Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

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Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby lizpoona » Wed Dec 15, 13:45 2010

This is meant to be a list anyone can add to if they have some good ideas. feel free!


I figured there are simple habits that can make you healthier, even if it's just a little bit and even if it isn't anything drastic like a full-on diet or a tough exercise regimen. It's for people like me who can't afford to buy all the organic foods but who doesn't want to resort to ramen and $1 cheeseburgers all the time. Just simple stuff everyone can do.


1. drink soda very sparingly. Even better, don't drink it at all.
2. Avoid corn syrup, aspartame, and do some research for lists like http://www.sweetpoison.com/food-additives-to-avoid.html, to see what other chemicals you can afford to not consume.
3. eat fruits and vegetables at least once a day, more if you can afford it
4. consume some kind of protein every day. If you're not vegetarian, that would obviously be meat. If you are vegetarian or vegan.. I can't help you there, but I'm sure you know what to eat. :P
5. Good meat is expensive, so see what vegetarian options are cheaper
6. drink lots of water
7. keep sweets to special occasions or as a once-in-a-while thing. Basically, just don't over do sweets
8. When trying to choosing between products, pick the thing with less ingredients, or with ingredients you can recognize.
9. Go on long walks. It lets you clear your head and think things out, which reduces stress, and it gets you moving.
10. Ride a bike if you have one, maybe once a week. It has the same purpose as taking a walk, but it's way more fun (IMO).
11. Find an outdoor pool in the summer or a cheap indoor pool in the winter to go and swim laps sometimes.
12. Don't forget to eat. This is something I do when I get super busy, and there are days when I go home at midnight and realize I've eaten a muffin and a bite of my friend's burrito.. and that's it. It's not good.
13. Try not to multitask too much when you're eating; if your brain is not paying attention to the fact that you're eating, it can cause you to overeat. That's why it's easy to eat and keep eating while you're watching tv or a movie.



so yes. that's all I've got. woo hoo being healthy!
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Re: Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby Aelwyn » Wed Dec 15, 15:47 2010

Brilliant idea spoon; I've got a terrible habit of eating next to nothing during the days I'm in uni & not realising 'til late in the evening as well... (Probably the cause of all my stomach troubles as well.)
But I've only got one wee tip to add at the moment:

14. Make up a big meal at the start of the week with loadsa veggies, something like lasagne or curry (well, that's what I usually do anyways) & store the rest in the fridge/freezer, depending on when you're going to eat the rest.

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Re: Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby newlydiscovered » Wed Dec 15, 16:07 2010

Similar to Aelwyn's addition, but I highly recommend soup! It's pretty cheap to buy a bunch of veggies, stock and maybe a little milk/sour cream/dairy substitute to make it smoother, easy to make and can be stored/frozen/reheated easily. Also if you're like me and you don't like legumes (but want to eat them because they're so good for you) you might find they're easier to eat when they're blended into other things. My housemate has a recipe for sweet potato + red lentil soup that is probably the simplest, cheapest, healthiest (tastiest!) meal you'll ever eat. I'll see if I can get it from her and post it.
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Re: Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby SakuraSong » Wed Dec 15, 16:54 2010

Similar to Aelwyn's addition, but I highly recommend soup! It's pretty cheap to buy a bunch of veggies, stock and maybe a little milk/sour cream/dairy substitute to make it smoother, easy to make and can be stored/frozen/reheated easily.


Can you post an example? I really want to get started with learning to cook, and that sounds really good.

I find that good habits are easiest to stick to when you've done it for quite a while, so don't get disparaged if it's not working for the first few months or so. It takes ages for long-standing habits to kick into effect.

Do your best to keep crap food out of your house, and pre-prepare bite sized snack foods (like sliced apples, baby carrots, etc) in your fridge for when you get hungry but don't want to gorge on a full sized meal. It's very easy to grab a bag of candy and munch on, but it's not very healthy. This way, you are forced to correct your snacking habits for the better. It's also easier for those who can't cook (me!), it's better to have something healthy than to stock up on ramen soup. Nuts, barley, oats and grains might not cut it though, so for those instances where you want something savory, soup and bread is always the best option.
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Re: Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby Enigma » Wed Dec 15, 17:13 2010

Frozen veggies - often way cheaper than fresh and equal in nutrition and usually just as good.

Go as simple as possible. - For example a box of packets of oatmeal are probably around 4-5 dollars. Cereal and milk costs even more. That much in steel cut oats at a bulk store will last you a year. And if you cook a bunch at the beginning of the week and put it in your fridge you can add some water and microwave just as fast. Add some brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins, or fruit if you find it plain. Throw some toast with that and it's a fast and crazy cheap breakfast.

Don't buy any sort of drinks. - Drink water, it's free(ish) and also healthier. Buy drinks as a treat.

Buy rice and beans. - Make them interesting. Throw some veggies and sauce in there. (I like chickpeas and sweet potato on brown rice with some fried onions and some rice vinegar.) But it's cheap, filling, and full of protein.

Watch for sales and coupons. - throwing out some money for 10 cans of pasta sauce may not seem like it makes sense but if they're half off it'll save money in the long run. (but! watch out for sales on brand name stuff that doesn't bring it down as low as the off brand stuff. They're sneaky like that. And don't buy a ton of something you don't usually eat thinking you'll start eating it. Or a ton of perishable things you don't have freezer space for.) I hear the coupons in the states are crazy so some of this may not apply.
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Re: Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby newlydiscovered » Wed Dec 15, 17:29 2010

My personal favourite is potato + leek (somewhat less healthy though). I also don't really measure so I'm guessing about amounts. This would probably make about 4-6 meals, depending on how hungry you are and if you have bread or something with it.

1 clove garlic
1/2 a brown onion
1 large leek (white part only)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
4 medium-large potatoes (I usually use bintje)
2 cups stock (I use chicken because I think it's more hearty, but you can use any. Preferably one that says 'natural ingredients' or 'reduced salt')
100ml ish (or to taste, depends how smooth you want it) milk/cream/sour cream/other substitute
pepper to taste

Optional: grated cheese, preferably parmesan if you can afford it.

Peel and cut potatoes into chunks and boil until soft. Drain and set aside.
Heat oil in a large pot on medium heat
Finely chop garlic, onion and leek and add to oil. Cook for 2-3 mins (if it starts to go brown, your heat is too high, take it off before it burns!)
Add stock and cooked potatoes. I usually kind of squash them a bit with the spatula before taking it off the heat and blending with a hand blender, then add the milk/whatever, pepper and cheese (optional) and blend some more. Then return in to the heat for a few mins to heath through.

If you're going to use a jug blender BE VERY EFFING CAREFUL with the hot liquid. I was at my bf's mother's place on the weekend and as she was blending her hot soup the air pressure must've built up and it sort of exploded and splashed her face. We had to spend 2 hours in an emergency room to get her seen (she's ok, but it looked very painful).

You can play with the recipe as much as you like. Swap the normal potatoes for sweet potato and butternut pumkpkin and add 2 tbsp lemon juice, a little cinnamon and paprika and swap the milk for coconut milk and you've got a spiced soup that's great in winter (maybe use a smaller leek too, but I like leek).
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Re: Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby kelsa » Wed Dec 15, 20:54 2010

-Even if you eat meat, good meat is not usually the cheapest source of protein. Look into lentils, chickpeas, hummus (make it yourself and save a few dollars), and combos that result in a good array of amino acids, like milk and potato.
-Be on the lookout for sales on vitamins, cold products, zinc tablets, and natural remedies, etc. I love zinc when I'm getting a cold, and for five dollars of devil's claw i can avoid a 25 dollar prescription for painkillers and muscle relaxants.
-Gym memberships always struck me a stupid...until I moved to the city where it's below zero routinely and walking the seven blocks to school is just asking to get stabbed. Check to see if your work or insurance will subsidize a fitness club membership and then USE IT. Also, the hot water, soap, and occasional free things at aforementioned gym can keep your costs at home down.
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Re: Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby Aum » Thu Dec 16, 0:40 2010

I've been really into quinoa lately because I have been finding tofu doesn't work for me anymore. If you're vegetarian or vegan, this will be your miracle grain. (I'm a meat eater, but I eat it sparingly and every couple of days.)

Quinoa is 16 percent protein by weight, and it is the only grain in the world to contain all of the essential amino acids that your body needs. It is high in iron and B vitamins, essential for any non-meat eater. You can use it as a breakfast porridge, or cook it as you would rice for adding to dishes. It is also gluten free by nature. I usually mix lots of different cooked veggies into it. The great thing about quinoa is that because it's easy to digest, it's also suitable for children, those who are really sick, and the elderly. I just love it! Something you can also do is put quinoa in water for half a day and it will sprout, thus upgrading its nutrition profile greatly. It is the fastest-sprouting grain in the world at 3-4 hours!

About 60% of your daily calories should come from grains, preferably whole grains; followed by veggies; followed by fruits; and the smallest amount should come from meat, or no meat at all. We are omnivorous by nature but we aren't meant to have huge meat meals every day. Mind you, this varies from person to person. I absolutely must have meat in my life because of my constitution... wish I could be a veg but it can't happen, at least while I'm a student.
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Re: Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby Meperidine » Thu Dec 16, 1:27 2010

^ I made a DELICIOUS quinoa vegetarian option for Thanksgiving. It had dried cranberries and toasted almonds and was basically hot cereal for dinner. Quinoa is also really good to add to things like veggie wraps and tupperware fare that would otherwise not give you a lot of energy. It's a fantastic breakfast cereal on its own (well, with fruit and spice and stuff, it's pretty bland) also.

For the protein-needers, hummus is fantastic and VERY easy and cheap to make.

Luna bars are how I, personally, deal with how I forget to eat sometimes. They are good metabolism-continuers, have a lot of vitamins, are cheap and don't have a lot of calories. Also keep fruit with you. My favourite whole veggie snack is green bell pepper (cheaper than other colors, but other colors are great), and switching from white to wheat bread is a lot cheaper now than it used to be too. If you don't like the texture, just toast it and it's the same--it makes better grilled cheeses and things too, I think.
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Re: Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby Neko » Thu Dec 16, 2:42 2010

Enigma wrote:Don't buy any sort of drinks. - Drink water, it's free(ish) and also healthier.

This. Except drink large amounts of it. Being properly hydrated and losing water weight makes you feel so fucking amazing.
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Re: Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby Mordak » Thu Dec 16, 4:46 2010

All i can recommend is bike bike bike as much as you can. Even as little as fifteen minutes of getting puffed is great for the heart, and mind.

If I'm feeling poor and cant be bothered cooking up a storm, i boil some brown rice and some 4 bean mix and frozen peas and corn and drizzle a bit of barbeque sauce over the top and wallah! yummy meal in however long it takes to boil rice. good source of carbs ,protein and some veggies, too.
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Re: Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby monk » Thu Dec 16, 11:23 2010

protein substitutes
lentils(mentioned)
beans
nuts
yogurt
soy
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Re: Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby Aum » Thu Dec 16, 12:33 2010

I found out yesterday that mung beans can remove poison and lead from the blood! So if you ever get food poisoning you know what to eat. :)
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Re: Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby kelsa » Thu Dec 16, 12:39 2010

Neko wrote:
Enigma wrote:Don't buy any sort of drinks. - Drink water, it's free(ish) and also healthier.

This. Except drink large amounts of it. Being properly hydrated and losing water weight makes you feel so fucking amazing.


I amend this to "Drink tap water you get from places you don't pay the waterbill"

adding in, if you do buy something to drink, make it for something: tea or coffee for caffeine, or actual fruit juice for fruit.
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Re: Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby Enigma » Thu Dec 16, 20:00 2010

Xinzang wrote:I've been really into quinoa lately because I have been finding tofu doesn't work for me anymore. If you're vegetarian or vegan, this will be your miracle grain. (I'm a meat eater, but I eat it sparingly and every couple of days.)

Quinoa is 16 percent protein by weight, and it is the only grain in the world to contain all of the essential amino acids that your body needs. It is high in iron and B vitamins, essential for any non-meat eater. You can use it as a breakfast porridge, or cook it as you would rice for adding to dishes. It is also gluten free by nature. I usually mix lots of different cooked veggies into it. The great thing about quinoa is that because it's easy to digest, it's also suitable for children, those who are really sick, and the elderly. I just love it! Something you can also do is put quinoa in water for half a day and it will sprout, thus upgrading its nutrition profile greatly. It is the fastest-sprouting grain in the world at 3-4 hours!

About 60% of your daily calories should come from grains, preferably whole grains; followed by veggies; followed by fruits; and the smallest amount should come from meat, or no meat at all. We are omnivorous by nature but we aren't meant to have huge meat meals every day. Mind you, this varies from person to person. I absolutely must have meat in my life because of my constitution... wish I could be a veg but it can't happen, at least while I'm a student.

Wow that's fascinating! I hadn't had quinoa before but my friend recently made me some and I loved it. Apparently that was my veggie body craving vitamins. I'll definitely start experimenting with it now knowing all that.
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Re: Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby Meperidine » Thu Dec 16, 20:09 2010

^ Aaaah vegetarians should take vitamins!!
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Re: Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby monkeypoop » Thu Dec 16, 23:15 2010

very curious about this quinoa, never heard of it until now but I think it might be something good to try. can you buy it in a regular grocery store? what section would it most likely be in? (like, by the pasta, or by the cereal, etc.?)

buying stuff in bulk can save a lot of money - it might seem like way more than you'll ever eat, but certain things like pasta will keep for a long time and there are so many different things you can do with it. the BJ's here let's people from my school shop there without a membership, we just have to show our school IDs at customer service. I'm not sure if this is a common thing, but it might be worth looking into. important to note, though, is that stuff isn't always a better deal if it's in bulk, so actually read and compare prices before you go crazy buying stuff.

you can make some meals stretch longer if you mix them with something like rice. for example, chili over rice is delicious, still tastes like chili, but lasts longer because you're filling yourself up with rice too. this is actually what came to mind when reading what was posted about quinoa, it seems like it could be used the same way.

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Re: Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby Enigma » Fri Dec 17, 10:03 2010

Meperidine wrote:^ Aaaah vegetarians should take vitamins!!

I do! But I know that I need to work hard to keep my iron and to a lesser extent my protein up. This looks like a good way to do that.
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Re: Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby DWH » Fri Dec 17, 22:49 2010

^^This. Also, since I have an iron deficiency in general (it was baaaaad the first time I had it checked) since I don't really eat a ton of meat anymore, I think I will start looking into quinoa. I can take iron supplements, but I'd rather not have to remember. Seriously, I'm terrible at remembering to take pills.
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Re: Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby Mathmo » Sat Dec 18, 6:04 2010

SLEEP! Get enough sleep. It's so important, and helps your body function in all sorts of ways (and I think there were some studies showing that if you sleep enough instead of too little, you stay at a healthier weight). Hard for students to do, often, but it really is important. Only you will be able to figure out how much sleep your body needs - I needed 8-9 hours a night for a long time (something like ages 15-20?) but now seem to only need 7-7.5. Also sleep will help you to not get sick ...

Try drinking water warm, if you don't like drinking lots of it cold. Sometimes I can't face cold water (especially in cold weather!) and I find it much easier to gulp down water at body temperature or above - mix half boiled water and half cold.

Be aware of your time and energy availability - mental energy as well as physical. If you're just starting a stressful new job / continually struggling with a really hard class, don't also pile lots of pressure on yourself to start a brand new shiny extra-healthy eating plan - just try improving something small instead (like drinking more water). Creating new habits is hard, and it's harder if all your thinking space and energy is being taken up by something else, so be realistic about what you can do right now and what might have to wait a little while.

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Re: Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby lizpoona » Sat Dec 18, 7:41 2010

Mathmo wrote:Be aware of your time and energy availability - mental energy as well as physical. If you're just starting a stressful new job / continually struggling with a really hard class, don't also pile lots of pressure on yourself to start a brand new shiny extra-healthy eating plan - just try improving something small instead (like drinking more water). Creating new habits is hard, and it's harder if all your thinking space and energy is being taken up by something else, so be realistic about what you can do right now and what might have to wait a little while.


That's a good point. This whole semester, all I did was avoid soda like a plague and supplement my horrible time management skills with juice drinks (the 100% juice kind, or the smoothie 100% juice kind) that I could take and drink in class, because a lot of times I'd get busy and end up with like 10 minutes to eat, and you can't eat that much in ten minutes.

But now that school's out, I've had time to clean out my kitchen to make it less of a hassle to cook, find better places to grocery shop besides Wal-mart (with all the cheap TV dinners and ice cream I could eat!), sleep more, and make a better effort to focus on my health.


I'm going to go looking for that Quinoa, it sounds awesome. Also, hummus is amazing. There have been days in my life where I've pigged out on pita bread and hummus; it's like the ice cream of pureed legumes.
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Re: Simple tips for being healthy on a budget

Postby metawidget » Sat Dec 18, 10:29 2010

Quinoa is awesome. On the grain front, brown rice is not bad either, and cheaper than quinoa (although you'll be looking for your protein elsewhere).

If you are vegetariean-but-not-vegan, eggs are good cheap protein, too.

Also, dried beans/lentils/etc. are waaay cheaper than canned ones. Some of them require a bit of soaking, but others (e.g. red lentils, split peas) can be thrown in your soup and eaten in an hour or so.
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