1140 cals, 42 g fat, 5340 sodium, 156 g carbs, 6 g fiber and 30 g protein. I have a soft, comfort food spot for Ramen and I try and add at least a cup of vegetables, if not two, to a bag. There are also tons of recipes on the internet where you add eggs or just about any vegetable or meat to both use up leftovers and have tasty, better for you food.
Processed food often isn't a particularly great deal when you break out what you are actually getting. Yes, you can buy a frozen dinner for a dollar. But if you buy the ingredients you need to make the dish one of two things will happen. One is that you will spend the same amount, but get a greater quantity of higher quality ingredients. The other is that if you get the same amount of ingredients then your cost will be under a dollar. McDonald's dollar burgers are about the only thing I haven't been able to price out under the cost (I usually get it to 1.19), but the dollar fries only cost about twenty cents to make at home, so that covers a lot. Again, price out per serving and what you are actually getting.
Some other great values? Jarred applesauce (under $3 for a container, usually around ten cents a serving and often the ingredients should be just apples and citric acid), peanut butter ( 2.49 for the store brand, peanuts and salt and it has about 14 servings, making it eighteen cents a serving without shopping around), jelly/jam (again under $3 for 26 servings, or under twelve cents a serving), and 6" corn tortillas are usually about ten cents a serving.
Beyond that, shop the sales. Seasonal and local ingredients are cheap, but vary throughout the year. Want to buy corn in December? It's coming from halfway around the world and will cost you a dollar an ear (frozen can be more like a dollar per pound and canned is comparable if you don't mind the taste, texture and sodium). Buy corn in season in the summer and it's ten cents an ear. Watermelon in winter is obscene, but it's about sixty cents a pound in the summer. Carrots are usually about a dollar a pound. Potatoes are around 1.50 per pound, but check for sales around the holidays and you can get 5 or 10 lb bags for under $3. So long as you can eat it before it spoils, buying three to five pound bags of produce can take 30-50% off the price per pound. Frozen and canned can also be great options if you are minding your money. Again, price out per serving to see the bang for your buck.
it's a misconception that eating healthy is more expensive.
buying produce is going to be cheaper in the long run and will give satiety than processed foods. Ramen probably has you bloated and retaining water; same with the processed/canned foods.
if you can buy frozen veggies, which are sometimes cheaper than fresh, but not always, this would be healthier. I've done my own shopping strategies at one store and when I shopped mostly fruits, vegetables and seafood, my grocery bill dropped by about $100 each week. Canned goods can be quite expensive.
I hope you find what works for you. Also, losing weight is more about diet/food intake, than working out.
Pounds lost: 3.2
Fitness Minutes: (2,827)
9 6/15/18 12:18 P
Do you have an Aldi near you or a Farmer's Market? Those two places saved me $$ on produce. I am a student and would not be able to survive without shopping there. Also, I use a lot of dried beans. I cook them in the crockpot, soaking them the night before. Black beans and lentils helped me afford to eat through school. Mix with brown rice and you have a complete protein. Also, frozen fruit and veg is just as nutritious as the fresh stuff. You don't have to worry about it going bad as quickly. You can do it!!!
Fitness Minutes: (2,581)
6/15/18 11:04 A
How much is your grocery budget? If you work and take your meals to work, you are saving money and you can stretch meals by adding veggies and dicing meats. A stir fry or roasted vegetables with meat like the one pan meals are great examples of stretching meat and veggie purchases. When you think of the number of meals you can make, it's a great cost per serving. I looked at the sites Coach Jen posted and they give great tips for us all. I have done the google searches using ingredient names and have come away with a wealth of info. Youtube videos also offer great tips on budget healthy meals. Good luck! Sounds like you have established a great exercise regimen!
Yes you read that right. I want to eat healthy, I want to lose weight, but the healthy food I see around stores seem to be too expensive for me.
I'm 6'2 194 pounds, slightly chubby I feel like, and don't seem to be losing weight. I'm a very active person, I train in mixed martial arts 5 days a week for 2 hours a day, it's a good amount of cardio. The only problem is the food I regularly eat.
The food I can afford is ramen, processed foods, and packaged/canned foods. My question is, whats the best way to eat healthy at a low price? Are there any stores or specific foods you guys recommend that are healthy and affordable?
Hopefully I asked this question on the right forum. Thank you for reading though!