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Eating Healthy on a budget

KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
edited March 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
Okay, so in an attempt to finally start losing weight, and live a generally healthier lifestyle I decided to start excersising and eating better. The exercise part is no problem, but eating healthier is. I have no idea how to go about it.
The problem is, that I'm too used to eating fast food. I probably eat it around 3 times a week, and I also always skip breakfast. So naturally I'm changing that. The reason why I eat fast food so much, is because alot of times there's just nothing to eat at my house (Or so I tell myself)
So my question is, how would I go about begining to start shopping for healthy foods and items? Preferibly I want to start eating 3 balanced meals. Any recomendations would help. Thanks.

Kyougu on

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    LondonBridgeLondonBridge __BANNED USERS regular
    edited March 2007
    You can eat healthy on a budget and staying off junk food will actually save you money. Here is what worked for me on my low-carb diet.

    Buy chicken/steak in bulk and when you get home place portions in a freezer bag. This way you can portions you need at a time. Only takes 10 minutes to cook a thigh or breast on a George Foreman grill.

    You'll want to cut out the junk at home, sugar foods like ice cream and heavy carbs like pasta. Replace those with veggies, frozen or fresh. Only take a few minutes and increase the portions so you'll be fuller.

    For breakfast, try a healthier cereal or something protein rich (eggs & sausage). No pankcakes, waffles or white toast.

    LondonBridge on
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    corcorigancorcorigan Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Peppers, mushrooms, onion, potatoes, whatever. Fry it up (you could oven cook it, but a gramme of olive oil isn't going to do much horrible stuff to you). Pesto is also great for giving flavour. And oven cooked chicken.

    Important thing is to avoid junk food totally. You get hooked on it very easily, but after a while you'll look at that burger/chocolate bar and think "eww".

    corcorigan on
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    EntriechEntriech ? ? ? ? ? Ontario, CanadaRegistered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Don't overlook the virtues of pre-cooked frozen meals while you're making the transition from fast food to more home prepared things. There are large selections of healthy frozen meals which are damned tasty. You do end up paying a bit more of a premium because it is prepared versus fresh food, but if you just want to have a few things stocked in the freezer for when you're lazy or short on time, they can be ideal.

    Besides that, vegetables, lots of 'em. Spinach, if you like salads. You can get heaps and heaps of baby spinach pretty cheap, and it's incredibly nutritious. I like having mine with a little spanish onion, some green peppers, a bit of shredded cheddar and some oil and vinegar type dressing.

    I'm a big fan of eggs, too, or egg-replacers such as Breakfree. Scramble up a few, and toss onto some toasted whole wheat or multigrain bread with a little ketchup. Pan fry up some little potatoes (frozen works), and some onion and pepper, and toss that, the eggs, and a little cheese into a whole wheat wrap. Breakfast wraps are god. Especially for dinner.

    To avoid being overwhelmed while you're shopping, make sure you make a list and stick to it. To make the list, look over the next week, and try to decide what you want to make on each of the days. Planning 7 days of meals isn't too hard, and will give you something to start with. Also never go grocery shopping while hungry, you will buy more food than you need, and make impulse purchase you wouldn't necessarily have bought on a full stomach.

    Remember, lots of fresh things can be portioned and frozen, so don't be afraid of buying more than you might need at one time. There's lots of information available on the internet about what keeps well in the fridge and freezer, and the best ways of doing both of those. Do a little research on how to keep things preserved, and you're all set.

    Keep a lookout for flyers from the various stores in the mail, and target your shopping to make best use of coupons and sales, too. This goes triple for non-perishable or long lasting foods that you can stock up on.

    Entriech on
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    MuddBuddMuddBudd Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    I agree on the eggs. I love me some poached eggs on toast. Does one really need to get rid of pasta to lose weight though? I like pasta and it's cheap. Also I'm probably going to be living off Ramen for a few weeks here.

    Anyway, I like cutting up some chicken and making curry. You can get the curry mix pretty cheap, and even with just chicken and rice it's a good meal. I like to add onions and other veggies myself. I like black beans and rice on occasion too.

    My roommate makes burritos in advance for a whole week, freezes them, then reheats them for lunches.

    MuddBudd on
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    The harder the rain, honey, the sweeter the sun.
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    MotherFireflyMotherFirefly Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Definately stick to what these guys are telling you, fresh (or frozen) fruits and vegetables are key. Stick to the list if you make one, lots of cheap and easy ways for meals.

    Breakfast: Cereal, Eggs, Bacon and stuff (welll bacon's not that healthy, but you'll do your best to eat healthy right?)
    Cut back on the white bread and sugary cereals, you can usually buy a decent healthy cereal for cheap. I mean, Cheerios+Banana's = my favorite breakfast. You can also buy yogurt, and put granola in it, it's really really filling, not to mention good for you. If you're not all that into cooking, I don't reccomend eggs and stuff just because I'm usually pressed for time when that happens. Not to mention it's usually fried and stuff and that's no good for you.

    Lunch: It's not all that hard to make sandwiches, just no "high in fat" meats, stick to turkey and stuff like that. Wheat bread. PB&J is pretty awesome too, not to mention really really cheap. Also--no potato chips, if you want salty, get pretzels, they tend to have low amounts of fat, and surprisingly enough, popcorn (sans copious amounts of salt and butter) is also really healthy for you.
    Also, drink lots of water and juices, maybe some milk but not a lot, and stick to 2%, cut soda pretty much completely out of your diet (haven't you heard that if you give up one coke per day you can lose 15 pounds in a year/ cut out 15 pounds of fat).
    Soups are also awesome choices, as are salads--try not to buy soups that are really concentrated. Also, if you have something like Ramen noodles--add some baby spinach in there, it's actually not that bad, and it adds actual nutritional value.

    Basic setup for dinner, go for grilled over fried, use portion control, make sure there's a vegetable, a starch, and a meat of some kind. (Pasta is fine, just eat it with salad, and cut out eating bread with it, it's just a whole bunch more carbs)

    Sorry, I kinda wrote this on the fly, so it's sorta...stream of conciousness writing.

    MotherFirefly on
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    ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    If you can, eating 6 smaller meals a day will help you lose weight faster than eating 3 big meals a day. Try to make sure breakfast is your biggest meal, though.

    Thanatos on
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    gneGnegneGne Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Don't forget your fruits!

    gneGne on
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    bigpandabigpanda Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    I applaud you for making the change. I'm still struggling myself on the exercise part, but I've been able to make some changes over the last couple years in terms of my diet and went from eating complete crap at every meal to a more balanced diet. I won't lie in that sometimes I just relapse and eat fast food for dinner for a couple nights out of the week (usually when I'm getting home late from work and am really stressed out) and still have a ways to go before I'm content with what I'm putting into my body.

    In general here's what my daily meals "usually" consist of...

    Breakfast
    - Cold Cereal w/ fresh fruit - I buy organic, low sugar, high fiber cereals (Kashi, Cascadian Farms) and buy fresh berries twice a week for them although I'd assume you can use frozen as they're a little cheaper or go with something like bananas or peaches.
    - Glass of fruit juice w/ vitamin C. (I try to consume some kind of vitamin C during my breakfast as it's supposed to help you get the most out of your fiber, i.e. folic acid)
    ~Time permitting I'll go w/ breakfast burrito w/ scrambled tofu w/ peppers, onions and garlic and some salsa with a side of fruit juice or soy milk.
    ~ If you're in a rush in the morning and have a blender, fruit smoothies are great. All you need is some frozen berries, some fruit juice or milk (I use soy), maybe a banana (feel free to throw in some protein powder, wheat germ, honey, peanut butter, yogurt, etc.) and blend them all up. It might take a couple days of doing this to get the right proportions but I loved them. I even got to the point of buying a second blender because I started doing this so much I didn't always have a clean one ready when I wanted a fresh smoothie.

    Snack
    - Nuts/trail mix and Carrots/Celery/Apple/Pear/Orange/etc.

    Lunch
    - Turkey sandwich w/ lettuce, tomato, mustard and sometimes a slice of swiss cheese on whole grain bread.
    ~ Alternatively I'll mix it up w/ a PB&J sandwich (I try to go for the organic PB).
    ~ If I'm really short on time, I'll go w/ a frozen entree but try to avoid them because of the high sodium and preservatives. I really like Amy's brand but they're usually a dollar or two more than say Lean Cuisine.

    Snack
    - Nuts/trail mix and Carrots/Celery/Apple/Pear/Orange/etc.
    - Small piece of chocolate (usually low sugar/high cocoa content)

    Dinner
    (this is usually where I fall off the wagon)
    - Big Salad w/ nuts, fruit, and bleu cheese w/ a vinagrette dressing (trying to stay away from the trans fats/saturated fats)
    ~ Burritos w/ crumbled tofu
    ~ Super Nachos w/ a bunch of random veggies and refried beans (referred to as a Botana back in Detroit)
    ~ Hot Dogs w/ a small salad or steamed veggies
    ~ Spaghetti and a small salad
    ~ etc.

    In general it's not exactly uber-cheap to go with organic or the specialty health foods (i.e. Kashi, Amy's etc. as opposed to Stouffers and Kelloggs) but it's still cheaper than eating out all the time. You can go ahead and sub out some of the tofu for meat/eggs/milk if you're a big carnivore. I'm trying to head down more of a vegetarian road for health reasons personally. Also, if you have a microwave it makes it alot easier to prep larger meals and break them down for lunch and dinner through the week.

    On a side note, my bro did the curry chicken and rice thing after working with a couple guys from Africa who showed him how they can live on like $5 a week. It didn't taste bad once he got the hang of it and he ate relatively well and very cheap.

    bigpanda on
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    NexusSixNexusSix Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Farmers markets would be a good place to score some awesome, fresh food at reasonable prices. One of the problems with eating healthy is that fresh and/or organic foods can be expensive at grocery stores. These types of markets bring a lot of good food straight from local producers, directly to the consumer. You can load up on some yummy, quality produce, meat, cheese, etc. at one of these markets and then spend a couple of hours on a weekend afternoon preparing everything--that way, you already have some healthy dishes ready to eat and you don't end up ordering a pizza or tossing a a Hot Pocket in the mircowave.

    Plus, the food at these markets just tastes better and you get that old school market vibe as opposed to feeling like you're being herded through some corporate megastore.

    Here's a link to get you started:

    http://www.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/map.htm

    NexusSix on
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    X5X5 Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Thanatos wrote: »
    If you can, eating 6 smaller meals a day will help you lose weight faster than eating 3 big meals a day. Try to make sure breakfast is your biggest meal, though.

    This is so so so very true. I'd encourage you to research the different types of carbs, good vs. bad. A lot of people will swear by no carb diets because it worked for them. That’s awesome, grats to them on losing weight that way.

    I'll say this though. From my personal experience, an Atkins style diet doesn't hold a candle to the South Beach style diet. Not all carbs are bad, and being able to incorporate good carbs into your diet is not only beneficial, but it makes the diet easier to stick to because you are not eating eggs and beef jerky 24/7. If you enjoy eating healthy, it will be infinitely easier to stick to a routine that is not just a temporary thing, But a true life style change.

    X5 on
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    FastForwardFastForward Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Just try to eat simple, unprocessed foods. Lots of fruit, veggies, bread, nuts, etc.

    FastForward on
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    macgurlmacgurl Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    basically you have to remember to take in less calories than you burn daily and you'll be able to lose weight. The sad part is that the calories add up fast so for the first few days you do have strange cravings, you're not exactly hungry, you just want food because you're so used to either high fatty foods or always eating.

    If you want a really good website that has helped me go to http://sparkpeople.com

    You don't really have to participate in anything if you don't want but it can help you plan meals and make sure your eating at the right calorie level for your body to ensure that you actually do lose weight.

    macgurl on
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    KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Thanks for all the great advice people, keep it coming.

    And sparkpeople.com was actually the site that got me into this new health kick of mine. One of my friend's recomended it, and it seems really useful so far.

    Kyougu on
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    Shazkar ShadowstormShazkar Shadowstorm Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    The cutting out soda thing is ridiculous. Ridiculous, not as in unfathomable, but amazingly ridiculous because it's so true.
    I cut out soda a few years back, changing nothing else about my life w.r.t. eating and exercise... a year later I had gone from near 150 to 135.

    Shazkar Shadowstorm on
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    MuddBuddMuddBudd Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    The cutting out soda thing is ridiculous. Ridiculous, not as in unfathomable, but amazingly ridiculous because it's so true.
    I cut out soda a few years back, changing nothing else about my life w.r.t. eating and exercise... a year later I had gone from near 150 to 135.

    I find that encouraging. How much soda were you drinking before you stopped?

    Last time I quit soda I was doing pretty well. After a while I never wanted it. But then came a really bad day and I needed caffeine. Trying to hold on to the willpower this time. Drinking more tea to take up the slack.

    I am tempted to ask my boss to get rid of the soda cooler here at work... I can resist it at the store. Then again... I work in QA and if I successfully pulled that off, my co-workers would kill me.

    -edit-

    I am also looking into this stuff. It's not a cure-all, but might help with the sweet tooth.

    http://www.enviga.com/

    MuddBudd on
    There's no plan, there's no race to be run
    The harder the rain, honey, the sweeter the sun.
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    ZombiemamboZombiemambo Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Quick tip: if you can afford it, switching from beef to buffalo is a great idea. It's much leaner and tastes great. Turkey is also good for sandwiches or by itself.

    Zombiemambo on
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    ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    MuddBudd wrote: »
    I am also looking into this stuff. It's not a cure-all, but might help with the sweet tooth.

    http://www.enviga.com/
    They're getting sued for most of the claims they're making. I think it's probably bullshit.

    Thanatos on
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