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NERDINPINK SparkPoints: (1,346)
Fitness Minutes: (55)
Posts: 43
5/28/12 6:19 A

Cooking beans and rice is cheap and healthy when you do it from scratch. Since you don't have a lot of time to prep I suggest investing in a rice cooker and a slow cooker. Check places like freecycle and craigslist for these, the are things that are frequently purchased and rarely used so you can pick them up for cheap!

You can make a lot of dishes directly in the rice cooker, like specialty rices (mexican rice, unfried rice, lentils & rice) and use it to steam root veggies like potatoes and carrots.

I would also recommend trying to see if you know anyone with a warehouse membership, like Costco. They sell large bags of things like organic quinoa (4lbs for $10 at mine), organic peanut butter, big bags of salad, and 4lb bags of organic veggies & fruits. I bum along with a friend once or twice a year to purchase these in bulk to save money.

I also cook meals in advance and freeze them (batch cooking). Things like chili, veggie burgers, burritos, rice (just heat with a little water to make it soft), "faux" sloppy joes, and beans. I try to set aside time once or twice a month to cook a few big batches to toss in the freezer in meal-sized portions.

I'm not a student anymore, but we are in entry-level jobs and paying back our student loans. After loan payments, we're only bringing in what we made in college anyway so I've learned how to be frugal with what I'm given.

JUDITHWITHROW Posts: 1,119
5/27/12 11:32 P

ANARIE Posts: 12,486
5/27/12 1:19 P

If you're in a city, find the ethnic markets. At the Mexican-oriented grocery near me yesterday, I got:

eggs at 78 cents for 18
corn tortillas 72 for $1.50,
lentils 87 cents a pound,
Great Northern beans $1 a pound
green pepper and cucumber, 3 for $1
watermelon 20 cents a pound
peaches 68 cents a pound
soy chorizo (which I like better than regular and it has 1/2 the calories) $1.19 for 12 ounces

They also had chicken leg quarters for 49 cents a pound, boneless skinless chicken breast 99 cents a pound, limes 14 for a dollar, and a lot of other bargains that I didn't need. Frequently they have onions as little as 8 pounds for a dollar, potatoes 10 pounds for $1.99, and cabbage 4 pounds / $1. Asian markets have similar bargains on meat and produce. You do have to be careful and know prices, because some of the things that aren't on sale are outrageously expensive, but if you watch the specials you can feed yourself for next to nothing.

And even if you can't go to an ethnic market, think ethnic foods. You're not the first person in the world to have to make good food on a tight budget. Whole cultures have done it for centuries. The traditional foods of what used to be poor countries tend to be nutritious and extremely cheap, so look at some traditional recipes from Indian, Mexican/Central American, and different African cuisines, for example. Southern European cuisines have gotten more expensive because some ingredients are trendy or hard to get, but still look at traditional Spanish and country Italian foods. (I'm making Spanish tortilla with the 78 cent eggs and the 19 cent-a-pound potatoes.)

One worthwhile investment is a CrockPot. It's just about the best way to cook beans, and it also lets you make good things with cheap, tough meat. You can get a perfectly good one for $20 if you look, but you can also probably get one from your mom, aunt, or grandma's garage for free. That's the kind of thing that somehow multiplies-- I know my mom will see one on sale and buy it for when her current one breaks down, but then they never break!

Finally, think about making your own bread, and possibly your own yogurt. If you Google "no-knead bread," there's a technique for making bread that takes literally no more than 15 minutes of active work (but about 24 hours of waiting.) Whole grain flour is cheap; you can make a very good loaf of whatever fancy whole-grain bread you want for under $1.

To make yogurt, all you need is a tablespoon of already-made yogurt, milk, a pot to heat the milk, a clean old jar, and a warm place to leave it. (Your car will work, or in summer, you can just wrap it in a towel and set it outside.) It's not always cost-effective, though. You'll have to see if milk is cheaper than plain yogurt. Then again, if you normally buy more expensive half-gallons or quarts of milk because you can't use a gallon, you can save by using part of the gallon for yogurt. And you also get extra "cool points" for being the only one in your class who knows how to do it!

LEMONADESLUGGER SparkPoints: (243)
Fitness Minutes: (42)
Posts: 55
5/27/12 11:53 A

Mm frozen vegetables as everyone is saying. I know Fresh fruit can be expensive. Look to see if you have a Farmers Market in your area. You can usually get some deals...Otherwise I suggest buying in bulk and getting familiar with prices. Big chain stores (Walmart/Sam's Club) as opposed to local grocery stores tend to have better prices on fruit. You can also get good deals on other types of food.

If you're really tight on money cut out the treats and get the essentials. When you go shopping make a list so don't get distracted.

Also just to add bag beans (instead of canned) are relatively cheaper and are a very healthy source of protein. They're easy to prepare http://www.milehimama.com/food/how-to-prep
are-dried-beans/ I suggest adding a bit salt if you're like =p no flavor

Generally though if you eat healthy foods and prepare it yourself your going to beat most prices. Especially campus food which at my school is really expensive and nasty haha.

=)

HOLISTICDETOXER SparkPoints: (32,314)
Fitness Minutes: (20,400)
Posts: 2,704
5/27/12 11:44 A

1. Plan your meals. Plan your meals in advance, list the ingredients you'll need for them, buy the ingredients you'll need in the quantity you need. Only buy more than you need if it's a great sale and you'll definitely use it before it goes bad. I make my list according to where things are in the supermarket- breads first, then packaged foods, then dairy, then frozen food, then produce.

2. Start your meal planning in your kitchen. Go through the fridge and cupboards each week to see what you need to use up. Yesterday I made banana-cornmeal pancakes to use up the last of some flour and cornmeal. I made a "southwestern" pasta salad to use up some whole-wheat macaroni, feta cheese AND frozen corn. I'm going to make fried rice to use up some frozen mixed vegetables and eggs. I only have to buy a few extra ingredients because most of this stuff is on hand. If you're tired of eating something and would rather just buy new ingredients- TOO BAD. That's how you learn not to buy too much food!

3. Cook in batches and freeze what you don't eat. There are weeks when I don't have to do ANY cooking because I just pull from my freezer. Oh, here's some lentil soup! Here's a slice of quiche! Here's some chili! Here are some pancakes!

I don't really know why you'd need to visit a farmer's market for fruits and vegetables. Nearly every supermarket in the world has fruits and vegetables. The weather in my area only allows for farmer's markets for about three months of the year, but I eat produce year-round!

EX-PRESSO Posts: 478
5/27/12 3:29 A

Stay local. Stay seasonal.
Eat oats for breakfast with fruits.
Cut back meat.
Go for lentils/chickpeas.
Eggs
Bake your own bread and freeze it.

Keep it simple - its possible!

LOVE4KITTIES Posts: 1,929
5/27/12 2:02 A

Frozen fruits and veggies are often less expensive, they are just as nutritious as fresh and you can just take what you are going to eat out of the bag. If you prefer fresh, try to buy what's on sale (usually what's in season). Oranges, apples and bananas are frequently good buys for fruit. So far as veggies, potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn are also starches and they are typically not very expensive. Potatoes (and sweet potatoes, especially) are packed with nutrients. For the non-starchy veggies, I would just try to buy what's on sale, avoiding the pre-packaged stuff.

Other stuff... A large cardboard tube of old-fashioned oatmeal is inexpensive and will last a long time. There are lots of ways to make oatmeal. Personally, I make mine with nonfat milk instead of water (microwaved in a big bowl) and stir in a tbsp. of peanut butter for flavoring after it's cooked. Milk (nonfat), eggs, yogurt in big tubs (not small containers), pasta, rice, dried beans, eggs, whole wheat bread, peanut butter (or other nut butters), and whatever lean meat is on sale are all healthy things to eat. Honestly, a peanut butter sandwich makes a fine lunch when paired with an orange and maybe some carrots, if you pick a peanut butter without added oils (the fat in peanuts is heart-healthy). The key is measuring portions carefully on your foods (especially high-calorie density foods like peanut butter). You can even get an inexpensive food scale at Target, WalMart, Amazon, etc. to help you with portions (I've found mine to be invaluable). Anyway, you don't have to buy special foods or diet foods...just stick to the basics and you'll do fine with healthy eating.

Maybe you have a friend (or two) who would be interested in buying together what's on sale in bulk? That way, you would both (all) get the cost savings of buying in bulk but not end up with a bunch of stuff that will spoil before you eat it.

So far as food prep., the more you cook from scratch, the more you'll save. But, you can cut down on the daily cooking by batch cooking on one day (maybe on the weekend) and splitting stuff for freezing/refrigeration for later.

WHOLENEWME79 Posts: 942
5/26/12 4:25 P

I've found frozen whole fruits and veggies to be a good cost-saver. They are always in season and will last quit a while. I don't normally go for canned products, but canned tomatoes, beans and corn are good and versatile.

It can also be cost effective to purchase single items- 1 or 2 carrots, 1 large potato, one small onion, rather than in bulk. If you are cooking for one, the per EACH price of large quantities may be better, bit will you use it all? If it goes to waste, you probably aren't saving anything.

Shop sales- if your market has a circular, grab it and buy accordingly. Frozen bulk meats like chicken and fish can help cut costs as well.

Hope that helps.

Edited by: WHOLENEWME79 at: 5/26/2012 (16:27)
JHUTCHEN SparkPoints: (1,925)
Fitness Minutes: (5,614)
Posts: 5
5/26/12 3:47 P

I'm a university student on a fairly limited budget so I have a hard time trying to find healthy foods I can actually afford. Since I work as well I find it really challenging to try and get to farmer's markets or anything like that so i always end up lacking in fruits and veg. I was wondering if anyone had some tips on how to eat right on a budget when I don't have a lot of time to prep!

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