Frugal living...

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 06, 2008 8:37 AM GMT
    At this point in life, I am on a VERY tight budget. I pretty much live paycheck by paycheck, mostly due to bad financial and professional decisions from a few years ago. Unfortunatly this means that when I go to the store to get groceries, I tend to have to keep to mostly lower cost foods. I have knowticed that while easy on the wallet, these foods aren't so forgiving to the diet.

    Is there any way to keep to a low budget and still get food that is mainly healthy/good for you? I have looked at organic foods and health foods, but they tend to be costly.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Aug 06, 2008 9:27 AM GMT
    You can stick to fresh produces and lean meats
    .... stay away from the processed food stuff
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    Aug 06, 2008 11:31 AM GMT
    i think local farmer's markets may have cheaper goods... but unfortunately if you want to eat right, you'll have to ante up.

    also, portion control can help lower your food bill (and your waste line).
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Aug 06, 2008 2:14 PM GMT
    This is going to sound weird, I know, but I recommend you go grocery shopping at night. Hit the deli counter 20 minutes before it closes, and you'll often find deli workers offering you the meat that's been cut that day at a reduced rate, as they generally can't sell it the next day. The bread baked early that day, or the organic loaves without preservatives, often end up at 30-40% off. If your grocery store cooks their own rotisserie chickens, the ones from early that day will often be discounted as they try to get something for them before having to throw them out.

    Also, if you have a decent sized freezer, take advantage of cyclic sales. At my grocery store, for instance, any given week will have some form of raw chicken on sale prices which are about half what it is when it's not on sale. Whether that week's sale is thighs, drumsticks, whole breasts, boneless skinless breasts, wings, etc will vary, but there's always *some* form of chicken on sale. I stock up when the types I really want are on sale, and freeze them. It lowers my average grocery bill, but it does require you to have the money available to buy extra on weeks with a useful sale, and the discipline to actually spend less on the other weeks when you've already got food at home. The same principle can be applied to dry goods, and it's often possible to buy beans and grains in bulk.
  • Regina_Guy

    Posts: 406

    Aug 06, 2008 5:24 PM GMT
    I try and make a lot of stews and stir frys. Normally I would eat two chicken thighs, rice and veggies for supper. But when I make stew or stir frys, I add a ton of veggies. So those two pieces of chicken that I would eat in one meal, I'm able to stretch out to 2 or 3 meals. It's really helped me cut back on my meat portions, and I don't even miss it! Plus I find stews and stir frys taste better as left overs, because all the flavors have time to soak in together.

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    Aug 06, 2008 5:41 PM GMT
    I know what you mean chicken is getting damn expensive, Skim Milk used to cost 65c a few months ago now costs over €1.

    It seems that people who's grocery basket contains basic healthy food has risen a lot more than people who's basket is full of marked up convenience and processed food which has simply absorbed the increase in costs. Not to mention shopping for one.

    At the end of the day organic and non-organic food has pretty much the same nutrient profile.

    Also you need to educate yourself in what's healthy and what's not. There are plenty of healthy food out there on the shelves that isn't specifically labeled as such.

    Specifically labeled health food is likely to be highly marked up.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 06, 2008 6:01 PM GMT
    Tuna fish always works. Take advantage of the buy 1 get one free deals too!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 06, 2008 6:23 PM GMT
    Produce at the Mexican markets is very cheap and healthy!
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    Aug 06, 2008 7:29 PM GMT
    Do you get flyers from grocery stores where you live? If so buy as much as you can when a staple goes on sale. For example, I love tinned sockeye salmon, but never spend more than $1.99 a tin for it (regular is $3.69-$3.99). I never buy 1% milk (3 bags) for more than $3.99 (it can be as high as $5.69).

    If you are disciplined and smart as a shopper you can eat half decently at a reasonable price most of the time. And you are right organic vegetables and fruit are expensive. Stick to the non-organic produce, it is just fine.
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    Aug 06, 2008 7:40 PM GMT
    Luckydog76 saidTuna fish always works. Take advantage of the buy 1 get one free deals too!


    Tuna is excellent....

    I use my George Foreman grill to cook just about everything. Inexpensive ground turkey meat and other cheap cuts of meat seasoned the way you like it...Mmmm.

    Protein shakes made with inexpensive protein and fruits.

    Regular popcorn cooked in the microwave when you want a snack.

    Drink water.

    The ethnic markets.

    Peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches
  • art_smass

    Posts: 960

    Aug 06, 2008 8:26 PM GMT
    Eat more beans.
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    Aug 08, 2008 1:53 AM GMT
    I ate very healthy and on about $30/month in my early twenties. ( I had goals that I thought needed to be achieved quickly)

    Buy bulk!

    My list included:

    Tuna
    Raisin Bran
    Skim milk powder
    Frozen veggies( supplemented with some I grew myself)
    Cheap fruit( bananas/apples)
    Brown Rice
    Frozen perogies
    Salsa
    Pasta

    Granted I was quite slim about 130lbs, and healthy.

    There is always someone with a garden too that has extras. Grab 'em and freeze'em.
  • MuslDrew

    Posts: 463

    Aug 08, 2008 2:17 AM GMT
    I don't know if thee is a Trader Joe's near you, but I buy a lot of my staples there. They are pretty low priced and tons of organic items. I get a low carb, whole grain bread, organic unsalted peanut butter, fresh fruit & veggies, jumbo eggs, a few spices, brown rice, oatmeal, frozen strawberries (to add to protein drinks)fresh chicken breast, fresh salmon, low cal salad dressings made with olive oil, canola mayo, and a few other condiments there. I usually walk out with a couple of bags stuffed for between $20-40
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    Aug 08, 2008 2:21 AM GMT
    Back in the day when I didn't own a pot to call my own:

    I never bought ANYTHING that wasn't on a 'loss leader' type sale that week. Get all the local ads for supermarkets near you, then make out your shopping list based on the sales - and stick to your list.

    I stocked up on just a few basics when they were on sale (say in 5# bags): Potatoes, Onions, Apples, Carrots, and then stored them in a cool dry place.

    I bought cheaper cuts of meat, and cooked them longer... for example, buying a whole turkey or ham for under $1- per pound, cooking then freezing 95% of it for later. a large ham especially can be sliced up immediately, then cooked as you need it later.

    Eggs are also a great, and cheap, source of protein.

    Frozen Veg have 99.5% of the nutrients of the fresh ones, at about half the price.

    also look for a cart or table in the produce or bread aisle where they reduce the 'day old' stuff. Use it quickly, or freeze for later.

    Buy fewer prepared foods - even make your own spaghetti or tomato sauces from scratch; its more time consuming, but better for you and much cheaper.

    Try buying large quantities like number 10 cans of some items, then freezing most of the product - usually that will greatly reduce the costs.

    I know, I know, I am a cheap bastard.

    Good luck.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 09, 2008 8:23 PM GMT
    Give up meat (starting with beef and pork).
  • PRDGUY

    Posts: 641

    Aug 09, 2008 9:44 PM GMT
    yomamali saidi think local farmer's markets may have cheaper goods... but unfortunately if you want to eat right, you'll have to ante up.

    also, portion control can help lower your food bill (and your waste line).

    and BIONERD have great ideas.... The farmers here give away unsold produce and even steaks and cooked foods [at grocery stores deli area] like rout chicks are marked down after 730pm here... like a whole cooked chick normally $7.49 u get for .99-1.99, rack of baby back ribs baked with bbq drops from $11 to 3.99 like said before prefer to sell than throw away.

    Farmers are always generous but get there early enuf to browse and chat them up.... then as they pack up offer them half for produce, etc.... usually are glad to sell or give away to avoid havin to haul back to the farm.
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    Aug 13, 2008 1:10 AM GMT
    buy generic brands, replace some fresh foods with canned or frozen and eat lots of pasta.
    generic pasta is like $0.50 and a tin of tomatoes costs less than fresh ones and in bolognaise, tomatoes reduce anyway so it makes little difference which you use. generic foods can be just as healthy as brand names, check the labels and compare. i've found some generic fruit juice has more actual fruit in it than most big name brands.

    and definitely shop when the stores are about to close. you get good savings on roast chicken, anything cooked.

    local fruit and veg shops can be cheaper than chain stores. find a fruit and veg market.

    and always check the used by dates on meat, usually the stores have a cycle of when they put out meat and usually the last two days of the expiry date the meat is discounted. freezing bulk meat is a big money saver.

    don't buy snacks or eat out

    organic isn't more healthy nutrient wise so there's not point in buying something expensive when you can't afford it

    be prepared to eat the same thing multiple times in a week, if you get sick of the taste, buy sauces and spices to change the routine (generic sauces and spices!). and cheese is the best thing to make anything taste good.