Monday, January 9, 2012

Is Eating Healthy Cheap Possible?

I want to eat healthy. I want to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. I want to make my own pasta. I want to make sauces and soups and stews from scratch. I watch the cooks and chefs on PBS and the Food Network to get new ideas of great new meals. I scour the internet and my dozens of cook books for dishes I can attempt in my very tiny kitchen. I have so many things I want to do.

But then I go grocery shopping. I am a man on a budget. My paycheck disappears soon after it appears in my checking account. I am left with very little to buy food with. I am left with two alternatives: Buy ingredients for one fresh, delicious, and healthy meal; buy many not-so-healthy meals such as canned soup, boxed pasta, and sauce in a jar.

I try to find the deals. I have a Bonus Card or a Shopper's Club Card or whatever it's called. I try to use coupons. I'm frugal. But I just cannot justify paying more than twenty dollars on food that will turn into maybe four helpings. I can buy nine packages of Ramen Noodles, four cans of soup (if they're on sale), a couple boxes of pasta, a jar of sauce or so, and a box of frozen fish sticks for the same amount.

So what's a guy to do? I would love to have an unlimited supply of money to spend on fresh, healthy food. But I don't. So I buy a few jars of sauce instead of tomatoes, cloves of garlic, onions, peppers and mushrooms. I buy a couple cans of soup instead of cream and clams and potatoes and carrots and thyme and celery. And I make moves to make things better fiscally.

If you have any ideas of how to create a healthy frugal meal, please PLEASE leave it in the comments. I can use all the health, er-- help I can get!


  1. We're fooled into thinking food SHOULD be cheap because it's become increasingly less of our regular budget as cheap, mass-produced boxed and canned food has flooded the market over the last 50 years.

    You're going to have to make sacrifices and start making a lot of things completely from scratch. Once we got into a groove with our vegan diet, the monetary strain wasn't as significant. We also try to eat seasonally and planning our meals around our local CSA offerings was a great way to save money over the summer (we're also doing a winter CSA with Thorpes since they have land in FL).

    The thing is, there is NOTHING more important to our overall health and well-being than what we choose to eat. I figure it's worth not going out much and not being able to afford certain things if I can ensure I'm going to be diabetes-free and active at 60.

  2. I do very little of my actual grocery shopping at Wegmans and Tops. (Actually, I refuse to set foot in Tops unless it's an emergency, because they're dirty and gross.)

    I buy 99% of my produce at Price Rite. It's significantly cheaper than buying anything at Wegmans (for example - a large clamshell of spring mix at Wegmans is $7... it's about $3.50 at Price Rite for the same amount) and the quality is great. They have a decent meat/frozen fish (not boxed fish sticks!) selection there too. They sell Chobani for $.99 a container. Pasta, canned tomatoes, etc... lots of name brand stuff. I make a list, and hit them first. Whatever I can't get at Price Rite, I pick up at Wegmans. There's one on Elmwood, and another on Kenmore just west of Elmwood, so not too far from Wegmans if there's stuff you can't find there.

    I used to shop at Aldi quite a bit too, and will still hit them occasionally if there's something that I know that Price Rite doesn't sell, but they do. Same thing for Super Walmart - but they're a bit more centrally located to me in Rochester. They're a bit more out of the way in Buffalo, and not worth a special trip.

    Hope that helps! :)

  3. Once I made an unprocessed diet a routine, I found my pantry stocked and ready to go with most of the ingredients I needed to prepare most dishes from scratch.

    I rarely visit an actual grocery store unless I am in a pinch. Buying most of my fruits and vegetables at the farmer market has forced me to eat seasonally, which significantly helps with keeping costs down.

    I recently switched to a gluten and dairy free diet, and I am once again trying to find my groove. And you will find your's.

  4. I appreciate the input!

    Buying and eating seasonal food is definitely something I am going to try this year, as well as finding local vendors instead of grocery stores. Shopping at (major) grocery stores is something I need to stop doing in general.

    I need to get out of the mind-set that Tops, Wegmans, etc. are the ONLY places to buy groceries.

    Many sacrifices need to be made for healthy AND frugal shopping practices. That's the hard part, I think. We get used to do things a certain way. We get used to going to the places we know and are used to.

    Thanks for all the ideas!
    They are a great help.