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$30 WEEKLY Food Budget - HELP!


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I'm trying to cut back the spending at my local grocery store - over $100 a trip is just ludicrous! So I've been limited to 30 bucks a week, no roll-overs, and I'm on a high-protein, no-enriched/bleached/processed-anything diet. The money buys me 7 protein bars, 3 apples, 3 or 4 lean cuisine meals, cottage cheese, MAYBE strawberries if they're discounted and not 5 bucks a pop, and a box of cereal. 

I don't know what's gonna give out first- my body from a lack of proper nutrients, or my mind from the constant anxiety of not having enough to eat. (I'm not allowed to cheat and eat "everyone else's" food. I'm on my own. Please, what are some nutrient-packed and high-protein meals I can buy and prepare for $30??

Thank you to all!!

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i'm vegetarian so besides supplements for protein ($17 @ walmart once a month) spinach tends to be my best friend, nuts, seeds and soybeans are particularly good (frozen food). I don't always do 1 serving either, I'll often split the serving like for almonds is 3tbs, so i'll have 1 tbs as a snack and the whole tin will last a month that way and my calories stay in line. I'm also on a low budget seeing as I was only making $100 a week and then lost my job last week so now everything is super tight. 

Probably time to start buying dried beans and soaking & cooking them - lean cuisine is not a great way of making every last coin count. Protein bars may also end up going. Remember - if you pay someone else to package stuff for you, then you aren't paying JUST for the food.

What is your calorie target per day, and what shopping do you have locally where you can buy food?- that way people can gain some kind of idea what you can buy and suggest better targetted ideas.

I live in a little bubble town- the nearest grocery store that isn't 25/30 minutes away is Shoprite, and as the only game in town, takes advantage of their patrons by charging whatever they want.

I feel for you, Dsam!! I wish you the best in the upcoming days. Lots of love. Laughing

I know that buying name brands isn't the smartest shopping technique, but since I'm on a strict food plan, there really isn't an alternative. I shoot for 1500 calories a day, since I'm not that old, or tall, or heavy. I've been trying to get toned for awhile, and lose a belly pooch and any distension that goes with it. (Building beautiful abs is also a main goal Wink) Maybe this is a good starting point to ask- what foods/techniques in diet and exercise, as well as shopping, should I be practicing? What methods will help me achieve my goals at this point?

 

 

I like oatmeal for breakfast, and it is pretty inexpensive if you buy the big round box instead of those individual envelopes of flavored oatmeal.  I opt for seasonal fruits & veges because they are cheaper.  Right now I'm into apples, pears, and sweet potatoes--all of the high fiber.  Sometimes the microwaveable steamed veges go on sale--like $2.00 for a 2-3 serving bag.  Someone mentioned that the Lean Cuisines are not budget-friendly, and I agree.  However, you can usually pick up one or two for about $2.00, and the Michelina's Lite are sometimes priced at $1.00 each.  Salads can be good values, too--if you waash & clean your own produce.

Just curious:  Who set up the guidelines for this $30/week limit?  Seems extremely restrictive.

It's a parental restriction, unfortunately, and it is. I'm not allowed to branch out and take control of my body just yet, apparently. My parents assumed that by putting me on a budget, they would knock me off of my meal plan. And they're keeping me from doing any kind of cardio. Great support system, right? Yell

Depends on your circumstances. Without knowing your stats and background, that could be entirely reasonable, or entirely unreasonable, or parents who just can't afford to eat a more expensive meal plan every week.

eggs, canned tuna, frozen spinach, greek yogurt, milk, peanut butter, beans, lentils

They can afford it, but they're trying to prove their point in the value of the dollar, and when I do go out on my own, I won't be wasting a huge chunk of my money on food. Which is all very well and good, and I have learned a lot from this experience, but I've always been told by my parents that there just isn't a way to stick to a food plan and a budget at the same time. This has to be false.

My stats are: 5'1", 99-ish lbs, 16 years old, female who's never been fat, EVER. I'm very petite, but have been able to eat the world without it showing all of my life- yet somehow I've developed this very subtle belly pooch that I'm not too thrilled with. This has been my demon for awhile. I have a VERY toned abdomen, but because of this literal pinch of fat, nothing more, the muscles don't show as much as I'd like them to. They say that abs are made in the kitchen, but what happens if that kitchen is closed half of the time??

OK, you're a tad on the thin side, but still healthy. Always worth checking. However, bear in mind that, at your age, you are still growing, and cutting back on calories WILL screw stuff up. You should be eating a lot closer to 3000 calories a day at your age, not deliberately hacking stuff out of your diet that your body needs to convert you from teenage to adult.

I also suggest you have a dig on the fitness forum posts. There was a set of links someone posted to some shots of what pushing her abs did to Brittney Spears - she went from "trim and cute" to "chunky". Check them out before you start really working on things - it might change your mind on what the lesser of two evils is.

Thanks. Laughing It's difficult for me to reach 1500 calories a day- I'd have to deliberately eat Big Mac's every day in order to DOUBLE my daily intake. I know that I'm on the thin side, and that I'm still growing, but I hate the feeling of just packing myself with junk. It feels nasty... Frown Granted, crap is cheaper than healthy things, but even buying crap that will get me approx. 36,000 calories a week on $30?

This is HARD!

Original Post by hopezpoet:

They can afford it, but they're trying to prove their point in the value of the dollar, and when I do go out on my own, I won't be wasting a huge chunk of my money on food. Which is all very well and good, and I have learned a lot from this experience, but I've always been told by my parents that there just isn't a way to stick to a food plan and a budget at the same time. This has to be false.

My stats are: 5'1", 99-ish lbs, 16 years old, female who's never been fat, EVER. I'm very petite, but have been able to eat the world without it showing all of my life- yet somehow I've developed this very subtle belly pooch that I'm not too thrilled with. This has been my demon for awhile. I have a VERY toned abdomen, but because of this literal pinch of fat, nothing more, the muscles don't show as much as I'd like them to. They say that abs are made in the kitchen, but what happens if that kitchen is closed half of the time??

why are you eating 1500 calories? You have a big problem as you are already nearly underweight. Can you speak to someone regarding your dietary issues. It sounds like you're on the verge of an eating disorder to be honest. You should be eating at least 2000 calories and more if you're exercising. 

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Original Post by hopezpoet:

I'm trying to cut back the spending at my local grocery store - over $100 a trip is just ludicrous! So I've been limited to 30 bucks a week, no roll-overs, and I'm on a high-protein, no-enriched/bleached/processed-anything diet. The money buys me 7 protein bars, 3 apples, 3 or 4 lean cuisine meals, cottage cheese, MAYBE strawberries if they're discounted and not 5 bucks a pop, and a box of cereal. 

I don't know what's gonna give out first- my body from a lack of proper nutrients, or my mind from the constant anxiety of not having enough to eat. (I'm not allowed to cheat and eat "everyone else's" food. I'm on my own. Please, what are some nutrient-packed and high-protein meals I can buy and prepare for $30??

Thank you to all!!


First of all, DON'T BUY THESE THINGS!

You might as well be throwing your money away. Instead make your OWN meals. Pick one day a week to do your grocery shopping and prep... hard boil a dozen eggs, grill a bunch of chicken breasts, make your own protein bars (tons of clean recipes online), cut up veggies...etc. By doing this you will have plenty of grab 'n' go foods prepared for easy meals and snacks. 

other good things to buy:

canned tuna

canned salmon

extra virgin olive oil

coconut oil

organic greek yogurt or cottage cheese (if you're gonna eat dairy, it should be organic/grass fed)

grass fed or wild game meats

wild caught fish

naturally raised chicken

omega 3 enriched eggs

a good quality protein powder (may cost extra but its a worth while investment)

natural raw nuts/seeds

natural almond butter or other nut butter

frozen veggies (generally less expensive then fresh, and more nutritious cause they are flash frozen)

buy SEASONAL or LOCAL fruits and vegetables.. they will be cheaper and taste better then the out of season ones that may have to be shipped over seas

...

But WHY are you only spending $30 on groceries? That's a better question. You are what you eat and spending more money on your HEALTH and diet is a worthwhile investment. Cheap food is cheap, and you will pay for it in the long run. 

Personally I'd rather spend money on quality food, then spend it on material goods. 

This reminds me of my 9th grade health class...we had to plan a two-week menu for $50!  It was hard, but I promise you that it's possible!

Foods to look for:

Dried beans (high protein, and super cheap!  canned beans are ok too, just a little more expensive)

Brown Rice (bulk, not little riceroni boxes)

Oatmeal (bulk)

Fruits and veggies: look for what's seasonal and what's on sale

Canned fish (very high protein!)

Sweet potatoes

Nuts

Eggs (I think the cheapest protein source, or something like that)

Milk

 

Foods to avoid:

Pre-prepared meals

Prepared produce (eg. fruit trays, sliced mushrooms, small bags of pre-washed spinach...all usually more expensive!)

Meal replancement bars/shakes

"Snackies" (chips, popcorn, etc...they're mostly air)

Drinks (once again, low nutrition for high price...other than milk)

 

PM me if you need help or any more ideas!

okay, so no more 1500 calories. that isn't appropriate for someone your age. 1800-2000 calories with minimal exercise. here are some ideas:

1. LARGE canister of oatmeal (it will last 2 weeks or more and cost $4 max)

2. dried beans ($1 per pound...buy 1 pound and cook the entire package on sunday) 

3. 2 pounds chicken ($3-bone-in is cheaper-bake or grill it all on sunday)

4. 1 pound brown rice dry ($1--cook entire package on Sunday and eat for the week)

5. 1 dozen eggs ($2, 1-2 a day) 

6. 1 gallon 1% milk ($3-4, 12oz a day) 

7. 32oz container lowfat (not nonfat) yogurt ($3) 

8. 5 pound bag potatoes ($4) 

9. 2 pounds apples/bananas ($3) 

10. 4-5 pounds frozen veggies ($5) 

11. 1 pound block cheddar cheese ($3-4) 

---------------------------

You will have leftover beans/rice/potatoes most likely so then you buy...

1. 1 pound peanuts ($3) 

2. jar of peanut butter ($2) 

3. bread ($1.50) 

 

I assume your parents will allow you to use their condiments/oil. The first shopping session is always most expensive because olive oil can be $8 buy itself. 

Here's a sample meal plan: 

B: 1.5 servings oatmeal (225) cooked in 1/2 cup milk (50) and 2 tbsp maple syrup mixed in (100) = 375

S: 1 hard boiled egg (70) w/ 1 oz cheese (100) =170

L: 1 serving rice (150) w/ 1 serving beans (100) and 1 serving veggies (30)= 310

S: 1 banana (100) w/ 2 tbsp peanut butter (200) =300

D: 4 oz chicken (120) w/1 large potato or 2 small ones (175) topped with 1/2 oz cheese (50) and 1 serving veggies (30) cooked in 1/2 tbsp olive oil (60)= 435

S: 4 oz yogurt (75) on top of 1 serving oats (150) w/1 tbsp honey or syrup (50) =275

TOTAL: 1865

The key is buying things that will last a while. Like nuts for example..you can get 1 pound of peanuts for pretty cheap...have an oz a day for about 160 calories and they will last you 2 weeks. So you don't have to buy them every week. Same with peanut butter and potatoes...you can buy them every other week. 

Check out the Hillbilly Housewife website.  She has low-budget meal plans that should be helpful for reducing your food costs.

it may seem ludicrous but do you have any places in town that give away food.  It may not be absolutely necessary with parental support but if the lesson is how to survive when out of the house then charity food might be an option.  I know some people that get food from a different place every week of the month (they can only go to each place once a month) to supplement food stamps.  You don't always get the healthiest options but its free and anything is ok as long as it is in moderation right? 

I know it is a bit of a twisted way around the restriction but it is real life.  They usually want ID and I don't think they will turn away minors just because parents aren't there.  I am pretty sure you can get the oatmeal suggestion and maybe some canned tuna.  I bet there are healthier options there.  Even if you get mac and cheese you don't have to eat the whole box right.  make partial servings of that kind of thing.

Also bulk pasta can go a long way when rationed out.

Okay, this is nutty. I have a 16 year old, a 12 year old and a 2 year old. I can't imagine making my teenager do this sort of thing. Right now, homework is his key priority, next chores, third, social and extracurricular school activities and fourth, his choice of exercise which happens to be fencing. As far as food, I teach him about shopping, cooking and cleaning. He comes to the store with me once in a while, and I point out what are good things to buy and stay in budget with-- I just can't imagine making him take care of this all on his own right now. There must be a great deal of history with you and your parents that they feel they need to take these steps with you. It just doesn't feel right to me, as a parent, especially considering you are on the verge of an eating disorder, it seems.

I think it's a combination of a lot of things-mostly the fact that I'm trying to grow up too fast. Even at 16, you can't do jack-squat in my state- getting my driver's license, for instance. But all of my life, I've been told that I've been more mature than other kids in my age group. I've grown up seeing myself as an adult. So, in turn, I'm treating my body as if it belonged to an adult. I'm trying to cut back, whereas I should be feeding it the nutrients I need for it to grow, because I AM still growing. For the next two years or so. It's just that I'm feeling rushed, and the insanity at rashness of my parents' actions aren't helping my self-perception, either.

Thank you, all, for all of your food suggestions. People in school are starting to take pity on me, and are bringing me food to eat at lunch, unannounced to my parents. That's humiliating. Asking for petty handouts and extra crumbs from your friends and even strangers- just so I can get some daily rations? I'm going to take everyone's advice from here and make next week's shopping trip more bountiful. It's going to be a struggle to meet the 36,000 calories a week, I'll tell you that. Frown

I'm so full of anxiety. I don't know where my next meal is coming from sometimes, and then when I do find something to eat, it's unhealthy, and then I feel guilty about it.

I've been recently influenced that I'm so awful and empty on the inside, that no one is interested in getting to know the real me. Thus, I've actually started believing that my body is the only thing I can offer people, and the only thing that they're interested in. With that emphasis, I feel pressured to change/upkeep my body. I'm unhappy with the way it looks. I don't feel good about myself, on the inside or out.

You seem like a smart person to me. So, with that in mind, you should consider the idea that the adults in your life are not always right, nor obviously are your peers who are likely less mature than you are. Whoever has influenced you in such negative ways are people who, if you can avoid them, you really should.

I remember how I felt at 16-- super shy and much more comfortable with other adults than my own peers. All that changed at college for me where I found a wide variety of interesting people to connect with and a way to learn some independence. Please don't believe you are "empty on the inside", rather you should think that you simply haven't found the things that interest you or move you in life yet. I would try very hard to focus on what you want for yourself rather than what you think other people want from/for you!

Regarding your folks, and this budget thing-- how long to they plan to continue this "lesson"? Can you have a heart to heart with them, and concede perhaps? What is their goal for you? Is it something you can compromise on so you can just be a teenager again?

Original Post by hopezpoet:
*snip*

I've been recently influenced that I'm so awful and empty on the inside, that no one is interested in getting to know the real me. Thus, I've actually started believing that my body is the only thing I can offer people, and the only thing that they're interested in. With that emphasis, I feel pressured to change/upkeep my body. I'm unhappy with the way it looks. I don't feel good about myself, on the inside or out.

Whoa! That's getting into dangerous territory, girl. We're not interested in only part of you - we're interested in you as a whole person.

Given you're 16, you probably don't want to set your food targets QUITE as rigidly as you stated at the outset. That "a high-protein, no-enriched/bleached/processed-anything diet" probably means you're trying to be stingy with fats, and that's a bit of a no-no while you are still growing, especially for a girl.

Try the suggestions people have given above, and see how you manage. Keep us posted too - we can fine-tune stuff a little, and hopefully catch any problems before they become large ones. Good luck!

 

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