When you think about $200 a month, that's just $50 a week or $2.30 per meal on average which isn't too shabby considering what people have to pay just for a coffee or muffin in a cafe. You may be able to tweak it some but it would mean some compromises.
Annie Ups the Ante
The best thing you can do is a very basic thing: Eat whole foods, move around a bit, and lift heavy things. You don't HAVE to be organic, crossfitting, macro counting, kefir making, squirrel hunting perfection. This is a good article that Mark wrote, and really hits home with me and may resonate with your situation as well: Don't Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good.
It sounds like you just need to eat more of the good things you're already eating. I am in the same boat, actually, and am finding that my budget cannot accommodate my bodies needs while my brain insists on grassfed pasture everything. Something, somewhere, has to give. Better to eat conventional whole foods than junk, so you're already on the right track.
Do you have a crockpot? If not, ask for one for any upcoming holiday/reason - maybe Easter? They are a cheapo's best friend. You can make large pots of cheap stuff like chili, stew or soups, and cook cheap tough cuts of meat until they are falling-apart tender. They require a bit of work earlier in the day, but then you walk in the door at the end of the day to the most amazing smells and an instant meal.
Then invest in some cheap storage containers to package up and freeze all the great leftovers for future instant meals.
Another idea is the egg muffin. Lots of recipes around. Basically little pre-made egg/meat/veggie combos cooked in a muffin cup for instant portable food.
You need a Trader Joe's...I'm sorry but I'm not shelling out 9 bucks for a little jar of butter or oil, it's just not affordable for me, the trail mix is a problem that I'd like to eliminate if I can find an alternative ( maybe just one inexpensive nut as opposed to the mix? ).
But don't let perfect be the enemy of good. Focus on elimnating processed foods, grains and crappy oils. Nothing wrong with eating some filler like rice and sweet potatoes. Or regular potatoes. Or normal meats.
Check out my blog. Hope to share lots of great recipes and ideas!
Eggs are awesome.
If you're including nuts as an energy source, some better and cheaper alternatives are fatty meats and safe starches (potatoes, sweet potatoes, kumara and carrots).
Organ meats are also incredibly nutritious, as well as bone (to use in bone broths).
I do something similar for breakfast, which this week for us was
Bacon + eggs + mushrooms + liver
Bacon + eggs + mushrooms + tomatoes + avocado
Bacon + eggs + mushrooms + fish (a mackerel from a tin)
eggs + leftover rice (fried) + leftover chicken
Bacon + eggs + mushrooms + leftover potatoes + tomatoes
Bacon + eggs + mushrooms + avocado
Banana muffins: Bananas and eggs mashed together and cooked in muffin trays
It's not that hard to create enough variation on what is essentially the same meal every time if you plan for it a little.
Last edited by magicmerl; 03-21-2013 at 05:34 PM.
Disclaimer: I eat 'meat and vegetables' ala Primal, although I don't agree with the carb curve. I like Perfect Health Diet and WAPF Lactofermentation a lot.
Griff's cholesterol primer
5,000 Cal Fat <> 5,000 Cal Carbs
Winterbike: What I eat every day is what other people eat to treat themselves.
TQP: I find for me that nutrition is much more important than what I do in the gym.
bloodorchid is always right
Potatoes, rice (if you're willing to make that concession), cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, eggs...these are staples in our house.
Garbage Stir Fry. Try it, you'll like it.
Buy the best you can afford. Don't worry about grassfed and all that. Shop the sales. Buy whatever meat and veggies are on special that week, and plan your menus around it, even if it means eating the same thing for a few days in a row. Make a family size meal and refrigerate/freeze meal sized portions for yourself. My kids eat adult portions now, so I'm now doubling recipes and hubby can make 2 or 3 lunches out of the leftovers. YES you can eat the same thing every day. You were doing it before with the grapenuts and toast.
Buy whole heads of lettuce, not those bagged salads.
You're doing great!
Read when you're curious, but first and foremost listen to your own body. If it feels good, do it. If not, don't.
As for cost, there are definitely less expensive ways to do it, but frankly you'll see the savings from eating less once you fully lose the desire to snack or overeat. If you're OK with dairy, butter is a lot cheaper than coconut oil. Olive oil is my favorite staple. And eggs... you can't go wrong with tons of eggs.
It's a long journey. Do what you can, buy what you can afford, the rest will fall into place.
I try to find when the local grocery stores in my area mark things down. The Kroger's in my area marks down all their rotisserie chicken to 1/2 price between 7 and 8pm, so I can get a whole chicken for $3.50 and they seem to mark most of their produce down on Tuesday. This can save you a lot of money especially if you have a decent sized freezer. It's easy to blanch the vegetables and throw them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.