crockpot is the way to go if you can! cook stews and soups in large batches and freeze in single serving sizes. A small amount of meat, a ton of vegetables and seasonings go a long way! Also the crock pot is great for making beans - high in protein and fiber, low in price.
Fitness Minutes: (20,400)
2,704 6/9/12 11:20 A
Making your own food is definitely way cheaper, and batch cooking makes it cheapest.
On the weekend, I make a batch of banana pancakes and freeze them for the upcoming week. A little flour, some baking powder, salt, milk, eggs and banana are really all you need. Of course, if you have money to spare, you can add in chocolate chips, or pecans, or protein powder, or egg whites, or yogurt, but none of that is necessary.
I also cook other meals in batches as well. I like to buy brown rice, cook it up on the weekend and keep it in my fridge. Then, during the week I can make quick stir-fries or fried rice. Brown rice sauteed with (cooked) frozen vegetable mix and a scrambled egg is probably the cheapest, easiest, healthiest dish for a student budget ever (just keep your total frying oil below a tablespoon). At the moment I have a big bowl of beans soaking on my counter. I covered them with water last night, I'll cook them today, and then I'll make bean soup this afternoon. I had to buy organic dried bean mix because my grocer was out of the regular version, and while it was a bit expensive (about $7 CAD, or five pounds in the UK) it will easily make fifteen protein- and fiber-rich servings of soup (not all at once!).
Fitness Minutes: (13,057)
61 5/14/12 11:38 A
Drop some of the meat. When I was a vegetarian, I found that I could nab a few veggies for the price of some of the meat and make my own "burger" patties, soups, stews, and eggplant steaks. Delicious and good for you, same price, and, done properly, you barely miss the meat.
What made all the difference for me in college was that I bought a crock-pot and found lots of different soup and stew recipes online. If you live in a place that will allow you to use a crock-pot you can cook a huge variety of soups and stews. I built up a pretty good collection of dried beans and spices. I had access to a freezer so I would buy a roasting chicken and boil some of meat to create chicken stock. The rest of the meat went into the recipes.
I am not sure what the prices are like where you are but if you can get root vegetables they are great in stews.
I would cook a batch of stew and then freeze the leftovers in microwaveable containers to eat later. After a little while I had a pretty good variety of stuff to chose from. But again, all of this depends upon access to a crock-pot and a freezer.
Most people cook and or eat 10-20 recipes or meals over and over. That being said, the key to variety is to not eat the same thing too many times in a row and switch it up by varying the seasonings. You might have to invest a little up front for spices, but they last quite a while. As a student (limited time and budget) you might want an italian mix, curry or other indian mix, poultry mix, BAM, and Adobo. If you are concerned with sodium, most come in low salt or no salt versions. Rice, dried beans, tuna and eggs pack a lot of nutrition for a low price. by using different spices, you can vary your meals. don't forget to treat yourself to a favorite now and then so you don't feel deprived.
Often the recipes which have the fewest ingredients have the fewest calories. There are recipes out there for 5 ingredients, designed originally for students and "bachelors." I try to use the fewest ingredients I can in foods in order to save money and to save calories.
Also, don't be misled into believing that packaged foods are cheaper. They are not. For one thing, they lead to poor health which equals more money spent on healthcare and medications. For another thing, fresh food can be used for several meals if used correctly, cleaned and stored correctly. When you buy fresh, you can buy as many or as few items as you can afford and use those efficiently. You may find yourself eating healthier.
Don't be fooled by the "helper" prepackaged meals. Besides having ingredients that may be harmful to you (research), they will be high in sodium and have ingredients you can basically come up with a lot cheaper and fresher.
I wouldn't be afraid to ask your store's meat dept. if you could get less meat etc. than what is on display and they may be able to do it for you. If you want less than a pound of ground beef, at least ask for it and see what they say.
Your feeling that if you purchase as much as you can at one time you will save money. That absolutely can be true as many people have found the more times they go by the store, the more they will spend. The key is to preplan what your nutritional needs are so you aren't cutting yourself short. Then plan your meals ahead of time for the month. You might want to actually divide your money into two week portions and shop that way if it works better.
Planning meals for a month can work, one key is discipline. If you want something other than is planned for that night, switch it out for another night. Also, making something that will last two days will help, but going beyond two days will more than likely make you tired of it and so waste it. A slow cooker might help if you are allowed to have one. They make them in all sizes now and I even have one that is two small slow cookers in one. I can make side dishes in that unit.
Fitness Minutes: (30)
5/12/12 10:20 A
This is my first time posting so forgive me if this question isn't in the correct place. I have joined sparkpeople to lose weight & meet friends like most people but as I am away at University now I find 'dieting' really difficult as I am on a strict budget for food. I spend roughly £60/$95 per month on food items, and usually do a big shop at the start of the month. My mentality is usually get as much as I can for my money but this has forced me into bad eating habbits and putting a lot of weight on.
Anyways, I was wondering if anyone had good budget meal ideas or a shopping list that is both nutritional and cheap.
I also dont mind cooking, and freeze portions where I can.
Thankyou in advance :)
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