Fall is here. The air is crisp and change is upon us. Turn over a new leaf now by choosing healthier foods and getting regular exercise. Often, a major obstacle to eating healthy is that fresh foods seem more expensive than popular processed foods, and a roadblock to achieving fitness is the hefty price tag of a monthly gym membership. But, nutritious food doesn’t have to cost a lot and there are economical ways to exercise. With some planning and commitment, you can improve your health without going broke. Tap into the energy of the autumn air and follow these 10 tips for eating healthy and staying fit while on a budget:
10 Tips for Eating Healthy and Staying Fit on a Budget
- Buy fresh, not packaged. Look for sales on fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables. Cut and cook the food yourself. Although meals take time to prepare, the more you cook from scratch, the more you’ll save. Besides, when you’re the chef, you know what’s on your plate, so there’s no need to worry about mysterious additives.
- Stick with the basics. Don’t buy tons of an individual spice. Instead, stick with these basics: all-season salt, fresh garlic, onion powder, and ethnicity seasonings — Italian, Mexican, and Indian. Choose one fat such as olive oil, coconut oil, or butter and use that. Keep white and sweet potatoes on hand. They’re cheap and filling, and they can be used at any meal.
- Cook in bulk. Get mileage from your effort. Save time and money when cooking by planning ahead and buying economical cuts of meat for making large batches of food. Then, bring leftovers to work for lunch or freeze them for future meals. When selecting beef, choose cheaper cuts such as brisket, chuck roast, and use wet/slow cooking methods to tenderize the meat. For chicken, it’s more expensive to buy chicken breasts. Instead, buy the whole bird or for convenience look for sales on family-sized packages of whole legs, drumsticks, and thighs. Warehouses are a great way to purchase large quantities economically, and Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s offer military discounts on their memberships.
- Cut out extras. Avoid purchasing expensive coffees, bottled water, protein powders, and junk food. Buy a good quality re-useable mug or water bottle and fill it before leaving your house, and eat inexpensive, seasonal fruit instead of prepackaged snacks.
- Control your portions. Bagels and muffins keep growing in size, so just eat half of one. A healthy serving of meat is 2.5-3 ounces and pasta is ½ a cup. Reduced portions save both calories and money.
- Drink more water. Substitute water for all other drinks, including diet soda — even though it has no calories, it’s not healthy and it’s expensive.
- Make your home a gym. Schedule your workouts and stick with them. Turn off your phone and tell your family members you’re off limits. Learn about exercises using household items such as milk jugs to work your biceps. If your budget allows, purchase some affordable fitness equipment including a jump rope, set of dumbbells, medicine ball, or resistance band.
- Grow your own. For about the cost of a bag of salad greens ($3) you can buy a packet of seeds that will plant a 30 foot long row of greens. Not only will you be harvesting a lot of fresh produce, you’ll be saving a lot and getting exercise, too.
- Play with your kids. Don’t just sit and watch. Jump in and join a game of tag, kickball, or four square. Participating in play is a great way to get moving and to create lasting memories with your kids.
- Workout around the house. Increase the intensity of vacuuming and scrubbing floors and chores become exercise, and get some fresh air while getting fit by mowing the lawn, raking leaves, shoveling snow, or pulling up weeds.
It takes some effort to eat healthy and stay in shape, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot. If you’re on a tight budget and want to stay fit, follow the above tips and these healthy eating ideas. Also, before you spend extra money on exercise, try to find an inexpensive alternative. With some creative thinking, you may discover a low cost substitute that delivers the same fitness results. Visit our Eating Healthy and Staying Fit on a Budget Pinterest board for more ideas.