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Izyish

Help and Advice about eating healthy with limitations

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Hey all,

 

I'm hoping to get some advice, and I'm sorry if there is another thread that covers this I may have missed. I am currently in the middle of a 31 hour shift at work, currently finishing it out from home. Currently I'm not financially in a position to keep a fridge stocked and pay bills at the same time and my place doesn't have things like clean water.

 

So I don't say this to garner sympathy or any such, I am looking for ideas on how to keep healthier foods and options around on a tight budget. I have tried planning my meals, simplifying the recipes i use so i can buy higher quantities of the same lower priced stuff. I am currently experimenting with one of those meal kit delivery services. I am currently rationing out bottled water until i can figure out the answer to the issue with my tap water but it's not a long term solution.

 

What ways have you found to keep going and make your new eating habits stick when under tough circumstances? What kind of tricks do you use to try and keep the costs down on these new habits?

 

Thank you all!

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What do you mean, you don't have a fridge and clean water? You have a home and you live in the USA, so it's got electricity and plumbing, right?

 

I've been stuck below the poverty line for years, here is what I'd suggest...

 

If you're concerned about your tap water, you can get a cheap charcoal filter (a Brita, for instance) that will clean your drinking water pretty effectively for months.  I'd recommend that over bottled water which is FAR more expensive.  One filter will set you back about $8 and cleans hundreds of gallons of water; a single gallon of bottled water costs $1. You do the math.

 

Having meal kits delivered is waaaaay more expensive than groceries.  Come on, that one's obvious.  Where do you think the meal kit companies make their profit? They're buying the same stuff you would buy, putting it in little packages and bringing it to you, all for a markup.  Plan your own meals and forget that craziness. 

 

Also, take advantage of local food banks and apply for food stamps, it's one of the few forms of federal aid that is available to healthy adults.

 

Here is what you should buy if you're short on funds (btw none of these require refrigeration):

Rice

Beans

Canned tomatoes

Eggs

Cabbage, carrots and onions

Peanut butter

Canned fish

Corn tortillas

Powdered milk

Olive oil

Butter

Salt, pepper, garlic

Lemons or limes (whichever's cheaper)

 

There you go.  All the macronutrients and most of the micros.  Veggies are a little tougher to obtain in big cities, but here's how I get more green:

 

Farmer's markets (bargain at end of day, choose non-trendy seasonal items, look for bins of discounted ugly produce)

Food bank

Freezer section at the grocery store

Grow a garden or mooch from someone who does

Learn to forage (I eat wild blackberries, nettles, and dandelions)

Dumpster dive (not legal in all areas though)

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So I do have a fridge, nothing substantial in it though lol. Brita pitchers cannot filter the contaminants in my water. And i know the per meal cost on a meal kit is way higher but it prevents me from over shopping when i plan out meals and it makes sure i get healthy meals which i wasn't before. I am trying it out for a week but i don't see this lasting anyway. I tend to not enjoy meals when i have to plan them out ahead of time so that's why i tried this and i tried just buying some basics and mixing up how i prepare them each time but i always ended up with a lot of waste that way.

 

I didn't realize farmers markets could be haggled with, I will need to get the Chicago schedule for them lol.

 

I don't really get all the macro and micro nutrient thing, I have gone the last 5 or 6 years on less than 1 meal a day and now I'm trying to get back to at least 2 a day. I know I am making mistakes here but Whatever i can learn will help! I will need to look into some of these resources. this looks like a really good start, thanks!

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Macros are pretty simple.  Every food has carbs, fats, proteins, or a combo of those. 

 

All oils are fats.  All vegetables, fruits, sugars and starches are carbs.   All animal products and nuts are a mix of fat and protein.  Legumes are a mix of protein and carb.  The nutrition facts label will say exactly what's in it.  Check out a site like "If It Fits Your Macros," find out how many macros you need, and measure your rice and beans accordingly.

 

Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals.  Vitamin A, B, C, etc; copper, iron, zinc, etc.  Normal eating will give you most of what you need, many staples like grain and milk are fortified too.  If you think you might be short on something, consult a doctor.

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On 9/23/2017 at 12:19 AM, Izyish said:

 I am currently in the middle of a 31 hour shift at work, currently finishing it out from home.

 

WTF. If you're working 31 hour shifts for someone they should be paying you enough that food budgets and water cleanliness aren't a concern for you.

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On 9/23/2017 at 8:37 PM, Raincloak said:

Macros are pretty simple.  Every food has carbs, fats, proteins, or a combo of those. 

 

All oils are fats.  All vegetables, fruits, sugars and starches are carbs.   All animal products and nuts are a mix of fat and protein.  Legumes are a mix of protein and carb.  The nutrition facts label will say exactly what's in it.  Check out a site like "If It Fits Your Macros," find out how many macros you need, and measure your rice and beans accordingly.

 

Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals.  Vitamin A, B, C, etc; copper, iron, zinc, etc.  Normal eating will give you most of what you need, many staples like grain and milk are fortified too.  If you think you might be short on something, consult a doctor.

Thanks, This actually makes it really clear! I think I may want to get a baseline of where i am at with the micro-nutrients but i think with some more attention to what i eat i can tackle the Macros myself which will be huge! Thank you!! 

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8 hours ago, calanthrophy said:

 

WTF. If you're working 31 hour shifts for someone they should be paying you enough that food budgets and water cleanliness aren't a concern for you.

Yea, the pay isn't bad, I'm just buried in student loans so I'm a bit stuck there lol. 

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Meal kit services = lots of extra money out the window. They're ideal for some people (lazy techies with more money than sense or motivation), but I don't think they're ideal for you. I understand the rationale behind not wanting to waste food, though.

 

The key to actually using your groceries is easy: resign yourself to the simple fact that eating cheap = cooking. Labor costs money you don't have: the labor to cook your food, the labor to package your food into a meal kit, the labor to cut your food (e.g. a chicken) into smaller pieces that scare you less to buy.

 

Choose a couple core recipes that you like and that you can cook easily, without thought. When I was (more) poor, those for me were pork chops, pasta with tomatoes, and pan-roasted chicken (you brown some chicken pieces in a pan, then throw the whole thing in an oven, nothing could be easier). If you have a dearth of equipment, ask smart people for help and they'll suggest clever recipes that require nothing more than a pan and a knife.

 

The key to managing your fridge is figuring out what you can preserve and what you can't. What you can preserve, you buy large quantities for cheap and store. What you can't preserve, buy cheap in small quantities and use it fast.

 

Preservable stuff: meat can be stored if you have a freezer. Buy it in bulk, preferably big cuts like a whole chicken or a whole pork loin (they are much cheaper). Learn to butcher a chicken off YouTube, cut the pork loin into pork chops, store them frozen in foil and ziplocs. Voilà, you have cheap meal bases. Buying meat in bulk can save a decent chunk of the food budget.

 

Non-preservable and cheap: greens, produce, eggs, milk, a few other things. Get them cheap in small quantities that you know you can eat fast enough not to waste. Buy them specifically for meals you know you'll cook in the next few days. Do not screw around and fail to use them. You are leaving not only money, but delicious flavors on the table.

 

Non-preservable and expensive: bacon, sausage, fancy cheese, etc. Screw this stuff. Get it as a treat you'll eat right away or don't get it at all -- it's not worth the trouble and expense of having it around.

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On 9/23/2017 at 3:34 PM, Izyish said:

Brita pitchers cannot filter the contaminants in my water.

What, specifically, is in your water - in CHICAGO - that Brita can't filter?  Be specific because, quite frankly, if that is the case someone is likely in violation of health codes. In any case, I can help you find an appropriate filter and you WILL save $$ in the long run. Oh - and almost every Walmart has an RO water system where you can buy it cheaper using your own bottles if you absolutely HAVE to buy water and because the cost of a proper filtration system is out of reach.  PITA? Yes.  But will save you tons over buying bottled.

As for food - you don't necessarily have to buy\cut up whole chicken.  Whole Rotisserie chickens are ALMOST always cheaper (or as cheap) and already cooked.  Why?  It's typically the whole chickens that didn't sell and need to be cooked or disposed of . Google for a gazillion recipes.  But your BASIC meal is likely going to be rice, beans and a protein.  Whether that's shredded rotisserie chicken, ground beef\turkey or eggs.  Also - if you have an Aldi's available - check there for cheap, basic things.

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On 9/26/2017 at 4:22 PM, calanthrophy said:

 

WTF. If you're working 31 hour shifts for someone they should be paying you enough that food budgets and water cleanliness aren't a concern for you.

Thanks for reaching out! My pay isn't bad I'm just buried under a mountain of student loans. I know for sure the water has heavy calcium deposits and lead in it. I am not sure what is making the water somewhat acidic. but that's a thing as well. Brita specifically doesn't handle lead in the water.  

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On 10/2/2017 at 1:03 PM, Athaclena said:

As for food - you don't necessarily have to buy\cut up whole chicken.  Whole Rotisserie chickens are ALMOST always cheaper (or as cheap) and already cooked.  Why?  It's typically the whole chickens that didn't sell and need to be cooked or disposed of .

 

True. I had never known how rotisserie chickens were so cheap, that makes sense.

 

I like to get mine raw because I like to part them up and save the carcasses for stock, and because I like bone-in breasts... and because when I roast a whole bird, I prefer to roast my own so the breasts don’t wind up overcooked. But that is a great tip. (And most people don’t care about homemade stock.)

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On 10/4/2017 at 10:33 PM, Izyish said:

Thanks for reaching out! My pay isn't bad I'm just buried under a mountain of student loans. I know for sure the water has heavy calcium deposits and lead in it. I am not sure what is making the water somewhat acidic. but that's a thing as well. Brita specifically doesn't handle lead in the water.  

No, Brita doesn't - but other filters do.  Here's a list of pitcher filters that do:

https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/water-filter-guide.php?filtertype=Pitcher&technology=All+filter+technologies&claim=Lead

 

Or if you want to search different types (faucet mount, under sink, etc)

https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/water-filter-guide.php

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2 hours ago, PaulG said:

 

True. I had never known how rotisserie chickens were so cheap, that makes sense.

 

I like to get mine raw because I like to part them up and save the carcasses for stock, and because I like bone-in breasts... and because when I roast a whole bird, I prefer to roast my own so the breasts don’t wind up overcooked. But that is a great tip. (And most people don’t care about homemade stock.)

I totally make stock from rotisserie chicken carcus :) I make that $5 chicken WORK baby!

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3 hours ago, Athaclena said:

I totally make stock from rotisserie chicken carcus  I make that $5 chicken WORK baby!

 

Haha, that works. I mostly make stock for its gelatin content (the emulsifying properties of gelatin from stock can make some amazing food).

 

I imagine in a rotisserie chicken a lot of the collagen has been converted to gelatin from the roasting, but... have you had success making gelatin-rich stocks from rotisserie chickens?

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25 minutes ago, PaulG said:

 

 have you had success making gelatin-rich stocks from rotisserie chickens?

Absolutely!  It's the boiling the bones for a long period of time (or in my case, pressure cooking for 2 hours) that gets all the goodness out of the bones. Especially if you add a little ACV (apple cider vinegar) to the water.   So get that inexpensive, pre-cooked chicken and enjoy!  

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On 10/6/2017 at 12:14 PM, Athaclena said:

No, Brita doesn't - but other filters do.  Here's a list of pitcher filters that do:

https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/water-filter-guide.php?filtertype=Pitcher&technology=All+filter+technologies&claim=Lead

 

Or if you want to search different types (faucet mount, under sink, etc)

https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/water-filter-guide.php

Thanks for pulling this together! I will hopefully be able to get one of these! 

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I never considered buying those chickens. But, it sounds like they might be a really good deal. Now to look up what to do with Chicken stock lol  all i know for that is making gravy and risotto. 

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On 10/8/2017 at 5:43 PM, Izyish said:

I never considered buying those chickens. But, it sounds like they might be a really good deal. Now to look up what to do with Chicken stock lol  all i know for that is making gravy and risotto. 

 

Gravy, rice, risotto, soup, roux, chili.  Probably a whole bunch of things I'm forgetting.  Oooo, maybe savory biscuits....

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Some people just drink it straight, too, though it isn't for everyone.  I slurp broth when I'm fighting off a cold.  I don't own a pressure cooker and my freezer's microscopic, so too lazy to make stock most of the time, but it's the backbone of real French and Mediterranean cooking.  Most good soups and sauces begin with stock.  (Stock is also big in Japanese cooking, but they use dashi, which is made of seaweed and dried fish flakes, so it only takes a few mins to make.)

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