You can order some of the more exotic rices and other more exotic grains from Amazon.com and have them shipped for free. In some cases, you can get them cheaper than is available in storefronts. The same goes for spices and quite a few other things. It might take a week or more to receive them, but you can order ahead and have it on-hand. These things can be a staple if you then supplement them with those basic ingredients you do have available locally.
Do you have any property available where you could possibly grow some things in a garden? Even if you just have an apartment porch, search "urban gardening" and see if any of those setups strike you. If you can't buy it, you might be able to grow it.
I've lived for the past two years in or near a literal ghost town in a literal desert. Right now, I'm 27 miles from the nearest gas station convenience store and 80 from the nearest little grocery store. It's 230 miles to the nearest chain supermarket (unless you count WalMart; that's "only" 160 miles.) Everything's relative; to me, lettuce and strawberries *are* exotic treats!
You make do. If you really *want* to eat healthier, it is in many ways easier when your access to food is limited.
The good news is that you could potentially save a lot of money. If you only shop once every month or even every six weeks, you don't waste money on impulse buys and last-minute emergency purchases that you then realize you already had. The bad news is that sometimes you don't get to eat what you would really like to eat because you're missing an ingredient. The other good news is that you get really creative at making substitutions when you're missing an ingredient.
People have already mentioned frozen fruit and veggies. Milk, eggs, soft cheese, breads, grains, nuts, and meats can also be frozen to keep them from spoiling. Some fruits and vegetables will stay good for a very long time in the refrigerator-- cabbage and carrots are good for at least two months, and pears, apples, plums, and oranges usually keep for at least a month. If you plan ahead and purchase carefully, you can shop just once every 4 to 6 weeks and still always have some sort of fresh produce-- just make sure you eat the most perishable things first. To tell the truth, sometimes I live on melon and berries and bananas and salad greens for the first two or three days after a shopping trip because I'm so happy to have them, and then I might have to resort to canned or dried fruit the last two or three days before my next trip.
You'll probably find it useful to learn to bake bread (there are no-knead recipes that take no more than 15 minutes of actual work) and to make harder-to-find things like hummus and Greek-style yogurt if you like them.Gardening may or may not be practical, but even if you can't grow tomatoes or beans or lettuce, you can easily keep a pot of two or three different fresh herbs growing on your windowsill. A little fresh basil or rosemary can turn canned "meh" into something you'd eat even if you didn't have to, or turn an omelet from emergency food into a real experience.
Probably the best advice I can give you is to plan ahead. You could, if you wanted to, plan out a full 30 days of meals in advance, shop only once, and be pretty well guaranteed that you would use everything, with zero waste. And, obviously, then your nutrition would be controlled, too. If you don't buy it, you won't eat it, so this isolation could work in your favor if you make grocery trips a rare event and buy only what's planned.
Fitness Minutes: (482)
6/12/14 7:30 P
I haven't heard of the term "food desert" before, though... Interesting. I'm already working on cutting out soda. It's more like an addiction I'm trying to beat. Haha... And I guess "exotic" was the wrong word to use... I meant that even common things like pears and avocados are hard to come by, not that it makes a difference. Yeah, this rural area is that bad. Haha
I think the closest farmer's market is about 45 miles away and I do go when I have the time, but I haven't had the money to fuel the "gas hog" for that kind of trip recently.
I'll certainly check out that link and I look into the non-perishables on Amazon. (:
Fitness Minutes: (5,920)
3,726 6/12/14 7:03 P
Frozen veggies, any fresh veggies you can afford, frozen meats, canned tuna, eggs, cheese, homemade greek yogurt, soups could all create a healthy, affordable plan when you roll with the sales. I definitely understand the small-town jacked up prices and product limits.
There are rural towns, especially here in the US West, where "ghost town" is pretty accurate for the food choices. If you live in a remote area where there are few stores and the stores that do exist only get shipments a few days a week, the groceries can be slim pickin's, and the few restaurants usually stick to foods that can be frozen and cooked on the flat-top or in the deep fryer.
Like the others have said, you have to get creative and do the best you can. If you're trying to lose weight, cut out the calories from junk foods where possible, and get your calories from the least objectionable of the fresh foods available. Iceberg lettuce isn't the greatest, but it's better than no lettuce. You don't need exotic foods to eat healthy. It's tough on a college student's budget, but if possible, buy fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. Buy things on sale if possible.
Fitness Minutes: (6,555)
6/12/14 5:22 P
As the other's said, frozen vegetables are about as good as fresh and there's so much you can do with that. I thought of some ideas for getting fresh foods as well that might work:
Along the farmer's market idea, are there any CSAs (community supported agriculture) in your area? They're a bit pricey (and bountiful) for one person but if you had a friend or two who were interested in splitting the cost, that would be a good way of getting a variety of vegetables and fruits. Sometimes cities sponsor them as a way of getting fresh produce to people who can't access it easily.
For that matter, if you and a group of friends started bundling your grocery shopping, it would be economical to do it online from a large grocery store chain and have it delivered. It's expensive when you're ordering for one person, but buying in larger quantities will drive the cost of shipping down and make it cheaper for each person.
Anything non-perishable like lentils, beans, canned tuna, peanut butter, etc you can buy on Amazon and shipping is free for orders over $35. A $35 order of non-perishables from Amazon in college used to keep me stocked for a full semester.
Edited by: LEC358 at: 6/12/2014 (17:24)
6/12/14 4:53 P
Ok - well then you gotta make do with what you have ;)
And you certainly do not need "exotic" foods to lose weight.
Frozen veggies are about as good as fresh - and go on sale quite often - stock up to supplement dinners, etc.
Salads can be made more gourmet (and filling) when topped with grilled chicken, steak tips, chicken salad, tuna salad, etc.
Bags of dried lentils and beans, are not only very cheap (and make a lot of meals, but store for long times), they are healthy and nutritious as well.
Here's a great data base of healthy recipes, and most of them call for simple ingredients (not all, but a lot of them). You can also search by ingredient - chicken on sale that week, etc. allrecipes.com/recipes/healthy-recipes/>
Now that summer is here...do they have farmer's markets? Look online, maybe half an hour away...take a nice drive twice a month to stock up.
Depending on where you live, our local farms throughout the summer put up signs: tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, melons, squash, berries, beans, eggs, asparagus, etc. - you can find them all over driving around here....
6/12/14 4:42 P
Do you mean "food desert"? I would cut out the soda everyday.
Check with your city on google with food desert - it can help you discover different resources.
Even though apples are not exotic, they are still a better choice than anything pre-made, you might think about frozen fruits to keep boredom at bay. A baked apple with a tbsp of cream or sprinkle of cinnamon, a poached pear all take ordinary and make it different.
I would try different recipes - for example, my kids like celery salad - it's a mustard vinaigrette i make and i use celery and the leafy part of the celery. you dice it all up and it just tastes different from a stalk of celery.
Your biggest challenge is making your own foods from scratch. Instead of uncle ben broccoli cheddar rice, make rice and broccoli. My friend found an Asian market where there is very little English spoken but they have great prices on produce. She never noticed it before because she was used to the little store in her neighborhood. Buying no sugar/salt added single ingredient frozen foods can fill in gaps.
Right now a lot of communities are working hard at filling in the food deserts - they are trying mobile markets, cooking demos, etc.
Fitness Minutes: (482)
6/12/14 4:18 P
I live in an area where healthy food is severely limited to basic fruits and veggies such as iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, etc. Anything "exotic" is few and far between, not to mention expensive out the wazoo. Restaurants here don't serve anything that isn't drowned in grease and fat. Add to that a college student budget and that doesn't leave much room for healthy foods.
Needless to say, the only diet change I've managed to make because of this is smaller portions and cutting pop/soda down from from five cups daily to one-to-zero cups every other day.
Any suggestions or tips? It would be greatly appreciated!
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