I think your best bet is using your freezer more and dividing up what you cook up into single portions and freezing it. Then you can pull those out and heat them up- much healthier and cheaper than buying canned soup or frozen dinners. You can look up "freezer cooking", "freezer meals" or "once a month cooking" on the internet for some ideas but most things freeze okay so any of your favorite meals should be fine. You don't have to cook 30 full meals in one day. Just cook a regular sized meal every day for a week and put the extra portions in the freezer. After a week you would have a pretty good variety to choose from in the freezer and then you won't have to cook much for the rest of the month.
If you are willing to eat beans or meatless meals they can be much cheaper than meat.
I buy frozen vegetables to reduce waste. I can take out just what I need. If you see a good deal on fresh vegetables or fruit you can freeze some to add to soups, casseroles, etc.
Fitness Minutes: (48,676)
5,092 12/11/12 4:23 P
I think it's easier to cook entirely for yourself because you don't have to worry about the other person not liking what you're cooking, AND you have lots of leftovers depending on what you make. Making big batches of soups/stews/chili in the slow cooker is a great option, and it's awesome that you do that already. You can do a lot of things with chicken and tilapia. Frozen veggies are a good option - just portion out how much you want and microwave or stir fry them while your meat cooks. I know you like the convenience meals, but you'll save a lot of money each week if you stop buying the lean cuisines and weight watcher meals and make your own versions. It takes a little time but maybe you'll learn to enjoy cooking.
BettyJ - if you do a search for "budget" on this board, you'll come across several very lengthy threads with some superb ideas.
One way I keep my budget reasonable is to be flexible when I go to the store, and make sure I'm ready to stock up if I come across a good bargain. For example, recently I found 6 packages of the Jenni-O turkey breast cutlets in the markdown bin for $2.00 each (their sell-by date was the next day). The normal price is $7.50, so I bought them all and repackaged them and froze them. I also base my produce purchases on what's on sale and in season. It tastes better and I get more for my money. Right now, it's pears, blackberries, and clementines (yummo).
Can you set aside one or two evenings a week and do some batch cooking, and then portion it all out and freeze? If you do that for a few weeks, you should be able to rotate some meals out to keep from getting bored. If you keep your breakfasts and lunches simple, a good dinner won't seem like such a chore.
When you make meals, they don't have to be fancy or have a lot of ingredients involved. Cook up a turkey breast and steam a serving of frozen veggies. Make up a stir fry and throw it on top of some brown rice. Make up a big salad with some chicken breast sliced on top.
Fitness Minutes: (3,770)
471 12/11/12 3:12 P
I like your current plan of crockpot or batch cooking - that's what I do. I also love me some casseroles. I make two on the weekend, parcel them out into individual servings and then eat that all week. This week, I'm having Tex-Mex Casserole, a lasagna like casserole, and meatloaf. I buy up frozen veggies when they are on sale and just microwave some for sides to give myself more of a "meal".
I can't stand those frozen dinners any more though. I just never got full and the amount of food I can eat when it's whole foods is amazing.
My roommate and I got through college by purchasing the bag of frozen chicken breasts, some rice, and canned or frozen veggies (or, for her, fresh salad fixin's.) We'd grill the breasts, serve up a little rice and veggies. You can cook things three or four at a time so all you have to do is reheat for most of your meals.
My hubs is also a fan of buying a whole chicken, boiling it and then shredding the meat. That plus the frozen or fresh potatoes and some veggies can be a great meal. Then I can use about half the meat as filling for one of the casseroles.
Good luck! You can totally do this! Right now, hubs and I have split our money and I spend about $40 a week at the grocery store for myself. And that includes some non-food stuff (razor blades are ridiculously expensive) - I could probably do less if I got really serious about it.
Fitness Minutes: (5,132)
12/11/12 3:00 P
Hi, Ms. Betty.
I totally understand about the budget. Do you have any other grocery stores in your area that are less expensive?? For example, I love to go to a store called ALDI. The food is actually great and costs less than anywhere else. It's quality food. The first time I went there (after a few years, we used to go but then moved to a city that did not have this store) I was able to pretty much fill up a cart and spent only $88!!! I was impressed and pleased. I have 4 kids and they all like the food as well.
If you don't have a store like that, perhaps you can just buy more produce. Not organic though because that is a LOT more costly than non-organic. But keep in mind that all natural is good too and NOT necessarily the same as organic.The other gal is right about the soups and frozen foods being full of sodium. And even if you do cook a full meal, just save what you don't eat for left overs, or like you said just freeze the rest.
I hope this helps and that you find a solution to your situation.
12/11/12 2:45 P
THANKS for the ideas!
12/11/12 2:38 P
I don't like cooking on a daily basis, and I don't cook for myself a whole lot either. Creating a "full meal" is really not such big of a deal though, as long as you keep it simple. Cut a tomatoe in quarters and slice a cucumber into thick slices, add salt, pepper, and olive oil (or a favorite dressing) - and you've got a salad. Preparation time - under 1 minute. Boil eggs in advance - and you can add variety to your meals as well. Just eat a leaf of lettuce, an apple, or a carrot for a snack. These foods are cheap, delicious, healthy, and require no preparation except of washing.
Trying to stick to a recipe can be overwhelming becasue of all the ingredients and instructions, but you don't have to follow them exactly. Just use them as an inspiration, and use whatever ingredients and herbs you have on hand.
I also challenged myself with not going shopping until I use up all the foods I have in the house. I had to get creative, but it made cooking less of a chore and more of a meaningful project.
Edited by: 3RD_LAW at: 12/11/2012 (14:39)
12/11/12 2:03 P
"HOW can I improve my nutritional habits withOUT blowing my budget out of whack or having to COOK full meals?"
I don't see how you can. Cooking your own meals is cheaper and healthier than buying processed foods.
Frozen meals and soups are loaded with sodium, and you can do much better than that.
If it was me in your situation, I 'd be getting rid of the aversion to cooking. Luckily, I LOVE to cook, even though there is just two of us now.
12/11/12 1:24 P
I am a 62 y/o single lady living on an extremely LOW fixed income...with an over-stretched budget to boot!
My food budget per month is about $150...but NOT available all at one time. I spend about $65 at the first of the month, then about $85 around mid-month.
I also HATE to COOK much just for myself...IF I do, it's something like soups or stews that contain meat & vegetables that I can fix in the crock pot, separate into individual portions & freeze for later use. My meat is limited for the most part to chicken (skinless/boneless white) or fish (Tuna, Talapia, or whiting).
I RARELY cook a full meal with all the trimmings...for MEALS, I use frozen meals like Lean Cuisine, Weight Watchers, etc. OR I open a can of Soup (usually Campbell's Chunky Chicken &/or Vegetable varieties).
HOW can I improve my nutritional habits withOUT blowing my budget out of whack or having to COOK full meals?