Healthy Living on a Budget

Getting more for your money

Healthy Living on a Budget

Living a healthy lifestyle, including eating healthy and preparing recipes on a budget, is something that everyone can do, regardless of income.

A common misconception among many is that a healthy lifestyle is reserved only for the elite—those who can afford a fancy health club membership and a $25 Cobb salad. This is simply not true.

Living a healthy lifestyle, which includes getting sufficient exercise and fuelling the body with food to maintain and maximize your activity level, is something that everyone can do, regardless of income.

By implementing the following tips into your lifestyle, you will notice a jump in your energy level, a boost in your mood, and an overall feeling of better health. You will also see that your bank account will not have suffered. In fact, you may notice that your balance is looking a bit fatter, as a healthy lifestyle often results in saving money.

Get in on group deals

You may already have heard of online group deal providers, such as Groupon and TeamBuy, who offer subscribers daily deals for local businesses, such as restaurants, retail stores, and fitness providers. These deals are nearly always impressive, offering goods and service vouchers for a minimum of 50 percent off.

These sites often collaborate with fitness providers, though not gyms per se. Rather, they will offer deals such as one-month unlimited yoga or four weeks of boot camp at a significantly reduced price.

Sign up for a (free) subscription with onespout.com, a website that compiles the best daily deals from over 50 websites and sends a list of local ones to you.

Buy in bulk; buy basic

Purchasing whole, basic ingredients ensures that you know exactly what you’re getting—no preservatives, no additives. And buying these ingredients in bulk will do wonders for your bottom line.

Take a stroll down your local natural health food store’s bulk aisle and you’ll find an array of tasty foods that, when thrown together, make a healthy and affordable meal. Fill up on whole grains, pasta, beans, dried fruits, seeds, and nuts and you’ve got the makings of some hearty, nutritious salads, soups, cereals, and stews.

Grow your own

Growing your own produce is the cheapest way to nourish yourself and your family. For just a few dollars, you can purchase a packet of seeds that will yield you loads of bounty.

In a recent American research report, it was found that the average 600 square-foot food garden costs $70 per year to maintain and produces $600 worth of produce per year—that’s a savings of $530!

In addition, gardening is excellent exercise and a wonderful reason to get outside and enjoy some fresh air. The average 145 lb (66 kg) person burns 313 calories per hour gardening. So get out there and grow some greens!

For tips on growing your own, look for alive’s gardening series including “The urban gardener” (April 2011) and “Let us consider what to plant” (May 2011), with the third and fourth articles of the series appearing in the July 2011 and September 2011 issues of alive.

Buy organic, selectively

Another common assumption among many people is that eating an organic diet is much more costly than a nonorganic one. This is both true and false.

For example, an organic frozen pizza is bound to cost more than the nonorganic variety, as are organic canned soups, frozen dinners, and snack foods. The best way to avoid this markup is to avoid these prepackaged foods altogether, as even the organic versions are sometimes loaded with sodium and sugar.

Opt instead for bulk items (organic where available), which are extremely affordable, and fresh fruits and veggies. But since some organic produce can be pricey, choose selectively, avoiding produce on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list (12 fruits and vegetables that were found to contain between 47 and 67 pesticides per serving):

  • celery
  • peaches
  • strawberries
  • apples
  • blueberries
  • nectarines

By purchasing these items from organic producers, you can reduce your pesticide consumption by up to 80 percent.

Go play outside

Who needs a gym membership when all around us are trails to walk on, parks to play in, and mountains to hike up? If you don’t already have a gym membership, consider getting your workouts outside. If you do have a gym membership, look into the terms of your contract—you may want to consider cancelling your membership and taking it outside.

Different activities such as walking, running, and hiking are excellent forms of exercise—and they’re free. For a full-body workout, throw in some push-ups on a park bench; pull-ups at the local playground; and sit-ups, squats, and lunges on the field.

As you can see, health is not exclusive to the wealthy. All it takes is a bit of creativity, a smidgen of elbow grease, and a spot of preparation. With the positive impact you’ll notice in your energy level and in your pocket, it is well worth the effort.

Preparation is key

Taking just a little bit of time out of your weekend to make a few preparations for the coming week can prevent you from making those unplanned stops at the nearest coffee chain or fast-food restaurant. The following five tips will help you stay on track with your new, improved healthy lifestyle.

  • Chop up vegetables such as carrots, peppers, celery, and radishes, and divide them among individual containers for grab-and-go convenience.
  • Make a large quinoa, rice, pasta, or green salad and keep in an airtight bowl with a lid for stress-free meals.
  • Make your own granola rather than purchasing the boxed variety, which is often loaded with sugar (see recipe below).
  • Plan your meals ahead of time, do all your grocery shopping once a week, and never shop hungry.
  • Don’t have time for a sit-down meal? Skip the drive-thru and make a smoothie (see recipe below).

Recipes

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Asparagus with Foamy Hollandaise

Incredible Mushrooms

White Bean Dip