frugal diet http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/12205/all en-US Ready-to-Eat Meals for Weight Loss: Can They Fit into Your Food Budget? http://www.wisebread.com/ready-to-eat-meals-for-weight-loss-can-they-fit-into-your-food-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ready-to-eat-meals-for-weight-loss-can-they-fit-into-your-food-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/grocery%20cart.jpg" alt="Shopping cart with food" title="Shopping cart with food" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="240" height="180" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As each new year approaches, millions of people resolve to lose weight or get into shape. Gyms, fat camps, and diet programs all experience a surge of new customers during January and February. If you have considered joining a diet program that provides ready-to-eat meals, like Nutrisystem, but thought the costs of the program were too great to justify joining, here's what you need to know.</p> <h3>The Average Cost of Groceries</h3> <p>It's hard to pinpoint how much everyone pays for groceries, because there are a number of factors to consider &mdash; the number of people in your family, the ages of each family member, and any special dietary needs.</p> <p>The <a href="ftp://ftp.bls.gov/pub/special.requests/ce/standard/2009/cucomp.txt">U.S. Department of Labor</a> creates an annual Consumer Expenditure Survey, which shows the average amount of money spent by consumers in various types of households, including annual food expenses:</p> <ul> <li>According to 2009 data, a single person spends an average of $4,352 per year or about $84 per week on food. This includes both food eaten at home and food purchased from restaurants or take out facilities.</li> <li>A couple without children spends $6,906 per year, or $132 a week.</li> <li>A couple with children (although it doesn't specify how many children) spends an average of $9,369 per year, or $180 per week.</li> <li>A single parent with children (again, it does not specify number of children) spends an average of $5,348, or $102 per week.</li> </ul> <h3>The Average Cost of Nutrisystem</h3> <p><a href="http://www.nutrisystem.com/nsblog">Nutrisystem</a> (one of the leading weight-loss programs with ready-to-eat meals) costs about $11 a day for the basic four-week (28-day) program. This is equivalent to about $77 per week for the program, but you also need to add in the cost of your fruits and vegetables and additional dairy and/or protein servings. Based on my own experience, I spend at most another $2 per day for additional grocery items (skim milk, fresh fruits and vegetables, yogurt, meats, etc.) with my Nutrisystem meals. (You can read more about my personal Nutrisystem experiences on <a href="http://www.healthytheory.com/blog/Debbie-Dragon">HealthyTheory.com</a>.)</p> <h3>Does Nutrisystem Fit into Your Existing Food Budget?</h3> <p>For a single person on Nutrisystem, this puts your total food bill at $91 a week, ($77 per week for Nutrisystem and $14 per week for the add-on groceries), or $4,732 annually. Compared to the single person's grocery expenses from the U.S. Department of Labor survey, doing Nutrisystem for a year will cost you about $380 more.</p> <p>If you look at Nutrisystem as a temporary solution to losing weight, which will be followed by healthier eating in general (and therefore a lower weekly food budget ongoing), the costs may be easier to justify.</p> <p>It gets a little harder to compare the expenses between Nutrisystem and groceries for households with more than one person and/or households containing children. For example, if a family is spending $180 a week on food before Nutrisystem, they're not likely to immediately start spending $84 a week less (the average amount a single person spends) on groceries simply because one person decides to start Nutrisystem. Most people will buy the same amount of food they've always purchased for their family even when one is eating the majority of their meals through Nutrisystem and supplementing with a few add-on grocery items. This can increase your food budget beyond your means, but for individuals who really want to use Nutrisystem to lose weight, you can make a few minor modifications to work the cost of a ready-to-eat diet program into your budget.</p> <p>With one person eating the majority of his or her meals through the diet program, grocery shopping should involve purchasing smaller quantities of food. When making your grocery list, keep in mind you are feeding one person less while he or she is on Nutrisystem. You can buy smaller packages of meat, less bread, less cereal, less snacks, etc.</p> <p>The family could also help support the individual on the weight loss program by skipping some of the take-out and restaurant meals consumed, which will greatly reduce your weekly food budget.</p> <p>It appears that for many families, a weight-loss program with ready-to-eat meals that cost about $11 per day can fit into your existing food budget &mdash; but it may take a little effort to reduce the food expenses for the rest of the family.</p> <p><em>Disclosure: I received free Nutrisystem meals for review, but the views expressed in this blog post are my own. </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debbie-dragon">Debbie Dragon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ready-to-eat-meals-for-weight-loss-can-they-fit-into-your-food-budget">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/22-reasons-to-stop-drinking-soda">22 Reasons to Stop Drinking Soda</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-cheap-girl-s-guide-to-lowering-cholesterol-without-suffering">The Cheap Girl’s Guide to Lowering Cholesterol Without Suffering</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/imagine-eating-to-lose-weight-and-save-money">Imagine Eating to Lose Weight (and Save Money)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-most-calorie-burning-breakfasts">The 7 Most Calorie-Burning Breakfasts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-great-body-weight-exercises-and-why-you-should-do-them">20 Great Body Weight Exercises (and Why You Should Do Them)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Health and Beauty diets food budget frugal diet healthy diet losing weight nutrisystem Fri, 14 Jan 2011 14:00:09 +0000 Debbie Dragon 453190 at http://www.wisebread.com Anyone Can Spend Less for Food http://www.wisebread.com/anyone-can-spend-less-for-food <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/anyone-can-spend-less-for-food" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/farmers-market-tomatoes_0.jpg" alt="Tomatoes at the Farmer&#039;s Market" title="Tomatoes at the Farmer&#039;s Market" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="158" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I can say without fear of contradiction that you're spending more than necessary for your food. That's a good thing &mdash; eating well is one of the great pleasures of life, and you can almost certainly afford to eat a more interesting and varied diet than the cheapest possible. But it's worth taking a minute to look at just how cheaply you could eat, if you had to.</p> <p>If you want to check that a particular diet provides adequate nutrition, there are any number of nutrition calculators on line. I've previously linked to the <a href="http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/nal_display/index.php?info_center=4&amp;tax_level=2&amp;tax_subject=256&amp;topic_id=1342">USDA's Food and Nutrition Information Center</a>. Their calculator seemed to have some problems today, so I ended up using a similar one at <a href="http://fitday.com/">fitday.com</a>.</p> <p>You can drive yourself crazy trying to produce an optimal diet from scratch. It simplifies things a lot to start by drawing on some traditional diet. For example, the traditional diet of the Scots used to be oats and kale, so I've cranked up an example based on that.</p> <p>According to fitday, 5 cups raw kale, 5 cups raw oats, and 3 cups of 1% milk comes in at just over 2000 calories. It provides 100 grams of protein, which is ample, and tops 100% of the US RDA for nearly every nutrient. (It's a little short of niacin and B12, which the Scots probably got from barley, fish, and small amounts of meat from the goats and sheep that they raised for milk and wool.)</p> <p>There are as many alternatives as there are traditional peoples who have lived on the earth. I did much the same calculation for corn, beans and squash (Native Americans), rice and lentils (South Asians) and potatoes and dairy (Ireland). You have to throw in some vegetables &mdash; one carrot and one turnip, for example &mdash; but it's easy to make a balanced diet.</p> <p>Any particular diet may be unsuitable for some people &mdash; people with celiac, for example, shouldn't eat a diet that's mostly oats, and people with irritable bowel syndrome might find a diet high in beans or lentils unsatisfactory &mdash; but there's an endless list of possible diets, and some of them are really, really cheap.</p> <p>My point is not that you ought to eating mostly oats and kale (or rice and beans). My point is that an extreme frugal option like this ought to be out at the far end of your array of choices. By all means, spend more than this if you can afford to. A varied diet is not just a pleasure; it also provides protection against the possibility (the certainty, really) that we don't know everything about nutrition, and against the possibility that your nutritional needs are different in some way from those of an average person. Just understand that, if you're paying more than what a diet like this would cost, you're paying for wants rather than needs. Paying for wants is a good thing &mdash; it's what makes life worth living. But you ought to be thoughtful in your choices; part of being thoughtful is to include these extreme frugal choices in your thinking.</p> <p>Of course, I'm not the first person to think about this. For example, Xin just <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-on-a-dollar-a-day">reviewed a book</a> by a couple of people who wrote about trying to eat for just $1 a day.</p> <p>Start by figuring out what you really need and allocating enough resources to cover what that costs. Then take what's left over and cover some of your wants. But if you don't even consider really, really frugal eating as an option, you might be paying for food that doesn't provide as much satisfaction as something else you could have chosen instead.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/anyone-can-spend-less-for-food">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Groceries</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-foods-that-are-actually-cheaper-at-whole-foods">6 Foods That Are Actually Cheaper At Whole Foods</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/breaking-the-bread-code-how-to-get-the-freshest-loaf">Breaking the Bread Code: How to Get the Freshest Loaf</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buy-this-not-that-at-the-farmers-market">Buy This — Not That — at the Farmer&#039;s Market</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-and-worst-times-to-go-grocery-shopping">The Best and Worst Times to Go Grocery Shopping</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Shopping Cheap Food diet eating frugal diet groceries Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:00:04 +0000 Philip Brewer 119033 at http://www.wisebread.com