With all of the trendy superfoods (think fancy protein powders, turmeric elixirs, and coconut matcha lattes), it can appear that losing weight and being healthy is all about spending money on expensive foods. Spoiler alert: it isn’t. You can eat well (and deliciously) while losing weight on a budget. “It’s all about getting back to basics,” says EliteLifestyleNutrition’s Kelly Satterlee, M.S., RD. Here are 7 tips for losing weight on a budget.
1. Reduce food waste
Consider that the average family of four in the United States wastes approximately $1,500 in food each year. Satterlee estimates that buying foods that can be easily repurposed for different meals throughout the week can save at least $100 per month. For example, she says that if you hard-boil eggs, you can eat them as a snack early in the week and later in the week as a salad topper. Don’t throw away any avocado: a quarter might go on your omelet, but the rest can be mashed up with salt and lime juice for an easy guac to go with taco salad. Hummus is a great dip for vegetables, but the rest can be used as a spread for turkey sandwiches.
2. Skip organic (sometimes)
You’ve decided to eat more fruits and vegetables, which is a good idea because they have fewer calories but provide filling fiber (and volume). Organic produce, on the other hand, is prohibitively expensive. So, what are your options? Skip organic and load up on conventional fruits and vegetables. “If organics are out of your price range, you don’t have to buy them to lose weight or be healthy,” Satterlee says. Eating more fruits and vegetables, whether organic or not, will help you consume more fiber while also increasing your intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
However, keep in mind that you can buy produce at farmers’ markets. Locally grown produce from small farms is not always certified, but it is frequently grown organically (you can ask the farmers about their growing methods). According to Satterlee, going to the farmers’ market right before closing time can help you negotiate some serious deals. And, for about 30% less than grocery store prices, companies like Imperfect Produce (available in select cities) will send you a box of “ugly” produce (that’s perfectly edible).
If organic is important to you, the Environmental Working Group has identified the foods that are the most contaminated (and should be purchased organically), as well as the produce that is the cleanest and most pesticide-free (that you can buy conventional).
3. Buy frozen and canned produce instead
Frozen fruits and vegetables used to be pretty boring. However, frozen products such as carrot spirals, cauliflower rice, and zoodles are now available for a reasonable price. Many frozen vegetables are just as nutritious (if not more so) than their fresh counterparts, and they’re usually low in calories if purchased without added sauces. Because of their unique prep-spiraled, riced texture, they’re also easier to incorporate into meals.
Canned vegetables are frequently overlooked, but keeping canned vegetables in the pantry is an excellent way to ensure that you always have vegetables on hand (we are partial to corn and tomatoes; see our top 5 canned veggies ranked here). Choose canned vegetables that haven’t been salted, or compare cans to find one with less sodium.
4. Try meal delivery services
Before you scoff at the prices of meal delivery services like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, or Plated, Satterlee claims they actually save her money. “I realized I was spending more money at the grocery store than when I bought a subscription service, and many of my clients have discovered the same thing,” she says. This is because they provide small amounts of high-quality, specialty ingredients, eliminating the need to purchase larger quantities that would otherwise go to waste. And, while they are pricey, they make dinner at home feel like date night in, which is almost always less expensive than date night out.
Meal delivery subscriptions also encourage more home cooking (and learning how to play chef at home), which has been linked to a healthier BMI and lower body fat levels, according to research published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.
If meal kits are out of your price range, try one of our cheap dinner recipes for a nice dinner at home, or stick to this healthy meal plan on a budget.
5. Add beans
Beans aren’t the most enticing foods, but guess what? They’re also some of the most affordable—especially if you buy them dried and soak them overnight before cooking. They’re also good for your waistline. According to a meta-analysis of 21 trials published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating one daily serving of pulses (beans, dried peas, chickpeas, lentils) was associated with an additional 0.75-pound weight loss over a six-week period compared to diets lacking these foods. It may appear modest, but keep in mind that it is the downward trend that is important—and participants were not making other dietary changes to lose weight. That sounds pretty easy. Beans are also one of the least expensive protein sources available.
6. Just slow down
A 2018 study published in BMJ Open found that people who ate more slowly reduced their BMI and belly fat more effectively than fast eaters. The reason is simple (and self-evident): when you scarf your food, you are more likely to overeat. Slow down, and you’ll be just as satisfied with less—and have leftovers to prove it.
Even though it sounds simple, slowing down can be difficult, especially if you’re constantly on the go. Limit distractions (put your phone away and turn off the TV) and try to put your fork down between bites to slow down.
7. Try the 5 Day Fat Burning Detox Water Challenge
One of the cheapest and most effective ways to lose unwanted weight is by doing the 5 Day Fat Burning Detox Water Challenge. This particular detox is meant to help you lose weight and feel great. The detox is super easy to do- all you have to do is drink this solution for five days in a row. The water will help cleanse your body, flush out toxins, and curb cravings. Here’s what you need:
- Puncture the lid of a standard water bottle with a sharp object.
- Fill the water bottle halfway with filtered, cold water and then add half as much lemon juice before filling the rest of the way up with filtered, cold water.
- After each sip, swish to mix everything together thoroughly.
- Drink this mixture for five consecutive days and abstain from alcohol or caffeinated beverages while doing so (lemon juice can make you more susceptible to caffeine).
- Finish off by drinking a serving of bone broth. Lemon juice can make you more susceptible to caffeine and alcohol’s effects. Lemon juice can make you more susceptible to caffeine and alcohol’s effects.