Disclaimer: I’m not a nutritionist. Please ask your doctor if you have concerns about starting weight loss.
It’s that time of year where everyone’s made their resolutions, and a really popular one is to lose weight. You see it advertised everywhere: gyms are offering sign-up deals, all of the healthy, organic foods are on sale this month at the grocery stores… January is a great time to start anew and get your health in order, but it seems like you have to spend a ton of money to lose weight!
John and I reached our goal weight last year, and continue to maintain our weight on a budget. Here are 4 tips to eating on a budget while losing weight that we followed (and still do), and will hopefully help you see how you can still eat healthy without spending a ton!
Eat smaller portions
Remember that I’m not telling you to starve yourself; it’s natural that when you want to lose weight, you control your portion size. Calories in < calories out; that’s the “secret” to weight loss, and eating smaller portions will help.
When John and I first started our weight loss journey, it was hard to get into the habit of carefully measuring my recipes every time, but now it’s second nature. Whenever I cook something, I figure out how many servings it has, then fill our plates and containers with each serving before we eat. That way we know exactly how much we’re supposed to eat. As a result, we ended up saving money on groceries because we had more leftovers every week!
Figuring out servings and calories isn’t difficult, either. MyFitnessPal has a recipe calculator; you can either enter the ingredients manually, or paste the URL of the recipe and it’ll automatically find the ingredients and calculate everything for you! I use it every day and it’s a big time-saver.
If you find that you have way too many leftovers from doing this, either halve the recipe or freeze the individual servings to eat later. We’ve had to freeze leftovers many times, but it just means you now have a “free” dinner for next week that you don’t have to buy or prepare!
Eat what’s in season
This is a great tip in general, but even more so if you’re trying to eat healthier and lose weight. We love strawberries, but in the winter when they’re out of season, the price for a pound can be up to $4.00! I wait till late spring/early summer when the price goes down to $1.00-$1.50 a pound, and then we eat them like crazy.
I’ll also buy a bunch and freeze them to use in things like pancakes and smoothies. Another good example is butternut/spaghetti squash and sweet potatoes; they go on sale in the winter, so I find myself buying and eating more then. Check out this helpful list of in-season produce!
For when items are out of season, buying bags of frozen produce will do just as well! I always stock up on frozen broccoli, peas, green beans, and corn when they go on sale for $1.00 or less per 1-pound bag.
Make sure you check the ingredients before buying to make sure it’s JUST vegetables, with no added butter sauce or anything. It’s super easy to just throw them in the microwave, and now we have a simple, healthy side item for our dinner.
Stop buying junk snacks
I don’t know about you, but my weaknesses are chocolate and cookies. If they’re in the house, I’ll eat them and probably binge. Your weakness might be potato chips, or something else. Resist the temptation in the first place, and just don’t buy it. You’ll end up saving money this way!
As an alternative, if you have pretty good self-control, keep a SMALL portion of it in the house. Buy a snack-size bag of chips, or a small candy bar to nibble on throughout the week. Losing weight doesn’t mean you have to give up every food you love; just eat in smaller amounts and make it fit in your daily allotment!
Make your own snacks/snack bars
If you have the time and resources, making your own snack bars can really help with your budget! I love my Brownie Larabar Bites because they’re just 3 simple ingredients and can be made in a few minutes. Instead of buying the packaged 100-calorie packs, try packaging your own carefully-measured crackers, chips, or popcorn.
One of my favorite snacks- don’t judge me- is turkey pepperoni. I buy packages at Aldi for pretty cheap, and I’ll take it with me during outings. It has a lot of protein, and paired with a couple woven wheat crackers, I’ve got a really good snack for about 130 calories.
Because I don’t want to just leave you all hanging, I want to share a couple resources that have helped me and John lose weight.
MyFitnessPal– I can’t sing this site’s praises enough. I signed up in March 2015, when I started my weight loss journey, and while it was hard at first to log everything, it was a real eye-opener to see how much I was eating and how easy it is to overeat. I still log everything even in Maintenance mode, and I use it to make sure I’m reaching my macros every day. Feel free to send me a friend request!
Fitbit– I know Fitbits can be expensive, but getting one gave me the motivation to be more active and lose weight. Reaching 10,000 steps every day is a must for me, and it’s fun to see all of my meters turn green to say I reached my goals. You can send me a friend request here, too!
Weight Loss Goal Met! 20 Pounds Lost in 8 Months– This is my entire weight loss journey starting from the beginning. I highlight everything I did, including all the struggles. I highly recommend you read this if you’re in a funk like I was!
What other tips would you recommend? Share with us in the comments!
Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.