Life was all so easy as a kid. Your parents bought and cooked your food and your metabolism was running on overtime. From the time you woke up in the morning to the time you went to bed, you were constantly moving (and burning calories). Flash forward a few years. You went from hours of studying to hours spent at the office, and it became increasingly more difficult to fit cooking and exercise into your busy schedule. Another consequence of growing up? More expenses. As rent, utilities, car payments, and student loans all pile up, sometimes it feels overwhelming to budget for things like healthy food and fitness.
We get it. This is tough stuff, but we’re here to tell you that you can still eat well and find time for fitness on a budget. Try our simple steps, and then tell us what you think!
1. Plan ahead.
Eating well on a budget starts before you even step foot in the grocery store. Even if you’re the kind of person who cringes at the thought of using a planner, we assure you that doing a little advanced planning never hurt anyone. Promise. Here’s how you can use those organizational skills to your advantage when trying to live a healthy, budget conscious lifestyle.
- Plan meals ahead of time so you don’t waste time and money making last-minute trips to the grocery store. Check out The Everygirl’s guides for ideas on how to plan a week’s worth of delicious lunches and dinners: here, here and here!
- Make a grocery list before you go to the store. And when you get there, avert your eyes from anything not on your list! And one tip to shopping healthily: stick to the perimeter of the store where fresh produce, meats, and products that expire are kept! Fresh = good! Ignore the packaged, processed products in the middle aisles.
- Make it a point to eat before you go grocery shopping. Do not go to the grocery store hungry. We repeat: Do not go hungry.
2. Buy produce in season.
This may require a little creativity as far as cooking goes, but buying produce in season is much less expensive than the alternative. A month ago we walked past the first batch of cherries at the grocery store and just about cried when we saw the price ($10.99 / lb. No thank you.). Check out RipeTrack for an easy way to tell which produce is in season.
3. Be an educated consumer.
To eat organic or not to eat organic? It’s a hot topic these days. If you are interested in eating organic but can’t afford to buy everything this way, follow the rule of the dirty dozen & clean fifteen. Not all produce is grown equal, and these simple lists by the Environmental Working Group will help you decide what’s worth buying organic. And if you can’t afford organic at all, try not to worry about it. Eating non-organic produce is still much better for you than skipping produce altogether.
4. Join a fitness club.
Working out with others will help keep you accountable and – bonus! – you may even meet some new like-minded friends in the process. Check out your local fitness store for possible options, or even just head on over to Google and type in the name of your city, name of your preferred exercise method, and the word “club.” For example: I’m in Minneapolis and am a runner, and a quick google search of “Minneapolis running club” yielded tons of possible options right here in the city.
5. Go outdoors.
From lakes and oceans to trails and parks, there are so many outdoor locations to use for an awesome workout—and to soak up some Vitamin D in the process! Whether it’s swimming, running, walking, or biking, there are plenty of great ways to stay in shape at little to no cost to you.
6. Find free workout classes.
It’s no secret that gym memberships can be expensive. However, many gyms and fitness studios offer trial passes or classes that are completely free. And some cities are also offering up free fitness classes to residents. Some free classes worth mentioning across the country:
- Lululemon: Free yoga classes
- Corepower Yoga: Free week of unlimited classes for new students
- Nike Training Club and Nike Running Club: Free classes and group runs
- Boston Parks: Free fitness classes in parks across the city. Check out the full schedule here.
- Millenium Park, Chicago: Free fitness classes on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the summer
- Anytime Fitness: Free 7 day trial pass for new customers
- Shape Up NYC: Free fitness classes every week at different locations across the city
But if you’re really into a gym membership but don’t want to pay full price, keep an eye on Groupon for deals.
7. Get enough sleep.
Sleep helps regulate your appetite so you are more likely to stop eating when full and also more likely to make better food choices throughout the day. Score. Sleep will also help you make better decisions when it comes to working out and will help reduce your risk of injury while exercising. And if you’re anything like us, sleep will probably help your budget, too. For us, less sleep = more caffeine cravings = more impromptu coffee shop stops = more $$$ spent.
Following these simple steps will hopefully inspire you to live a healthy lifestyle while staying on budget. If you have any other tips for healthy living on a budget, we’d love for you to share them in the comments!