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JIACOLO SparkPoints: (564,959)
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6/24/13 10:26 A

It doesn't have to be! Canned tuna, canned beans, frozen veggies and fruits, seasonal produce, and sales can help you eat healthy while staying on budget. It requires planning. Maybe that is the expense people are referring to! Time spent on planning to become healthier is work, but that is time well spent. Eating healthy does not have to be expensive at all. People need to put more effort into their planning for healthier meals. Grabbing junky food might seem easier and cheaper, but is it really? I don't think so.

123ELAINE456 SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 88,052
6/24/13 10:22 A

It is rather expensive when You are very low income.

ANGHARAD3 Posts: 966
6/24/13 6:01 A

Try frozen vegetables, dried beans, rice, in-season vegetables. and buying meat in bulk. Kudos for stopping the drinking. Find some nice, free support groups. The savings may not only be seen in your food bills but also in potential medical bills.

MATTSLADY Posts: 163
6/24/13 4:30 A

I'm trying to eat healthier but finding the cost is getting harder. I try not to buy frozen or processed foods . What I'm having difficulty with is the sodium content being high. emoticon

DUBLINROSE Posts: 2,757
6/24/13 4:03 A

I find fresh food really expensive, frozen is a good compromise, its just as tasty, it has the same nutrients and it keeps.

DWROBERGE Posts: 373,164
6/24/13 4:01 A


ROXYCARIN SparkPoints: (95,965)
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Posts: 3,996
6/24/13 2:01 A

Esp organic food

MKMMARTY Posts: 6,927
6/24/13 1:17 A

yes it certainly is

GOALWTIN7 SparkPoints: (2,121)
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Posts: 306
6/23/13 10:58 P

I disagree that eating healthy is expensive, it's eating organic which is expensive. You may not be able to afford expensive blueberries but there are other fruits to keep you healthy. I shop at different markets. At Walmart I buy canned pineapple in it's own juices. Small cans were 50 cents and provided two servings each can. I bought a bunch to have on hand. Mix with two tablespoons of yogurt and a little milk and you have a filling drink for a hot summer snack. I bought canned beans there as well with no preservatives which were very inexpensive. Frozen veggies as well.

Check out the chain markets online. Safeway (didn't check what part of the country you are in) has a customer program where you go on line and they show you items with special prices. You click on that item and if you decide to buy it before the offer expires, they know you clicked on it by a Safeway card you give them to scan. Raileys, another chain market scans a Raileys card you get as a customer and when you spend a certain amount of money they send you a $50.00 reward card to spend on groceries or anything they sell at the market like cooking pot and pans as well.

I bought a overly large cantaloupe at Walmart for $1.49 I made 8 wedges out of it and eat one wedge for a snack between lunch and dinner.

I will only buy my meats at Whole Foods and some of their brand items but buying everything there would cost a fortune when I can go elsewhere.

Came back to move the decimal in the $149.

Edited by: GOALWTIN7 at: 6/23/2013 (23:02)
JIACOLO SparkPoints: (564,959)
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6/23/13 9:19 P

I am completely confused by how people think eating healthy is expensive. Produce that is in season, frozen, or canned is NOT expensive. You can get cheap cuts of meat and use a crockpot to cook it, along with spices to flavor it. You can make soups, sauces, and casseroles that are budget friendly, delicious, and healthy. Planning is key, so get out the store flyers or hop on the internet to look at sales at local stores. This is NOT expensive to do. Heck, going to get fast food on a regular basis can really cut a budget. I can feed my family well using fresh produce, whole grains, and protein with limited funds.

6/23/13 12:10 P

Love the suggestions here. Here's another. Where I live (relatively large city) there is an organization that delivers fruit/veggie boxes from the local growers to it's subscribers for a much lower cost than you can buy them at the store. I think they make their deliveries weekly, and the boxes contain in-season fruits or veggies. And, I think you have the choice of opting out of the things you don't like. Maybe your area has something like this. I've heard that it's a great service.

Also, I know some folks who live on food stamps, and they also found that they were eligible for food boxes given out at our local food bank, and with another church-organized food box program. I was amazed at all of the good foods and fresh items that were included in the boxes.

Here's a link as an example of the delivery service I talked about above.

KKKAREN Posts: 12,754
6/23/13 5:46 A

I agree it is expensive to eat healthy but I do it anyway.

IACTA_ALEA_EST Posts: 2,362
6/23/13 12:00 A

so are prescriptions for illness
take your pick.

FENWAYGIRL18 Posts: 5,868
6/22/13 11:59 P

It really is especially fruit..... I love fruit but cant always afford it, thank god for Sam's and BJ's

BJPENNY70 Posts: 4,806
6/22/13 11:01 P

I stopped buying junk food and prepackage food. One exception is Healthy Choice Meals , which I do buy to get a break from cooking on rushed days. I found fresh foods are more affordable. I do buy in season foods and buy from farmers markets and flea market produce stands. Watch the weekly sales from the grocery stores. Buy those bags that keep veggies and fruit. They work. You do have to watch moisture build up. I put a paper towel in the bag to draw off moisture. When they get damp I replace the paper. It keeps you veggies and fruit fresh. Also spark people has a list of how to keep your veggies and what you should not store together.

BYEPOUNDS Posts: 7,204
6/22/13 11:00 P


JIACOLO SparkPoints: (564,959)
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Posts: 31,508
6/22/13 10:58 P

Organic is definitely more expensive at times, but healthy eating does not have to be at all. It just requires planning.

PAMLICO-DAZE SparkPoints: (46,810)
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Posts: 1,215
6/22/13 10:46 P

Healthy eating does take more thought and effort but is worth it. I find organic is expensive.

CHOCOLATELEA SparkPoints: (4,692)
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Posts: 166
6/22/13 8:51 P

Healthy food is cheap — it just takes more effort. You've gotten some great hints and tips already.

You should grow lettuce if you have room—you can have a forest of the things in very little time. Other seeds/plants that reap big rewards are tomatoes, green beans, and ground vines (cucumber/zucchini etc.). Stay away from peas. Those things are ridiculous and you have to shell them — much easier (and cheaper in time/labour) to buy them.

Don't disparage the humble potato. It's a meal. Tons of nutrients too. I would stay away from rice and pasta and put those saved pennies towards lentils and other beans. Dry are less expensive than canned. You'll have to soak them as stated on the package, and the flavour is slightly different, but the nutrients are all there [each one would be a bean!]. They're healthy, cheap, and full of protein. Can't afford steak? Whip up lentil burgers. If you can afford eggs, a dozen can go pretty far nutrition-wise (and again, much cheaper than steak).

And onions. Onions are very healthy for you, add lots of flavour to everything, and are still one of the cheapest veggies out there (carrots are pretty awesome, too).

Leafy greens are high in calcium and are cheaper and more filling than milk. Do some research to find out which ones have the most to offer.

But ya, ethnic places. Way cheaper. And sometimes they have local produce as well (instead of the imported stuff).

LILAFLOWER912 SparkPoints: (14,438)
Fitness Minutes: (15,020)
Posts: 93
6/16/13 10:44 P

I DO know what you're talking about. My budget is so tight it squeaks, but I look at it as an investment in your health is the most important thing you can make. When The Spark Solution book came out I was kind of bummed because I wanted so badly to buy all the ingredients on the shopping list and do all the recipes for the 2 weeks like the book calls for. It definitely wasn't in my budget to spend hundreds of dollars on 2 weeks of groceries. It hit me though, that just because I couldn't do ALL the recipes at once didn't mean I couldn't try them one at a time. I got the ingredients to make Southwestern Chicken and Rice. I spent about 20 dollars getting everything. I couldn't believe it was so economical! It made 6 servings, so that meant about $3.16 per serving. I made it again about a month later, and it was even cheaper then since I already had some of the ingredients. The next time I made it I only spent about 12 dollars buying what I needed to make it, so only $2 per serving!

TERESAMUS SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 300
6/10/13 11:49 A

Great advice. Will use those tips myself.

YOJULEZ SparkPoints: (15,981)
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Posts: 2,171
6/10/13 11:48 A

You've gotten a lot of great advice already... I'll just add in a few more suggestions :)

When it comes to buying spices and seasonings, check out the ethnic aisle at the supermarket. Just an example, but I bought a bag of mexican cinnamon sticks for $1 for 8 sticks... when over in the spice aisle they were selling a jar that had 4 of them for $4. Same for other basic spices.

Also, check out this blog: She has a lot of awesome recipes that don't cost a lot to make, and gives the cost breakdowns too.

Keep in mind, that it may seem expensive at first, but after you build up a bit of an "arsenal" of stuff like seasonings, pantry staples and canned foods like tomatoes or chicken broth (buy extra when they go on sale!), it really is very affordable. I eat great meals for under $50/week now that I have a decent spice cabinet and pantry. I could do it for even less if I had to... a few weeks I've done it for under $30.

Lastly, a suggestion for your ramen noodles... I don't do this because I hate eggs, but my mom does it all the time. She ditches the spice packet, and mixes the noodles with an egg, and some chopped up spinach. It's a healthy filling meal, and costs very little to do. My brother does something similar with brown rice.

Edited by: YOJULEZ at: 6/10/2013 (12:03)
DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (61,458)
Fitness Minutes: (15,905)
Posts: 9,717
6/10/13 11:38 A

When I was 23, I was broke too; but not because I didn't have money, it's because I sucked at managing my money. ;)

If you had money for drinking every night, then you have money for healthy food now. :) The trick is learning to budget and manage it wisely. The money you were spending on alcohol now goes to frozen fruits and veggies, clearance meats (if you can afford it) and bulk healthy foods like the things Anarie has mentioned.

Healthy eating SEEMS expensive, but when you figure it out, it's actually cheaper. Ramen's cheap, but you have to eat twice as much to be full, and you're hungry an hour later, rooting around for more!

With careful shopping and timing, I can score a whole chicken for .99 cents a pound. That is a $3-4 chicken, that'll feed one person for a week. ;)

Frozen vegetables are dirt cheap (you can get a HUGE bag of frozen veggies for just a couple of bucks!) and actually may be more nutrient rich than the stuff in the produce section!

STart here:

Edited by: DRAGONCHILDE at: 6/10/2013 (11:39)
LOUNMOUN Posts: 1,334
6/10/13 11:18 A

If you truly do not have enough money for food after paying your bills, have you considered seeking assistance like a food pantry or food stamps?
Do you have a budget plan?
Do you plan your meals in advance?
Can you cook?
Do you have friends or family who might like to pool resources and cook meals together at least once a week?

I would drink water mostly. I would stop buying restaurant food. I would plan my meals for the week. I would try to reduce waste and make sure I was not throwing money away. I would think about foods that would make me feel full for less money. Ramen is cheap but not as filling as a bowl of lentil soup.
A homemade pizza and breadsticks can be pretty inexpensive and healthier than a restaurant or frozen pizza. I use leftover spaghetti sauce for pizza sauce.
Shred your own cheese and cut up your own vegetables or fruit.
A container of plain oatmeal is not very expensive. You can eat a bowl of it or use it to make muffins, granola or other recipes.
Try cutting the amount of meat in a recipe in half.
Try plain popcorn for a snack. (not microwave popcorn)
Look for recipes based on beans and lentil instead of meat. Homemade bean burritos, hummus, and bean or lentil soups are filling and budget friendly.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are great but plain frozen fruits and vegetables could be a good shopping choice for you. You can get out just what you need and not worry about the rest spoiling.
Making a big pot of soup once a week could help you out. Eat it throughout the week or freeze the leftovers in individual portions.

FIRECOM SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 5,855
6/10/13 9:54 A

I agree that some of the healthy choices are more expensive but when I consider the alternative, I don't mind. Others have said that there are many less expensive that are really good for us.

I have a son who is seriously overweight and his excuse to me is that he cant afford the "healthy" stuff, yet he will cruise the kitchen at night and consume a cup of "affordable" peanut butter. Sigh.

LOLEMA SparkPoints: (105,894)
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6/10/13 9:46 A


AMALLECO SparkPoints: (11,422)
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Posts: 746
6/10/13 9:26 A

Eating at home is healthier and less expensive. Go with in season foods.

YBROWNING40 Posts: 983
6/10/13 9:22 A

Yes, it is expensive but it is worth it.

JIACOLO SparkPoints: (564,959)
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Posts: 31,508
6/10/13 7:19 A

Some of the healthiest foods are very inexpensive! Beans, brown rice (in bulk), chicken, and frozen veggies can really go a long way towards eating healthy and they are very budget friendly. I think some people buy convenience food and those are truly expensive. But buying good, healthy food does not have to break the bank.

CASSANDRAJD SparkPoints: (122)
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Posts: 14
6/10/13 7:06 A

I know! That is partly why I am so fat! I only have food stamps. I am not made out of money!
If I had the money I would buy more healthy foods also it doesn't help that I live with others and I share the food stamps with my mom!

8MOREB4 Posts: 882
6/8/13 10:56 P

I am so sorry you are facing these issues. Find someone you trust and who is successful. And ask them to help you see how to cut expenses or rework a budget. Good luck.

BUNNYKICKS Posts: 2,433
6/8/13 10:11 P

Eating healthy *prepared/packaged/restaurant* foods is very expensive.

Cooking from scratch really helps with the grocery bills. It can be a bit daunting at first, if you're not used to it or haven't got much practice at it, but it is worth investing the time and effort, for your wallet and your health! Browse around Sparkrecipes or other recipe sites ( is a good one) for ideas.

Also, to save money just "go with the seasonal flow" as well as shop the sales. Produce tends to be cheaper (and fresher, so much less wastage involved) when purchased from a farmer's market or designated produce store...

REJ7777 Posts: 4,027
6/8/13 9:20 P

Money you save by not buying unhealthy snack foods can be spent on healthier choices.

MOMMAGPLUS11 Posts: 2,669
6/8/13 8:38 P

not if you buy at farmers markets, and grow some of your own foods. And learn to cook at home using healthy menus.

ANARIE Posts: 13,205
6/8/13 8:37 P

Go down to the Diet and Nutrition forum and scroll around for a few pages. You'll find literally thousands of posts on this very topic.

Instant noodles and instant potatoes are actually very expensive compared to a lot of healthier foods. It's rare to get 5 packages of ramen for a dollar now, but you can pretty easily find a 14-oz package of whole-wheat pasta for a dollar. Add an 89-cent can of seasoned stewed tomatoes, and you've got 7 much healthier meals for about the same price per serving. You can commonly get 10 pounds of fresh potatoes for a little over $3, and they even go on special for as little as $1 now and then. Watch for that sale in the next few weeks-- they'll be thinking of 4th of July potato salad. Bake one of those in the microwave and add some frozen broccoli and some sort of inexpensive sauce or salad dressing, and that's a meal for less than 50 cents. Dried beans are practically free-- I've gotten pinto beans for 69 cents a pound, and that's 10 servings or more. Someone already mentioned a Crock-Pot. Before you buy one, ask all your aunties and your mom's friends if they have a spare. I took a survey of older ladies in my family circle recently, and they had an average of THREE per lady stashed in their garages or basements, half of them still in the original boxes. (My mom has nine!) Somebody would probably be more than happy to give you one to get it out of their way.

Assuming you live in or near a city or town with more than one store, fresh fruits and veggies are also cheaper than you think if you shop the sales. Look at the sales flyers or websites for all the stores in town and see who has the best prices. In particular, check out "ethnic" supermarkets. Your local Asian or Latin grocery is likely to have produce at less than half what you'd pay at a typical national chain. I actually went to one this week (a rare event; I live 100 miles from the nearest supermarket of any sort!) and got about 40 pounds of produce for under $25. I got fresh pineapple, cantaloupe, cabbage, pears, nectarines, plums, jicama, carrots, grapes, bananas, several kinds of onions, avocados, strawberries, at least 2 pounds of cherries, and other things I can't remember without looking in the fridge. If you only buy what's on sale, you can easily buy all the fresh fruit and veggies you can eat in a week for well under $10. That's about half what you used to spend for one night of drinks, am I right?

Canned and frozen produce is just as healthy as fresh. Frozen is actually sometimes healthier, because they generally freeze it within 24 hours of picking so it loses fewer nutrients than the stuff that spends 3 days being shipped across country and a week on the produce rack waiting for you to buy it. Canned tomatoes are also healthier than fresh because the cooking and canning process makes some of the vitamins more absorbable-- and high-end chefs say canned tomatoes are better for any dish where the tomatoes are cooked.

Also, don't pay other people to cook for you. Buy ingredients, not food. Fancy whole-grain artisan bread is expensive, right? I've seen it for as much as $7 a loaf. But you know what? Google "no-knead artisan bread" and you can find recipes to make your own. It takes about 10 minutes and $2-$3 to make dough for 4 loaves. You keep the dough in the fridge and bake it as you need it, and it actually gets better as it sits. So you're saving at least $10 and as much as $26 by doing less than 20 minutes work. A penny saved is a penny earned, so that's like a part time job paying at least $30 an hour. Plus, you're developing a skill that you might even be able to use to make money. If your neighbors smell the bread and comment, offer them a hot fresh bread delivery service! Learn to make jam along with the bread, and you can get into big bucks if you find the right people to offer it to.

And are you willing to get really weird? Look up "urban foraging," and/or Google "edible wild plants" and the name of your state or region. There are wild plants everywhere, many of which are really nutritious. For example, purslane is a plant that grows in sidewalk cracks and abandoned lots and has more Omega 3 than any other green plant. I have seen some in every city or town I've ever walked in for more than 10 minutes in the US, Latin America, or Europe. (I don't know why Americans don't eat it as a vegetable; people in other countries do.) There are also web sites in many cities that list addresses that have fruit trees whose owners want someone to pick the excess. In the last city I lived in, I got things like loquats and fresh figs and nances-- stuff that, if you could even find it in a store, would cost $10-20 a pound.

That's one way that the "Great Recession" is so much more survivable than the last recession. We have Google and YouTube, which means we can DIY anything! Anything you want to make, you can probably find instructions. (I made my own ricotta and mozzarella cheese not too long ago, and I never buy bread or yogurt.)

Seriously, look at this as an opportunity. If you learn to do your own cooking and you shop around, you're going to find that the healthier you eat, the less you spend. Beans, whole grains, and in-season produce are the cheapest foods out there. Become a minimalist, buy nothing processed, and your shopping basket will look a lot like the health-obsessed rich "foodies" at Whole Foods, except yours will be in generic bags instead of having fancy labels that increase the price sevenfold for the same beans.

I mentioned that I live 100 miles from a supermarket (and that's a tiny one.) I live in a literal desert that's also a food desert. For 8 months I worked as a volunteer with no income at all. During that time, I spent less than $400 on groceries, and that includes the times I had to pay $4 for a dozen eggs or $3 for a half-gallon of milk in the local convenience store. It wasn't easy, and I didn't always get to eat what I wanted, but I was healthy. It's definitely do-able if you look at it as an interesting challenge instead of a "problem." And if you accept it as a challenge, you'll have fun, meet people, learn skills, and save money the rest of your life.

SHERYLDS Posts: 17,506
6/8/13 8:29 P

If you shop wisely healthy eating is not expensive.
I buy bags of frozen veggies and I try to get the different waste because there is no spoilage...a 20 oz bag usually costs me $2.
I buy chicken ...If you have a preference for white meat ... split chicken breasts are economical...chicken thighs are a great buy.
I buy frozen fish when it is on sale and that is individually wrapped (whiting or tilapia). They run about $3 lb.
Get used to buying store brands...buying fruit from sales specials...and avoid the processed stuff. The difference between a brand name oatmeal or a brand name brown rice can be $2 but there is no difference in taste.

where there is a will there is a way...check the store flyers online and go prepared.

PEACEGRANNY Posts: 2,070
6/8/13 8:18 P

Cut out some meat. That will reduce the cost. Meat is so expensive these days. There is a program called Meatless Mondays which might be a good place to start.

ROBBIEY SparkPoints: (431,770)
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Posts: 13,794
6/8/13 7:23 P

Eating healthy is expensive but the return on investment is so much more than you spend.

ELECTRA7D SparkPoints: (18,798)
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Posts: 872
6/8/13 7:16 P

How about rice instead of the ramen noodles? It will still cause weight gain if you eat too much of it, but it's got less fat and no msg (I used to love ramen noodles, but now I get migraines if I eat them, from the msg).

You can buy a crock pot for $20 or's a great investment for someone who's eating on a budget. You can cook beans in the crock pot. Soak them overnight while you're sleeping, then put them in the crock pot on low before you leave for work, with a couple of bouillon cubes (or a bit of bacon). You can also use the crock pot to cook whatever cheap cuts of pork or beef you can find on sale, then you can portion out the meat for several days. The crock pot makes any cut of meat tender.

Another thing you can do to save money is not to eat any of your meals at restaurants. Make oatmeal for breakfast (or eat a bagel, a bag of bagels is not that expensive if you don't eat them all in a day). Have a peanut butter sandwich for lunch, or take some leftovers from last night's dinner and eat those.

Are there any bills you can cut down? I don't have cable anymore to save money, just a good indoor antenna to get the local channels. If you have a cell phone, you probably don't need a home phone either. And to save on your electric bill, if you have central AC, make sure you change the filter every two weeks, and try to keep the thermostat set on 80 in the summer...every degree lower than that can raise the bill 10 percent. One bill you absolutely shouldn't skimp on is renter's's really cheap and essential for someone who's living on a budget.

Do you have the 99 Cent Only store where you live? My sister is on a really tight budget and she does a lot of her grocery shopping there, especially for produce.

JIACOLO SparkPoints: (564,959)
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Posts: 31,508
6/8/13 7:11 P

It doesn't have to be expensive. Canned beans are good for protein and fiber. Frozen foods are nutritional. Buy in bulk when it is on sale, buy what is in season, use the papers or online fliers from stores to guide your purchases. Make bulk meals and freeze them. Also check out these links:

BLUENOSE63 SparkPoints: (108,021)
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Posts: 2,954
6/8/13 7:06 P

Google healthy eating in the Spark Articles and you will find lots of ways to eat healthier on a budget and still get a lot of food.

HLAMBERT47 SparkPoints: (83)
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Posts: 10
6/8/13 6:37 P

Oh good idea, I'll re-post it there. I actually just planted some peppers and tomatoes for myself which is pretty exciting. I love fruit, I wish I had a tree! Cutting out drinking gives me a little extra money, I just wish I could use some of the meal plans on here though.

MILLIFRED Posts: 672
6/8/13 6:31 P

Cutting out drinking should save quite a bit! Is there any other way you can economize so you're able to spend more on food? Food pantry's sometimes have healthier foods than it sounds like your eating and if your that broke you would probably qualify. Canned veggies are not as tasty as fresh but are fairly cheap. Potatoes are not necessarily as cheap as other fresh vegetables ,try doing some comparisons. I would love to share my garden produce with you but of course that is not possible; I wonder if there is anything like that available where you live. I know my daughter practically lived on ramen noodles when she was in school and there's a lot of other students doing that. There are probably some recipes out there where you can fix them healthier like adding a small amount of veggies, either fresh or canned. Anyone else with some ideas? You might want to post your message on the emergency board

HLAMBERT47 SparkPoints: (83)
Fitness Minutes: (20)
Posts: 10
6/8/13 6:22 P

I'm 23 years old and just got my own apartment for the first time. Once my bills are paid I have almost no money left for food. I eat a lot of instant noodles and potatoes, stuff that is really cheap. I hate it, I want to have fresh fruits and veggies so bad but I can just rarely afford them. I gained a little over 100lbs in a VERY short amount of time, mostly due to losing a good job I had and I started drinking almost every night which led me to binge eating. I would eat as much as a large pizza and breadsticks to myself. I am still counting calories but my meals are just odd, basically whatever I can find to keep myself from starving. Also, I have completely cut out drinking alcohol for the time being and I'm hoping that in itself will help some.

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