Google "homemade hot pockets." You can make your own to freeze in about the same amount of time it would take to drive to the store for a box, and while they'll still be a high-sodium item, they'll have about half what the store bought ones have.
And definitely read labels. Some chicken has added sodium and some doesn't, but it has very little influence on the price. You don't have to pay extra to get the kind without.
Read labels on everything, because some things we think are high in sodium aren't, and vice versa. A serving of saltines and a serving of bread have about the same amount, for example. Instant pudding has a huge amount, but the cook-on-the-stove type has almost none (and made from scratch, which isn't nearly as hard to make as most people think, has only what you put in it.)
And talk to your doctor, too. Ask if s/he can tell whether your blood pressure is sodium-sensitive or not. (If s/he says, "Huh?" then ask for a referral to a specialist.) Most people with high blood pressure do need at least to keep an eye on their sodium, but you might be cutting it more than you absolutely have to. You definitely want to do the easy things like swapping plain frozen veggies for the canned ones (which saves you money, too, as someone pointed out already) and ditching bottled salad dressing, but if canned soup makes it really a lot easier for you to keep your calories in control, that might be sensible trade-off. You need to get the docs to help you decide whether getting the weight off will be a bigger help to your bp than cutting your sodium way far down.
Having a tight budget is actually sometimes a blessing in disguise. I made a decision to volunteer for 8 months with no income, which meant the groceries budget had to be cut absolutely to bare bones (well, actually, beyond bare bones. I couldn't afford ANY meat, not even bones!) I also lived 26 miles from the nearest general store and 110 miles from the nearest grocery store, and gas was over $4/gallon. And you know what? I've never eaten healthier. I made my own bread, yogurt, jam, and even tried my hand at cheese. (The mozzarella came out funny but ricotta is super simple!) Beans and lentils are practically free. Plain oatmeal costs about 1/5 of what the instant packets cost, has no added sodium, and if you microwave it, it doesn't take any longer than boiling the water for the instant. If you have a banana that has more brown spots than you're willing to deal with or an apple that's starting to get a teeny bit wrinkly, you slice that up into the oatmeal before you microwave it, and you don't need sweetener. Plus it gives you a little "waste not, want not" to go along with your "a penny saved is a penny earned."
And if a penny saved is a penny earned, you can just about double your salary by not paying someone else to process food for you. With 1/2 hour's work and $2 in ingredients, you can make 4 loaves of whole grain bread that would be $5 each in a bakery. So you're saving $18 for 1/2 hour-- what other job pays you $36 an hour to work in your pajamas? And saving is tax-free, besides.
1. make sure you're tracking accurately. in other words, if you're buying the store brand peanut butter crackers, make sure you are entering the store brand peanut butter crackers instead of the lance that was already in the tracker. the difference between them might only be 10 sodium, but if you're only off by that much on ten items that's 100 sodium right there. so if you're doing that with more items or more than 10 sodium, that can make a huge difference in what you need to adjust. 2. canned veggies are about a dollar a can and you get about 3.5 servings in them. frozen veggies are about a dollar for a pound bag, which have five servings. sodium in canned veggies starts more in the 300 per range unless you can easily find the no. frozen runs in the under 100 range per serving. frozen is cheaper and has significantly less sodium. if your local store puts the canned on sale 2 for a dollar, by all means, stock up. but just because you stock up on something doesn't mean you have to eat them all in the same week. and when you do eat them, rinse. 2b. if you rinse really well, you can get rid of about 40% of the sodium in them. 3. really start paying attention to your local store sales fliers. most weeks there is at least one veggie on sale for $1 a pound. this is what you need to be choosing at the store. 4. make your own soup. even if you do end up using canned veggies for it, you can rinse them first and not add salt or broth [at least the commercial kinds. and if you're worried about flavor then you need to meet spices. if you're worried about the cost of spices find an ethnic market or shop in the ethic aisle at the grocery store. the ethic aisle tends to have spices for half the cost and the ethnic market tends to have bags of spices about the size of a small brown sugar bag for about $3.] and that should do wonders for the sodium. 5. you're worried about cost and you're buying hot pockets? you're paying a dollar a pocket if you buy them on sale. that's expensive. i buy ezekial bread [yep the expensive stuff] for 4.29 a loaf. it has 20 slices, so i'm paying almost 22 cents per slice or 44 cents for a sandwich. it has no sodium [the one i buy]. the last time i bought peanut butter it was just under 2.49 for a 14 serving jar or 18 cents a serving. the one i bought has 120 sodium. the last time i bought jam it was 2.49 for 15 servings or 17 cents a serving. so for 79 cents that's a build your own sandwich for 120 sodium and it can be assembled quicker than the pocket takes to nuke. if you buy a cheaper bread, that cost will go down. if you can find meat for $2 a pound, a 3 oz portion on that sandwich will cost you 38 cents and you can control the sodium. 5b. beans and rice. on the high end a pound at the grocery store will cost you 1.59. that pound bag will have at least ten servings, and more like in the 12-15 range. i'll use the 10 servings number just to be a little high, which translates to 16 cents a serving. if you buy in greater bulk, shop around [ethnic markets again], or buy on sale [my grocery store regularly rotates certain dried beans on sale for about 80 cents a pound, so you're looking at a cost per serving of less than 8 cents]. a serving of beans and a serving of rice is going to cost you 32 cents. both have little, of any, sodium. add twenty cents worth of frozen veggies [under 100 sodium] and you're looking at a meal base for 42 cents. olive oil will add another 5 cents and you can add whatever spices you like. so you're looking at a meal with half the cost of your hot pocket and less than half of the sodium. and again, that's not if you're shopping around. beans and rice are also easy to bulk cook [most of the time you can be sitting and waiting in the other room], portion out and then freeze so they are as convenient as canned. and again, the cook from dry method is going to be more like 1/10 of the sodium of canned.
Walmart has their "Great Value" brand canned goods to have less sodium and sugar than most canned goods...and most canned goods are 68 cents. Flavor your food with lemon, pepper, garlic powder, oregano and other herbs instead of salt..that will reduce sodium content.
Russell is right in saying to add a tbsp of Olive Oil as some studies now indicate that extra virgin olive oil may help to lower blood pressure. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help reduce your total blood cholesterol...polyunsaturated fats that come from nuts, seeds and nut oils. Avocados are healthy fat. Pistachios, almonds and walnuts are very good for the heart..I have 4 walnuts a day to proteect my heart.
Onions, apsparagus, califlower, celery, romain and string breans all contribute to lower blood sugar and lower blood pressure. Barley, Popcorn,Oatmeal, Wild rice and brown rice, blueberries and strawberries, tomatoes are also good choices.
Dark chocolate has flavonoids that may also keep our hearts and blood pressure at a good level...80% Cocoa is the best..and just a little.
Also raw vegetables contain anti-oxidants that help keep blood pressure down. Fish too, Salmon, cod, tuna and halibut , sardines, herring
I throw seasame seeds and flax seeds on just about everything ...from salads, to oatmeal, veggies, even in cereal and yogurt....both are cholesterol fighters. Dried or canned lentils, Peas, Black beans, Pinto beans, Chili beans,Garbanzos are all lean protein that are cholesterol free
Consult your medical professional for guidance as this is not intended as medical advice but dietary advice you can discuss with your medical professional.
1) Add 2 servings of noodles to a can of soup, and make 2 servings. Pasta has no sodium in it, and you just halved the sodium.
2) buy No Salt vegetables. They are canned but have less than 100 mg of sodium per can.
3) buy actual chicken which has just 40-80 mg of sodium per 4 ozs. Check the label, because some of the brands inject 15% salt water to help preserve the chicken. Buy some freezer bags, and separate the large packages to single servings sizes, and freeze. Then you have your won frozen chicken.
I do # 2, and 3, and have done #1 in the past, but no longer eat soup, or noodles. You should avoid any pre-packed food like Lean Pockets.
A few of these changes and you can seriously cut your sodium. If you use salt at all, try switching to Crazy Mixed up salt.. about 40% of the sodium. You are still losing despite the high sodium, and may see a nice 3-5 lb. drop if you can get the sodium down. I'm guessing that you are a bit high on the carb, and low on the fat? If so, drop a Lean Pocket, and add a Tbsp of oil to a chicken and vegetable stir fry. The bulk of your carbs should come from fruits and veggies, and the rest should be from sources that you can figure out. Lean Pockets come from labs run by evil scientists.
Fitness Minutes: (12,840)
447 5/28/13 9:49 P
Yeah, you really have to stay away from most pre-packaged foods for health. Even the low sodium versions typically aren't all natural or especially healthy. You could choose 1 time/week to make a big batch of homemade soup to eat for meals.
Fitness Minutes: (120)
2,171 5/28/13 9:45 P
GRAM already gave you some good advice but I will just echo to buy frozen veggies instead of canned. I'm not sure what stores you have in your area but I shop at a Kroger owned store, and they have store-brand frozen veggies in 12-16oz sizes (depends on the veggie) for $1 all the time. I also buy fresh veggies, but buy what's on sale that week... like broccoli crowns and green beans often go on sale for 99 cents/lb in my area.
Also, what about buying fresh chicken breasts, and then freezing them individually yourself? That's what I do, and I stock up during sales where they are $1.99/lb... so the same price as those big bags of frozen breasts.
And yes, you really should ditch the convenience foods like Lean Pockets. They're cheap, and convenient, and actually don't taste bad, but there's really not a lot of great stuff in them. If you still want frozen meals, the Healthy Choice Steamers aren't too bad on the sodium, usually under 600mg for each one. If you stock up when they go on sale they're around $2 for one. Their regular price is cheapest at Target, $2.54 last I checked.
Fitness Minutes: (14,442)
1,151 5/28/13 9:33 P
I'm sure others will have more answers but my suggestions would be: 1. Make your own soups using low sodium broth or boullion cubes. Or you can make your own broth. There are lots of great soup/broth recipes here at SP. 2. Fresh frozen vegetables have no sodium (check the package). If you watch sales they can be cheap too and so much better for you. 3. Basically eat more homemade and less canned packaged processed foods. Cheaper and better for you.
Good luck to you.
Fitness Minutes: (2,093)
381 5/28/13 8:28 P
Okay...so I track every MORSEL of food that even comes NEAR my mouth. When I look at the chart at the bottom, it shows I'm consuming 1000-2000mg MORE than I should in a day. I know a lot of this is from canned soup (even if it's Campbell's Healthy Choice which is lower in calories AND sodium than normal soup), canned veggies (let's be honest, they're way cheaper than fresh veggies and I add..NOTHING to them), Lean Pockets (obviously lots of sodium, even if low in calorie), frozen chicken (lots of sodium :( I know - to preserve the meat), and even frozen vegetables - also loaded with sodium to preserve it. What do you do to stay in your sodium limit? I can only work part-time due to a chronic illness and therefore don't make much.
I also know that too much sodium isn't healthy for blood pressure (which I'm on meds for) or your heart. I know that it also causes water retention and thus, leaves, or packs on the pounds. I've been doing so well staying within my protein and calorie ranges and (USUALLY) my carb ranges...but I'm always waaaayyy under my recommended fat in-take. Can that work against me too? I'm almost down 25lbs and have sooo much more to go. I don't want to screw this up.
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