Good for you that you have decided to learn to make home cooked meals! They are better for you, and cheaper in the long run, but actually you will need some strategy for making the change. Other people have given really good suggestions about types of food to look for & types of places to shop at. Here are some other things to be aware of:
1) It will help to start learning to plan your meals ahead by at least a week. This is a skill to learn and will not be easy if the planning you are used to is choosing whether to go to Subway or McDonalds! I know it, I've been there.
2) You will need to also learn to budget the time it takes to actually cook. Personally it takes me between 30-60 minutes per day to arrange dinner & other meals. It can be frustrating to take that chunk of time if you are not expecting it, but it is also rewarding in terms of money saved & health benefits. Depending on how old your son is, get him involved in helping you cook! It might be fun daddy/son bonding time!
3) Avoid the junk food & soda aisles in the store. There are always sales in those aisles, so it seems like you are getting a lot for your money (10 for $10! It's a deal!), but that food is NOT nutritious at all, so in that sense it is a waste of money. If you can arrange to leave your son with a caregiver so you can grocery shop without his input, that will also save you money & time.
4) Some convenience foods are nutritionally "worth it", others not so much. How you make that determination is individual to your family, though. I regularly buy bread, canned tomato products, canned tuna & salmon, salad dressing, non-sugary cereal like Cheerios, dried pasta, and frozen vegetables. Also canned soup.
5) The general rule about cheaper, fresher food, is that the more work you do at home, the cheaper it will be in the store. If you get a whole head of romaine lettuce rather than pre-chopped bagged lettuce, you'll have to chop it yourself but you'll get more for your money and it will stay fresher longer.
6) Start with small steps in the direction you want to go in. I started by simply adding frozen vegetables & bagged salads to microwave dinners. It was more expensive that way, but it's what I knew & what I had time for. Gradually, over time, I got to the point of being able to stretch a whole chicken to seven meals for two.
It's a process. Good luck!
Edited by: DROPCONE at: 9/11/2012 (14:04)
9/11/12 1:46 P
coupons are important but they don't usually have them for veggies and fruits... go to farmer's markets there's one in Boston that is dirt cheap I couldn't even believe how cheap it was, go get a membership to BJ's wholesale club... You can buy fruits and veggies much cheaper there and I get the lavish bread put 2 pieces of lean roast beef , lettuce, tomato and you have a good wrap that is healthy the roast beef is only 50 cals a piece... lettuce is like 8, tomato is like 10 and the wrap is 100... and it's not expensive.... they have the turkey breast at the deli that's heart healthy and about 50 cal a piece.... you can buy chicken breast in bulk and break it down for you and your son.... eggs, peanut butter, oatmeal... there's so much.... Coupons r essential now a days and it might take u going to one or two stores... they have a place near me called price rite and i get veggies there sometimes they r so much cheaper then a shaws or stop and shop... you have to shop around... Good luck i know it's not easy, I'm glad you want your son to be brought up in a healthy manner... Remember when u buy fast food your paying a lot and it's only one meal.....
I buy in bulk, on sale, or with coupons. I make a meal that either lasts two days or just enough to last that meal ( smaller). I look at recipes but try to make up my own with whats in the cabinets already. Eating out, I skip the sides and ask for water.
Fitness Minutes: (9,717)
263 9/11/12 1:02 P
eggs, peanut butter, fruits and veggies, lean meats, beans. I look for sales or what is in season. I also bake not fry. i cook my eggs in a non stick pan. eat most veggies raw. I do try.
Fitness Minutes: (4,160)
9/11/12 12:36 P
I definitely eat on a budget, but always green, no processed.
9/11/12 12:32 P
Salads, Fruit, Chicken, use coupons, only buy sale items, If possible go to different stores. I like to think that my home cooked meals cost at the minimum 50% less for dinner, 60% less for lunch, and a whopping 80 % less for breakfast than eating out, even if it is fast food.
beans, eggs, brown rice bought in bulk...there are lots of choices for cheap and healthy foods
9/11/12 11:54 A
Healthy eating can be very inexpensive. I think that the key is to stick to the basics...ingredients, not prepackaged stuff. A lot of people end up spending a lot of money on "eating healthy" because they are buying prepackaged/processed foods with labels claiming that they are healthy. It gets really expensive when people start buying processed organic foods. But, you don't need special foods to eat healthy, just the basics.
Oatmeal. The old-fashioned kind in the large cardboard containers. I like to make mine with milk instead of water (in the microwave, using a large bowl to avoid boil-over). There are a lot of different things that you can add to your oatmeal to flavor it (there have been whole threads about this here on SP). I like to stir in 1 tbsp of peanut butter and maybe a little Splenda.
Yogurt. I buy the large containers of plain Greek Yogurt (Fage 0%). The price can really vary and, at some stores, greek yogurt is outrageously expensive. At others, it is inexpensive. Around here, Costco and Target have excellent prices on this item.
Whole Wheat Bread., tortillas, wraps, whole wheat pasta, etc.
Peanut Butter. The fat in peanut butter is heart-healthy. Try to find one with as few ingredients as possible (some have just peanuts). Just make sure to measure out your portions of peanut butter, as the calories can add up if you don't.
Cheeses...I buy the reduced fat or nonfat versions.
Eggs. Eggs are pretty versatile and they are an excellent source of protein. I like to make egg sandwiches (egg, whole wheat toast, slice of 2% cheddar) a couple of mornings a week.
Lean meats (chicken, turkey, red meats, etc.). If you like red meat, just look for the leaner cuts (like sirloin). If you like hamburger meat, use the 93% lean.
Fruits and veggies. I try to buy what's on sale (this varies by season). So far as starchy veggies (e.g. corn, potatoes, etc.), they have gotten a bad rap. Potatoes (especially sweet potatoes) are packed with nutrients and they can be inexpensive. Just count them as a starch when you eat them and pair them with non-starchy veggies. I, personally, do not buy organic. It's expensive and they still spray it with pesticides. They just use older pesticides, like pyrethrins and rotenone.
I find lots of healthy things at discount stores such as 99 cent stores, dollar trees, grocery outlets etc. I bought a box of protein "Luna" bars at Grocery Outlet for $1.75 for 6 bars, those bars go for about $1.50 a piece elsewhere. Beans are cheap and good for you, all types even cheaper in bins,so bag your own and save. You will be surprised how you will not miss the meat in a sandwich at times if you use all you favorite veggies with you favorite condiments. You can make 3 meals out of one whole chicken, you can even buy an already baked chicken for about 5 bucks. Stock up on things when on sale. Look for coupons online and/or in newpapers.
Fitness Minutes: (3,904)
9/10/12 4:04 P
I used to go to the mainstream stores and spent gobs of money on name brand foods as well. Aldi is a great place to find a lot of groceries for a lot less money. Fresh veggies, chicken, and lots of fruit are a great way to start.
Start with the basics; first, get rid of the phrase of "I don't like how that tastes", if you and your son can overcome that then a whole new world of cheap and healthy food will open up.
That said: Breakfast - Eggs are cheap. learn how to use an egg seperater and make scrambled eggs for breakfast using a 2:1 ratio of egg white to whole eggs. Put salsa or peppers or whatever else you like on them to liven them up if you want. Oatmeal, it's fairly cheap (store brand) and a great source of carbs.
Snack foods Apples, almonds (raw), fat-free yogurt, fat free cottage cheese. Again, store brand is good.
Lunch Left overs from last night's healthy dinner. Or salad with tunafish and fat free ranch dressing.
Dinner Skinless Boneless chicken breasts. Bake them with paprika on them. Steamed or canned veggies and baked potatoes (minus the gobbs of sour cream and butter) or mashed potatoes NO GRAVY!!!!!!
That's a start. Shop at an Aldi's or Save-a-Lot or Bottom Dollar, forget going to top grocery stores that give you fuel perks, they suck!
Fitness Minutes: (0)
1 9/10/12 3:35 P
I need help.. any suggestions are welcome.. Im 26 yr old male, thats single, with a son, working full time.. I grew up on fast food and soda... Im new to the making meals at home thing, and honestly I cant figure out how people can afford it... Every time i go to the grocery store, I come home with what seems like nothing and it doesnt last long... I need a coach, lol... I really dont want my son growing up in the same unhealthy lifestyle I grew up in... Hoping someone wants to share some secrets or ideas... I need educated... thanks