The number one New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. The first few weeks of January are past and a lot of people are sticking to that resolution. I’m on a double diet. I’m trying to lose weight and control spending. It’s turning into a real challenge.
For many, dieting is synonymous with eating healthier and changing eating habits. But, let’s face it; eating healthy can be more expensive than eating on the cheap. Food venders caught on to the dieting madness long ago. You can purchase high-priced diet food in every department of the supermarket, from frozen entrees to 100 calorie snack packs. Convenience foods are a big seller and the downfall of many frugal dieters.
Most diets call for the addition of fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s a well known fact that fresh fruits and vegetables are required for a healthy lifestyle. Fresh fruits and vegetables are expensive, especially in the winter.
So what’s a frugal dieter to do? Spend the money and lose the weight or stay frugal and fat? Through trial and error, I’ve found that you can indeed stay frugal and lose weight. Here are a few tips that I would like to share.
Substitute frozen fruits and vegetables for fresh: With today’s modern flash freeze methods, very few nutrients are lost in the freezing process. This makes most frozen food the closest to fresh that you can get. Look for store brand frozen fruit such as blueberries, strawberries, mixed berries and peaches. These are comparable to name brand in taste and quality. Never buy frozen fruit with sugar added. When purchasing frozen vegetables, store brand are not as good as name brand, they tend to have lower quality stems and ends added. Look for sales on name brands and stock up. Stay away from anything that has additives like butter sauce or cheese sauce.
Shop the soup isle: Calorie-wise and cost per serving, there are many good soups that will keep you on track with your diet. My favorite brand is Campbell’s Select Harvest Light. At $1.50 per can you get two servings at around 80 calories and no MSG. You also get lots of veggies, taste and fiber. The sodium content is rather high, so watch out if you are on a salt-restricted diet. Shop for best prices and look for coupons. Stores such as drug stores and dollar stores often carry soups at a reasonable price. I have found great prices at places like Walgreens, Fred’s Dollar Store and Family Dollar.
Repackage or prepackage: Don’t fall for the over-priced convenience packs. You can easily pack your own snacks. Invest in a nice little thermos to take your soup to work in. Repackage crackers, cookies, veggies or sliced cheese in little zip lock baggies. If you’re short on time during the workweek, do it on Sunday for the entire week.
Make your own oatmeal: Don’t buy the presweetened, highly enriched kind. Not only is it much more expensive, it’s not any better for you. The same goes for cereal, the more additives and the higher the cost. Plain shredded wheat cereal is a good diet alternative, nothing but wheat and full of vitamins and fiber which will help curb your appetite. Try munching on it dry for a quick snack.
Drink water: Water is the most overlooked, cheapest diet aide available on the market today. Water will help your body process the fat you are trying to lose. If you drink an eight ounce glass before a meal, you will consume less food. Don’t buy bottled water. If your home has bad tasting water, invest in a screw on type filter for the kitchen faucet. If your office has bad tasting water, fill a gallon jug or several bottles at home and take them with you.
Find free places to exercise: Walking is free and the best all-over form of exercise. Renew old friendships and form a walking club. Find a place with stairs or bleachers to add challenge to your walking routine. Make a jump rope out of rope you have laying around. Spend a night dancing to the oldies on the radio. Play ball with your kids. Make weights out of old milk jugs by adding sand. Chop wood. Clean house. There at least a thousand ways to exercise for free.
Turn off the Television and cancel the cable bill: This drastic step just might motivate you to get off the couch and find something to do. Any movement burns calories; sitting on your bum makes it wider. You will save money on the cable bill and may rediscover new ways to relax that are healthier for your mind and body. Try reading while taking a nice hot bath or chatting with a friend over a cup of hot green tea.
Invest in a good multi-vitamin: When shopping for a multi-vitamin, it’s important to compare labels. Often a much cheaper store brand contains the same vitamins that a name brand does. Also look at expiration dates. When dieting, sometimes it’s difficult to maintain a balanced eating regiment; vitamins will help you stay on track.
Eat breakfast: Change your eating habits and make breakfast the largest meal of the day. Breakfast foods are among the least expensive of all foods. Eat whole grains, dairy, protein and fruit. A good example of a healthy breakfast is a bowl of oatmeal, a slice of whole grain toast with peanut butter, half a cup of fruit and an 8 oz glass of low fat milk. A good breakfast will take you all the way through the morning without feeling hungry or run down. The calories you consume in the morning will burn away and calories you consume late in the evening are less likely to be used.
These are some of the ways that I keep my spending in check and stay on my diet. I hope some of these suggestions are useful. Dieting and staying frugal can be stressful, but if you use common sense and stay on track, it’s not so difficult.