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JAMER123 SparkPoints: (487,443)
Fitness Minutes: (151,837)
Posts: 31,537
10/9/12 9:47 P

I have a food saver and when I bring home meats on sale, it is usually close to the sell date so I repackage and put in portion sizes, then freeze. After I prepare foods and have leftovers, I will either make a homemade soup of some form or again, portion out an individual serving in a single serve dish then freezing that for another meal. I also, will use coupons anytime I can as well as wait and buy on sale when ads come out (unless it is something I need now or never has sales/coupons.)

CAROLJ35 Posts: 16,265
10/9/12 9:02 P

Soups go a long way! Tomorrow I plan to make Stuffed Pepper Soup as peppers have been cheap at this end of season. Then I freeze containers for future use also.
ALL of my broth is homemade with no salt added. Add celery tops, onions, and sometimes carrots to the least expensive chicken. Can even be done in the crockpot. Be sure to cool and remove the fat. Sometimes I put cook broth in blender, that way veggies are still in broth.
I save all broth from cooking chicken, beef, or veggies. Keep a container in freezer and just add whatever broth you have.
Was it Ben Franklin who said, "Waste not, want not"?

CAROLJ35 Posts: 16,265
10/9/12 8:54 P

I soak several kinds of dried beans, cook each separately with garlic and onions. When cool I put two cups of each kind in freezer bag and label. Then I have good variety, cooked with NO salt, and ready for use when needed. Do the same with lentils.

SHOAPIE SparkPoints: (434,722)
Fitness Minutes: (149,537)
Posts: 18,888
10/9/12 8:03 P


FANCYQTR Posts: 11,816
10/9/12 5:52 P

Wow, I wish our Farmers Markets had prices like the ones people on here go to. For $10-15 you get half or less what you would get at the grocery store. In fact, I went to one recently where you could only buy the fruit by the bag and it started at $9 for a small bag that had maybe 2 1/2 pounds of peaches. Tomatoes were sold the same way. We do have one store here that Sprouts bought out that has good prices most of the time on produce and usually will have a good sale on meat, so I will go there for those things on sale. Hopefully Sprouts will continue with the same kind of deals (they have so far).

10/9/12 5:29 P

This is all making me hungry. :)

SHARA53 SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 166
10/9/12 5:00 P

I find I do do really well (budget wise and nutritionally) if I get most protein from eggs, beans, and legumes and add a little meat, poultry or fish to supplement it. Also I buy a lot of raw ingredients in bulk, which is much cheaper. Dried pinto, black and other bean varieties are cheap as are lentils and chickpeas, and they make great soups and stews with the addition of some veg and broth and soup bones or a little meat. And you can cook Mexican or Italian dishes with many of these, too.

This is a great time to stock up on whatever end-of-season produce you can get at farmer's markets (or farm stands), where it tends to be cheaper than the grocery store. And staples that I use a lot of like canned tomatoes or frozen vegetables are often on sale, so I stock up when they are. Same with stuff like whole wheat pasta, brown rice, etc. I also make great oatmeal most mornings with steel cut oats I buy in bulk at $1.49 a pound (versus $8 or more for a few pounds of the "gourmet" version).

And if you have the time and inclination, making your own bread is a wonderful way to save money (and have the best bread you'll likely ever eat!) .

Sometimes you find great buys in places that will surprise you. I cook mostly with olive oil (and sometimes a little butter), and there's a store where I live called World Market that sells big bottles (like 32 ounce size) of extra virgin olive oil from Spain or Italy for $6.99. That's a huge saving over the supermarket. They sell spices and some other foods cheaper there, too. It pays to research your community and see what's out there.

Good luck to you! I know it's hard these days to feed a family with prices so high. I feel like I have to stay creative just to keep up but it can be done.

10/9/12 4:46 P

My mom used coupons religiously, and she would drive all over town to get $10 of groceries from each store. At the end of the day, we'd have a box of chow mein noodles, a jar of Miracle Whip, and some maraschino cherries in the cupboard, plus a zucchini and, say, a loaf of white bread on the counter. Then it was like, "What are we actually going to eat?" Poor mom, she tried, but she didn't know what to do after she brought home the good deals. A plan is important, LOL.

WHITEANGEL4 SparkPoints: (387,206)
Fitness Minutes: (329,549)
Posts: 11,307
10/9/12 4:30 P

In the early 2000s my husbands company closed in our area. He did find other employment and we recently went though a scare of a large layoff which happily he missed. We have been watcihng our budget since his first layoff. I shop the sales for our groceries. If it is not on special, it is not on our menu for that week. I am learning the cycles of the sales in our local stores. We shop the farmer's market for all our produce. I can get enough fresh veggies and fruits for a week for between 10 and 15 dollars as opposed to 50 to 75 for same at grocery store. When they have bargins, I purchase and put in the freezer for future use. We have a some type of stew, soups and beans at least once a week. Dried beans go a long way and they are very economical and a great protien, We eat smaller portions of meat than we did a few years back. I freeze leftover veggies, beans, etc and will make a big pot of refrigerator soup consisting of all the little bits of leftovers. Leftover mashed potatoes mixed into the broth of a soup makes it thicker and creamer. So I do not waste them either.

We purchase our meat when on sale and in the large package. We come home, cut to meal size portions, date and freeze. We usually only go to the grocery every other week when he have a stock in the freezer. When it gets low , we may go every week for a couple of weeks to get the back up foods. We have a list on the side so we are aware of what is there when it was frozen etc. This helps us maintain a reasonable food budget.

Rice, pasta and grains are great for you and they stretch your food.dollar. I can make a wonderful stirfry with a small amount of meat or chicken and add plentey of veggies and serve over rice.

You can make it by keeping and eye on the sales and controll the amount of food that you waste.

10/9/12 4:08 P

Also soup bones are cheap and are great for vegetable soups. Not quite sure how to caluclate calories for soup bones, but I would think they're not to bad if they're not too fatty.

CAROLJ35 Posts: 16,265
10/9/12 3:59 P

Some of our good supermarkets reduce meat by almost 50% if near expiration date. Use it right away or freeze immediately. Great savings and I have never gotten a bad pkg. of meat.

emoticon emoticon emoticon

FANCYQTR Posts: 11,816
10/9/12 3:44 P

I am glad to see so many ideas on this subject. I get really tired of just seeing the answer of eat beans and rice like they have in most articles about eating on a budget. There are many people who CANNOT eat those foods. I not only cannot eat beans (get deathly sick) or rice (too high in carbs), I cannot eat a lot of soy products because of the kind of cancer I had. People never seem to acknowledge that there are people who cannot eat those foods.

To see so many ideas is really helpful especially since my food budget was just cut and I am on very low income.

Edited by: FANCYQTR at: 10/9/2012 (15:45)
10/9/12 3:22 P

Beans, lentils and rice!

10/9/12 3:13 P

These are great suggestions, and you don't have to feel like you're eating on the cheap. With a little imagination and herbs and spices you probably have on hand, you can make a lot of good soups and stews. Applesauce is good too. Money was tight when I was a kid and I grew up on that kind of thing. A small amount of meat goes a long way when you combine it with legumes and dried beans and a few onions and spices. To me, it's also delicious.

Good luck to you.

BARBARASDIET SparkPoints: (349,561)
Fitness Minutes: (135,823)
Posts: 15,646
10/9/12 2:55 P

I do several of the suggestions below, and I think I eat pretty well on very little!

MARITIMER3 SparkPoints: (200,348)
Fitness Minutes: (113,083)
Posts: 9,178
10/9/12 1:32 P

You've already had some wonderful suggestions - I would simply add (or repeat) some of my favourite money saving ideas (we're seniors on a fixed income):
- oatmeal for breakfast - not the little one-serving packages, but minute oatmeal that you cook yourself - oatmeal is also great for stretching ground beef for meatballs, meatloaf, etc.
- canned or dried beans - 3-bean vegetarian chili is one of my favourites. I use kidney, black, and garbonzo beans
- buy apples in quantity and make applesauce
- buy bananas that are bruised and reduced; mash them and freeze in 1/2 cup quantities. Great for banana bread, adding to cookies.
- buy things when they are in season; e.g., in the fall buy and use sweet potatoes, turnip, squash, broccoli and cauliflower. In-season produce is much less expensive than imported.
- in our area, Wal-Mart often offers better prices on detergents, paper products
- watch grocery store ads and buy what's on special if you have room to store it. Here (Southern Ontario), chicken is usually on special one week, pork another, beef another.
- buy whole chickens and cut them up yourself. Use backs, wings, neck to make stock for soups
- if you don't have a slow-cooker, try to pick one up at a yard sale. Soups and stews are nutritious and great uses for left-overs.

Probably my best advice would be to make as much from scratch as you can; don't be afraid to try new recipes, and stay away from junk food.

JENAE954 Posts: 7,020
10/9/12 1:19 P

Texturized vegetable protein

Wonderful swap for ground beef, turkey or pork.

OCWIFEY1 SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 1,620
10/9/12 1:03 P

Kiwi - you can get them sometimes 5 for a $1 and they are so tasty and will help when you are craving something sweet. Also, eggs, they are filling and protein. Carrots, celery - usually the cheaper vegetables but pack a punch and sweet potatos - usually not too expensive but have so many vitamins and nutrients.

MAYBER SparkPoints: (120,147)
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Posts: 9,764
10/9/12 1:02 P

Farmers Markets are excellent for fresh locally grown produce
Now some markets are open to meat and breads
Great value for the money
One day at a time

10/9/12 12:58 P

In OR we have stores called WinCo. they have a lot of bulk items that are really cheap. Things I would never be able to afford regularly packaged in the regular grocery stores. Quinoa has become a staple since we moved away from pastas and grains. We buy it in bulk there. And I often come across meats that are on clearance and jerky for snacks.

CLARK971 SparkPoints: (29,686)
Fitness Minutes: (23,835)
Posts: 827
10/9/12 12:35 P

eggs were my favorite inexpensive meal when i was in college.

Buying in bulk at coscto helps, but I have to be careful at costco-I have to make sure whatever I am spending there I am cutting from my trips to the grocery strore and fruit market.

JENAE954 Posts: 7,020
10/9/12 11:46 A

I have replaced canned beans for the dry ones.
It takes a little time to cook.
They do well in my crock pot.
Saves tons of money and quite versatile.

ASININE58 SparkPoints: (10,818)
Fitness Minutes: (10,630)
Posts: 40
10/9/12 10:42 A

A lot of grocery stores are starting to give discounts if you go onto their website or download their coupon ap. Safeway has a Just For U program that lets you e-clip coupons; however, they aren't your basic coupons for name brand super processed foods--they are for things that you buy often (even store brands and veggies). I downloaded the ap and get coupons for things like apples, limes and broccoli. I can save $10 a shopping trip just with the ap coupons. I'll save an additional $30 using the BOGO meats and other store card savings. I usually get out of the grocery store for $100 per shopping trip and I go three times a month.

Also, don't overlook tofu. Meat is really expensive, but you can get nearly a pound of protein packed tofu for as little as $0.75. Stir fry that with a bag of frozen veggies and some oyster sauce and you have just made four servings of a healthy meal for under $4.00! I'm also really lucky that my boyfriend loves tofu.

L*I*T*A* SparkPoints: (570,698)
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Posts: 221,976
10/9/12 10:04 A

old fashioned cereals

10/9/12 9:56 A

I find that the farmer's market is a really good place to find an abundance of inexpensive produce. I'm spoiled in that I have two year round farmer's markets in my area, but this could be very helpful during the summer months.

If you live in Michigan, and if you have food stamps, then you're probably able to use your food stamps for food at the farmer's market and you get double the value of your food stamps up to $20. In other words, you trade in $20 of your food stamps for wooden coins to be used at the farmer's market and you'll get $40 worth of wooden coins (or whatever they use).

-POLEDANCEGIRL- Posts: 14,804
10/9/12 9:55 A

I am going to start planning better with meals. Less processed foods and utilize the crock pot.

DEBIGENE SparkPoints: (170,659)
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Posts: 8,494
10/9/12 9:30 A

Love these ideas !!! Thanks for sharing !!!

MAUREENGRACE1 SparkPoints: (15,391)
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Posts: 163
10/9/12 9:02 A

I go to the market every saturday for bargains. The best time to go is late afternoon. This is when the fruit and vegtable stall will virtually give away produce, rather than take it back home. I have bought a box of tomatoes for £1-00. the weight has been 12lbs. 50 Bananas for a £1-00. which I shared with my kids, who also have kids. Lots of banana cake was made that week. Salads are always cheap if they have any left. So its always worth a look.

AFORTN Posts: 395
10/9/12 8:48 A

Old fashioned oatmeal (not the instant stuff).

MIZINA730 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (3,581)
Posts: 182
10/9/12 8:41 A

I cook dried beans in a crock pot for refried beans. Definitely cheaper than a can and better for you. I add cumin and garlic powder, sometimes fresh garlic and onion. A bag of beans go a long way, especially good for a big family.

JENAE954 Posts: 7,020
10/9/12 8:18 A

When food shopping I always check the grocery store ads for ONLY the items used and make a list.
First stop is the fruit and vegetable markets. Yes, there are two of them nearby.
Another thing is that I eat seasonally which means whatever items are plentiful that season.
Supply and demand comes into play here.
The more there is of an item the cheaper it is when it comes to produce.
Those purchases then determine what else is needed for the week.
By making fresh produce my priority I am able to eat healthier for less money.

Happy shopping.

WCHOWARD SparkPoints: (49,439)
Fitness Minutes: (125,246)
Posts: 1,172
10/9/12 8:06 A


NFLATTE Posts: 9,424
10/9/12 7:44 A

Good to know...

BTVMADS Posts: 985
10/9/12 7:39 A

Make as much from scratch as you can, and start with the least processed ingredients you can get. Whole chickens instead of chicken breasts, roasts instead of steaks, canned tomatoes instead of jarred sauces.

My husband and I have a Costco membership, and we get all of our meat there. Whole chickens are 99 cents per pound there (vs $1.50 in the grocery store), so we'll roast one on Sunday, use leftovers for another dinner later in the week, and my husband eats the rest in sandwiches all week (way cheaper than lunch meat!). Then we freeze the bones when we've eaten the meat, and make a big batch of chicken stock with it! 88% lean ground beef is just $3/lb at Costco, vs. $4.50 at the grocery store, so we'll buy 6 lbs, divide it into 1/2 or 1 lb bundles, freeze it, and eat it all month! Buying 90% of our meat at Costco easily saves us $30 per month.

Other great ways to stretch the food budget: Eat eggs for dinner! Souffle is surprisingly easy and provides 4 people with a hot meal for less than $5. Omelets, fritatta, quiche, huevos rancheros, poached eggs over peppery greens -- they're all great ways to get protein and veggies without breaking the bank. Of course, frozen store-brand veggies can't be beat for value, as well as store-brand pantry products. And soups and casseroles are the ULTIMATE budget-stretcher, especially if you make your own broth. A big batch of soup makes dinner for one night and lunches for you all week!

The best thing to do is to carefully look at what your family eats, and where you can make changes. Do you buy breakfast bars? Start baking your own. Do your kids love string cheese? Learn to make mozzarella (takes about 35 minutes)!

Just keep in mind that by far the BEST way to lower the food bill is to take more time. Processed foods are pricy because someone else did all the work. If you're willing to work for your meals, you will save money and have more control over the nutrition you and your family is getting!

10/9/12 6:36 A

I bought a crockpot a few years ago and I've saved a small FORTUNE on food.
It's constantly in use in our house - soups, curries, stews, casseroles...
I hear you can even make lasagne in it but I haven't tried it yet.


TRYINGHARD54 Posts: 5,292
10/9/12 5:43 A

very good suggestions

JPONCIN SparkPoints: (28,673)
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Posts: 272
10/9/12 4:45 A

I forgot to mention that it's a great idea to find foods that are about to expire that are marked down. I find a lot of deals this way, and it works out well if you plan on eating it soon after you buy it. I can find deli meat, or meat for dinner, on sale and put it in my freezer until I'm ready to use it, or if it's produce, I give myself a goal to use it up within 2 days of buying it. Occasionally, I can also find a little "scratch/dent" section at Kroger that is full of canned soups, fruits, vegetables, or boxes of cereal or granola bars. It's important to only buy things you will actually use when you find a good deal, or else it will sit in your pantry.

JPONCIN SparkPoints: (28,673)
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Posts: 272
10/9/12 4:34 A

I'm a stay-at-home mom so we live on a very tight budget. These are some of my favorite cheap foods that are Spark-friendly, that I can usually find at Aldi or Kroger at a good price:
3-lb. bag of apples
Bran Flakes
Fit & Active ground beef (Aldi)
6-pack of small boxes of raisins (Aldi)
32-oz. tub of yogurt (Kroger is usually about 20 cents cheaper)
Fiber bars
Frozen vegetables (Aldi for the common ones, Kroger for the ones I can't find at Aldi)
Frozen chopped spinach (Kroger). These are handy little boxes of green veggie that are easy to add to meals for more iron/fiber.
I'm sure I will think of more after I click "Post Message" but these are my top favorites!

MOTLEM SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (107,957)
Posts: 11,654
10/9/12 1:49 A

Buy generic brands, tins baked beans, tins sardines. Eggs are good. I definitely agree with frozen veggies. Homemade soup is a lot cheaper than bought tinned soup.

Make big freezer meals if you can afford all the ingredients. A great place to visit for this is:

Good luck. emoticon

KAPELAKIN Posts: 1,984
10/3/12 2:38 P

Find out if you have a food co-op in your area. Here, and throughout most of the west, we have Bountiful Baskets, which will provide a big basket of fruit and veggies for $15/week (you don't have to buy every week). It is typically $30 or so worth of stuff, and if you volunteer you get a freebie, too.

Find a grocery store that sells in bulk, and buy dry beans, brown rice, nuts and spices that way. You can purchase exactly what you need, and it's usually cheaper than the same things in packages.

Beans and lentils are a great inexpensive staple since they have a good amount of protein. You can cook up a large batch of dried beans and then freeze the extras for easy use later - cheaper and less sodium than canned beans. Eggs and tofu are inexpensive protein sources as well.

Stretch your meat portions by using them in things like stirfry or soups, instead of serving large cuts of meat.

If you eat bread, look into making your own bread. Making your own chicken or vegetable stock is also really economical, and healthier than store-bought.

This time of year you may even be able to find someone with fruit trees that need to be picked, and at least around here, I usually get a big bag of onions and potatoes and keep them in a cool place for use all winter, and they are really cheap (like $10 for 50# of onions)

KITTY_SOZE Posts: 79
10/3/12 2:16 P

In addition to these great suggestions, you may want to consider Costco, Sam's Club, or another warehouse membership store (if you don't have a membership, you can always team up with a friend or family member who does).

I used to only consider Costco for paper products, toiletries, and over-the-counter medications, but they have a pretty decent selection of bulk food products that are healthy and decently priced. I recently bought a 3 lb. bag of frozen organic berries for $10 there - a 10 oz. bag for the same at the grocery store costs $4.50, typically. That is a massive savings, even more so if you buy a larger bag of the non-organic stuff.

Check it out for coffee, fresh produce, lean meat, spices (a cheap and healthy way to make your food taste more awesome), dry rice, beans, etc. Obviously, you're going to spend more money on the front end, but if you don't have to buy staples every week, you're going to see your weekly grocery bill go down pretty substantially.

Canned goods can be inexpensive, and you should always rinse it before you prepare it - that helps take off a lot of the excess sodium and help it taste fresher.

If finances really start to get you in a bind, do some research on local food pantries in your area. A lot of them have healthy options that will keep you on track. Good luck to you!

DMJAKES Posts: 1,634
10/3/12 2:10 P

If you do a search of this board for "budget" or "cheap", you'll come up with a couple of long threads that have some great ideas. What it all boils down to is looking for for quality "ingredients" and eliminating as much prepared food as you can. That way, your nutritional value will go up and costs (generally) will go down. It's just more work for the cook!

A few years back, both the hubby and I lost our jobs in less than 2 years. During that time, I learned how to shop for the best value for our money (both nutritionally and $$-wise). Go to the store with a list, but also with an eye toward sales items and clearance meats that you can buy to build a stockpile of what you use most often. Look at the ads before you go, and build your menu for the week around what's on sale and/or already on hand. In the produce section, be flexible and buy what's on sale and in season. It's cheaper and will taste better too. Frozen veggies are a good choice, and can be really cheap if you wait for a sale and combine it with a coupon.

If you're the type of person that can manage it, couponing is a great way to save on top of sale prices. I haven't paid full price for health/beauty items, cleaning supplies, and pet supplies for years.

Finally, do your best to eliminate wasting food. I was astounded by how much food we wasted, once I started paying attention to it. There were several causes---me cooking too much, buying more than we could eat before it spoiled, not rotating older items to the front, and forgetting about things in the back of the fridge and pantry. Now I have a "use it up" week about once a month or so where I try to make use of anything that's been opened or is getting near its pitch date.

OBIESMOM2 SparkPoints: (220,589)
Fitness Minutes: (113,459)
Posts: 14,395
10/3/12 1:33 P

I pull up the weekly ads for the 3 grocery stores close to the house and make my list from the specials. Having the 3 lists also helps me compare the specials at each store and get the best deal.

if you have Publix in your area, they have great BOGO deals every week.

store brand frozen vegetables are pretty cheap.

Be sure to check the 'manager's specials' section of the grocery for items reduced for quick sale. I've bought some low cost meat that way and either put it in the freezer for later or cooked it that night.

YOJULEZ SparkPoints: (15,981)
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Posts: 2,171
10/3/12 12:53 P

$75 a week is what I spend for my boyfriend and I. Usually I can do it for even less. One thing that helps is stocking up when something we use often goes on sale, that way I'm not having to buy it every week. Like last week, a store had boneless skinless chicken breasts on sale for $1.99/lb, as long as you buy in the "family pack". I bought 2 family packs, which was 10 chicken breasts, and then froze them in bags of 2. They're huge so often I will slice them in half length wise so they provide 4 servings. Or, they put Barilla pasta on sale for $1 each box, so I bought 5 boxes (which lasts 2 people a long time!). For veggies, I try to buy fresh, and I will buy what's on sale and figure out how to incorporate them into my meal plan. If nothing good is on sale that I like, I usually will just buy broccoli since it's generally pretty cheap. I do keep some frozen stuff (purchased w/ coupons or on sale) in the freezer in case what I bought goes bad or we end up running out. If you have a produce market in your area (mine is Sprouts), often they will have stuff that's cheaper than the regular grocery store.

One site you might want to check out is Everything I've made from there has been delicious, and even though it's not a "healthy cooking" site, I rarely have to doctor the recipes to make them more healthy, they're pretty good to begin with.

As for meal planning, you really do need to stick with it in order for it to be effective. I write it down and put it on the fridge. Some folks use a calendar printout from the internet and write the plan on that. I also plan around what's in the store's sale ad, they come out on Wednesdays and are available online. I go through each store's ad (there's 3 in my area although I only shop at 2 of them mostly), and I write down on a list the stuff that I am interested in that's on sale. Then I take that list and go through my store of recipes on Pinterest to figure out what I'm going to make. I'm not a big couponer since most of it is for processed food or for name brand when I am fine with buying store brand, but I do print coupons from online for things we buy often, like my boyfriend's Lactaid milk, or for household items like foil. Here's also my strategy:

Saturday night: If we're home, I cook something like chicken or steaks (if they were gotten on sale). This last Saturday I did a London Broil (got on sale for 2.99/lb), this coming week I'm doing chicken stuffed with pesto and cheese.

Sunday: We're usually out during the day, watching football at a bar, but for dinner I will make something quick and light, but will provide for leftovers for Monday lunches, usually a chicken, pasta, and veggie dish of some kind. Or, if we don't go out during the day I'll make something like a turkey meatloaf or something else that might take too long to make during the week, but still is healthy and provides for leftovers for Monday. Last Sunday I just did raviolis with a salad, this coming Sunday I'm doing an chicken stir fry.

Monday: Something easy like chicken that will provide for leftovers for Tuesday lunches. I use recipes that call for 4-6 servings (BF eats way more than I do) Last Monday I did chicken stroganoff, and this coming one I'm doing a "skinny" version of salisbury steak (uses ground beef) with skinny mashed potatoes

Tuesday: I almost always will make a casserole or large pasta dish of some kind on Tuesday nights, as it needs to provide for leftovers for both Wednesday lunch and Wednesday dinner. My BF plays hockey on Wednesday nights so he doesn't come home til late. I will make something that calls for 6-8 servings. Last night I made teriyaki glazed turkey meatballs with rice and broccoli.

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: I often make something that requires marinating, like pork chops, since I can prepare it on Wednesday night since I don't cook dinner on Wednesday nights. Not worried about leftovers since I like to go to Chipotle for my weekly treat on Fridays for lunches. This week I'm making bacon and brown sugar glazed pork chops with baked sweet potatoes.

Friday: I don't usually plan for this, because sometimes we decide last minute to go out. I have a stock of pre-made hamburger patties in the freezer, and also some frozen raviolis that I can make quickly if needed.

So, as you can see, a lot of our meals involve chicken and pasta/rice, since those are all cheaper ingredients. Plus there's such a wide variety of recipes for these two ingredients, the meals never get boring. All meals have some kind of veggie added in with them, either mixed in or on the side. Oh also, if a recipe requires me being a new ingredient, like rice vinegar or something like that, I limit to making one recipe per week like that, that way I'm not spending a ton of money on new ingredients every week. Oh, and I almost always will buy the store/generic brand of something versus name brand. The only items I don't is household items like foil or plastic bags, as I've found the quality is diminished.

JENMC14 Posts: 2,786
10/3/12 8:08 A

Go for frozen veg instead of fresh. Buy fruit that's in season or whatever's on sale. When you see meat for a good price, stock up. Keep your eye out for "manager's specials" which typically indicate that the meat is up that day or the next. As long as you freeze it immediately, it will keep the normal amount of time. Buy generic brands. meal plan for sure. Make a list and don't veer from it.

MULYZA Posts: 92
10/3/12 7:11 A

Right now we are spending about $75 a week on food. I would like to spend less, if possible. I try to plan out meals and do pretty well til about Thursday... from there it is always downhill til we hit Sunday again and I'm back on track!

YOJULEZ SparkPoints: (15,981)
Fitness Minutes: (120)
Posts: 2,171
10/2/12 4:27 P

What kind of budget are we talking, per week? That will help w/ suggestions :)

Also the first thing you should do is start meal planning. Then, make your shopping list off of your plan, shop once a week, and then ONLY buy what's on the list. This will prevent last minute trips to the grocery where you end up grabbing a few other things because they look good, which doesn't help your budget or your weight :)

EMMANYC Posts: 1,702
10/2/12 3:34 P

There are some Spark Teams that focus on healthy living on a budget, so you might want to join one or two of those groups as a way to collect and share ideas. If you go to the SparkTeams section of the Community, you could search on the terms "budget" and "food" or "diet" and you'll get a list of teams with similar interests. Also, if you go to SparkRecipes and search the word 'budget', you'll get budget-friendly recipes and peoples' budget-friendly recipe collections.

Good luck, and I hope the job situation turns around for you soon.

MPLANE37 SparkPoints: (75,880)
Fitness Minutes: (64,415)
Posts: 2,170
10/2/12 3:33 P

Canned vegetables, legumes, etc can be quite cheap and very healthy, except for an unfortunately high salt content. There are ways to reduce the salt too. Frozen vegetables are as good as fresh ones, and way cheaper. Eggs are great nutrition and very cheap. In general, if you really try to purchase unprocessed whole food in bulk, it is not expensive. But if you go for attractively packaged diet and organic food, it can be very expensive.

MULYZA Posts: 92
10/2/12 3:10 P

I recently lost my job (I am the breadwinner in my family) and am very worried about how it is going to change my life, specifically (for this board) my eating habits. Ramen noodles are super cheap, but I don't want to die before I'm 30 so I don't eat them. Eating healthy is definitely more expensive. I'm looking for some cheap healthy food/meal ideas. Any suggestions?

Edited by: MULYZA at: 10/2/2012 (15:22)
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