Eating Healthy on a Budget Is Easier Than You May Think
Losing weight gets a bad rep. When most people think about dropping pounds, they imagine running themselves into the ground or subsisting on half a broccoli stalk and their memories of pizza. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
There are all kinds of diets and exercise plans that can be tailored to you and your family’s particular lifestyle. Moreover, you don’t have deposit your entire paycheck at a health-foods store to maintain good nutrition.
It’s something of a cruel joke that dieting will often cost you more than splurging on junk food, but such is life…
Or is it?
Sure, when you go to the grocery store and see ‘organic, hormone free, free range, never sad a day in its life, great relationship with its mother, passed peaceful in its sleep’ chicken priced at $30 a pop, it can be extremely off-putting financially. But, do you get an Egg McMuffin every morning before work? Hash browns? A coffee? That’s about $6 dollars a day and $30 dollars a week. You could get a box of Honey Nut Cheerios and a gallon of milk that’ll last you at least a week, for $7.
If you can find a diet that you enjoy (trust me, they are out there) then there are plenty of ways to stay on them without breaking the bank. Maybe a few suggestions will help.
The name Atkins is almost synonymous with the low carb diet. It has a straightforward hook, enjoy your meat. That isn’t to say go crazy, but protein is more likely to fill you up with less than carbs. Also, not to get too science crazy on you, but carbs are the last to be burned away and are stored as fat. If you’re worried about the price, Atkins has you covered there too with a Free Quick Start Kit when you sign up and a $5 Off coupon for additional products.
Every Other Day Diet
This one may sound crazy, but there’s actually some evidence to back it up. The general idea is to eat whatever you want (within reason) one day and then eat minimally the next. Talk about cutting down on food costs…
The good: The whole point is to not make dieting feel like an endless slog with no hope of a double cheeseburger in sight. Most people tend to give up under those conditions. Having your favorite foods a mere 24 hours away gives dieters a boosted sense of perseverance. The fact that you end up buying less food is a happy financial side effect.
The bad: You’re literally not eating (or only eating under 500 calories) every other day of the week. Even if the idea of that doesn’t terrify you, it can easily lead to overindulgence on the days you can eat, canceling out the effects of the diet and making the whole thing pointless. Finding a balance between healthy and indulgent eating on your up days is the best way to maximize this diet trend. Moreover, while there are promising results in adults, definitely don’t put a developing child on a diet like this.
Eat Lean Eat Clean
This isn’t really a trendy diet. There are no set guidelines. This will likely take some research on your part, but that’s the best way to get exactly what you want, the way you want.
When you boil weight loss down to math, it’s quite simple. You want to expend more calories than you take in. 3500 calories per pound to be exact. I have good news! You burn 2000 calories or so, (more if you’re bigger, fewer if you’re smaller) a day just from existing. Working out will burn even more.
You do need to take in some calories to… you know, not die. The source of these calories determines how healthy your diet is. A lean steak and a bottle of pop have around the same number of calories. One contains fats and proteins your body can break down to keep you strong and healthy, the other contains sugars and additives that are largely empty. What you pay for food is just like calories, it all depends what you want to spend it on.
Chicken thighs are going to be less expensive than chicken breast, which in turn will be less expensive than a ribeye. They are all strong sources of protein. Incidentally, the most expensive of the list is the fattiest.
Fancy premade salads may be on the expensive side, but the vegetables that go into them tend to be on the less expensive side. That extra money your spending is just to avoid cleaning, cutting, and combining. You could save quite a bit just doing those things yourself.
Water bottles featuring water advertised as being from some pristine untouched brook on the border of the snowiest peak of the Colorado Rockies and Nirvana will charge you an arm and a leg. That makes unhealthy juices and pops seem more attractive (and yes, delicious). However, a Brita pitcher is about 20 bucks and it will last you years with occasional filter replacements. Make healthy, but frugal choices.