Friday, January 14, 2011
Lean Body, Fat Wallet
Here are a few ideas on how to get lean and eat healthy on a budget.
Meal Planning- Meal planning is the first defense and will save money and calories. This one act, if you are not currently doing it, will probably save hundreds of dollars a month on groceries. If you don't think you can do it read this.
Use coupons- People tend to shun the word coupon like they do the word Meal Plan. They have tried it before and did a lot of work and felt like it really didn't save much money. Well I bet they did it the wrong way the first time, I know because I did the same thing a few times over! The key is to get a lot of coupons and wait until the item goes on sale then stock up. There have been many times when I paid hardly anything and I walked away with bags and bags of groceries. You think I am exaggerating? Not even close in fact those diehard coupon ladies will confess that stores end up practically paying them money in the end. There is a science to couponing the right way. (See the links below).
At one point I decided to stop using coupons because I was too tempted to buy unhealthy food. You can get junk food for almost free with coupons. Seriously, hamburger helper for 10 cents, chips, cereal, cookies all for pennies. Manufactures know this, in fact, they are banking on it. This is why coupons exist, to get those who watch for coupons to buy something that they would not buy anyway. It is possible, however, to use coupons and eat healthy but it does take practice. First of all coupons are not just for food. I still have a years supply of shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant and razors that I got for nearly free. You can stock up on nonfood items and leave room in the grocery budget for good, fresh foods. By the way, did you know that studies show that most people that use coupons are well educated and wealthier than those who don't? You can read about it here.
Here are some coupon links -
Store Food when you can: Since I am a Mormon I am a believer in food storage. When I started focusing on clean eating and weight loss I began to be extra lazy about keeping a good storage of food. I was suddenly trying to avoid all whites (flour, sugar, rice) and canned foods so I stopped focusing on buying extras of these items. But then we hit a financial crisis, a bad one. One that I had never known. There was no money left for a time - at all. We had to live out of the cupboard. Boy was I ever grateful for what I had and wished that I had not lost that focus. I have sworn since to NEVER let my storage go down so far again. For me I believe it is much better for my family to have a storage of items on hand and use them in our meals. There is much security in this and if they are mixed just right with fresh foods they can help save money with out denting the nutritional intake of the family. My neighbor taught me something so simple but helpful. At every meal they have one fruit and one veggie. One is canned and one is fresh. That way they get their fresh foods and use their canned foods as well.
Grow a Garden: I know this seems like a given for some while others are completely baffled by the idea and its possibility. We have had a beautiful garden the last couple of years and I am completely garden illiterate so it is possible to learn how to do. There is nothing better than going to the garden and picking ripe tomatoes for dinner or green peppers for fajitas. It takes time and a little tender loving care but can save money in the end if done right. There is also a therapeutic aspect to gardening that I didn't expect.
Buy in Bulk: When possible buy items that you know you will use in bulk. Bulk items are usually much less expensive. Resist buying foods and items in bulk that you don't need. Enter Sam's club and Coscto with caution, telling your self at every corner to buy only the things that you need.
Stay away from extremes: If you are tight on money it is probably not the time to buy all organic, or go buy the latest and greatest supplements for body building. Those things take money. All in order and good planning. One month when I focused on all the most "healthy" options for food our grocery spending was DOUBLE what it usually is. Whoaa! I had to resort my priorities.
Watch calories- Counting calories is also like budgeting, in fact the two are so similar that it is scary. If a person is watching calories chances are they will start dumping expensive snack foods too which will help their waistlines shrink and their wallets grow.
Ban Fast Food- I challenge all readers to look at their fast food transactions for last month and see if they could have bought a cruise (around $300) for what they paid in fast food. Sad to say most Americans can. Fast food adds up not only in dollars but in calories. I can't tell you how many times someone has said to me, "I don't know why I am overweight, I only eat once or twice a day, it may be fast food but still I don't eat anything else." Last time I went to McDonalds I added up the calories to my measly meal. 1600 calories! Chicken sandwich, small fry, Rootbeer. 1600 calories! That is an entire day of calories. 2 times of that a day would be 3200 calories. I can't even imagine what some of the other fastfood options would be calorie wise especially with what super-sizes were. It adds up quickly.
Might I add that I am FAR from perfect here. I know that there are abundant experts on this subject and I am sadly not one of them. I am trying to learn. The great thing about having a blog is that it is like writing research papers for something that you are passionate about. I would LOVE any addition comments or ideas on this from readers.