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TOPIC: Diet on an extremely minimal budget

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September 7, 2013 8:38 PM
I'm a college student full time and I work a full time 3rd shift job I have very little free time and very little money. I don't have time to spend an hour making food every night but I want to eat healthy and lose weight. I'm 180 pounds and 6'2 but all of my weight is in my stomach I have thin arms and thin legs. I quit smoking 6 months ago I drink 4 bottles of water a night I may drink a soda 2 or 3 times a week. I have cut out most junk food. But for my meals at work I eat hot pockets and dinners are usually fatty. As I said I have no time to prepare meals I'm slammed with school work every day. I need meals that I can eat quickly for my breakfast at 4 pm lunch at 8/9 pm and dinner at work around 1-2 am. Yes I eat at odd hours but that's because my job. I appreciate any responses from people who are on a budget with no free time to prepare all of these cheap recipes you can find online. Thank you.
September 7, 2013 8:42 PM
Prepare food that doesn't take much hands on time to make. Boiled chicken is a great one. Rinse off the chicken, throw it in the pot, boil it for x amount of minutes, take it out to let it cool, then shred it for meals for the next few days.

For breakfast, oatmeal and protein powder is very quick to make. I put a cup of water in the microwave for 2.5 minutes, go shower, come back and dump it into my bowl of oats, get dressed, mix in my protein powder, and scarf it down before leaving the house.

Lunch, sandwiches and salads are quick and cheap.

Rice can also be made in one larger batch and used during the next couple of days.
September 7, 2013 8:48 PM
Buy frozen meat fish and vegetables, buy in bulk, buy tinned beans. I had a food budget of about £10 a week when I was a student and I managed to lose weight by doing that.
  11161751
September 7, 2013 8:50 PM
Frozen fish, absolutely. Walmart has bags of frozen tilapia for like 11 bucks.

I cannot in good conscious recommend frozen veggies. tongue
September 7, 2013 8:52 PM
Boy, I hear you on this one. Up until this past August, I was working more than full time and going to school full time. I understand the lack of time!

For me, I usually had time on the weekend (just a few hours, even 1 hour of time would be fine sometimes) that I would use getting meals cooked/prepped for the week. I would make big batches of things, stir fries, rice and beans, taco meat, etc. that I would divvy up between the days so I always had an option to reheat and eat. Once I got into a routine of cooking a lot on one day, usually cooking multiple things that day, it became easier to take care of it.

I also utilized my crockpot slow cooker every chance I got. I don't know if you have one, but it does wonders. I would make whole bags of dried beans, soups, shredded chicken (for anything!), shredded chicken taco meat, chili and a few others. Sometimes, when I absolutely had no time, peanut butter and jelly with fruit and veggies on the side became a great meal.

I hope this helps! Feel free to message me if you need more help.
September 7, 2013 8:53 PM
QUOTE:

Frozen fish, absolutely. Walmart has bags of frozen tilapia for like 11 bucks.

I cannot in good conscious recommend frozen veggies. tongue


Why no frozen veggies? They can be just as nutritious as fresh...
September 7, 2013 8:53 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

Frozen fish, absolutely. Walmart has bags of frozen tilapia for like 11 bucks.

I cannot in good conscious recommend frozen veggies. tongue


Why no frozen veggies? They can be just as nutritious as fresh...


Who said anything about nutrition? The texture is weird.
September 7, 2013 8:56 PM
Free samples at Sam's Club make great and inexpensive lunches. Just don't eat three of the warm brownie samples in a row and you should be ok.

Seriously though. Lentils. Beans. Tuna. Cottage cheese and milk (when they're on sale). Baby spinach. These forever will be my cheap, extremely customizable meal staples.
Edited by nothingwithoutHim On September 7, 2013 8:58 PM
  27466045
September 7, 2013 8:57 PM
What about your off days? If you could prepare one large meal and freeze it, in individual servings, then you would be set. Breakfast could be oatmeal or even a quick smoothie. If you like hardboiled eggs, you could boil those while you are studying and then make enough where you could refrigerate and eat one in the morning with some oatmeal. You could cut up veggies when you take your study break and half veggies, multigrain crackers and individual hummus packets that they sell, and that is a small snack. I like nectarines and they get me full too.
  32166376
September 7, 2013 9:02 PM
Well, I'm of the mind that it's calories in and calories out for weight loss. So, you can eat what you want and lose, but you are concerned about healthy choices, so here goes:

The problem with cheaper food choices, like hot pockets and ramen etc, is that they're sooo loaded with sodium. Definitely opt for some frozen veggies, only eat the kinds you like so it doesn't fee like punishment, zap 'em for a couple minutes, stir, done.

Have those frozen veggies with a high fiber carb choice (corn tortillas are not expensive, for example and 3g fiber for 2 tortillas, 100 calories--if you don't like tortillas, choose a bread you like but opt for whole grains/good fiber choices), and a protein like pork, fish, or chicken (as mentioned bought in bulk, cooked ahead of time to save you time and money).

It'll lower your salt by loads! And when stuff is ready ahead of time, it's not going to take much more time than making a hot pocket and waiting for it to not be a cheese volcano inside before you eat it.

Also: Hard boiled eggs

I'd suggest nuts for healthy fat, raw almonds can be expensive, but some low salt/sea salt/no salt nut mixes or peanuts might be priced okay.

And what's wrong with a PB&J sandwich?! Nothing! Yumz!

A high-fiber cereal w/ milk is also a cost effective winner.

When you go grocery shopping buy stuff when it's on sale, store it, and/or freeze it. Don't wait to buy it when you need it because then you're paying full price.
  48311363
September 7, 2013 9:03 PM
Agreeing completely with the crock pot! I too work full time and go to school full time, and I'm married to a wonderful man who also works and goes to school full time. We throw whatever we have in the crock pot in the morning, leave it on low, and eat whenever we can until it's gone.
  38480369
September 7, 2013 9:03 PM
Bumping for ideas.
September 7, 2013 9:05 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

QUOTE:

Frozen fish, absolutely. Walmart has bags of frozen tilapia for like 11 bucks.

I cannot in good conscious recommend frozen veggies. tongue


Why no frozen veggies? They can be just as nutritious as fresh...


Who said anything about nutrition? The texture is weird.


Yeah, I get that. Some aren't so bad though. I rather like frozen peas and sometimes like frozen corn.
September 7, 2013 9:05 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

QUOTE:

QUOTE:

Frozen fish, absolutely. Walmart has bags of frozen tilapia for like 11 bucks.

I cannot in good conscious recommend frozen veggies. tongue


Why no frozen veggies? They can be just as nutritious as fresh...


Who said anything about nutrition? The texture is weird.


Yeah, I get that. Some aren't so bad though. I rather like frozen peas and sometimes like frozen corn.


Frozen corn is about the only one that is passable to me. Peas and green beans are the worst.
September 7, 2013 9:06 PM
Fruit in season, and root veggies are cheap. Such as a bag of apples and a bag of carrots, canned tuna packed in water, canned sardines........ditched the bottled water and drink tap water. Also canned chickpeas are great and cheap. It is actually a lot cheaper to eat real foods that are good for you in favour of hot pockets. Try a few of the different ideas people are suggesting, and soon you will have a bunch of meals that you enjoy, and you will be on your way to a much healthier you............
September 7, 2013 9:11 PM
overnight oatmeal. Mix equal parts milk (almond or regular), greek yougurt, and oatmeal in a container, leave in fridge overnight, and enjoy the next day. Cheap, easy, healthy and yummy. I do a half cup of each and throw in some fresh fruit on top. Soooo good.
September 7, 2013 9:17 PM
I hear ya,my budget for food is low,but it can benefit you. I am on a strength program and found a few go to items that I am glad I looked into the best bang for the buck. #1 Eggs,its one of the cheapest forms of proteins and what I do is make three days worth quickly.Scrambled then refrigerate,take to work either microwave it or eat it cold in a lettuce wrap with some of my choices to add flavor. I've used curry based sauces,added blueberries to it..yes blueberries.. you can add string cheese to it which I've done and its good In my opinion. #2 Sweet potatoes, takes time in the oven but one or two large sweet potatoes can be added to 2 to 4 meals... #3 Tuna prepared or right out of the can..#4 Milk again as I am on a strength and muscle building program I want more protein and some good calorie density # 5 Oatmeal,its was my go to snack at times for fiber and good carbs. Fast to heat.#6 Some will boo hiss a frozen meal from a box but I like the taste and good mixes of dome foods and vegetables in Healthy Choice steamers,around $2 something a meal and much more prepared than I would put effort into with all the ingredients, unlike other meals in a box sodium isn't sky high, I thaw mine before work and 1 min 30 seconds its done. #7 Frozen vegetables in a bag,they are more times than not flash frozen keeping the nutrients somewhat close to fresh and can be heated quick.#8 Couscous,fast (5minutes on stove) reheats nice. #9 Broiled premadr whole chicken,$5 a pop ,can be eaten cold or warmed up,can offer numerous meals. And my last one #10 Big baskets from a farmers market,roadside stand of someone's garden grown fruits or melons,personally I skip the vegetables but those too can be had cheap. I will buy berried,freeze them and stores. Let thaw day before eating or put them frozen in my oatmeal before heating. Those are my cheap,fast,healthy choices.
  43768308
September 7, 2013 9:21 PM
If you're on a budget, stop buying bottled water, buy sodas on sale, etc.

Shop at the cheaper grocery stores, I go to the mexican supermarket in my area and get veggies, meat, everything for a fraction the price of the Trader Joe's within walking distance. Obviously, the quality may vary but I simply cannot afford to show that way so I accept it.

Not sure what kind of advice you are looking for when you say you do not have the time to make the cheap meals. Does that mean you just to microwave or something? If so there are always buy 10 meals for 10 dollar specials to look out for.

God I sound so cheap haha.
  47826917
September 7, 2013 9:30 PM
People have already said most of the actual items that I would have suggested....great stuff!

But I would add that you can still take advantage of garden produce if you know anyone who has one. We have tomatoes, squash, beets, zucchini, etc, every day right now for free and all of that stuff takes as little or as much prep as you want it to.

Also, I second the idea of making batches of things that you can eat several meals from - and then eating it through the week or freezing it. Crock Pots are great, too, and I do use mine a fair amount - soups and stews are cheap, filling, and can be nutritious. One pot goes a long way.

I only just last week tried the refrigerator oatmeal thing...pretty good stuff. Peanut butter, banana, and almond milk? Mmmm.....

Congratulations on working so hard and still trying to make good choices for your health!
  45435629
September 7, 2013 10:27 PM
The prepare your food is the best advice. AND fruits and veggies have the least amount of calories, sodium, etc. eat FRESH! :-) Prepackaged meals have a lot of sodium and calories and your homemade stuff is better for you anyway. You can do it! I have no money hardly and made it thru 60 lbs of weight loss with 20 more to go. :-) Keep your head up and think thin. :-)
  34075965
September 7, 2013 10:31 PM
Brown rice, stir-fried vegetables, and some kind of protein--chicken, fish, tofu, eggs, or whatever is on sale.

You can make a big pot of rice that will last all week, then the stir-frying is quick. Most groceries have big bags of stuff like pre-chopped fresh kale that you can throw into the stir-fry. You can constantly vary the kinds of veggies and protein that you put into the mix. You can throw in something like pine nuts or sliced almonds if you can get a big bag that is on sale. Look for the sales.

Fruit is fast food and healthy.

Sweet potatoes--again, you can bake a bunch on your day off and have them there all week. And they are cheap. Same with any kind of winter squash. You can also cut up the sweet potatoes or squash and throw them into your stir-fries. Or put in some canned beans.

Good luck!
September 7, 2013 10:34 PM
Sandwiches are cheap. Tuna sandiches, pb&j, tomato, etc.

If you have the time to look through ad's (I was always surfing the internet at class/work) you can plan out some meals based on the store ad's and also stock up on stuff when it's on sale. If you really don't have a spare min at work or during lectures this may not work too well.

Costco / Sams Club are good for bulk items. I like to buy my meat at Costco. They're better quality and the price doesn't seem to change. Other stores will occasionally beat them in price, but the quality just isn't there.

One of my favourite meals is cottage cheese, yogurt, and protein powder. I mix about a cup of cottage cheese with a scoop of protein powder and then fold in a single serving container of yogurt. This may be an option for you when cottage cheese is on sale :) Also, cottage cheese and fruit pair well together if you like cottage cheese.

Canned soup. Go for the reduced sodium / heart-healthy kind. Zap it and eat :).
September 7, 2013 10:39 PM
QUOTE:

Sweet potatoes--again, you can bake a bunch on your day off and have them there all week. And they are cheap. Same with any kind of winter squash. You can also cut up the sweet potatoes or squash and throw them into your stir-fries. Or put in some canned beans.


Ooo, you just gave me some awesome ideas. I didn't know squash would keep after cooking it =) Great to know. Thanks! And just in time too; winter squash season is nearly upon us :D

Also a tip on cooking squash.. it takes almost an hour to boil/bake, but only like 10 min in the microwave. I just hit the potato button on my microwave and my squash cooks just fine.
Edited by ithina On September 7, 2013 10:42 PM
September 7, 2013 11:07 PM
QUOTE:

overnight oatmeal. Mix equal parts milk (almond or regular), greek yougurt, and oatmeal in a container, leave in fridge overnight, and enjoy the next day. Cheap, easy, healthy and yummy. I do a half cup of each and throw in some fresh fruit on top. Soooo good.



OMG yum, that sounds so good and like it could be really versatile! I'm going to try that.
  48311363
September 8, 2013 12:24 AM
I'm poor too. I got so tired of stressing over what I was going to eat every day, that I tried 5:2. Took a lot of the pressure off, though it's not for everyone. Of course, I still strive to eat healthy every day. Frozen veggies are the best, especially on "10 for 10" days at my grocery store. lol Oh and lots of coupons!! Sign up for a bunch of coupon mailings & email lists. You'd be surprised how much healthy stuff you can get.
Edited by Flabulousss On September 8, 2013 12:25 AM
  47427126

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