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I went to the supermarket yesterday and spent $130 on groceries...although half that was for 5 pounds of king crablegs (my favorite food and it was on sale). The rest of the food will keep me from going out to lunch most of this week, so I guess I can justify the expense of the crab that way. And hopefully this'll keep my mother off my back, since last week she told me I needed to get hitched since I'm always eating out instead of cooking.

I can eat healthy at home for pretty cheap. Last night (and for lunch today)I had a meal that looks almost exactly like the pic in your post. All food costs are up, but I think eating healthier is still cheaper, unless you're buying pre-packaged foods that claim to be healthy instead of fresh fruits and vegetables. The exception, of course is the fast food dollar menu. It's tough to beat that crap with anything convenient, filling and healthy.

I also like the idea of the veggie stir fry. I think in some instances it pays to buy organic but in other situations it is just a waste. I forgot where I heard this recently but the person said, if you but an organic apple great, but why buy and organic orange or other fruit where the outer layer will not be eaten. Making smart choices like that may help your pockets out a bit.Some of those organic lables are tricky because if you read carefully you will see that only some of the ingredients are organic while others are no idfferent than what you would find in a non organic store.

Eating healthy definitely takes some preparation. I live in an expensive city but I live in the hood so I can shop in the nearby ethnic markets for mostly everything. Staples there are gourmet items in stores like Whole Foods but the prices are much less. Also, I am working on bringing my lunch everyday.

I see there have been some comments on whether or not to buy certain things organic. I read this article a few weeks ago on MSN and I found it interesting. It's about what to buy organic and what is okay to not buy organic. Here's the article:

http://green.msn.com/galleries/photos/photos.aspx?gid=164

Maybe this will help. I have thought about this since I read this article because I want to be frugal but I also want to avoid harsh chemicals in food. It's a tough call sometimes.

I also agree with veg cooking.....vegetarian cooking is often being frugal but it's also better for the environment as well. Thanks!

@$ out of $.15-Mama still wants her baby hitched. Mamas always do.
@Coco- come cook for me!
@PJD-I sometimes wonder if organic is just a marketing tool. We all know about the "merits" of bottled water.
@Chic not Cheap-Bodegas rule
@Katy-Thanks for the article. Great read!

You definitely don't need to over-spend on groceries in order to eat healthy. Cooking simply is less expensive, healthy, and very easy. Avoid processed foods and you get cheaper and healthier in one punch. Stay as much as possible to the outer edges of the grocery store. This will pass you through the produce isles, bakery and deli, meat and fish counters, and the dairy section. You can get almost everything you need that way, and you know you have avoided the majority of processed foods. And always always always meal plan. It will save you time and money at the grocery store.

Another thing to consider is optimizing your dollars when buying organic. Some fruits and veggies you will really benefit from buying organic, such as strawberries. Others, like broccoli, don't require much pesticide or herbicide in growing, so you can feel better about avoiding the organic versions. A good article about this can be found here: http://www.epicurious.com/bonappetit/features/organic. Or just Google "when to buy organic" for some other great articles.

I started trying my best to live by these rules about 6 months ago. I have cut my grocery bill by a good 15% - 20%, and limit myself to one dining out for entertainment and one convenience dining per week. By eating better and taking my lunch to work everyday I have saved money and lost 20 lbs!

Another thing to consider... CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) are a great way to support local farms and get great fresh fruits and veggies every week, for much less than Whole Foods prices. Check into a local CSA here: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/. And as we all know how wonderful Google is, you can Google Community Supported Agriculture as well and get some great resources. Those of you in the warm states can really get a great benefit from this. I am sadly living in the cold tundra that is Maine, our CSA season is only 20 weeks long :(

Yes, you can eat well and inexpensively! Red lentil soup, middle east style, is delicious and costs very little. With a little crusty bread and salad, it's a fantastic meal. You can grow lettuce and spinach from seed in some containers (I have some on my back porch right now).

I always try to by the family packs of meat since you get more bang for your buck. Then I normally separate the meat in Tupperware with marinades and seasoning. As long as you don’t have a hypertension issue this is pretty healthy and tasty. Freeze the meals until you’re ready to cook them. This way the food stays good. In true “Frugalista” form I opt for brown rice and frozen veggies to spruce up a meal. It’s filling and frugal. I also drink A LOT of green tea. Hot, iced, or sun tea is a treat. Just watch the sugar amount. It’s pretty cheap to steep teabags, so they go a long way. -NM

The cheap meal is breakfast. Today's lunch: half a loaf of leftover French bread made French toast with strawberries on the side. Any fruit will do. One evening a week we do eggs, grits and homemade biscuits. Sliced tomatoes make a nice side. For a nice dessert buy a jar of Nutella and spread it on thinly sliced crisp apples (Granny Smith). We are cutting back on soda and trading Crystal Light ($4.69) for Wally World's ($1.81) imitation. Love their grape flavor. I'm 5 again when I drink it. The suggestion about shopping the ethnic places is good. Skirt steak at the chains is $6.99-7.49 and $4.99 at the local Hispanic. It's all choice and the butcher at the Hispanic does a better job of cleaning and trimming.

You know, the more food you prepare yourself, the cheaper and more healthfully you will eat.

What I mean by that is that making a bean and rice dish yourself from a box isn't that healthy for you, but it's better than McD's. Take it another step further and make that bean and rice dish by yourself, and it's cheaper and more healthy for you.

Buy a whole chicken is the cheapest way to get chicken - never get skinless and boneless (bone in cooks with better flavor, and you can pull the meat off), because skinless and boneless is the most expensive chicken to get.

Buy smart, buy on sale, and a single person can eat on less than $50 a week, without sacrificing anything.

Personally, taking my lunch to work is my way of "sticking it to the man." I mean, the president wants us to save the economy by going out and spending money. Well, I'm saving my OWN economy by saving my money!!!

NDMAYO - you can marinade without so much salt, honest! As you do it, start looking at the ingredients, and see what you can use in your kitchen instead of buying marinade or salad dressing! Also, baking your meats with a little bit of stock or other liquid helps to keep them moist.

Sure, food prices are up, but I consider eating healthy preventative medicine. Less stuff clogging my arteries and spiking my blood sugar now means I'm less likely to spend my retirement years, and money, paying to hang out with doctors (like my parents). Once you make eating healthy a priority and taste the difference of fresh foods, it's hard to go back to eating junk all the time.

I think organic foods are important when eating thin-skinned and high water content fruits and veggies — potatoes, strawberries, carrots, apples, pears, celery etc. — because pesticides are just swimming around in most commercially produced foods. You may not taste them, but do you think a strawberry can be sprayed with a chemical and NOT absorb it? For me, that's just gross.

Plus, you save so much money when you're not eating out every day for lunch. I can make well portioned and fulfilling meals for three days from the 20 bucks I would have spent at an Applebee's. It really made me think about what I was putting in my body when I had a whole grocery store to choose food from as opposed to a limited menu.

The key is to get over the idea you can't make something you normally buy at the store. Hummus was an eye-opener for me, I made a huge batch for less money than I would spend on half that amount at the grocery.


Plus, you can get much more mileage out of the food you make. Soups are great for meals, as a side, as a hearty snack. I get bored sometimes with eating the same thing every day, so I make two soups (maybe a casserole, or another dish) and freeze half of each in various sized tupperware. That way, in three weeks when I'm thinking, "Chili sounds great right now," I can raid my freezer before I spend more at the store.

Then again, this is a quality of life issue for me. I don't own a TV, and that frees up my income to purchase some higher cost foods, like organic. It also means I'm outdoors more, and I read a lot (from the library, of course). Healthy eating, for me, begets a healthy lifestyle. Junk in, junk out. Good stuff in, and I have a much better day.

Regarding organic produce, the thickness of the peel should have little impact on a person's choice to buy. The pesticides used on crops don't really have noteworthy consequences for individual eaters -- it's the environment where the pesticides are used that is severely affected. Chemicals run off into nearby waterways and pollute bodies of water and the surrounding countryside. The true cost of non-organic produce is much greater than retail price. Either we buy organic now and stop steeping the environment in chemicals, or we put off the true cost of non-organic and pay it later, when the pollution reaches our doorsteps.

I used to be kind of stingy about spending money on fresh produce. However, a couple of months ago I decided that what was really driving up my food bill was my spin through the middle of the store to pick up the relatively few processed foods that we eat. So I decided to start buying lots of produce without worrying so much about the cost (I still comparison shop and pick out sale items of course), and then be stingy about the processed foods I buy. I've found that I'm spending about the same, maybe slightly less by "splurging" on the produce rather than the processed stuff. My kids are a bit irritated that they're getting a lot less cereal and mac n cheese. But that's OK, I think.
I totally second someone else's comment about lentil soup. We have a recipe for lentils and rice, cooked with cumin and topped with caramelized onions that is fantastic and costs about $2 to make for a family of 6.

I eat at home most all the time as I am a diva in the kitchen. Eating frugally used to mean eating healthfully, it's only very recently that has changed.

Once a week I slow cook a bag of small white beans ($1.19) into my own low-sugar baked beans. We eat this with eggs and toast in the morning instead of sausage or bacon. We also make the New York Times no knead bread recipe twice a week. Flour is so much cheaper than bread and the recipe doesn't take much time or skill and makes fantastic bread. Both healthier and cheaper.

Also once a week I make a pound dried bag of either lentils or split peas into soup which forms the backbone protein for eight meals. We also eat a lot of Indian curries: split peas and dal, which are another deadly cheap raw ingredient that fills in for meat and I love strongly seasoned foods so this makes my happy too. Meat is expensive and less healthy than the dried bean and pea alternatives. And with a $25 crock pot, beans and peas are really easy to add to your home menu.

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