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How do you eat healthy AND frugal?

Last post Thu, Apr 28 2011 3:51 PM by cheapChic. 55 replies.
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  • Sat, Mar 15 2008 6:32 PM

    Inflation fighter [IF] How do you eat healthy AND frugal?

    Hi all! I am new to posting here, but have been lurking just a few days. :) I am so glad to be here!

     How do you all eat healthy AND frugal? I am doing Weight Watchers and love it because it's so easy to follow, but I am finding that I am breaking the bank buying things I never normally bought before. I guess I am depending too much on the advertised low fat, convenience foods and snacks, when I know I can eat anything I want as long as I count the Points for it. I've never really liked to snack on fruits and veggies, but am quickly learning I need to incorporate these each day. I buy mainly frozen veggies for two reasons: 1) I don't like to eat veggies raw, except in a salad, and 2), the price of fresh fruits and veggies here is ridiculously high, and farmers markets won't open until around May. During the Summer months, we get a lot of produce from my Dad and brother who grow a garden each year. DH and I are also considering starting a tiny garden. Tiny because my DH has Ulcerative Colitis and cannot eat many fruits and veggies because they make his condition worse.

     Anyway, I feel like I am going on forever. Any thoughts are very much appreciated, as I think this would make a nice, interesting topic of discussion. :)




  • Sun, Mar 16 2008 4:41 PM In reply to

    Re: How do you eat healthy AND frugal?

     I buy lots of chicken breast when it's on sale.  I grill it up with a little salt/pepper and eat it with almost everything as a good protein source.  Fresh veggies/fruit of course, but also beans, seeds, nuts?  I buy a large bag of almonds once a month from Sam's (warehouse)  and eat a 1/3 cup portion each day.  I also drink lots of water.  Yes. Just plain old water.  I use a slice of orange or lemon to freshen it up, but often times my hunger is somewhat curbed by a large glass of H20.   I don't buy prepackaged snack items, but will often buy large bags of "malto-meal" cereals like puffed rice and cheerios to make my own snack mix including rasins, peanuts, and coconut flakes.  It's quick, easy, and cheaper than the types you buy pre-packaged.  Also, we eat lots of rice and beans cooked in a variety of ways ie: Indian curry powder lentils can easily become something mexican if the spices are changed.  We also buy frozen fruit when it's on sale and combine it with yougart for a healthy and quick meal that includes a scoop of cottage cheese for additional protein.  Just blend the yougart, fruit, cottage cheese and a splash of milk then add ice cubes or even a bit of sugar substitute if you like.  It's great.  One final idea might be to boil califlower until very tender, then mash it just like potatoes, add a little butter, salt/pepper and you have the sensation and taste that you're eating hearty mashed potatoes, and yet.... those very low point veggies are really what your eating.

    Good luck! 

  • Sun, Mar 16 2008 11:03 PM In reply to

    • Pat
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Tue, Mar 6 2007
    • Colorado
    • Posts 14,463

    Re: How do you eat healthy AND frugal?

     If your Dad and brother gives you lots of produce in the summer, why not freeze some of it for the winter? If you don't get enough from them, fresh vegetables and fruits are cheaper in season, so buy in bulk when you can get a good price and freeze, can or dehydrate for when the prices are high. That would cut some costs. 

    Healthy eating includes legumes which are cheap anyway, and whole grains, which are filling. Probably cutting back on meat would be the healthiest for most of us (we in the US eat too much protein in general). Meat is the most expensive part of most diets, so cutting back saves money.  

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  • Mon, Mar 17 2008 9:48 AM In reply to

    Re: How do you eat healthy AND frugal?

    In my experience, we began to eat healthier when I started cooking more from scratch and stopped relying on meals from boxes or similar items. If my family wants macaroni and cheese, I make it and i know exactly how much salt, cheese, milk, butter and noodles go into it. If my family wants pizza, I make my crust, brown my meat (or opt out), shred my cheese, chop my veggies, etc. Now don't get me wrong, I keep a frozen pizza and cold cereal on hand but we don't reach for the "pre-made" stuff anymore.

    Most pre-packaged foods are high in something bad. If it says "low-fat", then the trade off is usually high sugar or crazy sodium amounts. If it says "sugar free" then it's high in something else that's bad for you. I stopped going crazy trying to find "healthy" things companies made for people and started making my own.

    Fresh fruits and veggies are expensive but worth it. Try to not go crazy at the store and you can budget around sales. Or buy fresh veggies and some canned fruits one week and fresh fruit and canned or frozen veggies the next. If grapes are too expensive, we eat more apples and bananas. If asparagas is too high (usually is) then we eat more celery and broccoli. My "standards" that are usually budget friendly are: carrots, bananas, apples, squash, celery, green peppers. I add variety when I can afford it. We eat seasonally. I can't wait for the farmers market and garden time!

    After a while, your eating habits will be better and your wallet will adjust. When we stopped buying 5 microwave lunches a week, 3 frozen pizzas, 2 bags of chicken nuggets and fishsticks, hamburger helper, poptarts, etc., and replaced them with sandwich fixings for lunch, homemade chicken nuggets, toast and jam, homemade pizza, the ingredients were often less than the whole item.

  • Tue, Mar 18 2008 5:19 PM In reply to

    • Walt34
    • Top 75 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, Dec 17 2007
    • WV eastern panhandle
    • Posts 1,406

    Re: How do you eat healthy AND frugal?


     I buy lots of chicken breast when it's on sale.

    Ditto on the chicken breast; marinated in Good Seasons Italian salad dressing (comes in a packet, then you mix it yourself with vinegar, water, and veg. oil) then frozen. They were on sale today, combined with a 10% off certificate from the store, I bought five packages. I marinate them in a ziplock freezer bag and freeze them. They get cooked on the grill.

    I'll make a giant salad from a head of lettuce, pound of carrots, whole bunch of chopped celery, two green peppers, two tomatoes, one onion, one cucumber and sometimes a pound of radishes. The result fills a giant tupperware bowl and I'll eat off that for a week, which is about all it will last. Also put half a grilled chicken breast and some shredded cheese in the salad.

    A baked potato is good, filling, and cheap.

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  • Tue, Mar 18 2008 6:44 PM In reply to

    Re: How do you eat healthy AND frugal?

    Oh I just love chicken! I always try to wait and buy it on sale(usually the GV brand for $6.00 for a 3lb bag). And I like a lot of things you've described, although I've never tried califlower or lentils before. And I adore fruit/yogurt parfaits. My favorite is to slice about 1 cup of strawberries, and layer with strawberry yogurt and 1/2 cup of Kashi Go Lean Crunch. I usually look for cereals that have a lot of fiber in them, for filling power.  I know Kashi is a little more expensive, but we don't each much in the way of cereal here, so it's not profitable to buy large bags of cereals. :)
  • Tue, Mar 18 2008 6:47 PM In reply to

    Re: How do you eat healthy AND frugal?

    Hi Pat,

    We do freeze the corn and green beans they give us. I would like to look into canning and dehydrating for the tomatoes and cucumbers. DH and I are discussing starting a very small garden, as we don't have a lot of space and also the fact that we may be getting a new mobile home this Summer or Fall, so we don't want to do anything too big.

  • Tue, Mar 18 2008 6:52 PM In reply to

    Re: How do you eat healthy AND frugal?

    I guess I would be lying if I said I wasn't "cooking-challenged." I am beginning to keep an inventory of what I have in the pantry and freezer. Sometimes I can stare into those areas of food forever and not think of a single thing to fix with them. Maybe if I can improve those skills, my overall eating would improve, too, and I would find myself relying less on the pre-packaged stuff.

    I can't wait for garden time, either!!! Tomatoes from my Dad's garden are just the best and beat store bought anyday. It seems like the quality of tomatoes has went down, at least in the stores I shop here. And apples don't seem to taste ripe, either. I want to visit a farmer's market this summer. There is a man who sells produce along the roadside at the flea markets in the Summer, but he charges a great deal for it.

  • Tue, Mar 18 2008 6:56 PM In reply to

    Re: How do you eat healthy AND frugal?

    We do eat a lot of chicken here, and also ground beef. I do splurge on the 93%/7% ground beef though. But still we don't eat a great deal of it. Thanks for the tip on marinating the chicken. I will try Good Seasons!

    Oh and I love baked potatoes(almost forgot about those). I guess it's really time to go "back-to-basics."

  • Tue, Mar 18 2008 7:03 PM In reply to

    • Brandy
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Wed, Mar 28 2007
    • Saving in South Mississippi
    • Posts 25,145

    Re: How do you eat healthy AND frugal?

     I find the healthy foods like fresh or frozen produce, olive oil, whole wheat products and such do cost more. I look for the best deals I can get to save without sacrificing health. I also shop with coupons whenever I can. Growing one's own fruit and veggies helps with the cost too.





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