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TOPIC: Impossible to eat healthy when in debt

 
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September 12, 2012 8:27 PM
QUOTE:



All 4 of us in the family have dietary intolerances too so it's not like we are eating this way to be fiscally irresponsible; we are eating this way because this is the diet that our body does not manifest any cognitive or physical symptoms for!

My wife too would rather have random ground beef in a processed box mixture (containing gluten which I have issue with and no nutritional value) than a homemade meal (full of nutrition and not gluten!). She would rather spend her money on exotic trips around the world than healthy food so she and her kids can be healthy (oh and her husband can be alive too).

Seriously, if I had the choice of dying at 50 and being debt free while seeing the world but being fat and full of disease and dying at 80 and still paying my debt off and rarely leaving my house but being slender and disease free and have healthy children and grandchildren, I'd choose 80....


It doesn't take a psychologist or a genius to see the blame shifting going on here (although this doesn't apply to everyone whose mentioned a spouse with financial control of the food in this thread).

It's probably best to address your issues with your spouse. Yes, I know you are a team, and she's been assigned certain roles. Yes, I know she controls the finance. But these are excuses, not legitimate reasons. Discuss. Talk. You know the deal. Converse about your issues with your wife in a healthy and constructive way. Or offer to go out and buy the groceries this week and offer to cook all week. Get her in on the deal and make her think it's her idea. You are in control of your body and what you put into it, not your wife. You could offer to make everyone dinner, or make yourself a separate meal. You are simply being lazy by assigning the blame to her because you've designated her the duty of feeding you. Reclaim that aspect of your life back.

"Healthy is not expensive." Don't buy into a fake dichotomy that you either eat junk food, or eat expensive "health foods". Yes, food such as chia and quinoa that have been heavily marketed as super duper "health" foods are more expensive. But this is a marketing ploy. There are also carrots (which can be as little as $1 a kg and can be used as padding) oats (also extremely cheap), eggs, kale, potato and apples (natures perfect "on the go" snack). All the more "common" fruits and vegetables generally eaten are still good for you, despite the lack of marketing spin.

Learn maths, or teach your wife maths- whichever one thinks that your eating habits are actually financially valid. Yes, a hamburger for $1 may seem cheaper than a $3 bag of vegetables or oats but the oats and vegetables, when bought and added together last longer and can end up making cheaper meals. They also fill you up better- you eat a bag of chips as a "snack" and go back for more, it leaves you feeling addicted and gives you further food craving, perpetuating an avalanche of bad eating. You'd never do that with a bowl of lettuce- because the lettuce fills you up better and isn't addictive. Eating better foods also programs you to veer away from "comfort eating". You're eating for your body, not your emotions and the feelings that eating certain foods evoke, and so you ultimately end up eating less. Which means less money. Sure a $60 grocery shop (for two people) seems more than a $5 meal (fries, chips, burger) but at 3 meals a day $5 a meal (for two people) ends up being $210. Even assuming you only eat two meals a day (realistic if you consider the calories) that's still $140.
$60 can also buy you approximately 3 meals, and 2 healthy snacks (such as an apple or a carrot and hummus or yogurt) every day. So you're eating more frequently and getting more "bang for your buck" because you are getting more nutrients.

Starting on the path to healthy eating is the most expensive part- you need to buy sauces and herbs and spices to make your food tasty, which will only fuel your wife's fire and give her ammo on "see? eating my way is cheaper!". But after this first step is done eating healthy will end up being more financially sound. And anyone who says that is just letting their emotions cloud their logic. I have to admit there are times when I do a "fresh" shop and McDonald's starts to look alluring, but I know that this is just consumer dissonance and my brain being horribly addled by marketing. When I think about it I think about how you go to McDonald's to get a burger and end up with a meal, because you're "saving money" and then the whole premise of it being "cheap" falls apart.

You could sit down and do a proper food budget with your wife and realistically look at how much you *actually* spend on food a week eating fast food, including candybars and sodas. You'll find that any thoughts about eating unhealthily being cheaper will fade. I look at fast food as an expensive luxury, even the cheap kind.

If a person can't put enough long-term planning and thinking in to see that buying groceries for a week is actually more financially sound than buying fast food and foods marketed as cheaper options, then how can they properly manage lateral thinking in other aspects of their life? There is a link between poor nutrition and bad diets and low socio-economic status. I think that sometimes people con themselves into thinking that they are "too poor to afford to eat healthy" when really it's the other way around- you're too unhealthy to be wealthy.
Edited by sunnykt On September 12, 2012 8:29 PM
  9950357
September 12, 2012 8:27 PM
honestly , you can still eat cheap and healthy. Im on a tight budge of 20$ a week for a food allowence, for the two of us, but I also eat meatless, I noticed that a lot of stores have a discount produce section, or it is mixed in. ( the vegetables are a bit older ) and I can get a whole basket of groceries to last me for the entire week for at least twice a day.
  24472433
September 12, 2012 8:32 PM
I'm doing Dave Ramsey and losing weight. Frozen meat and veggies!
September 12, 2012 8:33 PM
It's really becomes pretty easy once you figure out the tricks. It does take planning and more prep and cooking work. I did the $3/day Food Stamp budget for all of Lent this year and was surprised at how it changed my approach to food. It actually was a big part of why I started to diet and joined MFP shortly thereafter. Some tips:

Concentrate on breakfast - spend the time to plan it the night before and save time in the morning. Crockpot oatmeal, pancakes, veggie omelets, frozen overripe bananas for quick smoothies - all cheap, filling, nutritious, healthy. My favorite smoothie right now is just watermelon, a little mint and a T or 2 of greek yogurt.

Shop produce stands, discount groceries, bulk bins, plan menus around sales. Today I bought 1 watermelon - $2.50, 2 large avocados @$.48 each, and 2 cauliflowers at $.30 each at a produce stand. 6 cups of cauliflower cheese soup are in the freezer and tomorrow's dinner will be 1 of 4 meals I'll get of Indian cauliflower curry.

Soup and beans - easy and cheap, particularly easy with a slow cooker. A serving of homemade veggie soup with chicken broth is 40 calories and costs around $.50. Stuff all sorts of veggies with leftover grains, veggies, whatever and bake.

Snacks - pre-portioned ready-to-eat convenience is everything in snacks, for both kids and adults. Take the time to put thing into baggies so you'll have them available - nuts, carrots & celery, pretzels, grapes, whatever. Leftover smoothies gets poured into papercups with popsicle sticks and frozen.

Once a week make jars of salad dressing, croutons, healthy substitutes for mayo and sour cream. When you have them available, you won't reach for the unhealthy commercially-prepared stuff.

Garden as much as you can. Even if it's just 3 little pots of herbs on a window sill. Once a garden is established it's almost work and $ free. One container-sized zucchini plant has given me 28 squash so far, and is still going. I have 3 small raised beds and calculsted that I got over $900 of produce last year for under $60 - with it all organic as a bonus.
  26023263
September 12, 2012 8:41 PM
I'm in NZ so the price comparison probably not very accurate, but my flat of 4 does a shop for about 100 dollars NZ approx 60 dollars US??? for 5 nights of dinners, breakfast and lunch not counting snack food. Some things that help us are getting the budget brands of rice and pasta in bulk because you know you will use them. Budget brand of beans, chickpeas, canned tomatoes and what not. And buying in season vegetables. We aren't lucky enough to live somewhere with fancy asian/mexican markets but manage to find all we need at a vegetable store and the supermarket.
September 12, 2012 8:42 PM
I am the cook and budget person in our family. We both want to get out of debt -- but I told him upfront in the beginning - I'll sacrifice and skimp in other places in the budget to add to our food budget. We chose to go vegetarian, buy beans/grains in bulk, shop at local farmer's markets. I say to all my friends - I don't care how much it costs - if it's healthy and right for us, we'll buy it. Besides - if you eat processed junk and die young - who cares about the bills? Eating right doesn't have to be expensive. Like many previous posters have said - there are ways to eat healthy on a budget! Best of luck to you - I like your attitude!

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September 12, 2012 8:43 PM
Pay your bills dude
September 12, 2012 8:45 PM
Definately plan out what you guys like to eat (healthy food) and budget accordingly.
I think before anything, you and your wife should talk about it, it seems like you guys have different priorities which won't make it any easier to maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Maybe also, change up where you guys shop, I think farmer's markets have great selections of organic veggies and fruits for a fraction of the price. Also check out coupons in the paper, they also help and definately pick up items that you guys love in bulk. I use to shop at very expensive places and now that I've made a few changes, I've noticed I can buy a lot more for almost half the price.
  28634148
September 12, 2012 8:46 PM
Look for a community garden to grow food in (if there isn't one harrass your city hall to start one, they will). Buy a pressure cooker, even from Goodwill (allows you to quickly cook dried beans and grains). Always freeze extra veggies when you have them to use later for soup stock. If you have land, try a kitchen garden. Six chickens will give you a dozen eggs every other day, they require very little space and you can feed them scrap food.

In my town, a bunch of community organizations are growing organic produce on state and city property for the food bank. Volunteer for an organization and set this up - it works wonders. If you have food assistance, use it to buy whole foods and get the processed stuff from the bank.
  17723229
September 12, 2012 8:50 PM
Healthy doesn't have to mean expensive. I always keep an eye out for deals and look for sales and coupons for things I eat. I'll also buy store brands. The little bits you save here and there add up. My boyfriend's sister and her husband signed up on a site called emeals.com and they love it since it plans your meals in advance and tailors your shopping list to what stores you pick. They say it saves them money because they buy only what they need and nothing goes to waste-- I personally haven't tried the site but like I said, they love it. Also, you don't need to buy organic-- it doesn't really add anything to the nutritional value of your meals so if you're worried about saving money, there's no reason to pay a huge mark up on produce.
  25962008
September 12, 2012 8:55 PM
I think you have more of a problem of "wife doesn't want what I want to cook" than a monetary problem here. I have the same problem too somewhat. However if I plan ahead, cut cupons, buy what's on sale it's normally all good. I also have a gluten problem (Celiac) and I just tend not to buy the fancy gluten free foods (except the occassional cookies, OMG I love cookies). Like, for example, I wrap my burgers in lettuce instead of buying the buns.
September 12, 2012 8:55 PM
Blaming poor eating habits on money problems is just more excuses! My husband and I eat healthy on $50 a week. If you are flexible, look for sales/deals, and buy in bulk it's actually not expensive at all to eat healthy. It's certainly true that it's less convenient to eat healthy - because there's a lot of prep and cooking from scratch, but it's totally worth the extra effort. I'm the biggest cheapskate I know, but my health is a priority to me, so I cut other things (like cable) before I sacrifice my well being. flowerforyou
September 12, 2012 8:57 PM
Oh, and figure out what the things are that the whole family can agree on and buy them in bulk.
I cannot stress enough the importance of soup for this situation. Make a huge pot on your day off. When people are sick of it, you can freeze the leftovers for when they like the taste again.
Oatmeal is very inexpensive when purchased in bulk and a great breakfast with just the right amount of protein. Dried goods are your friend.
  17723229
September 12, 2012 8:59 PM
The bigger problem here is that you and your wife are not on the same page. Financial security is important to her. Obviously. Work with her to find a budget that suits both of your goals. Obviously, she's motivated by financial security... help her to see the end of the tunnel. You must compromise to find a mutually satisfactory answer.
September 12, 2012 9:05 PM
QUOTE:

I don't know why this irks my nerves so much but it does... I'm not trying to come off mean and annoying like a lot of other posters on here saying "my way or the highway" kind of deal.

But the whole "eating healthy is expensive" is a load of crap.
I'm a college student and am dirt poor. It's CHEAPER to eat healthy.
I just made a homemade soup with vegetable broth, spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes that costed me a grand total of $8 to make. And that will last me 2 weeks worth of lunch or a snap. Doesn't even break 50 calories per serving.
It's making both healthy and fiscally responsible decisions.
You can eat healthy without going broke.
But beans in bulk.
Buy meat in bulk (just bought a bag of chicken from walmart that has 10+ breasts in it for $6)
etc, etc.


It is cheaper to eat healthy... IF YOU CAN COOK!
if you do not cook... IT IS NOT CHEAPER TO EAT HEALTHY.
  17723229
September 12, 2012 9:17 PM
If your wife really wants to get out of debt, then make a budget and negotiate about what's important to you both. Find out where you spend your money and what you can cut out to accommodate her wishes of a debt free future and yours of a healthy present and future. If she feels like you are supporting her goals of debt free, maybe she will be more willing to support your goals of eating better. If you plan out your meals and are willing to try cheaper alternatives like more vegetarian meals with beans and other protein sources instead of meat, then you can usually be pretty frugal. BTW, quinoa is a complete protein source and can be used instead of meat and is cheaper generally than meat. But then you might not get to have quinoa and a meat source in the same meal. It's all about working with each other and planning. And it's possible to do both - become debt free and eat healthy - it just might take a bit longer to reach each goal.
September 12, 2012 9:23 PM
QUOTE:

Don't get me wrong, I get food before the debt collectors get their $$$$; but it's hard to convince my wife that who is the controller of our finances (yet I'm the grocery shopper and the cook). Her goal is to be debt free, my goal is to be disease free; they seem to be conflicting with each other. The way I see it, I either need to take over the finances (since I'm the one spending the money anyways) or I just need to accept the fact that instead of feeding my family of 4 a $15 meal of fish, quinoa, veggies, and salsa I'll have to suck it up and replace it with a $4 meal of $1 menu burgers...

Seriously, where are the priorities? Anyone else find themselves fighting to feed their family a nutritious meal because their significant other would rather pay off their debt like a good conservative republican? (Sorry to get political, but truly this is where this comes from, her parents were conservative republicans and my liberal democrat ways really piss her off).


Some problems can't be solved by the head-on approach. It sounds to me like that's what you're trying, because it looks perfectly sensible to you. And I'm not saying it isn't; but clearly, your wife disagrees. And, correct me if I'm wrong, but what you get and where you end up when you come at it head on ("Your debt reduction plan is getting in the way of my health, and the family's health!" "Your expensive healthy eating is going to bankrupt us!") is a nasty fight. I could be wrong, but you sound pretty upset, so I'm guessing this is nasty territory.

My spouse and I went through something similar; the head-on approach just led to fights. When I quit fighting and just went with it for a while, things finally started to change for the better.

What do you think might happen if you just quit fighting and went with it for a while? I know; you'd rather that SHE be the one to stop fighting and go with it for a while. Thing is, somebody has to stop fighting, or the fighting never stops, and the only option YOU control is... YOU. See what happens. Maybe she'll stop seeing you as the enemy, and have more sympathy for your position once she sees you as being on her side. Maybe the debts will get paid off and the budget will loosen up and you'll get to buy the food you prefer. I can vouch for the power of putting yourself on your spouse's side even though you disagree. Been married 22 years, and it's better than ever.

Maybe not. But if what you're doing isn't working, what do you have to lose?
  3811756
September 12, 2012 9:30 PM
Sounds like you have a marriage issue, not a food/budget issue. How would she feel if she read the comments you've posted about her?

My advice is counseling, STAT. Hope you work it out soon; being at odds is not fun or sustainable long-term.
September 12, 2012 9:33 PM
Saving on meats:
- you can get choice cuts the day they are supposed go 'off' on reduction - can get 10-30% off (then, freeze them, obviously)
- cheaper cuts are usually tougher, but can be softened with different cooking methods (slow roast, marinades, crockpot)
- fish = frozen - can get massive bags of tilapia cheaply
- chicken thighs are cheaper than breast, usually
- boned cheaper than boneless

Grains:
- bulk, dry (learn to soak etc)
- get a few loaves of bread when on sale; store in freezer (toast to warm individual slices)

Veg/fruit:
- frozen (not delicious, but edible; berries can go into smoothies)
- farmers' markets
- summer: grow your own, or participate in urban agriculture programs where you just tend your plot

Coffees/teas - sales + freezer, again

It means spending time and energy on all this, obviously, if you're going to use coupons. Or just keeping an eye out and taking advantage of sales as you see them.

Oh yeah, you can make your own yogurt, if you start with just a cup.
Edited by anemoneprose On September 12, 2012 9:44 PM
September 12, 2012 10:21 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:



All 4 of us in the family have dietary intolerances too so it's not like we are eating this way to be fiscally irresponsible; we are eating this way because this is the diet that our body does not manifest any cognitive or physical symptoms for!

My wife too would rather have random ground beef in a processed box mixture (containing gluten which I have issue with and no nutritional value) than a homemade meal (full of nutrition and not gluten!). She would rather spend her money on exotic trips around the world than healthy food so she and her kids can be healthy (oh and her husband can be alive too).

Seriously, if I had the choice of dying at 50 and being debt free while seeing the world but being fat and full of disease and dying at 80 and still paying my debt off and rarely leaving my house but being slender and disease free and have healthy children and grandchildren, I'd choose 80....


It doesn't take a psychologist or a genius to see the blame shifting going on here (although this doesn't apply to everyone whose mentioned a spouse with financial control of the food in this thread).

It's probably best to address your issues with your spouse. Yes, I know you are a team, and she's been assigned certain roles. Yes, I know she controls the finance. But these are excuses, not legitimate reasons. Discuss. Talk. You know the deal. Converse about your issues with your wife in a healthy and constructive way. Or offer to go out and buy the groceries this week and offer to cook all week. Get her in on the deal and make her think it's her idea. You are in control of your body and what you put into it, not your wife. You could offer to make everyone dinner, or make yourself a separate meal. You are simply being lazy by assigning the blame to her because you've designated her the duty of feeding you. Reclaim that aspect of your life back.

"Healthy is not expensive." Don't buy into a fake dichotomy that you either eat junk food, or eat expensive "health foods". Yes, food such as chia and quinoa that have been heavily marketed as super duper "health" foods are more expensive. But this is a marketing ploy. There are also carrots (which can be as little as $1 a kg and can be used as padding) oats (also extremely cheap), eggs, kale, potato and apples (natures perfect "on the go" snack). All the more "common" fruits and vegetables generally eaten are still good for you, despite the lack of marketing spin.

Learn maths, or teach your wife maths- whichever one thinks that your eating habits are actually financially valid. Yes, a hamburger for $1 may seem cheaper than a $3 bag of vegetables or oats but the oats and vegetables, when bought and added together last longer and can end up making cheaper meals. They also fill you up better- you eat a bag of chips as a "snack" and go back for more, it leaves you feeling addicted and gives you further food craving, perpetuating an avalanche of bad eating. You'd never do that with a bowl of lettuce- because the lettuce fills you up better and isn't addictive. Eating better foods also programs you to veer away from "comfort eating". You're eating for your body, not your emotions and the feelings that eating certain foods evoke, and so you ultimately end up eating less. Which means less money. Sure a $60 grocery shop (for two people) seems more than a $5 meal (fries, chips, burger) but at 3 meals a day $5 a meal (for two people) ends up being $210. Even assuming you only eat two meals a day (realistic if you consider the calories) that's still $140.
$60 can also buy you approximately 3 meals, and 2 healthy snacks (such as an apple or a carrot and hummus or yogurt) every day. So you're eating more frequently and getting more "bang for your buck" because you are getting more nutrients.

Starting on the path to healthy eating is the most expensive part- you need to buy sauces and herbs and spices to make your food tasty, which will only fuel your wife's fire and give her ammo on "see? eating my way is cheaper!". But after this first step is done eating healthy will end up being more financially sound. And anyone who says that is just letting their emotions cloud their logic. I have to admit there are times when I do a "fresh" shop and McDonald's starts to look alluring, but I know that this is just consumer dissonance and my brain being horribly addled by marketing. When I think about it I think about how you go to McDonald's to get a burger and end up with a meal, because you're "saving money" and then the whole premise of it being "cheap" falls apart.

You could sit down and do a proper food budget with your wife and realistically look at how much you *actually* spend on food a week eating fast food, including candy bars and sodas. You'll find that any thoughts about eating unhealthily being cheaper will fade. I look at fast food as an expensive luxury, even the cheap kind.

If a person can't put enough long-term planning and thinking in to see that buying groceries for a week is actually more financially sound than buying fast food and foods marketed as cheaper options, then how can they properly manage lateral thinking in other aspects of their life? There is a link between poor nutrition and bad diets and low socio-economic status. I think that sometimes people con themselves into thinking that they are "too poor to afford to eat healthy" when really it's the other way around- you're too unhealthy to be wealthy.


I agree with this post. There is a huge difference between paying an arm & a leg for something being marketed to you as a wonder product and paying a reasonable amount for something that has always been known to be healthy (normal fruits, vegies, nuts etc) and eating junk food all day because it's "cheap". Two are extremes and the middle should be where most people are aiming for, healthy, nutritious, but not ridiculous.
I think they just need to talk it out and BOTH compromise as much as possible.
  20076500
September 12, 2012 10:21 PM
In So Cal we have 99cent only stores.. I go there and head straight to the back. lettuce, tomatoes,onions,bell peppers, watermelon, frozen fruits for smoothies, i can fill my fridge for 20.00,
September 12, 2012 10:25 PM
Maybe show your wife how much obesity and health problems cost in the long run and she'll change the way she thinks. Down the road, if you feed your family crappy food and they become fat from it, they'll have all kinds of health problems. Diabetes, for one, is really expensive and leads to other problems like cardiovascular issues, eye issues, kidney issues... the list goes on. Think about how expensive medical bills could be in the future if any of your family members develops problems like that, and the $15 healthy meal pales in comparison. Just my 2 cents.
September 12, 2012 10:31 PM
honestly we have over here where you can go and get food vouchers for those are struggling finacially.. have you thought about that?? going and seeing the red cross or salvation army??? or have you also thought about growing your own vegies.... Does your wife work??? if not tell her to get a job to help in the fianances especially if your kids are at school age
  27590299
September 12, 2012 11:42 PM
If your wife's issue is really about being debt free than you would do well to take the advise to shop at farmer's market and check out the ethnic markets near you for good buys on produce. Sit down with your wife and go over the grocery list together to see if there are some less expensive healthy alternatives to the more costly items on your list. Red quinone is expensive as are many foods labeled "organic." Are there other healthy grains that can be substituted for red quinone? Be willing to compromise for the harmony of your marriage as well as for your health. If she sees you making concessions--choosing less expensive healthy foods, shopping at farmer's markets, growing a garden, making a list and sticking to it, visiting the coupon sites and using whatever coupons you can towards the purchase of healthy food--then maybe she will honor your efforts to respect her budgeting and will be willing to allocate more of the family resources towards eating healthy.

Keep in mind that your wife's resistance may have more to do with a reluctance to change her eating habits. Be gentle with her and make sure not to lecture her on any unhealthy dietary habit she may be clinging to. Meet her wherever she is along her journey and make every effort to make inexpensive healthy food choices and in return, she may be more amenable to spending money on good healthy food.
  26998954
September 13, 2012 6:29 AM
No one is reading the post. Why are all of you so lazy? I was saying that we do have the money to eat healthy and each and everyone of you low attention span people seem to think I'm trying to say that we can't eat healthy when in debt. Sure my topic says that, but no one is doing what is necessary: READ THE DETAILS!

I was just saying that my wife controls the money and wants to control the diet too. She wants to eat extreme budget and convenience (McDonald $1 menu and Tacobell) so that way we can pay off our debt. Me on the other hand, I want to eat healthy (home cooked meals using REAL food and not artificially created or sodium/sugar loaded processed crap) and I could care less about our debt. We're 30 years old, the debt collectors will waith 30+ years to get their money, as long as they are getting it. But if we push off our health, we won't have 30+ years to enjoy after we're debt free!

It's all about priority. But regardless, you all are pulling the whole "TL;DR" thing on me so rather just have this thread locked because you all are lazy and won't read. I learned my lesson - get to the point faster and Don't title things excuses. Thanks interwebs for trolling me and showing me your low attention spans.

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