Eating Healthy on a Budget
Read feedback for this post below. Click here to post feedback.
Of course this depends on the food outlets that you have available to you. I'm horrified that tomatoes are $3/lb - thats robbery!
We have a local butcher, who sells 'small chicken fillets', these are the little 'flaps' that are trimmed from the whole fillets. Still fantastic for stir fries etc, when they are to be cut up even further. We also buy chicken legs, much more than breasts, as they are so much cheaper. If you remove the skin, they still count as a healthy meat for use in casseroles etc.
As already mentioned, growing lettuce and other crops in tubs/window boxes/used containers on a windowsill is fantastic value for money. One packet of seeds will produce at least 50 plants!
I went vegetarian, that helped my food bills enormously. Although I do like the odd bit of seafood every now and again. I shop in the Asian and Indian supermarkets. You can get nuts and spices and rice very cheap, also herbal teas and I found super cheap frozen marinara mix in the Asian supermarkets for a fraction of the cost of the branded supermarkets. They also have fresh and frozen veggies which you can't get in regular stores. And the nooodle selection is unbelieveable. By adopting a more Asian diet, I've lost weight and I can fill up on great food for heaps less.
Sandra Lee has a cooking show on feeding a group of 4 for a small amount. It is on Food Network on Sundays around 12:00 P. M. and the next show is about spending $10.00 for a group of 4 people. Good shows and may give some ideas. Check website for Food Network and you may find something to help you.
Actually, meat should only cover 1/4 of your plate. Veggies should cover 1/2 and the last quarter? Starchy veggies like corn or beans or potato or rice or pasta. With that info, it makes it easier to realize we've been paying way too much at the grocery store. It's easy to feed four, or even six, on a three pack of romaine, a small packet of croutons, three grilled chicken breasts, a couple tomatoes, and some Caesar dressing.
Still think the skinless-boneless chicken breast is too expensive? Get split breasts on sale and skin and bone them yourself. It's pretty easy, especially if they're partly frozen. Also, if you have a discount store like Aldi or Save-a-lot near you, go there. We eat salmon or some kind of fish several times a month, shrimp is almost a staple for us. There are four in the family and often more show up at supper time. We're still on budget.
I don't find this to be true at all. You have to keep in mind, when it's said to eat more fruits and veg, you don't HAVE to buy fresh. I pick up frozen peas, carrots, brussels, cauliflower, etc at my local Save A Lot for 99 cents a bag. Apples and bananas are pretty cheap. You can eat canned salmon or tuna. Chicken, buy a whole chicken. Yes if you want to buy everything in convenience form it will be more expensive.
Have you ever tried tofu? It is inexpensive, a great source of protein, and is really good. It takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it with. I buy the extra firm, blot out the excess water, cut it into cubes, stir fry it in sesame oil, then add stir fried veggies and brown rice. You can't get much healthier than that :)
I don't find this to be true. Actually, I think the opposite is usually the case. The healthiest foods are the ones you cook from scratch (no additives or preservatives). We stopped buying meat and cheese because they were the most expensive items on our list, and they are the easiest to overindulge on. Beans, brown rice, lentils, 100% whole grain bread (from the bread thrift store or made from scratch), canned and frozen veggies, fruit in season, and tons of spices from the bulk bins of your health food store are some of the best items for your body and your budget. Processed foods, candy, soda, cheese, and meat (in the quantities consumed by most Americans) are the worst for you and also the most expensive. You shouldn't be eating meat for every meal, it is not healthy even if it is fish and chicken. Everything in moderation.
A lot of how inexpensively a person can eat and still eat healthy foods, depends a lot on where you live. For me cooking a whole chicken and using the meat in other things would mean we would be eating meals out of one chicken for several months. There are days I can't spend a lot of time preparing food because of pain, this is most of the time. I have never used as much meat in casseroles as the recipes call for.
When we have beef stew, it is browned hamburger, never stew meat. I absolutely hate bean soup, etc. When I said it is too expensive to eat healthy, I was referring to buying the fruit, etc. that people are supposed to eat. I live in an apartment and have no place for a garden. Here in SD tomatos are $3.00 a lb. and I don't look at them to go down anytime in the near future. This is just an example.
It is hard to find really good bargains unless you live in certain parts of the country. The only fish we eat is canned tuna, because, because that is more affordable than buying fish out of the meat case. I can make tuna and noodles and have at least a couple meals out of one can of tuna.
Find inexpensive sources for your food. I routinely go to a fruit market who receives their produce from a restaurant supply company. If I go into the "Gourmet Outlet" side, I pay at least 4 times the price. If I go into the "Friendly Fruit" market (discount) I can get apples 3 lbs for $1.00, chopped romaine lettuce for $1.00/bag, grape tomatoes for $.50 a package, etc. When I go into the market, I never know what they have, I just buy whatever fruit and vegetables that are on sale. I can buy a whole week's worth of produce for less than $10.
Buy meats only when they are on sale. When my local store has chicken breast for $1.49/lb, I buy enough until the next sale. I can normally get chicken breast for $1.99/lb, so if I run out, I can still get it for the 1.99/lb. If I go to a regular store, I would pay $3.99/lb for chicken breast. I buy whole chickens when they are under $.99/lb. When they go to $.79/lb, I buy a few.
I go to a fish market to buy my fish. I am lucky to live near the ocean, so I can buy very fresh fish. We have a local fish market which is owned by the fishermen and I can get seafood at a reasonable price.
My local discount supermarket does sell frozen salmon for $3.99/lb but it is processed in China and I don't feel comfortable about buying it. I would rather pay the $5.00/lb for fish processed in the US or Canada.
I do buy some cuts of meat that are more expensive. When I buy beef, I only buy organic. I don't buy it often and will make it stretch. I buy bison at $5.00/lb and use 1/2 lb of it ground in recipes. These are splurge items and I don't buy them often.
I feed 4 people on a budget of about $60-$70/week. We eat alot of produce and whole foods. I make alot of our sweets and I sometimes make oatmeal bread instead of buying it.
In summary, find out where your inexpensive markets are and buy from them.
I've been budget cooking for years, and I honestly think we eat better now than before. One of the easiest ways to cut down on your food bill is just to reduce the amount of meat you eat. Rather than serve everyone a separate portion of meat, make dishes like casseroles, pasta and soups where you can "hide" the fact that less meat is being used. You still get the flavor and protein but you end up using about half the meat per meal you might otherwise.
Meals like this are also really easy to stuff full of vegetables and grains. Stock up on some frozen veggies to save money. Growing things like lettuce or tomatoes in pots is easy too and provides some cheap fresh vegetables in season. I love growing my own salads!
Instead of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, you can buy a whole chicken and either take it apart yourself, or cook the whole thing in your crock pot. I think I read that if you have a big crock pot, you can sometimes cook two at once. You can remove the meat and use for other recipes, and you can use the carcass for stock.
Dried beans are inexpensive and good for you. Here is a link to one of my favorite soups. No meat, and no added salt, but you'd seriously never know. Even my salt-a-holic dad went back for seconds. I waited until he was on his second bowl to tell him I didn't put any salt in it.
It is a very forgiving recipe. In the summer, we add fresh veggies from the garden (tomatoes and various peppers). If I have time, I soak dried beans instead of using canned (less expensive, and no salt). I don't bother with the blender -- I just cook it a long time. When serving, I offer lime wedges to squeeze over individual bowls, reduced fat cheddar, reduced fat sour cream, and chopped avocado (if I happen to have it).
Here is a link for articles on budget-friendly meals. I hope you find some of the information useful!
I have noticed that for years. Then try to eat fruit, that is outrageous even for two people. Whole grain breads are also higher priced than the regular bread. I have been trying to answer this question for years.
Add your voice to the conversation.