Meal planning with finances

Cheri B72
By Cheri B72 Latest Reply 2010-10-18 16:14:53 -0500
Started 2010-10-15 20:30:02 -0500

I'm having difficulty with meal planning. I live alone, no kids, one income, lots of bills to pay off. I work swing shift and there is not a refrigerator available for the department I work in so a lot of my lunches have to be very simple. My main problem is if I buy in bulk, there is way more than I can use before it goes bad or gets freezer burned. Or I have so much of one thing that I get bored with it and don't use it before it goes bad. On the flip side of that is I can't necessarily afford to go shopping weekly to buy smaller amounts of what I need or want. I notice I start eating crappier or not eating as the money runs out closer to payday. Does anyone have any suggestions?

7 replies

SkipT 2010-10-17 11:16:51 -0500 Report

Might I recommend an insulated lunch box for you lunch with an ice pack?
As for variety, they now make a lot of smaller canned vegetables. One of my guilty pleasures is actually going to McDonalds, getting a double burger (1.00) and a side salad (1.00) removing the bun, tearing up the burger over the salad, and presto a great lunch or dinner of 2 bucks.

catwalker 2010-10-16 20:09:22 -0500 Report

Hi Cheri since I do not take insulin but control my type 2 diabetes with diet so food is the major focus point of what I eat every day. I eat fruits with the lowest sugars and vegetables as well. Buy them on a weekly bases and if you live near someone who grows vegetables is even better because they fresh and high in minerals and vitamins. Me I grow alot of my vegetables which help keep the cost down on my foods. Get a dehyradator because it helps when you work at a place with no refrigator or microwave. Take a lunch box and put frozen water in it help keep your food cold plus you have water to drink as well. I also go to health food stores. You can get bottles of cherry, blackberry, pomagranted concentrates all natural and you can put a teaspoons into a bottle water and make a drink. Stay away from soda's even diet ones because not only will they cause your sugar levels to go up but also they will cause your bones to weeken. Buy beans the best fiber for a diabetic. You can buy bags of them and then cook them and put them in small freezer bags and this way you can pull one out one day and add them brown rice (1 cup) size. Always check your glyesmic index for the lowest sugar and find recipes to use them. For me for breaksfast sometimes I eat 1 or 2 boil eggs once or twice a week because eggs have no sugar in them. So check the foods. Cimminnen is great with rolled oats and it helps keep your sugar levels down. Eat more fruits and vegetables than meats (chicken, turkey, fish). Steak, ham, and pork eat once a month. This just a few things to think about and work them into your daily food.

goldie111 2010-10-16 16:40:44 -0500 Report

At my local stores, there are always a couple of shopping carts with damaged packaging on the outside that lowers the cost of some items that can be consumed. We can not live a quality life without the right amount of "right" food as diabetics. If you skip meals you risk not feeling well and just miss out on life as you can not be as productive and creative in your endeavors. It might even cost you more financially in the long run. Make your food "bill" a priority every month when budgeting and you then will find peace of mind and a healthier you because you did not skip on your meals.

GabbyPA 2010-10-16 12:38:53 -0500 Report

I totally get the end of the month/payday thing. We have that problem here too, unfortunately. I am working on finding a way to fix that.

But, for your other issue, find a friend. That is what I do with a friend of mine. We shop the buy one get one deals, go to the warehouse stores and even the market and then we go back and divide it up. We don't do it all the time, but it does help a lot.

RAYT721 2010-10-15 23:41:55 -0500 Report

A few things… first, welcome to our family/community! I sent a friend invite to you in the hopes that we can help each other with the planning of both food and finances. Trust me, I share the frustrations of both topics. I have two in my household and can relate to the same issue(s) but the key word is planning… both with budget and meals. When you add the need for healthier options it makes the planning harder and often more expensive but we CAN do it.

My first word of advice is not to skip meals… ever. I understand the budgeting but think of substituting in some areas but not when it comes to keeping your blood sugar levels consistent. Consider an insulated bag with either frozen blocks or using frozen water bottles to keep foods cold until your lunch/dinner times. Check out clearance sales, Ebay or even thrift shops for the one time purchase(s) of a bag or lunchbox. Once you have the tools you will be able to plan better.

Shopping in bulk, especially when wasting food, is not always economical. Toilet paper is one thing but unless you're on a crazy chicken diet you are going to want to (and probably need to) work within your budget and tastebuds with revolving lists and plans.

A few minutes spent looking through sale flyers, coupons and cookbooks/websites will be time well spent and while you won't have coupons for everything, there are less expensive grocery stores and techniques used by those in even worse financial and physical shape than you that can be learned, tweaked and applied. There are library books and websites that can help with thrifty shopping, menu planning, budgeting, etc. For stores, think about Aldi's or Save-A-Lot or whatever you have in your area. Wholesale clubs are not always the best options for consumers. A price journal can help you, over time, know what a real sale and real discount looks like.

Knowing more about your tastes (likes and dislikes) can help with a more customized plan so throwing out a list of inexpensive options to you may be a waste of both of our times which is why getting to know you would be more helpful than a generic meal plan that may work for some people (like me) but not for you. Is your food budget $100 a month, $200 a month, more or less???

I'm looking forward to knowing more about you so we can help each other make sense of this crazy life. We can share tips and tricks and recipes and friendship. When it comes to money matters, money matters!

KAREN O 2010-10-16 22:19:09 -0500 Report

I am the main shopper at our house (2 adults, 2 cats). I use a variety of places to buy groceries. You didnt mention where you live, because here in Montana the farmers Market stopped 2 weeks ago. That is a good source for high nutrition/low cost veg & fruits. Now I will use what I have saved in the freezer (no canning this year). I shop by store sales, and I visit a butcher for the best quality meat I can afford. At the Health Food/Co-op market I buy the bulk items such as oatmeal, barley other grains & beans at 1/4 the price of even Walmart! oatmeal is 55 cents a pound vs $2 or better for the Quaker Oats barrel of 42 oz.

and what the other said: a lunch box with frozen bottles of water or freezer pouches. And don't forget that a thermos is a good thing and cheap to buy!!

catwalker 2010-10-18 16:14:53 -0500 Report

Hi Karen I live in East Texas we still have weather to grow and sell vegetables still. Going to plant Burussell sprouts here soon and be able to pick them in December. Your Oatmeal that you buy make sure you buy the rolled oats. They contain alot of your minerals and vitamins than instant oatmeal (instant oatmeal is flatten and you lose alot of you minerals and vitamins. If you live out in the country you should get ya some chickens because they can be raised for the eggs and meat which saves money as well. I raise chickens and sell the eggs this way the money go goes right back into the feed. Plus I use the chicken manure for my garden.