Sunday, March 14, 2010

On a Budget? It doesn't have to be all starches and processed foods.

Normally I don't post much about this on my blog, but I'll make an exception. 

So, I eat low carb, and have been for nearly a year now.  This means that, except for rare occasions, I do not eat:  flour or other grains, sugar in any form, or other high starch foods like potatoes or corn.  I mostly eat whole, unprocessed, fresh foods like fresh vegetables, chicken, fish, beef, some dairy, some fruit, some nuts & seeds.  There are a wide variety of reasons I eat like this but the bottom line is that I've lost nearly 40 lbs (and am still losing), it keeps my blood sugars on a nice even keel, it's cleared up several health issues I had, and I feel fantastic.  If you're interested at all in low carb, I'd encourage you to put aside whatever you think you know and read authors like Robert Atkins, Michael and Mary Dan Eades, Mary Enig and Gary Taubes with an open mind.   You might be surprised at what you learn.

Ok, now that is out of the way....

I read this article the other day:  Money College: How to eat on less than $35 a week and it really irritated me.  The menu it suggests is appallingly bad.  High fat, high carbs, high salt, loaded with processed foods, very few veggies, very little nutritional value. Bologna/hot dogs/chopped ham as your primary sources of protein?  Not one fresh vegetable?  Come on!  If it followed the food pyramid or some other health guidelines, I could respect it even if I didn't agree with it.  It does not - it's simply all filler food with little regard for nutrition, no matter how you cut it.

I wanted to show a comparative low carb menu with salads and veggies and non-processed proteins (other than the tuna) that was still under $35 a week.   Costs listed may vary by geographic location.  I based the prices on a combination of prices listed on the original article (butter, mustard, ground beef) and prices I paid myself for groceries last week and this week.   Like the original article, it does rely on buying things like store brand mayo and tuna, and catching things like ground beef and tuna on sale.

The suggested meals are a little repetitive because I just wanted to show a rebuttal example menu and keep it simple.  It's also realistic - if you buy chicken parts cheap, it's usually in a large "family pack".  When you cut out "convenience" foods, you create your own conveniences by cooking extras and eating the leftovers for another meal.  For example, I never roast just one piece of chicken - I cook 3-4 and it reappears in meals later during the week in some form.

So, here goes: 

The shopping list:

1 lb butter: 1.89
32 oz jar mayo 1.49
Bottle yellow mustard .69
8 oz bottle salad dressing (2 carb or less per serving) 1.29
2 dozen large eggs 3.98
Family pack chicken leg quarters (6 pieces)/ 79 cents per pound: 5.00
2 lbs 80/20 ground beef/1.99 per pound 3.98
4 cans chunk light tuna 2.00
3 8-oz blocks cheese 4.50
3 lbs assorted lettuces 5.00
1 lb tomatoes 1.50
Bag shredded cabbage 1.00
1/2 lb yellow onions .40
2-1 lb bags plain frozen veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, etc) 2.00

The Menu:

Breakfast daily: 2 eggs, 1 oz cheese, cooked any way (fried, scrambled, omelet, etc) in butter

Day 1:
Lunch: Tuna salad wrap (1 can tuna with mayo wrapped in lettuce leaves)
Dinner: Roasted chicken leg quarter with skin, cooked veggies, side salad w/ dressing
Snack: 2 oz cheese

Day 2:
Lunch: Roasted chicken leg quarter with skin; salad w/ dressing
Dinner: Crackslaw: 8 oz ground beef cooked with onion, cabbage
Snack: 2 oz cheese

Day 3:
Lunch: Tuna melt: 1 can tuna with mayo on top of tomato slices; top with 1 oz cheese and put under broiler until cheese is melted
Dinner: 3 egg omelet with cheese and veggies; small side salad with dressing
Snack: deviled egg (1 hard boiled egg with mayo/mustard)

Day 4:
Lunch: Roasted chicken leg quarter with skin; cole slaw (cabbage, mayo)
Dinner: 8 oz hamburger with cheese; cooked veggie with butter; side salad w/ dressing
Snack: deviled egg

Day 5:
Lunch: Tuna salad wrap (1 can tuna with mayo wrapped in lettuce leaves)
Dinner: Crackslaw: 8 oz ground beef cooked with onion, cabbage
Snack: 2 oz cheese

Day 6:
Lunch: 8 oz hamburger with cheese; cole slaw (cabbage, mayo)
Dinner: Tuna melt; side salad w/ dressing
Snack: deviled egg

Day 7:
Lunch: Roasted chicken leg quarter with skin; side salad w/ dressing
Dinner: 3 egg omelet with cheese and veggies
Snack: deviled egg

You blow through all the eggs, beef & tuna; by my calculations you should have leftover at the end of the week 2 chicken leg quarters, 1/2 a block of cheese, mayo, mustard, 2 sticks of butter and about 1/2 a bag of frozen veggies.

So yes, you CAN eat low carb, get in your veggies in AND do it cheaply. Cereal and pasta are NOT necessary.

1 comment:

Andie said...

Love your background :D

Wow! Awesome weight loss! I might have to look into the low carb! Good on you for putting an alternative out there! For me it always astounds me when people say they get takeaways cause its cheaper than cooking a proper meal. For us (family of 8) I can cook a good meal with meat and veges for less than $20nz, to get takeaways for us all (plain old fish and chips) would be at least $40!