Lean eating on a lean budget

11 Feb

OK. So it’s financially rough when you’re trying to shed some pounds.

But if there’s a will, you can find a way. You just have to be crazily creative and super hard core.

As I mentioned in the last post, I’m on a mission to lose about 140 pounds. That’s already hell in a handbasket as it gets, but affording it is a whole other issue. But right now, I’ve managed to drop 22 pounds even in the middle of a furlough period. No, I haven’t been starving myself.

I’m more than happy to divulge my little techniques πŸ™‚

Home is where the food should be

Just go to a grocery store and compare prices of fatty foods vs. nutritional, healthier ones. When you start comparing things piece by piece, you’ll find the nutritional stuff can cost way more, overall. If you want to try organic stuff, it can be outrageous sometimes.

But before you freak out at the prices, think long and hard about this: Just how much are you spending on drive-thru fare? This past weekend, I managed to pick up some Healthy Choice frozen dinners for about $2.50 each. Healthy Choice has significantly improved these days — and most of their offerings are low-fat, high-protein and high-fiber. Most also include some kind of meat dish/main course, a small vegetable side and a fruity dessert of some kind. It’s a seriously winning combination. So think about it? Even if you buy a fast-food meal comprised of all value menu items, would that cost you more than $2.50? Even if it doesn’t, just how much more is $2.50?

Right now, I’m avoiding eating out — anywhere. I save eating out for times when I’m on the go and absolutely have to have something or when I’m celebrating something extremely, extremely momentous. For the latter, sometimes my friends and I have had more fun with potluck dinners. Hey, there’s no risk of terrible service or idiots at the table next door driving you crazy!

Protein, protein, protein

I preach protein like it’s the sacred gospel to anyone who asks me how I’ve managed to keep rolling. One big answer is eating things that are low in fat and high in protein. Lean meats and soy milk are good examples. Vegetarian meat substitutes, like items from Morningstar Farms, are also a good way to roll. They have a product called “Chik Patties”, that’s awesome, and it tastes like the real thing. Really! I’m no longer a vegetarian, but I still love this stuff.

Here’s how protein saves BOTH your waistline and wallet. Basically, protein helps fill you up. Therefore, more of it helps keep your appetite in check. I tend to load up on low-fat/high-protein items before work to keep my paws off the junk machine. But if you’re eating more items that keep your appetite under control, guess what? You don’t eat as much! You save money on food in the long run!

Freshen up!

I have to give kudos to my wonderful friend Von on this one. Fresh fruits and vegetables are relatively dirt cheap, and — your mom was right — they’re good for you. I’ve also found that fruits are a great in-between snack that taste good and are guilt free. But here is where I’ve really stumbled in this area: If you’re single or the only one in your home who regularly consumes this, don’t buy large amounts of this stuff. Our local Wal-Mart was selling huge bags of apples for dirt. Apples, grapes and strawberries are my absolute favorite fruits, but I can only humanely consume so much. I wound up with a fridge full of disgusting, rotted apples.

***

One thing I have learned from both my weight loss successes and miserable failures is that diet alone will not work. You have to have exercise in the mix, too. Tune in tomorrow at the same Bat-Blog. I’ve managed to get this weight off without joining a gym.

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4 Responses to “Lean eating on a lean budget”

  1. Jacki Schklar February 12, 2010 at 5:20 pm #

    My approach to eating healthy and low budget is different. I say stay away from processed foods and do the whole grains and beans thing a lot. Healthy choice dinners nuked have little nutritional value and they do not fill me up. Here is what I have written on the subject:
    http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Grocery-Shop-Economically-and-Well

    • flatbrokegirl February 13, 2010 at 1:31 am #

      This looks really, really interesting πŸ™‚ I’ve already switched to wheat instead of white and the like already. I’ve noticed more whole grains — and I’m trying to be as ladylike as I can here — tend to get the bad stuff out at a better rate.

      Thanks!!

  2. Alexandra February 18, 2010 at 8:26 am #

    That`s a great post and some great advice.
    Organic foods can be extremely expensive, true. I know that maybe in the US there aren`t as many as here, but farmer`s markets are also a good idea for buying organic stuff for waaaaay less than at the supermarket.
    And I would say that preparing the meals yourself is better for the waistline and the budget than eating out. And you can have the same if not better taste than at a fancy restaurant.

    • flatbrokegirl February 19, 2010 at 12:50 am #

      Thanks!

      It depends on where you are in the U.S., as far as availability goes for organic foods. You generally have an abundance in larger cities, but they’re outright scarce here in West Virginia. We do have a lot of farmer’s markets in the summer, and I always liked them because they supported the locals who really needed the money! I had two grandparents who each planted gardens when I was younger, but they’re gone now.

      I’m also to the point where I can’t seem to digest fatty foods — especially ones from fast food restaurants — anymore. I’m starting to believe that’s a good thing! The fancier places tend to have better healthy selections, but I’d venture to guess most of their food is even worse on your waistline than what the fast food joints serve. I know I always feel like I’ve put on a hundred extra pounds every time I have Italian food! I have a lunch meeting tomorrow at a place where I’ve never eaten. I’m already going through the menu online!

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