Share Your Tips For Staying Healthy on a Budget



  • ridiculous59
    ridiculous59 Posts: 2,570 Member
    edited July 2022
    Never plan your meals for the week before checking what's on sale. Buy the groceries that are on sale and then plan your meals based on that.

    Or better yet, look at grocery shopping differently. Instead of shopping for each meal, shop to re-stock your supplies. For example, if chicken is on sale, stock up on it. If flour is on sale, buy three bags. Certain things go on sale pretty regularly so you start to know how much you'll need to buy to last you till the next time it goes on sale.

    My local Walmart has a place in the produce section where big bags of nearly expired veggies and salads sell for $2. I made a huge pot of broccoli soup yesterday in my slow cooker using my homemade chicken broth, onion, some milk, and $2 worth of broccoli. That will be my lunches for the week with a little protein on the side. I buy nearly all my fresh veggies in that discounted section.

    Bake your own muffins and freeze them individually so you just have to grab one on your way out the door. Things like protein powders, protein bars, and sports drinks are gimmicks to separate you from your hard earned cash. Unless you're an elite athlete, or doing a physical job outdoors all day, you probably don't need them. The average person (like me) who works out for an hour a day does not NEED high priced protein bars, protein powders, or sports drinks. Add some Greek yoghurt to your muffin recipe for some extra protein. Make your smoothies using tofu or Greek yoghurt instead of adding protein powder.

    Even though there's just my husband and me, I make family sized amounts of things like lasagna or chili. I freeze the extra in meal size portions for those days when neither of us feel like cooking and might be tempted to order pizza or whatever.

    Understand that the goal of food companies is to get you to buy their products. In order to do that, they tell you that you absolutely need what they're selling and that it will make your life amazingly better. You have to see through that and decide for yourself what works best for you.
  • Sand_TIger
    Sand_TIger Posts: 891 Member
    What a coincidence - my last blog entry was about saving money on sports nutrition. I'm going to link it because it's an MFP blog, so not a link to an outside site.

    Meal prepping helps me set my portions and also plan better so I don't waste food.

    When there is a massive sale on produce I find new ways to use it - such as pizza topped squash or blended up watermelon in my muffins. Or I freeze it for later when that food is more expensive.

    Same with meat. There was a huge sale on whole brisket so I bought one and made my own beef bacon and corned beef - to be eaten in portion so as not to go over my calories. I roasted a bunch of split chicken breast that was a dollar a pound then made broth from the bones, which I then cooked beans in.

    Having certain tools such as a decent blender/food processor, or a small crock pot, has helped me use more kinds of food than I otherwise would. It's a lot cheaper to cook dried beans than to buy canned, and my crock pot makes that really easy.
  • azuki84
    azuki84 Posts: 212 Member
  • ReenieHJ
    ReenieHJ Posts: 9,722 Member
    I'm loving my garden right now. I've been picking lettuce(I have 4 kinds planted) every day for salads instead of buying the lettuce mixes. Got our first cucumber yesterday which is so much better than store bought. Green beans are almost ripe. Getting cherry tomatoes. My sister and I exchange veggies with each other. We got tons of strawberries this year and have a lot put away in the freezer.
    This time of year I always wish we'd planted more varieties of vegetables.

    I don't buy a lot of meat but when I do, it's usually the reduced ground beef. It's $2 a pound cheaper. It either gets cooked right away or portioned into the freezer. I used to buy chicken breasts all the time but that's when it was 1.99#, not so much now that it's 3.99#. Eggs are still a good deal for protein but wow, they've gone up too. :(

    I do go for store brands, depending on what. Paper products yes. Canned soups yes. Or I stock up when things are on sale.

    We still end up spending way too much. :( DH and I eat very differently and he doesn't think about cost very much.
  • wickedqueenbee
    wickedqueenbee Posts: 1 Member
    I shop at Aldi's alot. Cannot beat the prices on alot of things especially produce! I buy whole chickens and roast it for a Sunday dinner. Monday I boil whats left carcass with what meat is left and make chicken soup with vegetables. You can get a few meals with 1 whole chicken.

  • StefMB88
    StefMB88 Posts: 13 Member
    Meal planning all the way. I will normally write out a meal plan for 2 weeks and buy everything except for my produce at once. I worry about my produce going bad before I get to it so I normally buy it for one week at a time.
  • foreverhealthy3
    foreverhealthy3 Posts: 89 Member
    we are retired and need smaller meals. I buy a rotisserie chicken and make it for 3 meals. Cesar salad and cubed chicken, chicken salad, chicken soup. The same with roast beef. roast beef dinner, homemade soup, and beef commercials. Egg meals. we flash freeze vegetables from our garden or farmers' market.
  • rumtussle
    rumtussle Posts: 7 Member
    1. I prep all my veggies for cooking and eating when I get them home from the store. Very little food waste that way, and saves duplicate buying.
    2. I base my meals around what’s on hand rather than what sounds good.
    3. I’m creative in my cooking and combine foods that often sound like they shouldn’t go together, but do.
    4. I don’t buy really great coffee. Or rather, it’s rare when I get a cup out or grind my own beans. Not an every day thing.
    5. I seldom eat meat.
    LGBFJB Posts: 2 Member
    The local food pantry is a good place to go.
  • kalilali4
    kalilali4 Posts: 1 Member
    Get creative with leftovers- don’t let them go bad. Think leftover veggies or salad into soups. Meat and veg in to omelettes, fried rice, sushi.

    Make your own oatmeal mix with bulk rolled oats and add ins like chia seeds. So much cheaper.

    Buy frozen berries in bulk when they are on sale. As others have said, shop what’s in season.

    Meal plan. Visit the shops less and make sure your plan has some treats built in or you won’t stick to it. Plan for one or two meals to be whatever is on special and plan meals that will use the previous nights leftovers.
  • AwesomeJanice
    AwesomeJanice Posts: 4 Member
    I do find that meal planning is the most effective way to keep to a budget. After years of cooking, I know what works. I cook for 2, but am watching my calories budget as well as my food budget. I find that meats and eggs go on sale regularly, so I do not buy in bulk. I know what meats and compliments I will need for the week and only get what I need for the week. I usually combine my meat with beans, using half a serving of each per person per meal. I find white beans go well with chicken, while black or red beans go with beef or pork. The exception is seafood and fish where we don't stretch with beans. One small bag of Fresh express gives us 4 salads, eaten 2 days in a row. It is more expensive, but if I buy more, it gets wasted, so that makes a head of lettuce more expensive. I do buy spinach raw and throw it in omelets, soups and stews so it does not go to waste. I am experimenting with romaine and other lettuces in bunches to see if they would work sauteed in other vegetables. When my 5 kids were little and we didn't have much money, at the end of the month we had breakfast week. I had on hand complete pancake mix and made pancakes and waffles every night with eggs prepared in various ways. I also served fresh fruit and carrot and celery sticks to round out the meal. It was the least expensive week we had since we had the least amount of money at the end of the month. Only did it once a week, but having breakfast for dinner as grownups is still pretty inexpensive. My husband and I usually have a breakfast meal when eating out or just a cup of soup and we share a sandwich, or just share a regular meal. Restaurants always give you too much food and sharing works for us.
  • saraflake89
    saraflake89 Posts: 3 Member
    These days meat is so expensive! I bought two large racks of boneless pork ribs and made 3 different meals! The first was carnitas tacos (after slow cooking you fry the pork in its own juice and create caramelized bits in with the juicy parts.) I had some carnitas left over and it went into the fridge. (3 cups) The other half that I didn’t cook up in a pan was placed into the freezer. I used it for BBQ pork sandwiches for 8 people! Finally today, We used the leftover carnitas with shredded red cabbage and a teeny bit of bacon to create a delicious one pan meal! This was all fairly keto and fed a fam of 8 for the carnitas and sandwiches. The pork and cabbage fed four of us.

    All in all $26 dollars for the meat. Not bad! A slow cooker was used on the ribs to cook them after a rub and seasoning.

    Leslie in the Ozark´s

  • saraflake89
    saraflake89 Posts: 3 Member
  • lulalacroix
    lulalacroix Posts: 1,082 Member
    So many great ideas! I'll just add a couple:

    Stock up when non-perishables are on sale, if you can.

    Shop the loss leaders. Each store has a flyer with sale items. Read the flyers weekly.

    Don't buy what you don't need.

    Most stores have online coupons you can clip and the savings come off the total automatically when you put in your customer ID number.

    Ibotta gives you cashback for your purchases. I've personally received over $1,000 in my paypal account from using it.

    Don't be wasteful. Eat your leftovers and fresh veg/fruit before they expire.
  • Xierrax
    Xierrax Posts: 48 Member
    Generally buy in bulk where possible - rice, pasta, grains - things you regularly use and are dry. Often you save a lot on these deals, including later trips to the supermarket.

    When going to the supermarket, often foods are put on discount towards the end of the day. This is useful for when you know you're gonna use a product soon. Very often, even branded items are reduced by 50% which can make a big difference throughout the week.

    For vegetables you use often, in my case peas and corn, I buy frozen bags and store them in the freezer. Similar to the bulk buy argument, you get more for less. When buying fresh, try to buy local and in season.

    There are a few apps that help save money buy offering discounts on certain food items. TooGoodToGo comes to mind where restaurants and supermarkets both offer up leftover produce at a reduced price. For example, at my local Morrisons I received a whole bag full of fresh fruit and veg for only £3! Such a bargain! But you can't choose what you get. I think Olio is another one, depending on region where people can share foods within their neighbourhood.

    Otherwise, plan what you eat and make sure you waste little.

  • V4victory2021
    V4victory2021 Posts: 3 Member
    Dried beans/legumes are the best! I'll plan 3-4 meals a week around black beans, northern beans or chickpeas, then cook up a double batch and freeze the leftovers in 2-cup containers. It's then really easy to quickly make enchiladas, salad, grain bowl, etc. another night with what's in the freezer -- and you save money and skip the high-sodium canned beans.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,295 Member
    We plan our meals ahead of time and do our shopping on the weekend. This helps us to only buy what we need. It is also helpful when planning our meals to plan around certain ingredients being used in more than one meal to avoid if I need cilantro because I'm making carne asada tacos on Tuesday, my wife will usually find a recipe for one of her cooking nights where she also needs cilantro...that way we use the whole bunch and don't waste anything.

    To that end, we've also started an herb garden this year with most of our most commonly used herbs and that has saved us a ton as we use a lot of fresh herbs and they're kind of stupid expensive in the store for a little tiny container. Cilantro will be put in next year...I don't know why we didn't think of it for this year, but it fell through the cracks...we use it a lot. At least it's pretty cheap in the store.

    Most of our staple foods are bulk buy from Costco as well as our meat, poultry, and fish. We are avoiding most beef products at the moment except for ground beef. For my tacos I use flap meat or flap steak which is a cheap cut and I get it from one of the numerous carnecerias around here. The carnecerias are also good in general if you want a specific cut of something for a special occasion or whatever...their prices are cheaper than most grocery stores. Most of them also have a good selection of fresh produce as well and other Mexican specialty items.

    Given the season, we're getting most of our produce at the farmer's markets and farm stores in our area which are cheaper and fresher than the grocery store. Those will only run through late Sept/early Oct though.