Getting healthy, on a budget and tight schedule - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 06-05-2014, 01:03 PM
Join Date: Jun 2014
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Getting healthy, on a budget and tight schedule

Hi all! I'm looking for tips and tricks on eating healthier, mostly to loose weight (not even weight necessarily, just fat). I've already started exercising more, though I know I need to add some more protein to my diet to increase muscle mass.

I've been trying to switch to whole wheat alternatives and already introduced some new items in my diet that I never liked or experimented with before. I typically eat three meals a day and snack in between.

I find that my problems are mostly that my favorite food is pasta. And that I plan on eating healthy, until I get hungry, then I just crave pasta and things that aren't the best, nutritionally. I also recently started working full time and find that packaged foods and quick meals are the easiest to eat while I am in the office. (Especially since I don't have a ton of time to make and portion meals).

I didn't mean for this to get so long. I'm hoping you guys can help. It seems every time I start to research about how to eat healthy / loose weight, I always get results that have a lot of meat protein and not many healthy (yet tasty) quick recipes.
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#2 Old 06-05-2014, 03:08 PM
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I would suggest basing your meals around potatoes, or rice, or lentils, corn, any wholegrain. You can make a lot of simple meals with them, and as long as you don't add cheese or oil or butter-type-products. (Look up Jeff Novick and calorie density). Muscle is more about training than protein. That said, losing weight will impact your ability to simultaneously gain lots of muscle.

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#3 Old 06-05-2014, 05:06 PM
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I am going to follow this as well because I am wanting to get healthy and i am on a budget.
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#4 Old 06-06-2014, 03:30 AM
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I am actually working on gaining weight from an unhealthy low weight and have now finished college and am only working part time at the moment with loans to soon pay off, so I am needing to cut my grocery bill down myself for a while. I have been working on planning how to meet my needs on a budget. Here are some healthy but cheaper foods to work with:

dried beans: lentils, kidney beans, Great Northern, black beans, navy, limas, frozen peas, chickpeas etc

whole wheat flour and yeast to make my own bread (I often make two loaves at a time and freeze one for later use as it is so much cheaper than finding suitable bread for a vegan; bread requires very few ingredients to make yourself)

produce that is cheaper such as leafy greens (collards, lettuces, spinach, kale, mustard greens etc); celery, carrots, green peppers, green beans, mushrooms, cabbages, beets, avocado. Learning what is in season helps too as many fruits and vegetables are cheaper during their growing season. Farmers markets are generally cheaper also, and of course investing in growing your own garden is great too. I like to grow vegetables and fruits that are otherwise more expensive in the store, and I go through a ton of collards so I grow those myself too. And herbs such as oregano, parsley, basil, mint, and even stevia which I use as a sweetener crushed up in the blender. I grow them in pots in my porch. I try to buy the dirty dozen list of produce organic, but the rest I don't as I simply can't afford to buy everything organic and don't have the room to grow my own farm lol. I have a small garden.

Bulk oats, millet, buckwheat groats (the latter two are usually only found in alternative whole foods coops etc), couscous, bulgur wheat etc. Buying in bulk is cheaper as you don't pay for packaging. Some nuts, seeds, and dried fruits are found in bulk too but can still be expensive.

Pumpkin, flax, and sesame seeds are often more affordable than say chia or hemp seeds. Also, I like to sometimes make nut based sauces and mayonnaise homemade, so I might buy nuts in the baking section of the grocery. They are not as high quality but much cheaper when on a tight budget and you can't afford everything organic. I stick with the whole raw (not really raw but not containing other ingredients) variety, or sometimes buy blanched almonds in the baking section.

Vital wheat gluten isn't too bad cost wise and you can make your own seitan with it very easily. it is a good source of protein if you are not gluten intolerant, but if you are it might not be such a good idea lol.

Pure canned pumpkin is great for using in sauces, smoothies, hot cereals etc.

Nutritional yeast really isn't too expensive, especially if you are fortunate enough to find it in a bulk bin at a natural store. I use it as a seasoning and in "cheese" sauces, often with sweet potato and almond milk blended with it.

Sweet potatoes and other potatoes are relatively cheap and provide satiety. They are a good base for meals. I like to do baked potatoes and add nutritional yeast sauce and steamed broccoli on top, and maybe some beans.

I get my plant milks from the refrigerated section as opposed to the aseptic packages if I can. They aren't that cheap, but it's the one area I will not compromise. I have made my own almond milk and coconut milk but those aren't cheap either. If I make my own plant milks, I use vitamin D drops and calcium powder and add to them as it is a good way for me to absorb those.

I am going to have to cut out the plant milk yogurts, fancy sweeteners like maple syrup, store bought vegan bread like Ezekiel, the more expensive plant milks like hemp, protein powders etc. Just can't afford them.
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#5 Old 06-06-2014, 06:17 AM
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Get a large-ish crock pot. It's a great way to prepare dried beans. Pinto, black , lentils, green peas, northern beans, chick peas, scarlet runner beans, cranberry beans & black rice ETC!!!
Just add 2 cups beans (mix & match)
Add at least 6-10 cups water depends on how soupy u want it. Add spices you like. I usually use 3 veg bullion cubes also. Spices can be as example - cumin, onion powder , garlic cloves , ginger , cardomen, curry, paprika , nutritional yeast, bay leaves,pepper, coriander, sage, thyme, rosemary. Mix & match each time for different flavors. Anyway soak OVERNIGHT in the spicy water. Plug in on LOW in am & let cook 10 to 12 hrs and it will be amazing & beans are pretty low cost! Salt as needed. Serve on grain of your choice or eat plain!!!!
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#6 Old 06-06-2014, 02:00 PM
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Those are some great suggestions!

A few more:

-You mentioned not having a lot of time to cook and portion out meals so that you'll have things to take for work. If you are already cooking dinner, triple the recipe. At the same time that you are putting what you'll eat onto the plate, split the rest in half and put it in two containers. When you're done eating/doing dishes, they should have cooled down enough to go into the fridge. Then you can just grab one on your way out the door the next day. It only takes a few extra seconds, and you've got two lunches for the week!

-Pasta: I'm addicted, too. I've had to give it up as I'm trying out gluten-free for some tummy trouble, but here's what I'd normally do. Make your pasta, but beef up the sauce. Instead of just tomatoes, onions, and garlic, chop up some other veggies, add chickpeas, stuff like that. If you use quick-cooking stuff like sliced squash/zucchini or canned corn, you won't add much prep time. You could also slice up stuff like carrots beforehand and use them for a couple days, you know? Anyway, once you've added a whole bunch of stuff to the sauce to make it more filling, you serve yourself less pasta than you normally would but add this thick sauce on top so you still end up full.

-Carve out some time for food prep on Sunday, assuming you work Monday to Friday. Set yourself an hour to do things like cook beans, cook rice or potatoes for the next few days, chop veggies, press and drain tofu if you eat it, stuff like that. If you set up tofu to press and then go about the other stuff, by the end of the hour or so it should be pretty well drained. Then you can slice it up and set it in a marinade, or whatever you're going to do with it. Just put it in the fridge like that, and take it out all marinated and wonderful when you're ready to use it.

-For timing cooking beans in a crockpot as suggested above, set some to soak Saturday night and then let them cook all day Sunday. By Sunday evening, you've got beans with almost no work ready for Monday's lunch (you could even soak them Sunday and cook them overnight on Sunday/Monday - then they'll be hot Monday morning if you have a thermal lunchbox).
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#7 Old 06-09-2014, 10:09 PM
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Chick peas are top notch. They've got a lot of protein and they're cheap. Just watch serving sizes as they are easy to eat a lot of.
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#8 Old 06-10-2014, 03:15 AM
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I just reread your post and realized you are trying to avoid wheat products?

some more quick ideas for snacks:

pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds with shell on, usually they come in prepackages. I sometimes buy these and then portion them into ziplock bags x 5 for the work week for snacks. I believe 1/3 cup is only 120 calories and something like 7 or 8 grams of protein? And not as high fat as other nuts and seeds. 1/3 cup doesn't seem like it would be that much but surprisingly it is and this snack keeps me full quite a long time. It takes literally five minutes to portion a few bags of them for the week. Whatever I don't use I freeze and it keeps that way indefinitely.

Another strange snack I like to portion that takes a few seconds. I portion out about 2/3 cup of pure canned pumpkin (very inexpensive) into a tupperware bowl and add a banana. Then I take some ground flaxseed or a tablespoon or so of sesame seeds, maybe a little cocoa powder, even very occasionally add vegan protein powder, and mix it in. I bring this to work for a snack and find it is very filling and satisfying. I have even had it for breakfast too.

If you have a decent blender, there are countless recipes for making bean dips that take mere seconds, and those dips keep usually up to five days in the refrigerator. They can be added to sandwiches and wraps along with fresh raw vegetables. If you are trying to avoid wheat, you could use some type of leafy green as a wrap, such as collard leaves, or chard leaves. There is also rice paper wraps and corn taco shells. All inexpensive. Some favorite veggies I like to put in those: sprouts, red bell pepper, shredded carrots, onion, mushrooms.
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