A lot has changed since the days when a fat belly indicated a fat wallet. Now, people pay more for the healthy stuff while the least expensive foods are often the ones packed with waist-widening calories. But just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t lose a few pounds without breaking the bank.
1. Cook In Bulk.
Cook at home and cook in bulk, suggests registered dietitian Lauren Minchen. “Depending on how frequently you eat out, cooking your food at home can save you hundreds of dollars a month. And cooking in bulk is great if you’re time-strapped,” she says. “It saves you time while allowing you to monitor the ingredients, calories, and portions in your meals.
2. Get Competitive.
Register for a race or competition. They’ll cost you anywhere from $35 to $125, but the training aspect, which can last for months, is practically free. “There’s no better way to motivate yourself to get up from your office chair than knowing you have a race coming up,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Michelle Dudash. “Plus, running is one of the cheapest sports you can do because the only special equipment you need is good pair of running shoes and a training program, which you can get online for free.”
3. Make Eggs Your Friend.
“Eggs are very inexpensive and have been shown over and over to help with weight loss,” says registered dietitian Cassie Bjork. “What’s more, eggs are considered the most bio-available source of protein, which means your body digests, absorbs and uses the protein in eggs better than in any other food in the world.”
4. Meal Prep.
“Grabbing a quick snack, whether it be a snack bar or a piece of fruit costs far more at a coffee shop, airport or gas station than it does at a grocery store or farmer’s market,” says Dudash. To avoid spending unnecessary cash when hunger strikes, she recommends building a clean eating arsenal stocked with grab-and-go pieces of fruit, like apples, pears, and bananas.
5. Re-Purpose Leftovers.
You may not have enough leftovers to squeeze out a second meal, but that doesn’t mean you should throw the food out! “Wasted food is wasted money,” says Schapiro. “Leftover fruits and vegetables can always be added to a smoothie or protein shake and vegetable and grain scraps can be added to a soup, a stir-fry, or omelet.”