Your healthy lifestyle goals shouldn’t have to come at the expense of your finances. It’s all too easy to get swept into the pricey gym memberships and exercise equipment, fancy diet plans, and premium grocery stores—which can be catastrophic for your budget. The good news: You can reach your healthy eating and exercising goals, without straining your wallet. Read on for our top pointers for how to eat healthy on a budget and exercise on the cheap.
The key to healthy eating on a budget: plan, plan, and plan some more. Check out how to eat healthy on a budget, and save those pennies while you’re counting calories:
1. Build a grocery list. Decide what meals you will have for the upcoming week, and build your list around the ingredients you need. Stick to the essentials and resist the urge to buy anything outside the list.
2. Shop the perimeter of the store. When you hit the store, make it a point to avoid the middle of the store, which contains the most processed—and expensive—items. If you do need to visit one of these aisles, avoid the middle of the shelves, where they tend to stock the priciest items. The top and bottom shelves are usually your best bet.
3. Shop online. If your grocery store offers an online shopping option, this can be a quick shortcut to avoid impulse buys and instantly find the healthy options you need. Plus, it’s easier to stay within your budget as the website will calculate your cart total as you add items. Many stores also group their searchable categories by on-sale items or will send you alerts when the items you frequently purchase are on sale.
4. Mix up your protein sources. Look for cuts of meat that won’t break the bank, such as pork loin, ground turkey and beef, brisket, and chicken thighs. You may want to choose a large portion of these cuts of meat, which you can portion out for several meals during the week such as soups and casseroles. To save even more money, devote a couple of nights a week to non-meat-based meals, such as eggs, beans, and canned fish.
5. Buy frozen produce. Frozen fruit and vegetables are proven to provide the same nutritious advantages as their fresh counterparts—and their price tag is much more reasonable. If you can’t stomach the idea of eating frozen produce, try to only buy the fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season.
As much as the fitness industry would like us to believe it, you don’t need high-end equipment and expensive memberships to work out effectively. An open mind and a healthy amount of motivation are more than enough. Here are our top tips:
1. Work out at home. The Internet provides a wealth of resources for free, at-home workouts. Whether you’re looking to shed fat or gain muscle, you’ll be able to find a workout that targets your needs. YouTube’s vast library includes countless instructor-guided exercise videos for strength training, cardio, yoga, kickboxing, dance, and more. It’s also a great way to switch up your routine and avoid the boredom factor.
2. Invest in high-quality, reasonably priced equipment. To maintain your interest in exercising at home, you’ll likely want a decent supply of equipment. However, you won’t need a gym’s worth of gear you’ll never use. Stick to relatively inexpensive mainstays such as dumbbells, a jump rope, an exercise ball, and perhaps a cardio step. If you want to splurge on a large piece of equipment, such as an elliptical or treadmill, scope out Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for secondhand deals.
3. Take your workout outdoors. Some of the most effective and enjoyable workouts can be done on foot, such as running and walking. For extra motivation, scour the Internet for free training programs and upbeat tunes to listen to while you’re pounding the pavement.
4. Research economical exercise class options. Local running stores often offer a running club that’s free to join. You may also find low-cost exercise classes through your town or city’s recreation department, a nearby university, or the YMCA. If none of those options exist, you might want to suggest starting your own walking group with friends or neighbors.
Better Living in Health and Finances
Your financial and healthy living goals should go hand in hand. When you learn how to eat healthy on a budget and exercise on the cheap, your health and your budget both reap t