We’re all privy to the struggle that is weight loss and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but one thing that always seems to get in the way of accomplishing our healthy living goals is money and budgeting. You may have good intentions when you start your grocery shopping trip, or when you join a new gym, but eventually you lose steam, and sometimes money and finances are the easiest things to blame.
Although I must admit, sometimes it can feel like it’s more affordable to simply buy the processed food, give up the fresh produce or indulge in a cheeseburger off of the dollar menu at Mcdonald’s, but I promise there is a better way! Which is why I wanted to list my top 8 tips for healthy living on a budget, coming from a true penny pincher herself!
How To Stay Healthy Without Breaking the Bank: Top 8 Tips for Living Healthy on a Budget
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Create a Grocery List with Exact Measurements
We all make better decisions when we plan ahead, whether it be scheduling our daily activities, or creating a healthier lifestyle for ourselves, nobody does well without proper planning. This is also true when making your weekly (or in my case monthly) grocery list.
It’s important to make a list that closely reflects the meals you want to be serving, and make notes on each food item so that you know approximately how much of each grocery item you will need. Doing so can help you avoid going overboard and ultimately wasting your hard earned cash.
What I like to do, is print a few different recipes that I know I want to include in my weekly rotation, like this awesome turkey meatball recipe, and then list out each ingredient that I will need, including measurements. I then take inventory of what I already have and come up with a short list of ingredients needed to add to my shopping list.
Be Vigilant in Sticking to Your Grocery List
The first obstacle to overcome when completing a successful grocery shopping list is creating the perfect shopping list that includes only the things you really need, and the second part is actually following it. You may have spent all morning compiling a list of ingredients that you need and carefully going through each item to be sure it is a necessity, but if the minute you get into the grocery store you ditch the list and just buy whatever you set eyes on… then your list is useless.
This is why it is SO important to stick to your guns and be vigilant in your quest to only buy the food items that you need. Think of each item you put into the cart as money slowly draining from your piggy bank. I know it seems trivial but sometimes just visualizing things can help keep your mind straight and level-headed as you maneuver the supermarket.
Never Grocery Shop on an Empty Stomach
It may seem like a no-brainer, but grocery shopping on an empty stomach can really cause your budget to plummet rather quickly, as a hungry belly certainly clouds your judgment when shopping for food. Be sure to plan out your grocery trips accordingly so as to avoid your peak times of hunger. For example, right after work prior to dinner, early morning before you’ve had your breakfast, or even late at night when you start to feel those snack attacks coming on are all times that should be avoided, if you can help it.
Not only is shopping on an empty stomach terrible for your budget, but it’s also not a great way to stay on track with your health and dieting goals. You’re far more likely to pick up that box of Twinkie’s instead of some fresh fruit if your stomach is growling with hunger pains. So make sure your timing is right the next time you shop to stay true to your diet and your budget.
Give Up the Expensive Gym Membership
I’m not denying that exercise is super important in order to maintain a healthy body and mind, but be cautious about how much you are spending on that gym membership. Keeping your body moving shouldn’t have to cost anything, and it doesn’t!
I know a membership to a gym can make it easier for those of us living in small spaces that don’t allow for large, bulky, gym equipment but who says you need equipment? Run outside, dance along to your kids’ Just Dance video games, or start doing yoga or pilates (I follow these 6 youtubers for my workout routines) for an easy way to get your body moving without spending a dime!
Or check out some inexpensive, easily-storable at-home workout equipment to add to your collection!
Skip the Unnecessary “Extras”
If you’re one of those people that just can’t imagine giving up your gym membership, I can completely relate, which is why I would recommend re-evaluating the price tag that comes along with that membership. Are you a gold member with exclusive access to the tanning beds and sauna that you might visit twice a year – at best? If so, maybe consider the cheaper option instead and go to the gym for the reason that you signed up for it in the first place; to simply workout.
Also, be sure to shop around. I know it’s convenient to attend the gym that’s right down the street from your house, but it might be worth the five minute drive to another gym if it’s going to save you a few bucks a month. Or, maybe with the cost of gas, the closer option is more cost effective. But do your due diligence and calculate it out! Every little bit counts!
Pay Attention to Prices
I know how easy it is to get sucked into a meal planning frenzy, you just go crazy with finding recipes and adding them to your meal plan without even considering the cost that may be associated with them. Be sure to carefully choose recipes, and foods that fit into your healthy lifestyle but also won’t cost a lot to make (like these overnight oats recipes!)
For example a beef stir fry, given the amount of fresh, and unique, vegetables plus the pricey nature of beef can run you at about $2.49 a serving, whereas a chicken and broccoli stir fry would likely cost half that amount per serving simply because it uses less expensive ingredients.
Proteins like beef, fish and other seafood tend to be on the more expensive side, whereas chicken, pork and turkey will likely be priced more reasonably. So be on the lookout for that as you’re planning your next few meals.
Help keep track of your monthly expenses with a monthly budgeting journal and expense tracker!
Avoid Eating Out
Although it’s nice to treat yourself sometimes, (and you should!) it can get expensive, especially if you’re focusing on eating a healthier diet. Sure, you can grab a full meal for under five bucks at a fast food drive-thru but greasy, fattening food is not what we’re going for here.
When you start to eat out on a daily basis, whether it be for lunch during your break at work or even picking up dinner for the whole family, you’ll eventually get spoiled by the convenience of it and start to make it a habit. And an expensive one at that!
So try to keep the eating out at a minimum (as well as those morning coffee runs!) and save it for special occasions rather than an everyday occurrence.
Always Stay Organized (to Help You Stay Motivated)
When it comes to budgeting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, organization is key. If you don’t stay organized it will be hard to keep the motivation that you need in order to be successful in your journey to a healthier, and more frugal, you!
One way to stay organized is to keep a recipe journal with all of the recipes that you really enjoy that are also cost effective. You can also use an online menu planning tool, if you’re more of a technology driven individual, and in the notes sections keep a tab of prices that go with each menu item so it’s easy to see which meals are the most budget-friendly.
So, the next time you’re struggling financially and just want to throw in the towel completely when it comes to your health journey, remember you are an investment and you are worth it! Plus with these 8 tips for living healthy on a budget, you won’t have to choose between investing in yourself and saving for the future. You can have your inexpensive, gluten-free, sugar-free cake, and eat it, too 😉