New to Cooking and on a Budget - Mothering Forums

Thread Tools
#1 of 13 Old 08-27-2006, 09:51 PM - Thread Starter
wendygrace's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,132
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I am in desperate need of help. Dh has been the cook and sahp for four years now. Before marriage I lived on pizza and well, pizza. Dh has gone back to work and I'm about to become the sahp and the primary cook. I need to learn fast about cooking healthy and don't know where to start. Dh and I need to loose weight and dc both need to start gaining weight (they are both very low on the growth charts and dh and I are not small people). We need healthy!! Please, someone guide me to where I am to learn about how to eat healthy and how to cook healthy meals please! I am sooooo clueless! :

Oh yes, and we'll be on a very tight budget and I live in a high price area (chicagoland). Am I asking way too much? Someone have an estimate as to how much I should be spending a month on two adults and two preschoolers?
wendygrace is offline  
Sponsored Links
#2 of 13 Old 08-30-2006, 03:54 PM
Hibou's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: a little house on the prairie
Posts: 1,372
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Here are some suggestions:
-cut processed food out of your diet. Packaged, pre-made food is typically very expensive and unhealthy. I buy high-quality local dairy and eggs, and organic produce when I can get it. I won't sacrifice healthier food just to save a few dollars. I'd rather save money by cutting out the processed stuff and making from scratch what I can.
-Go to the library and check out some whole-foods cookbooks. Get some input from your family. Make a list of healthy meals that they like. Make a list of healthy snacks your kids will eat. We eat a whole-foods traditional diet that requires meal planning. The lists you make will be helpful when meal planning. This will also save you money- buy only the groceries that you need for your meals and snacks (make a detailed list)
-have a snack before you go shopping. (Shopping on an empty stomach leads to impulse buying.)

Personally, I would stay away from mainstream diets and low-fat or altered foods. Eating real, whole foods that nourish the body will leave you feeling full, and incorporating some physical activity into your routine will boost your metabolism and energy. If you don't keep junk food in the house, and make it a policy not to eat out at fast food restauraunts, your body and your pocketbook will thank you for it!
Hibou is offline  
#3 of 13 Old 08-30-2006, 04:01 PM
AngelBee's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: New Brighton, MN
Posts: 19,261
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Mama to 10 so far:Mother of Joey (23), Dominick (15), Abigail (13), Angelo (10), Mylee (8), Delainey (6), Colton (4), ID girls Dahniella and Nicolette (2 in July), and Baby 10 coming sometime in July 2015.
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
  If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!
AngelBee is offline  
#4 of 13 Old 09-07-2006, 06:49 PM
Benji'sMom's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 3,971
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I always recommend the "More with Less Cookbook" by by Doris Janzen Longacre - teaches you how to make pretty much anything from scratch (so you don't need processed crap), how to cook on a budget, and helps me plan by using less meat, more veggies (so I can make more than one meal with a single chicken or one pound of ground beef or whatever).

Single mom of 2 boys
Benji'sMom is offline  
#5 of 13 Old 09-12-2006, 11:30 AM
Mrs. Hoppes's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 6
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I have a diabetic husband, a 4 year old son with hollow legs, an 18 month old who hasn't met a food she doesn't like, and me who is pregnant.

Our monthly budget for food is $200.

I shop Aldi's, Sam's Club, Hostess (bread), and Farmer's Market.

Shop bulk when you can. Make sure you look at price per ____. Often times, Sam's is cheaper, but sometimes Aldi's is cheaper.

Cook from scratch when you can.

Don't be afraid to substitute. Ground turkey is cheaper than ground beef at Aldi's.

Go vegetarian once or twice a week. Dried beans are very interchangable. Recipes that call for canned beans, use dried and add water.

Try bulk cooking. I used to spend $400 a month or more on food until I did OAMC.

My hollow legged son is bugging me, so he needs some attention. I'll post more ideas when I can have 5 minutes undisturbed.
Mrs. Hoppes is offline  
#6 of 13 Old 09-12-2006, 02:40 PM
hlkm2e's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,836
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
I have a couple tips.

1. plan ahead! With 2 kids running around, 5:00 will sneak up on you and you'll be tempted to order out. Try to plan out your meals on sunday, that way each night you can defrost anything you need or make plans to go get something you are missing. Try to keep an inventory of what leftovers are in the fridge so you don't waste things.

2. Make friends with the butcher at your grocery store. He/she can tell you what good deals are, they can suggest cheaper cuts that will do the same thing as more expensive cuts. They can also cut and package things for you. For instance, my store often has these huge pork tenderloins on sale, they are like 10lbs. But the butcher, free of charge, will cut it up into smaller roasts and wrap them for me. That way I get the sale price, but don't have to mess with cutting and repackaging.

3. Stock up your freezer when meat goes on sale.

4. Use coupons for things you would already buy. You have to be careful not to get sucked into a "good deal" for something you don't need. I use coupons for marinades and put a chicken breast in a freezer bag with marinade. With a coupon, my last 4 bottles of marinade cost, zero, zero, 29 cents and 49 cents.

5. Use less meat. Last night we had chicken. I used 1 whole breast. I sliced it up into about 8 pieces. My dd got 1, my husband got 3, I had 3, and the last one I put on pasta salad for lunch today.

Love the More with Less Cookbook!

Oh, and start simple. Just cook chicken on the stove. Grill some veggies and rice. Or try the crockpot. Throw in a roast, some broth and 8 hours later you have meat. Add a side and salad.
hlkm2e is offline  
#7 of 13 Old 09-13-2006, 03:44 PM
mmgarda's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Montclair, NJ
Posts: 1,426
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
It takes a little more organizing and planning, but I've found that it's worth going to different places for different things. For example, we go to the Farmer's Market every weekend for all our veges and fruits (or as many as we can - sometimes things just aren't in season); then we go to Food 4 Less (kinda like Costco, but not a membership) for our packaged foods and sometimes meat.

My best recommendation is to check out local ethnic markets, if you have them. There is a chain in LA called Vallarta Markets and they have a HUGE meat counter with all kinds of deals. We buy the vast majority of our meat there at really low prices. They also have a pretty fantastic produce section. The local asian groceries tend to have really good deals on tofu based products and rice.

Then, every few weeks we'll go to the traditional grocery for deli stuff.

My last suggestion, get to know your crockpot! Check out the huge crockpot recipe thread here and read some of the archived meal planning threads. Consider doing one of the pantry challenges.

ex-Californian, making my way on the East Coast with DS (10), DS (6) and WAHDH. Former extended BF'er, co-sleeper, and baby-wearer. Remembering how to garden.

mmgarda is offline  
#8 of 13 Old 09-14-2006, 04:09 PM
Tawnykat's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 98
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
A good book I read is "Cheap talk with the Frugal Friend" by Angie Zalewski.
It has great ideas for saving time AND money. Like take 1 day and precook some of your meat.
And the Crockpot can be a busy parents DREAM! Through in you meat, some vegi's and spices and water cover and cook. Just don't forget to turn it on...LOL
Tawnykat is offline  
#9 of 13 Old 09-15-2006, 01:17 AM
boobear's Avatar
Join Date: May 2002
Location: In the kitchen, garden and online.
Posts: 259
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Give this a shot (I've been to this site a few times over the years, it's got some good ideas):

I'm not a fan of red meat so I went through and replaced it with fish or white meat.

I think it just helped me to see someone's version of weekly menu planning and shopping list within a certain budget.

Been quietly hanging around here for over 10 years.  


boobear is offline  
#10 of 13 Old 09-16-2006, 12:31 PM
Amys1st's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 8,322
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I live in the chicagoland area Wendy grace if you want to pm me. I whole foods cook and I always have. I would be happy yo give you some tips.

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
Amys1st is offline  
#11 of 13 Old 09-17-2006, 12:16 AM
mmgarda's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Montclair, NJ
Posts: 1,426
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Just as a quick example:

This week I cooked a whole chicken in the crockpot (I think the bird cost me 3.99). We ate chicken, mashed potatoes and frozen spinach for dinner. Leftover chicken went in the fridge (bones and all).

Next night I used the cooking liquid from the chicken and added some canned beans w/ chili spice and about 1 c. of the chicken meat, shredded. Served w/ green salad and cornbread.

Tonight I made soup with previously made chicken broth from the freezer. Just threw in whatever veggies I had, some WW pasta, the rest of the chicken meat and a can of tomatoes. Served w/ grilled cheese.

There has been plenty of the chili for lunches (and were leftover potatoes and veges, as well.) There is tons of soup leftover. My DH also had at least one chicken sandwich during the week. And the bones went back into the crockpot w/ celery and onions and herbs to replenish my broth. (When I'm too lazy to make it right away, I freeze the bones until I'm ready.)

That one chicken is the ONLY meat I cooked all week.

ex-Californian, making my way on the East Coast with DS (10), DS (6) and WAHDH. Former extended BF'er, co-sleeper, and baby-wearer. Remembering how to garden.

mmgarda is offline  
#12 of 13 Old 09-17-2006, 01:06 AM
CJ 5's Avatar
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 590
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
When I started out I didn't know how to make anything from scratch. My MIL gave me a few pointers. She takes a calendar and writes down the meals for the month. You will save atleast double just by planning meals. Also if you cook any meat cook enough for two meals and freeze the second portion. This helps a lot. My MIL was able to make many meals with half the meat that they recomend but add some beans , vegetables, or starch. Healthy low fat meals are quite easy once you get the hang of it but in the beginning it is probably good on just figuring out 5-6 meals you guys can stand to eat. Get a book and anytime you find something that works WRITE IT DOWN. Recipes etc. I also know you can save quite a bit of money just by switching to higher fiber foods since they fill you up.
CJ 5 is offline  
#13 of 13 Old 09-21-2006, 01:19 PM
juliebee123's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 19
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I am in Chicago, too. Check out Timber Creek Farms ( They deliver boxes of produce, all organic and are wonderful. For about 25 bucks you can get a giant box of fruits and veggies delivered to your door. From there, you can add some lean meats and whole grains. Voila! Trader Joes carries both organic and antibiotic free and no homone added milk. Their non organic milk is probably cheaper than the mainstream stores like Jewel (gross). There is a store in Skokie called the Home Economist that sells bulk everything, including grains, spices, etc. I am not sure if they have other locations, but they are super cheap and there are lots of things to choose from.
juliebee123 is offline  

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off

Online Users: 11,039

12 members and 11,027 guests
Arishaa , dougpalm05 , greenemami , hillymum , karencreas25 , katelove , Lil'mansNanny , Michele123 , moominmamma , mumofacub , NaturallyKait , scheelimama
Most users ever online was 449,755, 06-25-2014 at 12:21 PM.