Author Topic: Grocery problems  (Read 7313 times)

Treb3

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Grocery problems
« on: August 24, 2017, 05:52:25 PM »
Hi, I've always been pretty decent at managing money but am starting to save much more aggressively for FI and other big goals. However, I'm having a really hard time with food. I'm about 30 pounds overweight and exercise regularly--but I eat too much and too much of the wrong foods even though I strictly limit my sugar intake. I have a stressful job, buy too many prepared foods (although I rarely eat out), and eat too much of it. I have already cut my grocery budget much lower than it used to be, but I'm struggling to stay lower now. It's now at $325/month (I'm a single female) and I'm struggling to stay below that or even reach it. I end up borrowing from other budget categories at the end of the month as a buffer so I can eat tasty foods. This is the only category I don't seem to have enough self-control in. Any thoughts? I'd love any wisdom that would help me make myself do the right thing for both my physical and financial health.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2017, 06:19:05 PM »
Do you live in an area where there are plentiful grocery options? High cost of living so the food staples are expensive? Because that amount is insane for one person... I make delicious food for two adults on ~$250 and I actually could tighten up on the budget and get that even cheaper if I really wanted to.

I shop at Aldi for roughly 90% of my groceries, and do price comparisons for the remainder of my needs. I have a half dozen different groceries in the area, and I make lists and check sales. This means I might go out to the stores twice a week instead of once, but it is a pretty big cost savings and I follow my lists so I am in and out quickly.

Learn to batch cook. There are a number of sites out there about cooking in bulk, creating lunches/dinners for the week in one go. If you're feeling deprived because your own cooking isn't "tasty" enough, that's not the food's fault - learn to cook and use spices and herbs and add flavor to your food so you would rather have your cooking than a box of sodium, fat-filled packaged garbage.

You need to learn some basic, tasty and nutritious recipes, and make them enough so they become easy, and have ingredients always at hand so you aren't tempted to go out. You should also stop buying all the prepared/boxed junk so you will not have it in the house since you end up eating it if it's there.

Check out budgetbytes.com for some easy & delicious food.

As far as eating too much/weight loss... the biggest issues are going to be portion sizing and eating too much prepared stuff and not enough whole foods.

You can't control what you don't measure, so get a digital scale, measure your food. Read labels and understand exactly what and how much you're eating of each macronutrients. Tracking apps like FatSecret or MyFitnessPal to figure out how much you should be eating. Calories are very important, but you may do well by reducing simple carbs or watching your fat intake in addition to watching the actual calories. But one of the biggest slip-ups we all make is portion sizing, so get that under control, you will be able to accurately track the macros, and you should lose weight.

The prepared food stuff is almost always junk. They fill it with fat, carbs and sodium. Even the "low fat" stuff is garbage because they throw in more sodium to make up for the loss of flavor. Fat makes things taste good. Removing fat from your diet completely is going to drive you to eat higher simple carbs and sodium to make up for the loss of flavor. Eating whole foods WITH healthy fats means you get full easier with less food needed and you stay full longer. You need less simple carbs, less sodium, less garbage when you eat real food.

« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 06:37:57 PM by Frankies Girl »

Tass

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2017, 06:43:11 PM »
I live religiously by this cookbook: https://cookbooks.leannebrown.com/good-and-cheap.pdf
I don't recommend the tofu hot pot, but I've been pleased with everything else.

It sounds like your struggle is with pre-prepared food - is it the convenience that's attractive? Planning ahead for good snacks made a big difference for me, especially at work. Carrots, fruit, big containers of peanuts, plain yogurt with mix-ins, maybe bulk cheese - helps me kick out crap like granola bars, and to avoid an "I'm starving, what's fastest" approach to mealtime. Otherwise I'd recommend learning a couple really easy recipes to rely on while you're stretching the cooking muscle.

I don't manage to price-compare my shopping because there's only one nearby grocery store (the price of living close to work), and my grocery budget is still about $150. $5/day; that's more than the above cookbook tries to provide for and it's way, way more than many people on this forum manage. I'm still working on whittling it down. (The close grocery store doesn't even have dry beans! I guess buying in bulk merits a car trip.)

Anyway, there's pretty much already a guide on this! http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/29/killing-your-1000-grocery-bill/
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 06:53:46 PM by Tass »

Inaya

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2017, 07:08:01 PM »

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2017, 07:33:18 PM »
Honestly, I think you need to work on your psychology around food rather than your shopping strategy. I don't say this judgmentally- we all have our "areas"- but perhaps consider self work? Whether that's as counseling, or self help books, or whatever works for you. I'm guessing your mindset around food and the role it plays in your life is the biggest concern.

(I could be projecting though, please disregard if this doesn't fit for you! It's just, a lot of times people ask for resources, when that's not what you need- you know what you "should" do, the question is why you aren't following through, and more thrifty cookbooks won't help with that).

mm1970

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2017, 11:06:29 AM »
Hi, I've always been pretty decent at managing money but am starting to save much more aggressively for FI and other big goals. However, I'm having a really hard time with food. I'm about 30 pounds overweight and exercise regularly--but I eat too much and too much of the wrong foods even though I strictly limit my sugar intake. I have a stressful job, buy too many prepared foods (although I rarely eat out), and eat too much of it. I have already cut my grocery budget much lower than it used to be, but I'm struggling to stay lower now. It's now at $325/month (I'm a single female) and I'm struggling to stay below that or even reach it. I end up borrowing from other budget categories at the end of the month as a buffer so I can eat tasty foods. This is the only category I don't seem to have enough self-control in. Any thoughts? I'd love any wisdom that would help me make myself do the right thing for both my physical and financial health.
Are you trying to save money or lose weight?

Pick one.

In my experience (n=1), I cannot do both.  When I was focused on losing the baby weight (or any weight, really, before then), my ultimate focus was on WHAT I was eating and HOW MUCH I was eating.  I've done weight watchers, 21 day fix, counting calories, whatever.  It takes a lot of work and brain power to sit down, figure out what you should eat every day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks), and prep it.  And measure it.  And eat *only* that.

Trying to do that AND get everything cheap?  Hard.  The first time I lost weight (when I was 50 lb overweight), I did save money just because I was eating 1/3 less. I was younger then, early 30's.

The post-baby weight was harder.  I couldn't just eat a little less.  Didn't work.  Had to change what I ate.  Once I lost the weight, the next year I moved on to cutting the budget.  The year after that was a mix.  Even this year was a bit of a challenge.  I found myself keeping the budget down with carbs (pasta, beans, rice, bread), but that doesn't do my waistline any favors.  So I have shifted back to more veggies, which causes the grocery bill to go up.  The only way to keep the budget down is to relentlessly shop at several stores a week.  And to be honest?  Full time job, 2 kids, that's a bit much for me.

What works for you is REALLY going to depend on what you need to eat to lose and maintain weight.  Someone vegan or vegetarian is going to likely spend less than someone who is paleo, for example.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2017, 11:08:22 AM by mm1970 »

jo552006

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2017, 01:15:08 PM »
I'm overweight myself, to take my input as you will, but note that I've been steadily getting lighter, and healthier.

Somewhere in the MMM forum archives was a post.  It resonated with me, like few I've read.  If anybody knows the specific post, linking would be nice as my abridged version won't do it justice.  Basically the poster pointed out that most people on this forum look at everybody who fails to save money, and complains about being poor as silly (at best) because they missed this core principle of spend less than you earn.  Spend lots less than you earn to be rich, and maybe even retire early.  Simple right? (Shockingly simple math)

Why don't we look at food in the same way?  Take a real look at most people you know who are thin, they usually don't put more food into their bodies than they expend.  Also, they tend not to put absolute shit in as often.  They eat healthier, or exercise more than people who are not as thin.  Take an honest look at people you know who are grossly obese, and compare their habits.  Take a look at people who say diets don't work for them... do they think Special K cereal is a healthy choice compared to Frosted Flakes? (Both choices suck, almost equally and I read somewhere that special K was higher on the glycemic index.)

For me it is simply, long slow weight loss and trying to not be sedentary as much.  I have always been active, but now I avoid being sedentary for long times.  I RARELY watch tv shows that run for many seasons since I hate being hooked on stuff.  I eat crap sometimes and then I do well other times.  Over all I'm going down.  In general, I avoid not only convenience food/prepackaged food, but processed food in general. (White bread!!!)  Yes I still make sandwiches, but I'll make one with double meat rather then 2, etc.  I'm not looking to never go to McDonalds again (though I realize I'd be better for going cold turkey) because I want this life change to last.

With regards to shopping bills, I'm not super mustachian, but in general, I shop sales, but cheaper meats (less steak, more chicken thighs etc.) and shop at less expensive stores when I can.  For me that does mean going two towns away, but the savings is actually worth it.  Also, memorize prices.  $0.39 is good for banana here, anything above $.49 I won't touch.  Learn prices on chicken, steak, pork, and things to do with different cuts.  Just started making stir fries with chicken thighs instead of breasts, it's cheaper, and not dried out.  Truly will be doing more stir fry after learning that.


frugaliknowit

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2017, 01:20:24 PM »
I would START with:

1.  NO white flour (it's metabolically like sugar).
2.  No sugar (read all ingredients on everything you buy.  Obviously, if you need a dab of ketchup on your eggs, you will have to consume a wee bit...).
3.  Whole grains only (no white potatoes, phony cold ceral (eat oatmeal...it's super cheap)).
4.  NO cookies, cakes, muffins, sugar laden energy bars (think fruit, unsweetened yogurt with fruit, nuts, milk), pasta unless it's whole grain.  Within fruit, go easy on the sweeter fruits (only 1/2 banana, easy on the watermelon, mangoes, pineapple, papya and the like).
5.  NO soda pop of any kind (think water, tea, coffee), little to no alcohol.  Lacroix and the like are great for flavor.

Measure your waist and weigh yourself weekly.  Put it on a chart.

Be PATIENT and shrink slowly.

bestname

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2017, 01:27:19 PM »
It may sound very boring, but I basically eat the same few things everyday (except weekends and holidays). Its not as boring as you think it will be because 'occasions' seem to pop up weekly (someone's birthday or a party or someone in town to go out with). This has helped me to save $$ on grocery and to at least know how much I'm eating. I can't say I've really lost a lot of weight though...

The number of decisions that I no longer have to make is the best part of it. I know exactly what I need to buy at the grocery, I can prepare what I need ahead of time without having to figure out a new recipe. It's the best boring thing that I've ever done, I think.

Treb3

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2017, 04:10:10 PM »
Thank you all very much. Lots of great advice here--I will take it to heart. Bracken, you're right--I know WHAT to do if I'm honest with myself. And Jo, your story was encouraging to hear. It's getting past the food barrier. Again, I appreciate everyone's input!

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2017, 04:19:33 PM »
Thank you all very much. Lots of great advice here--I will take it to heart. Bracken, you're right--I know WHAT to do if I'm honest with myself. And Jo, your story was encouraging to hear. It's getting past the food barrier. Again, I appreciate everyone's input!

Good luck, Treb3.

The audiobook version of French Women Don't Get Fat helped me crave delicious, wholesome, not-necessarily-expensive foods, like fresh berries.

TrMama

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2017, 04:43:16 PM »
I lost some weight a couple years ago by using MyFitnessPal (aka calorie counting) and tracking every. single. thing. I put in my mouth. It was eye opening. I know it's cliche, but portion sizes really are way smaller than we think they should be.

Even though I wasn't trying to save money at the time, our grocery spending tanked. For years I'd been blaming the kids big appetites for our bloated grocery bill. Turns out it was actually me eating up all that money every month. When I started cutting my portion sizes in half, our bill shrank proportionally.

So, while I think you should only focus on losing weight, I don't think you'll find it hard to save money at the same time. Even if you just ate less of the same things you eat now, you'll save because you'll be able to go longer between trips to the store.

life_travel

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2017, 06:23:57 PM »
I'm naturally skinny so don't have to go through struggles with food but seen it with friends . I always wondered , do slim people stay slim because they like healthy foods or do they like healthy foods because they are slim ( some sort of genetic disposition ?).
My sister who is a psychologist briefly mentioned when she had an obese client obsessed with food . The main things was to change his thinking first and so he craves healthy foods and start despising bad ones . The rest is ( relatively) easy . As you can imagine it wasn't a quick process but I believe he was successful in the end.
Healthy doesn't always mean cheap though .
For example things I love are berries, natural unsweetened yogurt , natural muesli, dark chocolate ,milk , fruits of any kind , steak , salmon, Brussels sprouts and all other yummy veggies . Stuff honestly I can't stand - white bread, ice cream,  lollies, any sponge cakes, any sweet cereals , donuts, packaged chips and white chocolate . To me white chocolate doesn't even look like food , don't know why.
Not sure about US but here in Australia we have a lot prepackaged healthy options in supermarkets  , yeah they are more expensive but you don't have to cook from scratch  and they are still cheaper the take ou. Two nights ago I bought roasted whole chicken and a "salad kit" ( with lettuce, plus some crunchy bits plus dressing ) for $12. Surely with US prices , you'll have it cheaper . It was enough for husband and me for dinner plus lunch .
I don't want to sound smug , just wanted to offer perspective from a " skinny side".
BTW for YEARS I struggled with not being able to put weight on during my teenage years but now middle age fixed that :) So yeah , we have our own struggles !

Tass

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2017, 06:55:26 PM »
I don't want to sound smug , just wanted to offer perspective from a " skinny side".
BTW for YEARS I struggled with not being able to put weight on during my teenage years but now middle age fixed that :) So yeah , we have our own struggles !

One skinny person to another, you sound a *smidge* smug. ;) But you're definitely right that training your expectations/cravings toward healthier and simpler foods is a path to success.

life_travel

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2017, 07:06:12 PM »
I don't want to sound smug , just wanted to offer perspective from a " skinny side".
BTW for YEARS I struggled with not being able to put weight on during my teenage years but now middle age fixed that :) So yeah , we have our own struggles !

One skinny person to another, you sound a *smidge* smug. ;) But you're definitely right that training your expectations/cravings toward healthier and simpler foods is a path to success.
Wasn't my intention at all ( to be smug) , was trying to be helpful .

Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2017, 09:30:24 PM »
Honestly, I think you need to work on your psychology around food rather than your shopping strategy. I don't say this judgmentally- we all have our "areas"- but perhaps consider self work? Whether that's as counseling, or self help books, or whatever works for you. I'm guessing your mindset around food and the role it plays in your life is the biggest concern.

(I could be projecting though, please disregard if this doesn't fit for you! It's just, a lot of times people ask for resources, when that's not what you need- you know what you "should" do, the question is why you aren't following through, and more thrifty cookbooks won't help with that).

This.  Sounds from your post like an emotional issue rather than a food issue.  Check into stuff re: compulsive overeating.  It's often triggered by high stress - which you mention - and if it's a struggle for you (and don't worry, as the poster says, we all have our issues!), then I would recommend seeking some help about that and exploring that further. 

You can also try building your abstinence/discipline in other ways.  E.g., fast one meal per week, and build up to one day per week.  But I would check on references re eating. 

koshtra

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #16 on: August 25, 2017, 09:45:53 PM »
I'm not even trying to eat cheaply while I'm losing weight: losing weight takes all the will power I have. (I've lost a pound a week since mid May. So it's working. But it's not cheap.)

jo552006

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #17 on: August 25, 2017, 10:21:56 PM »
In agreement to an earlier poster.  Portion sizes are crazy small.  My wife once made me weight 100 calories of almonds... I could've cried.  My "200" calorie hand fulls were probably 600 calories...

I'll also agree that occasionally fasting has some pretty awesome psychological benefits.  It helps to stop letting food run you and reminds you that YOU are in control.  In my wife's case, she'd get super cranky if she missed a meal (literally to the point where we'd have large fights over my absentmindedly forgetting she needed to eat)  Once she fasted for a complete day (it took a couple tries) and realized it was no big deal, we literally stopped arguing about mealtimes.

Beach_Stache

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #18 on: August 26, 2017, 05:33:30 AM »
I have the same issue, I exercise but food is my bad spot.  I quickly shed maybe 30 pounds in 4-6 months doing the 4 hour body diet.  I found that it was actually very easy.  Eggs/Spinach/Beans in the morning, Beans/Chicken/Veggies for lunch (or a taco salad w/o the carbs) and maybe salad w/chicken and beans for dinner.  Lots of beans and protein, so you'll have to get used to it.  I have a huge sweet tooth though which is the problem, but you get 1 cheat day/week.  I wasn't even exercising much back then and I dropped a lot of weight fast, but then once I got comfortable that 1 cheat day/week turned into 2, then 3.  My breakfast/lunch area always pretty good and consistent but we have 3 boys so dinner is my dinner then whatever they didn't finish.  Then at night when they were down I just wanted to watch a show and have a snack.  That's my problem.  I'm back on the diet the last week and now I remember that it really is pretty easy.  I'm not hungry b/c I have a lot of protein and when the pounds come off it motivates you. 

I would also try and get a hobby that gets you out of the house and away from the food.  Maybe an exercise club, extra sport or something.  Having an extra activity, even if it's not sports related will take you away from that bad food, unless it's a social club where you are eating/drinking. 

Another trick that I do now is to brush and floss after I eat dinner.  That way if I want to snack I know I'm going to have to spend that extra 5 minutes doing that chore, and most of the time it's not worth it.

Create a shopping list and don't veer from it, don't go to the grocery store hungry either, and don't have snacks in the house b/c you'll eat them.  Those are some of the things that have helped me.  I've never been good at losing weight through my life, even though I've been very active, and when I switched to the 4 hour body diet it was actually very easy to do, very cheap and the pounds were shed fast.  Good luck!

Irateplatypus

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #19 on: August 26, 2017, 07:28:05 AM »
Shop the edges of the grocery store fruits, vegetables, proteins, bulk whole grains, dairy, and try to stay away from the interior which has all the prepared food. Cook real food at home. A bowl of turkey chili will be immensely more satisfying and cheaper than a granola bar or some chips.

Buying meat in bulk and freezing can also be cost effective since it's one of the most expensive things to buy.

Maybe try lifting since it increases your metabolic rate meaning you can eat more and makes you feel incredibly powerful in the best way possible :)

+1 to budget bytes

Also skinny taste is amazing but their recipes can be a bit more complicated.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #20 on: August 26, 2017, 09:00:20 AM »
+1 lifting. I took it up on a whim last year using library books and it was the HUGEST confidence boost. Got me all through my divorce. I belong to a local rec center which costs me only $220 for the year IIRC.

There are a lot of good ideas in this thread but they will not all be the right idea for you, so take it all with a grain of salt and let us know how it goes :).

Chesleygirl

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #21 on: August 26, 2017, 09:04:03 AM »
Are we allowed to post links to blogs here? If not, I'll just tell you that I read a number of blogs that have recipes for batch freezing meals. The food is very tasty. I made freezer burritos yesterday, that's my lunch for all of next week. The cost came to under $1.00 per serving. They are very good and I can read reviews of the recipes on the blog, before trying them out.

I tend toward gaining weight also because I work from home, sitting a lot during the day because I do transcription work. So I'm not able to burn off many calories. I take green tea capsules and chromium picolinate to help control my appetite, which I purchase at my local drugstore. I used to get an espresso ($2.00) from Starbuck's once in a while to help stave off food cravings and it worked for about 3 hours, (but it's not Mustachian to buy coffee from Starbuck's). Of course I can't give medical advice so you'd need to talk to a doctor about this, I'm just stating what I personally have done to help control my appetite. I have same problem with weight gain and food cravings.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #22 on: August 26, 2017, 09:07:23 AM »
Are we allowed to post links to blogs here? If not, I'll just tell you that I read a number of blogs that have recipes for batch freezing meals. The food is very tasty. I made freezer burritos yesterday, that's my lunch for all of next week. The cost came to under $1.00 per serving. They are very good and I can read reviews of the recipes on the blog, before trying them out.

My understanding: You can post links =) It's only an issue when it's *your* blog, or an affiliate link, and you're not clear about that. Or if it's your first post or a new topic and seems to be self-promotion. Information: fine. Self-promotion: less okay.

wenchsenior

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #23 on: August 26, 2017, 09:32:06 AM »
My two cents is coming from a perspective not of struggling with weight (though like most people, I have occasionally over the years tried to lose a few pounds and had to focus on diet).

You are conflating two separate issues: Saving money on food, and Eating healthy food/losing weight. You need to focus on only one area at a time and not confuse them.   The reason for this is that time, energy, and willpower are limited, and you need to prioritize so as not to become overwhelmed by too many changes at once.

Regarding saving money...There are many people on this board who have found ways to spend very little on groceries while eating healthfully.  I am not one of those people. Our monthly bills are comparable to yours, and it has caused me frustration. Eating cheaply without leaning heavily on nutrient-poor bulk carbs requires organization, meal planning, cooking, and price comparing/sale shopping.  After nearly 2 years of effort, our average has dropped a little as I've learned to comparison shop. But we found that we actively resent spending our extremely limited free time focused on activities such as bulk cooking and meal planning.  We have just accepted that our current status quo is as good as it is going to get until one of us has more time/mental energy to devote to food prep.  Other people on this board probably actively enjoy cooking and meal planning, and would find cutting costs much easier.

So you first need to figure out why and on what you are spending, and also figure out what your 'trip-up' points are and why. This will help you decide what is worth your energy  and time to prioritize and focus on.

Regarding healthy eating...Again, you will want to figure out what your problem areas are, and address them ONE AT A TIME so as to establish new habits.  I have experience with this having drastically changed my eating habits in my early 30s to address an endocrine disorder.  I was overwhelmed with the idea of having to give up my habitual eating patterns/foods, but I just focused on one thing at a time.  First I stopped eating empty calories that I didn't truly enjoy that much.  Then I focused on the most problematic meal (simple carb and sugar heavy breakfast) and changed it.  Then I focused on never eating a carb without protein or fat, etc, and so on until after a couple years I was eating in a whole new way. Those changes stuck permanently because I made them slowly.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #24 on: August 26, 2017, 09:43:56 AM »
My two cents is coming from a perspective not of struggling with weight (though like most people, I have occasionally over the years tried to lose a few pounds and had to focus on diet).

You are conflating two separate issues: Saving money on food, and Eating healthy food/losing weight. You need to focus on only one area at a time and not confuse them.   The reason for this is that time, energy, and willpower are limited, and you need to prioritize so as not to become overwhelmed by too many changes at once.

Regarding saving money...There are many people on this board who have found ways to spend very little on groceries while eating healthfully.  I am not one of those people. Our monthly bills are comparable to yours, and it has caused me frustration. Eating cheaply without leaning heavily on nutrient-poor bulk carbs requires organization, meal planning, cooking, and price comparing/sale shopping.  After nearly 2 years of effort, our average has dropped a little as I've learned to comparison shop. But we found that we actively resent spending our extremely limited free time focused on activities such as bulk cooking and meal planning.  We have just accepted that our current status quo is as good as it is going to get until one of us has more time/mental energy to devote to food prep.  Other people on this board probably actively enjoy cooking and meal planning, and would find cutting costs much easier.

So you first need to figure out why and on what you are spending, and also figure out what your 'trip-up' points are and why. This will help you decide what is worth your energy  and time to prioritize and focus on.

Regarding healthy eating...Again, you will want to figure out what your problem areas are, and address them ONE AT A TIME so as to establish new habits.  I have experience with this having drastically changed my eating habits in my early 30s to address an endocrine disorder.  I was overwhelmed with the idea of having to give up my habitual eating patterns/foods, but I just focused on one thing at a time.  First I stopped eating empty calories that I didn't truly enjoy that much.  Then I focused on the most problematic meal (simple carb and sugar heavy breakfast) and changed it.  Then I focused on never eating a carb without protein or fat, etc, and so on until after a couple years I was eating in a whole new way. Those changes stuck permanently because I made them slowly.

+1. We went crazy high grocery budget for several years. But you know what? DH went from ~30%+ body fat to ~10-15% and has stayed there (for 5 years now). And a lot of those good habits have stuck, we eat tons of veggies, don't snack much, and so on. It's only just within the past 2 years we've really started reducing the grocery budget, and it's still a major work in progress. Personally, I find we simply can't maintain our 'standard' of health and good nutrition below ~$550/month for the two of us. Anything below that and things start to slip- those filler carbs, like wenchsenior was talking about, that neither DH or I do well with.

Anyway, best of luck on stuff. And remember: "If you try to chase two rabbits, both will escape".

Chesleygirl

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #25 on: August 26, 2017, 09:45:59 AM »
Are we allowed to post links to blogs here? If not, I'll just tell you that I read a number of blogs that have recipes for batch freezing meals. The food is very tasty. I made freezer burritos yesterday, that's my lunch for all of next week. The cost came to under $1.00 per serving. They are very good and I can read reviews of the recipes on the blog, before trying them out.

My understanding: You can post links =) It's only an issue when it's *your* blog, or an affiliate link, and you're not clear about that. Or if it's your first post or a new topic and seems to be self-promotion. Information: fine. Self-promotion: less okay.

It is not my blog. It's called Budget Bytes. I just came across it recently. It has recipes and gives the cost breakdown for each one, which is helpful.

https://www.budgetbytes.com/

Cpa Cat

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #26 on: August 26, 2017, 10:10:06 AM »
For example things I love are....

I don't want to sound smug , just wanted to offer perspective from a " skinny side".

The things I love are candy. I crave candy every single day. The longer I go without it, the more I crave it. The more berries and apples I eat, the more candy I crave. When I'm sad or stressed out, I can knock back an entire bag of candy in like 30 seconds. I'm like Cookie Monster but with gummy bears. Or Starbursts. Or in Canada, wine gums. Goddamn... wine gums. I don't even have to be depressed to knock back a whole bag of wine gums. They just have to be in a 30 yard radius of me.

I Zumba 4 days a week to keep my ass in line and try to be healthy in other areas of my life. After 30 years of trying to "cut back" or eliminate sugar, I just gave up the fight. There have been successes here and there with getting rid of juice or soda or donuts, but overall, I lost the war.

I would START with:

1.  NO white flour (it's metabolically like sugar).
2.  No sugar (read all ingredients on everything you buy.  Obviously, if you need a dab of ketchup on your eggs, you will have to consume a wee bit...).
3.  Whole grains only (no white potatoes, phony cold ceral (eat oatmeal...it's super cheap)).
4.  NO cookies, cakes, muffins, sugar laden energy bars (think fruit, unsweetened yogurt with fruit, nuts, milk), pasta unless it's whole grain.  Within fruit, go easy on the sweeter fruits (only 1/2 banana, easy on the watermelon, mangoes, pineapple, papya and the like).
5.  NO soda pop of any kind (think water, tea, coffee), little to no alcohol.  Lacroix and the like are great for flavor.

Dear lord. If this is what you would START with, what would you finish with? #6 on this list would be: EAT AN ENTIRE POUND OF CANDY BECAUSE YOUR BRAIN IS EXPLODING WITH CRAVINGS.

All that and I'm not allowed to eat potatoes and sweet fruit because they're "bad" for me? For the record, I just rolled my eyes so far into the back of my head that they fell out, landed in a bag of candy, which I then ate.


In all seriousness to the OP - track what you're eating, measure out the serving size to put it in perspective, read the ingredients and note the hidden sources of calories/sugar/bad stuff. Then target the unhealthy items and try to find healthier replacements. Don't do everything at once. Pick the low hanging fruit first. Find substitutes and eliminations that work for you.

koshtra

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #27 on: August 26, 2017, 10:32:28 AM »
The book I've found most helpful is Stephan Guyenet's *The Hungry Brain*. He's an obesity researcher, specializing in brain chemistry and hormonal signalling: i.e. what kicks off the cravings and the food obsessions?

It's not a how-to book. But it comes under the Mustachian heading of "fixing things by understanding how the hell they work, and then coming up with your own solutions."

wenchsenior

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #28 on: August 26, 2017, 10:52:26 AM »
For example things I love are....

I don't want to sound smug , just wanted to offer perspective from a " skinny side".

The things I love are candy. I crave candy every single day. The longer I go without it, the more I crave it. The more berries and apples I eat, the more candy I crave. When I'm sad or stressed out, I can knock back an entire bag of candy in like 30 seconds. I'm like Cookie Monster but with gummy bears. Or Starbursts. Or in Canada, wine gums. Goddamn... wine gums. I don't even have to be depressed to knock back a whole bag of wine gums. They just have to be in a 30 yard radius of me.

I Zumba 4 days a week to keep my ass in line and try to be healthy in other areas of my life. After 30 years of trying to "cut back" or eliminate sugar, I just gave up the fight. There have been successes here and there with getting rid of juice or soda or donuts, but overall, I lost the war.

I would START with:

1.  NO white flour (it's metabolically like sugar).
2.  No sugar (read all ingredients on everything you buy.  Obviously, if you need a dab of ketchup on your eggs, you will have to consume a wee bit...).
3.  Whole grains only (no white potatoes, phony cold ceral (eat oatmeal...it's super cheap)).
4.  NO cookies, cakes, muffins, sugar laden energy bars (think fruit, unsweetened yogurt with fruit, nuts, milk), pasta unless it's whole grain.  Within fruit, go easy on the sweeter fruits (only 1/2 banana, easy on the watermelon, mangoes, pineapple, papya and the like).
5.  NO soda pop of any kind (think water, tea, coffee), little to no alcohol.  Lacroix and the like are great for flavor.

Dear lord. If this is what you would START with, what would you finish with? #6 on this list would be: EAT AN ENTIRE POUND OF CANDY BECAUSE YOUR BRAIN IS EXPLODING WITH CRAVINGS.



Ok. This made me LOL. ...I agree that as given, that list is a recipe for cravings and failure.  However, all you would need to do is replace the "NO"s with "Dramatically reduce" etc and all of a sudden that list is perfectly feasible.

Before I actually did the things on the "Dramatically reduce" list, I used to react to the idea just like Cpa Cat, because OMG what would be the point of eating if you had to think so hard about it and give up EVERYTHING YOU LOVE?  I really thought it was impossible (I was also mostly surrounded by other people with poor eating habits, which influenced my impression that it was impossible).

And yet, even though I used to eat like absolute crap in high school and my first couple years of college (candy bars for lunch, bread, cereal, popcorn, bagels, pizza, boxed mac n cheese, pasta, etc as staple foods; never turned down a brownie/cookie/DQ blizzard mmm...heath bar blizzard!)  I was still  able to adopt the (modified) list and make it stick for  going on 20 years.  It turned out to be not that difficult after all, as long as I tackled one area at a time. And I don't miss eating the way I used to at all now.  When I crave a cookie, or fresh baked bread, or ice cream, or whatever, I have an occasional single serving.  But after so many years of eating this way, I only actually want such food maybe once every week or two.

So while it is possible the OP might end up feeling like Cpa Cat, it is also definitely possible for many people to change eating habits permanently even if you think it's impossible going in. OP should give it the old college try, IMO.  And if OP feels like Cpa Cat after giving a couple years of attention to creating permanent new eating habits, then Cpa Cat's  advice is also better than doing nothing. Edited because that sounded condescending and I didn't mean it to. Cpa Cat's advice is good. Full stop.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2017, 10:54:57 AM by wenchsenior »

wenchsenior

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #29 on: August 26, 2017, 11:13:34 AM »
I always wondered , do slim people stay slim because they like healthy foods or do they like healthy foods because they are slim ( some sort of genetic disposition ?).

My sister who is a psychologist briefly mentioned when she had an obese client obsessed with food . The main things was to change his thinking first and so he craves healthy foods and start despising bad ones . The rest is ( relatively) easy . As you can imagine it wasn't a quick process but I believe he was successful in the end.
Healthy doesn't always mean cheap though .
For example things I love are berries, natural unsweetened yogurt , natural muesli, dark chocolate ,milk , fruits of any kind , steak , salmon, Brussels sprouts and all other yummy veggies .

I think both can be true.  Weight and appetite etc., are complicated and individual bodies function differently.  Early conditioning and repeated exposure/self-exposure to healthy unprocessed foods is very helpful to maintaining weight.  After all,  if you don't like the taste of veggies, etc., or don't know how to prepare them in a way you like, you don't have as much to switch to when you stop eating processed foods or whatever.  But just loving healthy foods is not a failsafe.

I know people who really struggle with weight simply because they just LOVE sweets, carbs, and/or meat; and actively dislike all produce.  Now, maybe it would be possible to retrain their palates and maybe it would not, but they absolutely think it's impossible and so continue eating the way they do.

On the other hand, I was exposed to mostly healthy foods from the time I was a kid; BUT, I also loved unhealthy foods (which I had less exposure to). So once I was out 'on my own' and could choose what to eat, I gravitated to unhealthier choices more often than not.  Later, I trained my palate to actively dislike some things I used to like (candy, soda, etc). Cpa Cat mentioned loving gummy candies, and I specifically remember that was one thing I used to love and actively crave if I tried to restrict sugar.  But eventually, I trained myself to be totally indifferent to the taste of them, and to dislike the idea of eating them.

I'm not sure what's going on with overweight friends/family.  I think it's very individual.  Some have broad palates and I think the weight is just an accumulation of small, less-optimal choices over time.  For some, they seem to have 'downfalls' that they just can't stay away from (cheese/cream and bread seem to be particular problems). For some,  it's serving size problems. 

A lot of overweight people that I know eat incredibly fast...one guy I know gets noticeably agitated waiting for food to arrive, inhales it in like 2 minutes, and immediately goes for seconds. As a result, he overeats (and also I suspect, might not be getting full enjoyment from what he's eating, though it's hard to tell from an outside perspective).

I also used to have the 'eating too fast' problem and still do on occasions when my blood sugar falls too low. That can be a challenge because it means my body can't register that I'm full in time to signal me to stop eating. 

Bottom line is I suspect there are many details pertinent to each individual's ability to self regulate when it comes to eating.

kissthesky

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #30 on: August 26, 2017, 11:27:58 AM »
+1 to everything frugaliknowit and bestname posted

I feel for you and can relate to struggling with your weight. For me it's been... a journey. My best recommendations for getting healthy, losing weight, and saving money on food, accumulated over 8 very frustrating years:

1) Nutrition is more important than exercise
Exercise is important for many reasons, but nutrition is more important for health and losing weight

2) Insulin is extremely important, and perhaps the most important factor in preventing obesity & type 2 diabetes
Check out youtube videos from Dr. Jason Fung; changed my life

3) Everyone is different
I've tried lots of things (still a work in progress with my doctor and nutritionist, but I'm finally 90% there). What worked for me may not work for you. Keep trying until you find what works for your body. If you are not very knowledgeable about nutrition I suggest working with a nutritionist. Spending money on your health is worth it. This is hard for me too (especially being very MMM) but I actually think MMM would agree with that

4) Don't diet or try to decrease calories dramatically
If you really want to get healthy in the long term, dieting is not the answer. Don't decrease calories drastically and hope this will be a good long-term fix. Mentally you have to accept the situation and prepare for a marathon, not a sprint

5) Make one small change at a time
Making a lot of changes at one time will likely not result in long-term success. Make one small change every other week and build upon that. It takes more than a week to build good habits

6) Sugar is addictive
If I eat something with sugar in it (even something semi-sweet like fruit, or fake-sweet like stevia), I turn into a sugar monster. My body freaks out and craves sugar with no satiation point. I can gain 15 pounds in 2 weeks. My A1C levels go nuts. The only thing I have learned to prevent this is to avoid these foods.

7) It's hard and it sucks to avoid most foods
I have definitely been thorough (and am still in to a certain extent) denial and anger about how my body reacts to junk food. I love junk food. I used to be able to eat it and not have any health issues. But now I can't. And it really pisses me off. Anger, sadness, crying, all of it. Especially because about 90% of the food at stores, work, and restaurants is basically off limits for me now. I have resentment for my family, friends, and strangers who can eat whatever they want and not suffer from the health issues I have. But I am finally coming around to acceptance. Everyone has things they struggle with. This is one of mine. It's hard and it sucks. I have to bring my own food to bbqs, decline cake at weddings, and every day not eat my favorite foods. But i'm coming around, exiting the denial/anger stage, and realizing my health is worth it. I'm worth it. At least that is what I keep repeating to myself :)

8) What and when you eat is important
I learned that having balanced meals containing healthy carbs, proteins, and fats together can be better than eating things individually. Eating a banana spikes my glucose from 81 to 140. Eating a banana with an avocado only raises it to 90. My body is extremely sensitive to sugar and insulin. You have to find what works for you, but note that combinations of foods may be an area to explore. I had no idea this was a thing when I started my nutrition journey and it has been super interesting

9) Tell everyone around you
Everyone on my team at work knows I have health issues and am trying to make nutrition a priority. It's my birthday next week. My coworker (who I made cookies for when it was his bday per his request, and didn't eat any #win) asked if he could make me something or set up a team lunch. I thanked him and requested no junk food + suggested going to a place for lunch where I know there are healthy menu items I can actually eat. Planning ahead = winning! So tell those around you about your goals. Not only are you more likely to achieve them, but they can help support you in your journey. I have 8 accountabilibuddies and counting

10) Plan ahead
This will help with both grocery bills and your own sanity. I know what and when I'm eating the next day before I go to bed. It seemed daunting at first but it has been the best change. Nutrition becomes easy when I don't have to think about it as much (and when I don't find myself in a situation where I am hungry and unprepared). I cycle through the same simple meals in bulk (I hate cooking). I've learned that when eating is fun or exciting, that probably means i'm over-eating or eating crap. Healthy foods, even if they are slightly boring, is much better. Buying in bulk is cheaper. It also significantly decreases the time I spend thinking/worrying about food, which has been a huge deal

Anyhoo. I think those are the things I wish I could go back in time and tell myself 8 years ago. I'm a work in progress. I hope one or more of those things can help someone.



Cpa Cat

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #31 on: August 26, 2017, 11:54:47 AM »
And if OP feels like Cpa Cat after giving a couple years of attention to creating permanent new eating habits, then Cpa Cat's  advice is also better than doing nothing. Edited because that sounded condescending and I didn't mean it to. Cpa Cat's advice is good. Full stop.

I didn't mean to make it sound like I've never been successful. I've eliminated or replaced a lot of unhealthy things.

But when the advice is, "I'm slim and I just stopped eating bad stuff and then only craved good stuff - so easy!" I call Bullsh*!. I'm slim and I love candy. It never went away. Yes, maybe I also sometimes crave good stuff. But I also crave candy. A lot. A lot more than craving good stuff. Telling people their cravings will go away is just a way to make them fail. Because what are they supposed to do when their cravings don't go away? "Just eat an apple." Nope. BS. A lot of cravings do go away. A lot of bad stuff will turn out to be really hard to give up. So hard that you could spend a lot of time and effort and guilt failing at giving it up, or you could just move on to something else.

And when the advice is, "Start by eliminating THIS WHOLE LIST OF DIETARY STAPLES ALL AT ONCE" you set them up for failure. What are they supposed to replace all of those things with? Broccoli? While that may be healthy, it's not going to win any motivational challenges. "Don't worry though, once you stop eating pasta and sugar and potatoes and flour and dessert, you'll only ever crave kale." BS. I like kale a lot. I eat it a lot. You know what I crave? (I think by now you do....) Candy.

One thing that is constructive to actually lowering your grocery bill is to sit down with your receipt after you shop and highlight the items that you could live without. Then try not to buy them next time. It's easier not to eat things when they're not in the house.  When we first started, it was juice - I liked juice, but I didn't really need juice. I stopped buying it, and it was ok. My husband ate trail mix, but he figured he ate a lot of it mindlessly and decided to stop. Some stuff we tried to eliminate and it didn't really work. It wasn't the end of the world. Bit by bit we whittled it down.

Really look at the price of what you're buying. Price out a couple of meals and see how much you really spent on them. Were they worth it? Can you think of ways you might have made them cheaper? What were your most economical choices and least economical?
« Last Edit: August 26, 2017, 12:00:49 PM by Cpa Cat »

GreenSheep

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #32 on: August 27, 2017, 09:12:29 AM »
I think you can accomplish both goals at once. You don't have to eat pounds and pounds of organic produce or $9 green juices to be healthy. Sure, you should eat some fruits and vegetables, but that doesn't have to be 100% of your diet. You also don't have to spend hours in the kitchen every day unless you really want to. Healthy food can be simple and cheap.

Carbs are not bad. Refined carbs are bad. "Carbs" that are actually more fat than carbs (like donuts and pizza) are bad. But whole grains and beans are healthy, cheap foods. And I think potatoes have an undeserved bad reputation. Sweet potatoes, in particular, are very healthy. There's an Australian guy who calls himself "Spudfit" who ate nothing but potatoes for an entire year and lost a lot of weight and improved his cholesterol, etc. Of course he ate them without the sour cream, bacon bits, etc. that people like to add. Those toppings are what get us into trouble.

One resource that might help you is drmcdougall.com. He's kind of like Mr. Money Mustache in the sense that he has "extreme" ideas that are not really that extreme once you see where he's coming from, and he tells it like it is and doesn't think excuses are helpful. His information is also completely free, and there is even a forum. He also has very simple recipes that his wife has been refining for decades.

One thing that was useful to me was to figure out whether you're a "one toe in the water at time" person or a "cannonball" person. I have very slowly, very gradually changed my diet over the past few years, but I actually think the times when I changed one big thing all at once were easier for me, and if I were to go back to where I started and do it again, I'd just make one huge overnight chnage. It was easier to say "No cheese, ever again, for any reason" (barring genuine starvation, I suppose) than to allow myself to have a little bit once in a while. If I allow myself an occasional indulgence, then I'm always bargaining with myself about when that indulgence is allowed, how much is allowed, etc. And then there's the guilt afterward. But some people feel trapped by that "never again" declaration. So it helps to know yourself.

While you're figuring out what else to eat, or not eat, consider excluding oil. It's one less thing to spend money on, and it will save you a ton of hidden calories. (I don't think counting calories is the answer, but if you pay attention to the calorie density of foods in general, you can have a huge positive effect by doing your best to lean toward less dense foods, just like aiming for better "bang for your buck" items when spending money without scrutinizing every penny spent.) Oil is extremely calorie-dense. It's easy to add several hundred calories a day just from oil without even realizing it. Cathy Fisher has some recipes for delicious salad dressings that are oil-free and easy to whip up in a blender. They store in the fridge for at least several days, or you can freeze them:

http://www.straightupfood.com/blog/2013/07/03/vinaigrette-salad-dressings/

If you have, like most people, a lot of recipes that start with sauteeing onions and/or garlic in oil, you can just skip the oil and use water or vegetable broth to avoid sticking.

Sorry to go on so long... this post combines two things I'm really interested in! I hope some of this is helpful.

Oh, one more thing! Your tastes really do change. Think about the first time you had black coffee or beer. Gross, right? If you stay away from unhealthy foods and keep offering yourself healthy foods, even if you have to just have a bite or two per meal like introducing new foods to a picky toddler, you really will start to like things you never thought you'd like. I still hate beets, so I think some things will just never change, but in general, I like things much less sweet and salty than I did before, and I love so many new and different foods that I never thought I'd be able to eat! Sometimes it's a texture thing, too, so try foods in different forms. If you hate beans, try hummus, for example. Try a new vegetable raw or cooked, etc.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2017, 09:17:01 AM by GreenSheep »

Raenia

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #33 on: August 27, 2017, 09:51:13 AM »
The thing that helped the most when I was trying to get my grocery bill under control was sitting down on Sunday (or whatever day you do your shopping) and writing up a meal plan for the whole week.  Then I write my grocery list for that and only that.  Buying in bulk is fine, but you have to account for it in your meal plan (e.g. I buy chicken breasts in bulk, then separate and freeze individually, so when my meal plan says chicken, I take one chicken breast out of the freezer.)  Include snacks in your plan if you know you'll need them, but try to transition from chips/candy/etc to carrots and hummus, an apple and some cheese, etc. 

And for heaven's sake, don't go shopping when you're hungry.  It's much easier to stick to the list and avoid buying the prepackaged crap when you're comfortably full and filled with willpower instead of cravings :)

Good luck!

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #34 on: August 27, 2017, 10:00:31 AM »
Oh, one more thing! Your tastes really do change. Think about the first time you had black coffee or beer. Gross, right? If you stay away from unhealthy foods and keep offering yourself healthy foods, even if you have to just have a bite or two per meal like introducing new foods to a picky toddler, you really will start to like things you never thought you'd like. I still hate beets, so I think some things will just never change, but in general, I like things much less sweet and salty than I did before, and I love so many new and different foods that I never thought I'd be able to eat! Sometimes it's a texture thing, too, so try foods in different forms. If you hate beans, try hummus, for example. Try a new vegetable raw or cooked, etc.

The degree to which tastes change amazes me. Most of my favorite foods, I wouldn't even LOOK at 10 years ago, they revolted me. Broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus, mustard, sour cream, black coffee, dark chocolate... I used to HATE all of them, and they're now some of my favorites. And some things I used to LOVE, like white chocolate or cake frosting, makes me shutter to even think about anymore. I don't know if this is normal to happen in your early/mid 20s, or if its just a result of pushing myself to try new things and get my blood sugar under control.

batemama

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #35 on: August 27, 2017, 12:54:26 PM »
I second the plug for budget bytes. It's one of the best sites out there for showing how to cook healthy (most of the time) on a budget. Since she tells you how much she spent in every ingredient, it also helps you realize if you're paying too much for food (granted food costs vary all over the country) and what ingredients are budget killers and how to substitute or stretch them. Most of her meals are freezable as well, so taking the leftovers that you won't eat that week and stashing them in the feeezer will decrease your grocery bill a ton and save you time later in the month, if you eat the leftovers later.

I also suggest keeping a list (actual or mental) as to how much things cost. Things go on "sale" all the time, but it doesn't necessarily mean that it's a good value. Tomatoes are normally 59 cents a can. If the are on sale for 50 cents a can, I still hold out because every other month they go down to 33 cents a can. Then I stock up for a couple of months. If something is out of this world priced, I buy as much as I can afford in my budget, eat before it spoils, and have room to store.

StarBright

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #36 on: August 27, 2017, 03:08:08 PM »
Have you looked at one of those "Dream Dinner" type places?

We have one near us that pre-preps the food for you. They offer a single serving plan, 15 single serving entrees for like 80 bucks  a month.

It seems something like might help with the overeating and the budget and be a nice midpoint between $350 a month and going straight to cooking batch lentils :)

I originally looked into it because on my night "off" we were spending more than I would have like on convenience/take out but I also needed a break from cooking for my family 7 nights a week.

I found that we spent a little bit less and if careful about the food we pick (our place offers full nutritional info) then we can also get pretty healthy meals. FWIW the sodium count is always higher than I'd like so I ask them to halve the salt when I place the order.

Might be something worth looking at. Google "meal prep" and then ask around if they do pre-prepped stuff.

kelvin

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #37 on: September 10, 2017, 09:14:21 AM »
Oh, one more thing! Your tastes really do change. Think about the first time you had black coffee or beer. Gross, right? If you stay away from unhealthy foods and keep offering yourself healthy foods, even if you have to just have a bite or two per meal like introducing new foods to a picky toddler, you really will start to like things you never thought you'd like. I still hate beets, so I think some things will just never change, but in general, I like things much less sweet and salty than I did before, and I love so many new and different foods that I never thought I'd be able to eat! Sometimes it's a texture thing, too, so try foods in different forms. If you hate beans, try hummus, for example. Try a new vegetable raw or cooked, etc.

The degree to which tastes change amazes me. Most of my favorite foods, I wouldn't even LOOK at 10 years ago, they revolted me. Broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus, mustard, sour cream, black coffee, dark chocolate... I used to HATE all of them, and they're now some of my favorites. And some things I used to LOVE, like white chocolate or cake frosting, makes me shutter to even think about anymore. I don't know if this is normal to happen in your early/mid 20s, or if its just a result of pushing myself to try new things and get my blood sugar under control.

A nurse once told me that as we get older, our hormones change, and our tastebuds too. Perfectly normal.

I have found that eating less junk slowly over time decreases my need for junk. I also enjoy having a cup of tea on hand at all times, and a bowl of soup at least once per day. I hate salads, so the soup helps me get my veggies and portion control.

horsepoor

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #38 on: September 10, 2017, 09:45:25 AM »
Another one chiming in to say, focus on changing eating habits first, and then once that's on auto-pilot, see if you can trim the grocery bill.

I also lost a lot of weight several years ago, and spent more on groceries during that time.  I've been able to whittle down the grocery bill since then, but like Bracken, it's still not as cheap as many Mustachians, even though we're in a LCOL area.

I don't think it's been mentioned yet, but my suggestion is to identify those times when you "lose willpower" and reach for the junk foods.  Make sure you have an alternate food available - so if you're at work in the afternoon and suddenly want a bag of chips, instead there is a container of cucumber slices or a packet of roasted seaweed and a cup of herbal tea.  Things like that can satisfy your desire to munch on something, but do little to no damage to your diet.  Nuts can be good, but it's easy to overeat them because they're calorie dense.  If you use them for this purpose, get raw, unsalted nuts and portion them out.  Veer away from fruits since they're mostly sugar, and when eaten alone can increase blood sugar and heighten cravings.


rdaneel0

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #39 on: September 10, 2017, 10:15:19 AM »
I'll focus on the grocery bill aspect. How do you feel about cooking? Do you hate it? Is part of why you are purchasing convenience food to limit time in the kitchen? Convenience foods are the true killer of grocery budgets, but I don't think you have to instantly change your entire diet to cut your budget, you just need to make the foods you realistically enjoy eating yourself (I'm worried about your spice cabinet...do you have one?).

Every Sunday I do a bulk meal prep:

I cook breakfast and lunch for the week for me and DH and prepackage each day in tupperware (so we can grab and go). This week we're having scrambled eggs and sausage for breakfast and meatloaf and butternut squash for lunch.

I also prep some stuff for dinner so meals come together really quickly. Dinner this week will be shrimp pasta with spinach, parmesan, and butter. So, today I'll shell all the shrimp, season them, and toss them in a tupperware. I'll also prep the spinach and grate the parmesan. Each night I just boil water, grab the add ins, and I have dinner in 20 minutes.

Even doing this weekly for two people only takes about 3 hours, and I could do even easier menus if I wanted. Little stuff like prepping things ahead of time, making your own salad dressing, and getting better at knife skills is what will drive down your grocery bill.

I also maintain a well-stocked freezer and pantry, which is key for not having to run to the store multiple times a week. I pick a few Sundays a year (maybe 4?) to do large batch cooking for storage. I think freezing could be a great option for you since you like quick meals. I freeze: homemade pizza dough, homemade chocolate chip cookie dough, homemade hot pockets, homemade dumplings, homemade sauces, homemade enchiladas, and way more stuff. I always have flour, yeast, tomato sauce, cheese, and fresh produce in the house.

Basically, with a well appointed kitchen you should be able to whip up a totally unaccounted for meal, on the fly, in about 15-20 minutes. Once you start doing that on the regular, the entire value system ascribed to "convenience" foods will fall apart for you. They're SUCH a bad deal, and they're really not all that convenient.

GuinnessPhish

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #40 on: September 10, 2017, 12:56:51 PM »
Some healthy, easy recipes you should definitely consider making, and then having as foods you should frequently if not always have available to eat.

This is super easy and delicous, and can be eaten cold as well.

Oatmeal bake:

Add 2.5 cups hot water to 3 1/3 cups oatmeal.

Add 3 diced apples (granny smith and gala are the two I've used so far), 3/4 cup raisins, 1/2 cup chopped nuts, 10 oz soy or almond milk, and 3 tablespoons cinammon.  Mix and pit in baking dish, 355 degrees, 40 minutes.

From: https://youtu.be/Lfhg5kRmb_k

This soup is super easy and delicous.

https://www.yummyhealthyeasy.com/healthy-tuscan-vegetable-soup-easy

Both of these items have become staples in my house.  I make them numerous times a week.




Mrs. S

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #41 on: September 10, 2017, 03:27:41 PM »
As an overweight person who had struggled with weight and has seen weights of 56kg and 86kg in last 10 years I would suggest meal prepping and cooking your food yourself.
The only reason we have been able to reduce our expenses in last year and I have managed to go 10kg lower is because of prepping and cooking my meals on the weekend.
I have found success with eating everything but stopping before I feel full. That lets my mind catch up with my stomach and I can always eat a bit more later if I am still hungry. I know I can make better choices every day but after 44+hours of work every week I want to come home and sleep or just be my lazy self.
It is important to be honest with yourself. I know I will not be working out 6 days a week insanity style to lose a shit ton of weight quickly. I have accepted slower results but a happier life.
We eat a lacto vegetarian diet and we have slowly started cooking everything from scratch. I am happy cooking and it also gives me something fun to do and not think about what to eat next or spend on stuff. Even though we live in a far cheaper country we used to spend offer double of what we do today on eating and a lot of food went waste.
I would recommend making overnight oatmeals they are very filling and with frozen fries and some protein powder they are delicious.
 Try replacing whole wheat flour for white whenever you are cooking.
Lentils/beans rock and I would recommend looking at Indian recipes for daal, chana masala, rajma, chole etc if you want some variety.
We have weaned ourselves off processed sugar. We eat and drink sweetened stuff but rarely crave it. My sweet cravings are mostly fruits.
Also roast a big batch of veggies with some Olive oil and seasoning. It great with a portion of rice, quinoa, as a filling for great sandwich etc.

The only way to set yourself for success is not just to prep and cook but to eat what you have already spent your money on first.

clarkfan1979

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #42 on: September 10, 2017, 06:55:29 PM »
My wife and I spend $610/month at the grocery store. However, this accounts for alcohol and toiletries (paper towlels, toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, etc..)

We probably spend $500 on food, $75 on alcohol and $35 on toiletries.


Laura33

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Re: Grocery problems
« Reply #43 on: September 11, 2017, 06:17:30 AM »
Let me second (third, fourth) the emotional aspect - most specifically, your stressful job.  There is this thing called decision fatigue: you say no to bad stuff over and over, and eventually you just cave, because you have exhausted your mental resources.  The thing is, this doesn't apply to just food -- it's your whole life.  So when you spend your days dealing with stressful things, and then you talk down your impulses to, say, play hooky or buy a toy (because you really don't *need* it), you don't even notice all those little things building up.  And then you're heading home and still need to make dinner and are hungry and tired, and you say fuck it and grab the easy stuff.

At least I do.  :-)

The problem is, food is a very, very easy thing to give in for.  It tastes good, and sugar/carbs give you a natural mini-high, and fats make you feel satiated.  And bad food "feels" like a treat, which is what you want after much stress.  And it's cheap!!  I mean, I know people who relieve stress by shopping - but a shirt is $40-50, and my little box of brownie mix only cost me $2.29 and gives me a whole week of joy!  Doesn't help that my family celebrated everything with food, so I have that emotional connection that food =treat.

The practical thing that has helped me most is MyFitnessPal/measuring everything (our concept of portions is massively out of whack), a focus on protein and "good" fats/minimizing refined carbs, and trying to eat my veggies first and finishing with whatever the "treat" part of my meal is.  But you also have to find some other way to "treat" yourself to break the habit of food as stress relief/the area you give in - whether that is taking a walk in the sunshine, flopping down with a good book, taking a bath, or whatever you find restoring.

Do that first - worry about grocery bill later.  When you are trying to develop new habits to manage stress, don't add more stress on before you even get going.  :-)  Good luck!  It's not easy, but it is worth the struggle.