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RENATARUNS SparkPoints: (4,367)
Fitness Minutes: (2,155)
Posts: 1,379
10/26/13 8:35 A

Nireren's right; you don't need a ton of resources or a crazy amount of money either if you know what you're doing. I can't pretend to experience what you have. But we have allergies and food preferences in my family that mean that if we travel anywhere, it is pretty much mandatory that we cook for ourselves the whole time, even in a hotel room with nothing but a smuggled hot plate, a quart pot, and one of those microsized refrigerators that fits a bowl of leftovers and just about nothing else. Instant rice, can of beans, salt, container of curry powder, onion, bell pepper, cooking oil, and it's a meal. Eggs keep pretty well even without refrigeration (if you haven't boiled them and they aren't cracked), so that is the second staple for such trips after rice/beans. (With refrigeration, unboiled, they keep for weeks.) Pasta works OK as a third -- not quite as satisfying or nutritious, but it's a nice option for a change. Bananas, apples, pears that aren't too ripe (if in season and hence inexpensive). Hard cheeses that you can cut off slivers with a knife to add flavor to everything else. Peanut butter sandwiches for those moments when you can't deal with cooking and just need something in your stomach -- it's probably more expensive and a bit less filling on a per-calorie basis than most of the rest, but it's not too terrible.

The hard part is going to be the learning and the mental adjustment and the organization and possibly the time or logistics of it all. Money should not be the problem as such. If you've been able to feed yourself so far on (probably? just guessing based on what most of us here were eating before we started) twice as many calories as you will need during weight loss, and often more expensive foods as well, then you will be able to afford this.

NIRERIN Posts: 14,297
10/25/13 7:18 A

if you don't know a lot about cooking, head to your local library. or if you have issues with getting there odds are your local library will come to you [i'm lucky that i live in an area where they will deliver to anyone -yay!- but i know that in other areas they will only come to you if have disability issues]. start by getting cookbooks aimed at students. they will tell you the difference between a pot and a pan, how to cook rice the difference between chopping and mincing and other really basic cooking skills. many are also geared toward stealth dorm cooking, so it's not like you need a huge setup with every pan martha stewart makes to have a meal. the quick and easy cookbooks are a huge market and the not so many ingredient cookbooks are a growing market so there are a lot of options out there. slowly work your way through finding what works with your tastebuds and level of involvement. for the quick and few ingredient recipes you may find that you're using a little more processed food [buying salsa rather than buying tomatoes, peppers, onions and limes] and you can decide where you want to make your stand on that. if you find making salsa is super easy and what you want to do, then make it. if you find buying a jar or tub more your level, just read the labels and adjust accordingly.

ANGELCITYGAL SparkPoints: (38,869)
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Posts: 1,724
10/25/13 2:26 A

These are two articles that may help you. Copy and paste into your browser to go to them.

CYPHER7 SparkPoints: (45,375)
Fitness Minutes: (90,275)
Posts: 500
10/25/13 1:02 A

It won't help with the overall budget but to help put aside some money for fresh veg and fruit mid-month, you could check if your local grocery store has gift cards or pre-loadable cards. You could load it with some money when you get your disability payment, then put it in a safe place for a few weeks (and if you're like me, figure out some way to remind yourself where that safe place is).

LOVE4KITTIES Posts: 4,690
10/24/13 2:43 P

Apples, carrots, oatmeal, chicken breasts and sandwiches (depending on how you make them) are a great start. But, you are going to need a bit of a wider variety so that you don't get bored and so that you get all the vitamins/minerals that you need.

One of the great things about losing weight is that you will be eating fewer calories both while you are losing weight and afterwards. Not only will you feel better, but you will find that your grocery bill will go way down if you are eating only the food you really need. Your grocery bill could easily go down by 25% or even by a lot more. Healthy foods can also be a lot less expensive than other foods, if you make wise choices about what foods to buy. So, you should have more money to work with throughout the month. This means that you should be able to save some of this money to use throughout the month for the purchase of perishable foods...

I don't understand why you won't put away some money at the start of each month for grocery purchases throughout the month. If you'd just take a little money out of your grocery money and put it aside, you could go to the store once per week to get some fresh fruit/veggies and other perishables. You could still do your main grocery shopping once per month, but, if you just set aside a bit of money out of your grocery money, you would then have a little to use each week for the rest of the month for perishable foods.

Being paid once per month is normal for most people. Most people who I know, myself and my husband included, get paid once per month. This means that we all have to budget our money so that it lasts the entire month. We cannot just spend all our money on the first of the month or, like you know, we won't have any money for fresh fruits, vegetables, bread, milk, yogurt or any other perishable food throughout the month. You need help figuring out a budget so that you can set aside part of your grocery money for use throughout the month so that you can keep some perishable food in the house. Do you have anyone who can help you with a budget?

If you simply refuse to figure out a budget and save part of your grocery money to use throughout the month to get things like fresh fruit and veggies, milk, yogurt, etc. and you don't have very much freezer space, then you are going to end up eating a lot of canned and dried foods. You'll want to get things like canned fruits, canned vegetables, dried milk, rice (brown), dried (or canned) beans, peanut butter, dried pasta (whole wheat), canned or jarred sauced (e.g. spaghetti sauce) and oatmeal. Watch out for canned vegetables that have a lot of salt and buy the lower sodium varieties. If you buy canned beans, rinse them before eating to get rid of the extra salt.

Hopefully, you have a freezer large enough for a month's worth of meat and some other groceries. Unless you have a large enough freezer for bread, you'll need to make that yourself as a loaf (or loaves) of bread purchased on the first of the month will grow mold (or at least get extremely stale) before the end of the month. If your freezer is large enough, you may have space for frozen fruits and vegetables. Bananas are inexpensive and you can buy bananas, peel them, and put them in your freezer (in plastic wrap) and then eat them later. I think they are pretty tasty when taken directly out of the freezer and eaten frozen. If you have enough room in your freezer, you can freeze gallons of milk too. They freeze well, in my opinion.

There are a few fruits and vegetables that will last a month, or at least a couple of weeks, out of the refrigerator. These include things like potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash (some varieties will last a few months in the cupboard) and apples (sometimes, they last quite a while in the cupboard, other times they go bad more quickly). Apples and oranges will last a LOT longer in the refrigerator (if you have room). Carrots will last a good while in the refrigerator.

Try your local thrift store for a crockpot. You should be able to get one there for just a few dollars.

Edited by: LOVE4KITTIES at: 10/24/2013 (15:17)
MICHELLEXXXX SparkPoints: (12,275)
Fitness Minutes: (5,920)
Posts: 3,791
10/24/13 1:12 P

Sweetheart, do you understand that it is ok to spend a little at a time each week so that you will always have fresh foods?
Carrots, apples, and bananas are generally lower in price and seem to keep for at least 2 weeks in my crisper. Cucumbers, chicken, tuna, and eggs are other items I'd consider

SOON2BHEALTHY23 Posts: 1,610
10/24/13 12:37 P

Would it be okay to eat like apples,and carroits and sandwiches,oatmeal and chicken breasts be good? its just that I dont have a crockpot,I can get one next month but with my disability im not really a good cook and i dont want a recipe thats like over 20 ingredients u know what i mean? its just hard to get stuff like bananas and watch it rot cuz i have to eat small

SARAHMO4 Posts: 336
10/22/13 6:40 P

If you and your bf live together does he help with the bills? You said you pay for yours with your check and I wasn't sure if he helped with bills if you two live together. If he doesn't help and does live with you, having him would be a good idea to have more money throughout the month and for healthy food. Does he help buy food also or who does the shopping and paying for of items? I understand you want to be healthy and people need food, but if he's the one eating what you buy or telling you what to buy, he might want to back off a little if your paying for his meals.

Start small with eating healthy, buy a few apples and a few veggies, don't go overboard if you think food will be wasted. I still buy a new fruit or unfamiliar produce to use in a healthy recipe and additional ones I know I will eat. For me being excited about trying a new way to be healthy can be motivation to not waste food.

I am also on disability and understand how it can be hard to be healthy. If you need more money for food, find ways to save. I have friends on disability who have habits of not paying for bills on time and having late fees, or always having I owe yous at the beginning of the month, and paying half of a bill, or not cutting back on extras like a huge cable bill. Making sure you pay bills and don't start out the month with I owe yous or a bill from last month will be very helpful. Budgeting and seeing what you have left and dividing that amount into 4 for 4 weeks in a month is how I budget my money. I keep a list on my computer of what I need to pay and what I have to spend for every week down to money for cat food, laundry, gas for my car, and anything I will need to pay for. Buying fresh produce or healthy food isn't always easy, but I have a good choice of stores and I watch the ads that come in free papers and get emails of the ads on my computers also. Knowing what I have and being able to buy what I will need on sale is very helpful.

Have you looked into applying for food stamps or considered going to the food bank? Both are options and can be helpful in stretching grocery money. Also start a garden if you are able next year, a lot of plants grow well in containers with a little planning and knowledge. Most towns have a community garden and that is an option. Other than that I would say to avoid convenience foods that are frozen and precooked or have the cook prep work taken out of them, or eating out a lot. If you don't know how much you spend on that, keep receipts for when you do that or for everything you buy and see where your money goes. I can be an eye opener and helpful in changing habits.

SIMONEKP Posts: 2,764
10/22/13 3:08 P

Honestly, you don't sound ready to put any effort into a more healthy diet. There are lots of workable solutions offered by the folks below. Simply budgeting will help but you need to want to do this or none of the tips offered will be attractive options for you.

SONICB Posts: 4,381
10/22/13 2:14 P

Not going to address all of the original issues in OP's post, but a cheap & healthy meal idea: Mujaddara! (Lebanese/Arabic lentils, rice, and caramelized onions.) Lentils and rice can be purchased dry for very cheap. Onions also tend to be cheap. The lentils & rice together form a complete protein, and it's a pretty tasty dish!

RLEEGIRL Posts: 530
10/22/13 8:12 A

Market basket always has produce for less tables use them to make a dish that day

SLIMMERKIWI SparkPoints: (253,924)
Fitness Minutes: (41,531)
Posts: 27,154
10/22/13 4:13 A

Hi SOON2BHEALTHY23 - I have lived off the smell of an oily rag for years, so feel I can share what I learned so long ago. There were times when my late husband was working, and altho' SUPPOSED to get paid weekly, it was often a few weeks before he got paid, and it wasn't a 40hr week job, either, because it was very reliant on the weather, so some weeks it may only be for 20odd hrs.

The first issue I will deal with the food. There are many ways of making your dollar stretch. Buying things like red lentils and dried split peas can be your best friend. They are shelf stable - last for months if not used; are a very good source of protein and fibre; are marvelous meal extenders, in that you can make your meat casseroles and soups go so much further by reducing the meat. AND they are ridiculously cheap :-)

If you have a freezer, frozen veges such as peas, beans, corn, are often cheaper than fresh, and as they are snap frozen, generally within hours of being picked, often contain more nutrients than the so-called fresh produce which may have been sitting on a shelf for a few days, and which causes them to lose nutrients.

Buy enough fresh produce to get you through the first few days, unless the fresh stuff IS a good keeper.

Take really GOOD advantage of the specials - particularly when the meat or frozens are on huge reduction. Look for those crazy mark-downs because the 'use by' date is looming - meat and things like yoghurt are good for this. The meat can be frozen and the yoghurt will keep for a while after that if not eaten sooner.

Bulk cook your meals, as much as possible. Things like soups, casseroles, even really healthy pizza. Also, meat patties or sausages are good for this, and freeze in single serves. It saves heaps of power/gas, and also cleaning up. AND when you are tired or too busy, you already have a healthy meal ready to be popped into the microwave.

Now, where it comes to bills, I suggest that you and your bf sit down and create a spreadsheet - have separate columns for things like power/gas, telephone, petrol, food, medical, clothing, entertainment, car repairs, cafes/restaurants, etc. EVERY LITTLE THING that you buy, put the amount down in the appropriate column, altho' with groceries, just entering the full amount would suffice. After a month or two you will start to see obvious places where you can cut costs. Create a budget based on your essential expenses. IF there is some discretionary money over, that is good, but don't blow it - the occasional treat is great, but keep in mind emergencies.

The next thing that needs addressing is that if you are having a hard time, don't be afraid of using food banks (any food is better than none) or phoning those you owe money to and explaining the situation. I have done this many times. It isn't a time for pride to take the front seat. I needed work done on my car once, and I had NEVER been to this particular business AT ALL. They didn't know me from a bar of soap, but they extended me credit. It took me two years to pay of $504 - a little each month when I could afford it. Because they knew the situation, they never got nasty, and never charged me interest. Other business did the same.

If you still find that you and your bf are having problems, then seeking the help of a Budgeting Adviser is great because altho' you may not need help with the budgeting part of it, they seem to have more clout in extending credit for their clients, or arrange temporary low-interest loans.

Good luck,

RUSSELL_40 Posts: 16,826
10/22/13 3:11 A

Try shopping at Aldi's. I get canned vegetables for 59 cents each, since you have problems with storage. I am also on disability, so i understand just how little money you are talking about. Luckily I live with my brother who has a part time job, despite also having CHF.

I eat for about $50 a week. Mostly chicken, vegetables, and eggs for breakfast. My brother has some cereal, sandwiches, and splits dinners with me. healthy food doesn't have to be expensive. We get bread for 85 cents a loaf, bologna for $1 ( 16 slices ), peanut butter and jelly cheapp also,and I get my eggs for 85 cents a dozen. Milk is $1.49 a gallon. Macaroni is $1.99 for 32 ozs. Cereal is $1.49. Oatmeal is $1.99 for 10 servings. Fruit is also cheap. Plums/peaches 39 cents each. Apples $1.69 for 3# bag. potatoes for $1.99 for 10# bag. Soup is $

See if they have a store near you...

I usually buy No Salt canned vegetables ( not at Aldi's ) due to my heart issues, and extra money from my brother, but still limit myself to sales. Last week I bought a 2.5 lbs roast for $10( at Aldi's ), but cut it into eight 5 oz servings, and froze them. Figure out what you have to spend after bills, and save half of that, and shop every 2 weeks.

You should be able to put together a menu with the foods I listed. Cereal/ oatmeal and milk with fruit for breakfast. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch with a can of vegetables, and some meat and potatoes for dinner.

Once you get the store closest to you, then you can look through their weekly specials, and see what is super cheap that you can stretch out over two weeks without spoiling.

I do not buy meat at Aldi's just so you know. It is expensive. However, I found a meat market with cheap cuts, and get ground beef from Meijer's which is located next to the Aldi's. I have to eat higher fat ground beef to get it for $1.99 a lb, but when money is tight, you make concessions. You should be able to feed 2 people for under $200 a month. That is $100 a person. You can even go cheaper if you eat less meat, and more carbs.

Hope this helps some.

ATHENA1966 Posts: 3,989
10/21/13 10:04 P

This is a article you might find useful.

DMJAKES Posts: 1,635
10/21/13 2:22 P

You've been given a lot of good tips, but I'd add:

It doesn't matter how often you get have to budget your income to last the month, for each category (including food). You and the significant other need to sit down and plan out each month before it happens. Once you decide on a dollar amount for food, divide that up by however many trips to the store you think you can make (I'd say 2 is the bare minimum).

Read through the numerous threads here on spark about budget meals, cooking on the cheap, etc. If you do a search, a lot of them will come up.

I've been there over the last few years, and the best tips I've found the sales ads and build your meals and snacks around what's in season and on sale. When something you use often is on sale, try to get more than one and stash it for future use. If you pay attention, you'll soon see how the cycles for sales work and you'll know when an item hits a rock bottom price.

Make sure you use perishables before they spoil---take stock of your fridge every few days and make a plan for anything that needs to be eaten. Keep quantities in mind as you're putting items in the cart. Example - that big bunch of bananas will go bad a lot quicker than a bag of apples. So how about just a couple of bananas instead? For veggies, frozen or canned might be the way to go, for now. Lots of times the frozen go on sale for a buck or less per bag, and have multiple servings per bag--a great deal.

If you're both on disability, there are probably services you could take advantage to help you with budgeting, and perhaps even some nutritional counseling.

I would also suggest bearing in mind that "eating healthy" is a journey, a process. You probably won't go from eating Lucky Charms, fish sticks and ramen noodles to steel cut oats, wild salmon and quinoa all in a week. Just make a few swaps at a time and work on your portion control and exercise---small steps will add up over time.

10/20/13 4:41 P

I'll try "back to basics".

How many calories have you and/or your partner been consuming per month? Are those the optimum calories?

How much do you have to spend on groceries per month?

Most of us can help with frugality, but is it enough? Are we going overboard?

YOU need to answer the "basics".

Becky, your solemn simplicity is often overlooked.

AZULVIOLETA6 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (74,443)
Posts: 3,293
10/20/13 4:09 P

Nobody who is looking out for your best interests is going to force you to make choices that keep you weighing 360 pounds.

Eating healthy is NOT more expensive, but it does require more work and planning. I think that you need more help than anybody here is going to be able to give you. Please ask disability services for resources to help you with meal planning and budgeting.

Honesty it sounds like you WANT to give up and that you are just looking for a excuse.

GOODANIMAL SparkPoints: (34,259)
Fitness Minutes: (5,306)
Posts: 471
10/20/13 3:58 P

SOON2BHEALTHY23, I'm reluctant to sound impatient, but a lot of people here have given you quite a few very helpful suggestions that would solve the problem if the problem were only how to eat cheaply and nutritiously. Just noticed you weigh 360. It takes a lot of calories to maintain 360 pounds. Is that your ideal weight? If not, cutting out about 50% of current calories might save about 50% of your food expense and help you feel better, too.

NIRERIN Posts: 14,297
10/20/13 3:21 P

i agree that if you want help that you're going to be much more explicit about your issues. we know you are moving to a 374 sq ft apartment, but that doesn't give us much to go on with what sort of suggestions may be helpful to you. if you share your problems, like i have a dorm fridge in the new apartment and 150 to feed two people on for a month, you'll get more helpful suggestions. or if you can't stand in the kitchen to do much prepwork. if you don't want to share that much information, that's fine. but doing a search through the messageboards with the keywords for your situation [monthly cooking, $50 for 2 people for a week, makeshift kitchen or whatever it is]. living on a fixed income can be difficult, but there are plenty of people here on the boards who have done it. many know of blogs and websites that have some really great tips for doing it in the least repetitive way possible. but if you just tell us that's hard and you're worried, well, it's sunny and 80's here and anyone with a window to look out it can see that. i'm not trying to be a jerk or anything, but the more information you can tell us about what you're having a problem with, the more likely you'll actually get help with what you need help with. you may just need to start by writing down what you are buying, how much it costs, if you are using it, how much your meals cost per serving and go on from there. because once you know where you are starting from, you can improve from there. and that's something you can do by bringing down your total food cost and/or by improving the quality of what you buy and/or by not wasting what you do buy.
and don't feel discouraged if this is hard. it's one of those life skills that really seems to have gone out the window in the past 50 or so years. most people struggle with how to budget what they have and still eat well.

CERTHIA SparkPoints: (22,539)
Fitness Minutes: (16,207)
Posts: 770
10/20/13 3:10 P

Some items you can consider to put on your shopping list:
-Dried lentils
-Whole-wheat pasta
-Brown Rice
-Canned tomatoes
-Canned beans
-Vegetable oil (for instance canola)
-Whole-wheat flours
-Nuts and seeds
-Spices (Salt, black pepper, thyme, coriander, cumin.)
-Bakers yeast

All shelf-stable, all nutrient rich and all very affordable.

As for fresh produce and veggies:
-Cottage cheese

All will stay fresh for long, all are tasty, nutrient rich, and all are likely affordable. I was able to stretch my money very far without even owning a freezer buying these as my staples. I made vegetable curries, pastas and soups. Omelets, pies, pancakes and breads.
Hope this helps :)

THEPIA Posts: 300
10/20/13 2:22 P

To be completely honest it sounds like you are the roadblock. It does not cost more to eat healthy - it will just be a change. There is no reason you can't buy food once a month and maybe save $5-10 each week or even biweekly for some fresh fruits and veggies. Here is an idea:

Go to and find a few casseroles or soups that look good. My general rule is 10 ingredients or less. Most of them make at least 4 servings, so that is 2 meals for you and your bf. I live in a very small studio apartment, but can get a month's worth of casseroles and frozen fruits/veggies in my freezer. If you prefer to use your pantry that is fine - learn to shop your local ads for sales. I just spent $23 on groceries that will easily last 2 weeks and it all went in the pantry. I made a meatless taco soup today and will make a chicken and rice casserole later this week.

Maybe it would be helpful if you could tell us what your grocery budget is and in what area of the country you live in so that we can help you a little better. If all you do is say none of our suggestions work then maybe we don't have all the information you need us to have to be able to help.

STARSHINEFL SparkPoints: (1,072)
Fitness Minutes: (40)
Posts: 158
10/20/13 2:19 P

Good suggestion from Bunnykicks, and a lot of equally good suggestions from other members. I guess we're not really sure what the problem is here, and why you don't seem to feel any of these solutions could possibly work for you.

What are you buying for food now?

BUNNYKICKS Posts: 2,433
10/20/13 1:41 P

well, what kind of foods are you eating now? maybe for now, you could just stick with the same things that you are used to eating - and just eat less of that. it wouldn't cost you anything - in fact, it would save you some money. then you could use the money you saved to treat yourself to some fresh fruit or other "healthy" things.

I am not sure what you think of as "healthy" food or why you think it is more difficult to shop once a month for healthy food than it is to shop once a month for not-healthy-food. I'm assuming you must be talking about "fresh fruit and veg"? But the thing is... although it's nice to have fresh food, it is not * necessary * for weight loss.

Can you cook? Or are you relying on pre-made foods a lot? Pre-packaged foods (i.e. frozen dinners) that say "healthy" on the label ARE more expensive than regular ones. But... pre-packaged junky frozen dinners actually cost a lot more than "healthy" food that you make from scratch. If you are having problems with your food budget, increasing the amount of meals you cook from scratch can really help out. If you don't cook much or don't know how, then it's worth learning.

SOON2BHEALTHY23 Posts: 1,610
10/20/13 1:25 P

thanks all for the tips,but im still concerned with my bills more than just food

GOODANIMAL SparkPoints: (34,259)
Fitness Minutes: (5,306)
Posts: 471
10/19/13 3:34 P

Bulk rice, bulk beans (varieties you like: navy, white, red, pinto, lentils, etc.), eggs, bulk fresh spinach, 5-pound bags of carrots. "Club packs" of chicken breasts into individual sandwich bags in the freezer; defrost one a day. Toss a mix of veggies and a little meat into the food processor to improvise soups and omelettes.

Let a little bulk rice and beans soak overnight in a pot of water for the next day.

Saute a little fresh chopped garlic and onions. Add a few sprigs of fresh cilantro. Cheap and delicious!

DIANE7786 Posts: 5,066
10/19/13 1:49 P

You need a plan! A monthly check doesn’t have to mean buying groceries once a month. is a great site for controlling spending habits when the plan is followed. On this site do a Spark Search for "budget meals" and "cheap healthy food" for ideas. Healthy food is less expensive than processed junk.

LOUNMOUN Posts: 1,334
10/19/13 1:49 P

If you have limited storage space and are concerned that food will not last if you only shop once a month then your focus needs to be on budgeting so you can continue to shop every week or every 2 weeks. There is no reason you can not budget your money and buy healthy foods. emoticon

Try to focus on buying more filling foods.

Beans and lentils are inexpensive, healthy, last a long time on the shelf and are very filling.
Oatmeal can be very filling, inexpensive and will not go bad on the shelf as well. Buy a large container of plain rolled oats and add fruit or whatever you like to your portion.
Drink water mostly- healthy and cheap.
Buy larger containers and portion it out when you get home.
Soup is a good budget meal. There are a lot of healthy soup recipes. It generally reheats well and freezes well.
In my house, we try to eat meatless meals 3 to 4 days each week to save money and be healthier. When we do have meat, it is usually cut up and in something rather than a big slab of meat on the plate. I like the recipes on this blog. There is some idea of cost and the recipes tend to be fairly tasty and healthy.

GYPSYGOTH SparkPoints: (94,944)
Fitness Minutes: (72,557)
Posts: 45,743
10/19/13 1:14 P

We have it kind of backwards in this country... in all other countries, people spend a greater % of their money on food, because it's so important!!!

I think maybe realizing that eating healthier food is probably your #1 priority (without it you're likely to die young!) will help you with "standing" saving money for food. Think of it as your "you" money! It is what will make the difference for you. You've been here for a long time, I see from reading your page, and haven't taken the steps you need to, quite yet, toward being healthier.


...But if you continue doing exactly what you've always done, you will get exactly the same results.

SOON2BHEALTHY23 Posts: 1,610
10/19/13 1:12 P

Well thats what me and him do.we both get disability checks,and as soon as i get mine i pay all the bills and have money leftover,but i wanna save it because its only money for 1 month and being broke during the 30 days isnt fun,and i cant stand having to save it for fresher food.

GYPSYGOTH SparkPoints: (94,944)
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Posts: 45,743
10/19/13 1:05 P

I used to only get paid once a month and it took a bit to get used to, but eventually I enjoyed paying all of my bills at once and then knowing exactly how much I had left over for the rest of the month.

I think what most people here are trying to say is that it will not be possible for you to only shop once a month. You cannot buy fresh food only once a month, so you would be relying on canned and boxed and frozen foods, which are typically not as nutritious (with the exception of frozen fruits and veg which are usually comparable). You will have to find a way to put part of your food budget away for later in the month.

Does your boyfriend not have an income as well? I'm a little confused.

You are so young! When I was your age I was finally learning how to eat well after several years of Ramen and Pasta-Roni because it was cheap! It is not easy, but it is fairly simple.

My tips would be:
-Eat meat-free meals as much as possible; meat is the most expensive thing in the market. Lentil stews and rice and beans and pasta are all much less expensive per serving.
-Keep frozen veggies, whole-grain or high-fiber pasta, and plenty of dried spices on hand (look in the ethnic aisles for much less expensive versions!). A nice, easy dinner is a pasta toss with lots of veggies.
-Shop the sales, of course: Last week I stocked up on canned salmon and high-fiber pasta that was more than $1 off each. That saved me $25 for the next couple of months, easily.
-Go to the farmer's market when you can, if you have one; typically I find produce there is $1-2 cheaper per pound than the supermarket (except for delicate things like berries). Trader Joe's and Market Basket in my area also have much better prices compared to other supermarkets; maybe you have one of those? (Or an Aldi?)

Good luck! It is possible; just takes some planning ahead and some research on inexpensive meals.

SOON2BHEALTHY23 Posts: 1,610
10/19/13 12:53 P

My boyfriend just wants whats best for me,hes not controlling at all he just wants to make sure the bills will be paid and we have extra cash,but having to save money is my issue,because now that i gotta buy healthy food,i dunno if i can afford to buy a pair of shoes like i was planning on,because the shoes i have now are horrible and i need new walking shoes.we will be moving to a 374 sq foot apartment,and thats pretty small so we arent gonna have much space.i eat alot and this portion control is gonna be really tough,im disabled and just dunno how to start out,what exact foods to get for a good price thatll last.

LOUNMOUN Posts: 1,334
10/19/13 12:51 P

Just because you are paid once a month doesn't mean you can only shop once a month. You will have to budget your money. You need to have an idea of how much you typically spend on groceries every week (or however often you are used to shopping). Once you figure out that amount then you only use that much for your shopping trip and reserve the rest for future grocery shopping trips.

Buy plain frozen fruits and vegetables (without added sauces, salt or sugar). Take out just what you need. They will last for months in the freezer and are not unhealthy.
Buy whole fresh fruits and vegetables rather than pre-cut or peeled items.
Cut up and freeze fresh vegetables or fruits that you realize you can't use up before they go bad. Use in stir fry, soups, casseroles, omelets, or smoothies.
Buy dry or canned beans or lentils. Things like oatmeal, rice or dry pasta also don't go bad in a month.
Eggs are good for up to 5 weeks refrigerated so I don't think that would really be a concern.
Some fresh foods last longer. Spend money on those items instead of bananas or lettuce. Plan to use up things that go bad early in your week or month and save the canned or frozen for later.

These links may help you make some choices:

I recommend strictly planning your meals in advance so you know you will use things that will go bad first and aren't wasting money buying new things without using what you already have. You can use the Sparkpeople meal plans or find other healthy pre-made meal plans if you don't feel confident making your own yet.

I shop once a week currently but plan meals for the whole month. I simply make a list of 28 dinners and decide which 7 will be for that week. I then cross them off as we have them. When we use up the list of 28 dinners, I either start the same list over or start a new one. I usually use the same meal list for a couple of months. I have 3 or 4 of these lists that I have laminated so I can reuse them easily.
In my house we tend to eat the same foods for snacks, breakfasts and lunches so I don't really need to plan those. I have a general idea how long a loaf of bread or container of milk lasts us. I keep pretty well stocked up on non-perishable items like oatmeal, beans, rice or pasta. I write down things as we run out of them.

Edited by: LOUNMOUN at: 10/19/2013 (13:02)
APPRIL Posts: 2,239
10/19/13 12:32 P

Since you don't have much freezer space, canned is the way to go. Check out what is available at your dollar and discount stores and flyers.

Edited by: APPRIL at: 10/19/2013 (12:32)
ZORBS13 SparkPoints: (199,750)
Fitness Minutes: (195,154)
Posts: 15,862
10/19/13 12:02 P

Anyone who tells you you aren't allow to do something healthy is a turd. My physically and emotionally abusive ex-husband did that, no for cost issues or anything, but just to control me. You don't need his permission to be healthier.


10/19/13 11:20 A

I go shopping with $20. that way I don't spend a lot on useless things and I end up mostly with fruit and vegetables that last a week

LOUIE-LILY Posts: 5,714
10/19/13 8:55 A

I like the idea of taking out a certain amount each week to shop. Freeze as much as possible. Prepare meals for the week and freeze in air tight bags or containers. Clean vegetables and put portions in baggies and freeze - same with fruit. Don't give up - you can figure a way around the issues. Ask your bf to help you figure it out instead of trying to do it on your own. Maybe he'd be helpful and more likely to agree to certain foods if he was on board with the project. Make a game out of it - not more stress in your life if you're already trying to pay bills with limited resources. Try to exercise together - go for walks after a healthy lite dinner. Maybe it will help you both.

10/19/13 8:54 A

I'm, first, in the budget camp as well.

There are troves of software to help you, and some of it is free. Go to and have a look. They have a free basic spreadsheet to start, and offer reviews of some other free software such as gnucash. If you run Linux on your computer, there are literally dozens of free choices.

If you are on a PC, Quicken is an incredible tool. But, it's just under a C note.

Then, you should be looking for garden space. That could be as little as a window seal, to the porch, to the yard(if you have one), to some borrowed space. The local Salvation Army just loves to help people trying to help themselves. They should be able to find you a garden spot just for the asking.

10/19/13 8:40 A

buy frozen or canned which can be better than the fresh fruit and vegetables in the supermarket, look for lessor no salt, less or no sugar, add herbs to enhance taste, with out adding salt.

NIRERIN Posts: 14,297
10/19/13 8:22 A

if you aren't used to shopping for, storing and using fresh fruits and vegetables, there is a learning curve. if you want to reduce spoilage the most, what you need to do for the next few months while you transition is to shop ridiculously frequently. in other words, when you go to the store, only buy enough fresh fruits and veggies for the next day or two. if you want to space out your trips a little more, buy frozen, canned or dried to supplement the fresh. get in the habit of checking exactly what you have in your fridge and need to use up. and this will do a few things. you'll start to find that things like apples, hard squash, and onions, don't really go bad after a few days. so it's okay to buy those in a little more bulk and they will keep without going bad. you'll find things like berries and bagged lettuce tend to spoil fairly quickly. so you'll need to plan to pick those up the day before you use them and remember not to buy them in bulk. or you need to find your way to store things. i've never noticed any difference with green bags, but i buy my lettuce in heads, wash it all at once and store it in damp towels in the fridge. i've had a head stay fresh, crisp and edible for three weeks like this [i forgot to clean out my fridge before i went on vacation and was pleasantly surprised that i could eat the lettuce when i got home]. so don't buy new until you have used up what you have already bought. you'll start to notice having to shop every day or two or three, and that's when you want to increase the volume of the fresh that you buy. again, the idea is to increase without spoilage, which means shopping more frequently until you learn what you can handle.
and the single best thing that you can do to use up what you buy is to keep checking in to see what you have to use up. mushrooms rarely turn overnight. if you keep checking you can watch their slow decline and use them before you lose them. and pretty much all produce is like that. you can watch them losing moisture, shrinking up, losing the vibrant color they had and when you notice that starting to happen is when you make the effort to use it up before you can only throw it out. and actually doing that is how you avoid wasting money on spoilage.

ANARIE Posts: 13,200
10/19/13 2:03 A

I think you need to find someone to help you with your money and budget, not just your diet. It shouldn't matter how many times a month you get paid. You just need to divide up that one payment and put some money away for your second shopping trip. If you want to, you can go shopping every week if you have made a budget and you only spend 1/4 of your grocery money each time.

If you're on disability, you can probably get help learning to budget. Your state or county most likely has classes and even a counseling service. Ask at the same office where you applied for disability.

ANGELCITYGAL SparkPoints: (38,869)
Fitness Minutes: (20,298)
Posts: 1,724
10/19/13 12:39 A

I am paid once a month and my daughter and I are on a tight budget. I divide my grocery budget into 4 and take a portion of it each week to shop. Here are our staples:
lowfat milk (I also use this to make my own yogurt), eggs, salad greens, carrots (to make carrot sticks and for various recipes -- large carrots are cheaper than baby carrots), a bag of boneless/skinless chicken breast tenderloins, ground beef, canned tomatoes, canned beans, avocados, quinoa, old fashioned rolled oats, peanut butter, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, apples, frozen fruit, frozen veggies. I don't buy all of these every week, of course, but these are the things I keep stocked in my kitchen -- if I have these things, I can eat well every day. Many of these things will keep -- they don't go bad within days!

And then if I need something additional for a recipe I want to try for variety, I'll see if I have it in my budget.

Edited by: ANGELCITYGAL at: 10/19/2013 (00:44)
SOON2BHEALTHY23 Posts: 1,610
10/18/13 10:55 P

hes not a turd hes looking out for our bills and such,we just dont wanna get healthy food thats going to spoil within days

MICHELLEXXXX SparkPoints: (12,275)
Fitness Minutes: (5,920)
Posts: 3,791
10/18/13 10:52 P

I would put it in the bank and pull out 25 dollars each week for groceries.

WHOLENEWME79 Posts: 951
10/18/13 10:39 P

Don't give up!

You can get frozen fruits and vegetables, and canned (look for low or no sodium) vegetables. Buy meats on sale, wrap into individual portions, then freeze.

Pastas of the whole grain variety last a long time, so do beans and rice. Oatmeal is great, and yogurt.

It may take some creativity, but you can do it!


Anyone who tells you you aren't allow to do something healthy is a turd. My physically and emotionally abusive ex-husband did that, no for cost issues or anything, but just to control me. You don't need his permission to be healthier.

Edited by: WHOLENEWME79 at: 10/18/2013 (22:42)
SOON2BHEALTHY23 Posts: 1,610
10/18/13 9:36 P

my bf says i cant buy the healthy stuff because if we do itll go bad then we will starve for the much for me losing weight,i give up

LADYCJM SparkPoints: (57,456)
Fitness Minutes: (36,342)
Posts: 2,545
10/18/13 9:23 P

I think part of your question might be "how do I stretch a once a month check to cover weekly healthy meals?"
Especially when you can't buy enough fresh foods to last a month without them spoiling!

My first thought is "green bags". They are a product that is supposed to prolong the life of fresh vegetables, fruits and breads. I bought some and I think they work. I've kept head lettuce, cabbage and other veggies for over a month.

If you eat bread and have the space, buy one or 2 loaves of your favorite healthy bread, wrap well and freeze. I keep bread this way as I only eat a couple of slices a week and I hate wasting it.

Plan your menu, estimate your costs, shop the sales and use coupons! Don't be afraid to use frozen or canned foods. Just buy the ones with the lowest amounts of salt and sugar.

You can freeze many of your own vegetables. For example, I freeze red and yellow peppers when I can get them on sale. You can also freeze corn, green beans, potatoes (blanch first).

If you plan a roast chicken dinner with salad and whatever for Sunday, then use the leftover chicken in a chicken salad for Mondays dinner, chicken tacos on Tuesday etc you can really stretch your food budget.

Good luck, I'm sure you will get many more ideas.

SOON2BHEALTHY23 Posts: 1,610
10/18/13 8:59 P

My problem is that I get paid once a month,and Im used to grocery shopping at least twice in a month,How am I suppose to eat these fresh fruits and stuff if they go bad easily?I have a little bit of freezer space,more pantry space.When I move in march im gonna have a small apartment,so not much space at all.

10/18/13 8:28 P

I am not sure what your exact concern is with.
Please share more and we can help.
Can you only shop once a month?
Are you looking for foods that will not spoil within a 1 month time?
Are you looking for long-term storage ideas?
How much freezer space do you have?

Your SP Registered Dietitian

Edited by: DIETITIANBECKY at: 10/18/2013 (20:29)
AGILEDOBE Posts: 428
10/18/13 7:20 P

I get paid monthly as well. I buy fresh veggies / fruit weekly, roast a chicken which may last me 4-5 days. Other days I eat fish sticks, tuna, 1/2 a burger, each with veggies. I keep whole wheat bread in my freezer to eat occasionally. One bag of uncut romaine x 3 lasts a week. For. breakfast I can have oatmeal, 1/2 a banana, slice Canadian bacon. I only eat egg x1 weekly. and I drink water rather than anything else,no calories.
Make my own ranch dressing with small fat free yogurt, plus 1/2 bag of dried Ranch dressing mix, cheaper than bottles and lower sodium, tastes great. Sometimes. I have cottage cheese with a full tomato, couple slices of Canadian bacon. Keep apples on hand for snacks. Eating healthy is cheaper for me than processed food like Stouffers.

SOON2BHEALTHY23 Posts: 1,610
10/18/13 6:54 P

I get disability and only paid once a month,I want to start eating the right foods but since I only get paid once a month,I dunno what to do? Any suggestions? Any meal plans/ideas? HELP please,thanks!

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