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Old 10-27-2007, 11:25 PM   #1
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What's some inexpensive, healthy food?

I'm interested in how much money I could save. Right now I'm single and probably spend $160/week on food.. which includes lots of inefficient things like snack bars, lots of organic produce from higher-end stores, but hardly any restaurant eating. I need to save some money, but I would still like to eat a balanced diet including lots of fruits/veggies and organic where possible (there are certain fruits/vegetables that contain very little pesticide and you don't have to get those organic... I misplaced the list but I have it somewhere).

Also, I'm on an allergy elimination diet so no corn, soy, wheat, dairy, eggs, peanuts, and certain types of beans.

Okay, the good news is that certain very cheap staples, like rice, black beans, lentils, etc. are okay for my diet. I can also have a lot of nuts... almonds are $6/pound conventional, and I can make my own almond milk. I can have millet and quinoa. I think they are pretty cheap in terms of the amount of food you can get from them.

So the major expense becomes fruits and veggies. Note: I'm not looking for how to live on $20/week. $100/week is more like it. I just need some help strategizing where to spend money on fruits/veggies so the expense doesn't run up, and so I can still get a lot of organic.

I would still like to eat nice food, with varied flavors, spices, etc. I'd still like convenience to some extent.. for example, buying stock is very convenient.



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Old 10-28-2007, 09:18 AM   #2
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just yesterday I picked up a 50 pound bag of organic rolled oats that I had ordered. This will last dh and me about one year. I grind to a flour, in my food processor, a significant portion of the oats and use this oat flour in pancakes, cookies and breads. Dh has a very large bowl of cooked oatmeal for breakfasts on week days. I fix pancakes on the weekends. The bag cost $40. Last year it cost $32. This pretty much takes care of breakfasts for a whole year. Plus having the oat flour as an ingredient for baked goods. I think this is exceedingly inexpensive.

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Old 10-28-2007, 09:50 AM   #3
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Buying organics can be expensive, but, if you shop sales on those fruits and veggies, you can do pretty well. I only buy what I feel we will use, this way we can change from week to week, no spoilage or waste and you don't get bored eating the same thing over and over..Watch the papers for cupons and sale items and most of all, while shopping just enjoy the adventure of trying new things, one or two to see if you like them..
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Old 10-28-2007, 10:26 AM   #4
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Do you have the space and the desire to grow some of your own food? We have a small square garden where right now we have planted several types of lettuce, spinach, onions, and bok choy, so we won't have to purchase those for months. I have friends who grow enough greens for their family in a 16-inch or so round clay container on their back porch. And during the summer, we grew tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatillos, and jalapenos.

This document looks like a good source of info about which foods are more susceptible to harboring pesticide residue: Organic Food: 12 organic foods worth the expense, 12 that aren't on MedicineNet.com

Wal-Mart carries some organic produce, probably at a lower price than high-end grocery stores. The boxed broths are much cheaper there, too.

If there's an Asian market in your area, you could stock up on rice, rice noodles, and spring roll wrappers. Asian cuisines are filled with dishes containing lots of veggies, relatively small amounts of meat, and rice products.

btw, I did some research on antibiotics and hormones in meats a few years ago and was interested to find out that antibiotics are processed by the body and don't leave residue in the meat, and animal hormones can't be absorbed by humans.

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Old 10-28-2007, 10:50 AM   #5
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Try growing some of your own stuff. You don't say where you come from, but if you have any sort of a garden you can certainly grow your own herbs and some vegetables. Here in the UK you can rent an allotment for vegetable & fruit growing - some years, we grow all our own onions & potatoes. Beans are productive and you can freeze them.

We also have box schemes for organic vegetables - where you can get a variety of vegetables at a set price.

Look around for markets or farmer outlets - some specialise in organic food and will be fresher & often cheaper than the stores.

Some of supermarkets have seconds areas where the fruit & veg is cheaper because it doesn't look as pretty but still tastes good.

Make friends with someone who does grow their own stuff, particularly if they have fruit trees - some times people have such an overwhelming surfeit, they give stuff away.

Hope this gives some ideas.
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Old 10-28-2007, 01:22 PM   #6
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Can't help with organic, but guessing that may be pricey. I try to eat as many fresh fruits and veggies as possible & go w what is in season. I do like salads, and toss anything I can in - pasta salad is another idea - perhaps use whole wheat pasta. I also try to take vitamin supplements. Roasted veggies are yummy & a great side to grilled chicken/fish etc. Season your chicken or fish (salmon etc) with fresh lemon, lime juice and herbs. Stay away from fatty foods & deep frying.
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Old 10-28-2007, 03:34 PM   #7
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Start your saving at home....
Pay attention to what you have and use it up before it gets old.
Once that celery gets wimpy and those carrots withered, use them for stock or soups!
Poke holes in the plastic bags the produce goes in at the store. They seem to last longer that way.

Use the internet! If the grocery stores in your area are online, you can often view their ads and catch specials!
Learn when your favorite store marks things down, and wander through soon after then.
(This is especially good for meat and seafood, but sometimes I get mushrooms and such
at deep discount this way.)

The local Asian market has fresh produce at great prices. I can get bean sprouts, napa
cabbage, fresh basil and some other veggies at about HALF what the regular grocery stores charge!
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Old 10-29-2007, 10:00 AM   #8
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Can you get together with some friends/family/neighbours who would agree to growing items organically? That way you could each grow just one crop and divvy up the produce a la co-op. Even if you only have a balcony, you can grow a decent crop of tomatoes or capsicums (peppers). You can get these portable (small) plastic greenhouses as well which will help if you are in a cold area. Always grow your own herbs as the cost to produce is minimal and the mark-up huge.

Do you have a freezer? If you don't, get one! The best budgeting tip is to buy in bulk and make loads and freeze into smaller portions. I also live alone and every so often I do just that. Single serves of soups and bolognaise sauce and savoury mince litters my freezer.

Likewise with the co-op thing for growing, practice the same for purchasing. Don't buy half a dozen of something, buy the case and split the cost and produce with others. Search out a local producer who satisfies your criteria and visit them. Cut out the middle man. Every Sunday morning about fifteen minutes from me, there is a growers market where everything is about half price of the supermarkets. It is all seasonal, all local and a lot of it is effectively, although not certified, organic.

Stay away from the crops that are more likely to have pesticides used on them eg apricots and focus on items that are more likely to be near-organic as the need for pesticide is less eg asparagus. This will allow you to buy less expensive items.
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Old 10-29-2007, 11:07 AM   #9
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A 100 dollars a week in groceries is not less money unless ofcourse you shop all organics and expensive cuts of meats and a lot of those protein and other nutritional bars that are the fad now a days. My palate is not refined enough for organics. I buy them if they have a good price but I am fair game to fresh produce organic or not.

Shop at farmer markets. I buy my vegetables and fruits there and not at grocery stores. Your money goes far in these stores

Opt out of convenience food - Example Rachael Ray's triple washed spinach. Yes it saves time but why pay more for packaged ready to go products when with a little time and effort you can do it easily at home and cut the price by more than a half

I like to buy items like rice, beans and spices in bulk and from ethnic shops that are so much cheaper than a regular grocery store

The only expensive stuff or convenience food that costs some money for me are smoothies (which I like to have handy since I am poor at eating lunch) and orange juice the pure premium kind but again we are talking at the most 10 - 15 dollars for one person for them for a week

Try to cook at home and make simple food but experiment with herbs and spices so even a low fat dish will be full of flavor. Try to splurge on good quality fish and trimmed and clean chicken breasts for you protein intake. They are definitely healthier than red meats and also easier on your wallet.
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Old 10-29-2007, 12:46 PM   #10
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Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. There's a good local farmer's market which I should visit soon! Also a friend of mine goes to an Asian market and says they have incredible deals on vegetables. She is very poor but likes to get a few fresh artichokes every week.

I do have a nice freezer so I will try freezing single servings.


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