I was wondering if anyone has any advice on how to eat healthy and nutritious on a very serious budget. I have been reading all of your posts, but cannot afford organic or health foods. I can barely afford fresh fruits and veggies. I am trying to feed 3 of us, and I can't chew. I've worked out my non chewing issues, but would like my husband and son to be as healthy as possible. Thanks for any advice!!!!
ok so aim for foods that will be profitable to your health..try frozen veggies, chick peas, beans, lentils, milk, cheese, good bread, eggs..and, some fresh fruits..rice, tuna cans, sardines some apple sauce rice cakes..etc.. don't worry we are all pretty much in the same boat.
look through the circulars for good buys, buy foods only when they're on sale, clip out coupons, get those stupid keychain cards if your supermarket has one, try and find a "farmer's market," they usually have great prices and lots of healthy foods, etc...
Cooking from scratch saves a LOT of money. You can pay less for simple products or you can pay for a product PLUS someone's labor in preparing the product. A simple spaghetti sauce made with sauteed onions and celery, a bit of finely chopped meat and/or lentils or beans, add a bit of tomato PASTE not sauce, thin with water and add a pinch of herbs -- and you're done. (20 minutes of your time as opposed to 2 minutes to heat up a jar of Ragu, but lots cheaper and you can tailor the ingredients to suit your family.) Tomato paste seems to me to cost less than cans of tomato sauce, and you get lots of tomato flavor -- you just have to dilute it yourself.
Smaller amounts of meat in the diet will save LOTS of money -- I normally chop it fine and put it with lots of veggies and saucy things. Buy fresh veggies ONLY when they are in season or in the bargain bin -- this means choose your recipes based on what you'e got in the house. Frozen veggies are just a nutritious as fresh, and canned ones are great in soups and casseroles. Beans of various sorts are filling and cheap. Beans are even cheaper if you cook them yourself (rinse, soak in three-times the water all day, and cook in the evening for 45 minutes or till done -- don't add salt until they're done cooking). Lots of people think that cooking beans takes too much work -- but my experience is that it takes a bit of planning, but not that much more of my own time. My philosophy is, I'd rather do a little planning than pay someone else for their labor.
If you've got a freezer, buy meats and things only when they're on sale, and freeze in meal-sized portions. The extra beans can go into the freezer as well -- it takes just as much time and electricity to cook up a big pot as a small one. A microwave oven defrosts things in a hurry when you've forgotten to take something out of the freezer in the morning. If you haven't got a freezer or microwave, than it just takes a bit more planning to keep costs down.
Learn to compare prices (price per pound or ounce or unit) and don't just assume that because you've got a coupon for a major brand that it will be the cheapest price -- often the store or no-name brands are cheaper, and are usually made by the major brands anyway so the quality is just as good.
Good luck in your adventures to keep costs down without sacrificing health and good flavor!
I always look at ads for fruit and veggies on sale. A bag of apples is always going to be a good inexpensive snack for everyone. I just buy what is cheap and in season. Veggies are not too bad price-wise. One of our grocery stores has a clearance shelf for veggies that are slightly older and need to sell quick. Im a pro at shopping clearance and sales. With food, I pretty much only buy what is on sale. I also buy some frozen veggies because they are cheaper than fresh. I buy some fresh and some frozen to make it a little more affordable. Though I avoid dairy, I like yogurt (light) and it seems to be on sale all the time lately.
Soups are about as cheap and nutritious as you can get. A huge pot of split pea soup costs less than a dollar (onion, carrot, broth and split peas) or black bean soup (can of beans, stock cubes, onion, carrot). You can also get those goya brand bags of 12 bean soup mixes for about 69C. You can get multiple pots soups out of that bag.
Beans are pretty cheap too. Cans are usually 2 for a dollar. You can either mash them and add onion, garlic and some breadcrumbs and make pattys and quick fry in little oil for burgers, or you can make a soup or some chilli (nice this time of year)
Canned fish is inexpensive and very good for you. You can use it for casseroles, sandwiches etc.
There are some fresh veggies and fruit that are not expensive, cantelope is about 99C and pears and apples are cheap too. Or course, carrots and onions are very cheap. Cabbage is quite cheap and is SO delcious. You can use it for soup or just steam it and eat it. Also, the bags of baby spinach are quite inexpensive. I often use a small handful as a bed for various meals. It gives you a little fresh stuff with whatever you eat. Lasts for about a week in the fridge if you put a clip on it.
Oatmeal is very cheap. Only a couple of bucks for a whole canister. Instead of sugar, throw in some sultanas. Both keep well. Also, you can add a tbsp of ground flax seed to your oatmeal. It only costs about $4 from the healthfood store for a 16oz bag but you only use a small amount and it lasts for months in the freezer and adds a lot of nutrients.
Nuts are great to have around as a snack. You can either have the unsalted version from your regular grocery store or check out the healthfood store as some (not all) are cheap. Raw, unsalted pumpkin and sunflower seeds are about $2 for a big bag. I mix them up and put them in a canister and they last for months.
Also, I guess conserving what you already have is important too. When I buy some fresh jalepenos or stuff that I don't use that often I put them in a bag and freeze them. I do the same with lemons, I grate them and put the zest in a bag and put in the freezer and squeeze the juice and put tbsps fulls in the ice cube tray. Then, whenever I need zest or juice, its right there in the freezer. If i buy a can of coconut oil or orange juice or pinapple juice for recipes I put the remainder in the ice cube tray and then when its frozen, empty it into a freezer bag. I have bags of various juice already measured out into 1 tbsp cubes.
sorry about the unstructured post - I was just writing as I was thinking of stuff!!
I love berries and I am totally disgusted by the high price. I cant have them very often as a result. I think its a shame that fruits and veggies can be so expensive--the fact that americans consume so many processed foods could be contributing to our health/obesity crisis. It would almost make sense to save money in the healthcare system by buying the fruits/veggies--maybe my insurance company could offer us some coupons??? Just kidding!
They DID offer us a discount at our local YMCA, provided we work out at least 8 days a month. I think that is pretty cool, and cant wait to join. Sometimes it just seems like things are backwards--I can buy candy cheap but I have to bargain shop for healthy stuff. Ugh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Free bread that the bakeries threw out at night
- Fruit on sale that was a little bruised (I have a thing about apples, gotta have 'em)
- Free soups from food not bombs
- Cheap veggies and fruit from cherap markets in Chinatown etc, and those little tofu pieces (I'm a vegetarian) you can get for 15 cents each
- Nuts from the floor of bulk sections (ha ha but maybe don't try that if your immune system's not used to it)
- Free food from Food Not Bombs
- Stuff I got from friends sometimes and once a week from a church where I help out at a "Welcome Center" for the homeless
- Samples in stores
- Cookies and coffee after church on Sunday
If you're cooking for a family, I think buying in bulk is the cheapest way. And as somebody said, make soups. Look for whatever vegetables or fruit that are on sale.
Make friends that have their own vegetable gardens. :-)
Don't be ashamed to go to a soup kitchen if you need to. Nice people there, often!!!
Umm.... yeah, that's about what I can think of for now.
wow, that's pretty smart there! Your post does bring up a concern of mine though. So many restaurants/supermarkets/etc throw out tons of perfectly edible food each day. This is sad considering how many homeless and hungry people could really use this food that's being thrown out. It would be nice if there was some sort of organization that could go around and collect this food and feed it to the needy. Sorry, I know that was off topic.
True, organic foods are best, but if you can possibly buy all your meat/dairy items from a health food store that is organic (and maybe fruits/veggies), the rest you can still get pretty good stuff from regular stores.
Look for whole grain breads, beans/legumes, lentils, and...well, I'm sure you already know the rest. :P