If you think you need to spend a lot of money to lose weight, you can blame the expensive juice detoxes and plans that call for super powders and other uncommon ingredients. While you can spend a ton of money on such plans, you don’t have to.
“Specialty products are in no way necessary to eat healthy and lose weight,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, RDN, author of “The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club.” “Some of the least expensive foods are the most nutritious and helpful for weight loss.”
Eating right, working out and potentially hiring an expert to help don’t need to cost your entire paycheck. Here’s how to slim down and save cash:
EATING RIGHT FOR LESS
BUY FROZEN PRODUCE
“Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh ones, if not more so. Because they are frozen at the peak of ripeness, they retain more nutritional value than those that sit in a warehouse, then on a truck, then in the store and then in your house,” Harris-Pincus says. “Plus you waste less if you use frozen.”
SHOP THE BULK AISLE
Things like oats, grains, dried beans and nuts don’t perish easily and can be cheaper to buy in bulk versus in prepackaged containers. Compare and stock up on the things you use often.
HIT THE SALES
As you plan your meals each week, check the sales flyers online. “Buy things that will last a couple of weeks,” Harris-Pincus says. “For example, some kind of Greek yogurt is on sale almost every week.” That will stay fresh in your fridge. Also, don’t forget coupons and the loyalty programs many supermarkets offer.
FREEZE YOUR OWN
When fresh fruit is cheap in the summer, buy it, wash it, dry it thoroughly and then freeze it. Now you have blueberries you can enjoy in November, for way less than what they’d cost in November.
“Planning for the week is best way to save money because you will decrease food waste, and food waste is probably the biggest expense we have,” Harris-Pincus says. So, say bulk packs of ground beef are on sale;buy one. You can make burgers, meatballs, tacos and lasagna. Freeze things in individual portions for easy reheating on busy nights.
READ MORE > A NO-FAIL MEAL PLANNING AND BATCH COOKING PLAN
“Store brands are cheap and of equal quality,” says Harris-Pincus, adding that sometimes the organic store brand version of a product costs less than the non-organic national brand.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
“People think they need a protein bar and it’s $2.50. Just have an apple and a tablespoon of peanut butter,” Harris-Pincus says. “It doesn’t need to be fancy to eat healthy and lose weight. Eggs are some of cheapest form of high-quality protein there is.”
SAVING WHILE SWEATING
TRY ONLINE WORKOUTS
There are a lot of great free online workouts, and many don’t require equipment. Just be sure to do a workout from an instructor who is certified and modify exercises if necessary.
Similarly, some trainers post workouts on Pinterest. Search for what you’re looking for — HIIT, cardio, at home, etc. — and you’ll find workouts for days.
HIT UP THE LIBRARY
“Borrow some DVDs and see if you like them. If there’s one you love, then you can buy it,” Harris-Pincus says. You can often find them online at a discount, too.
LIFT YOUR BODYWEIGHT
You can use your body to exercise and lose weight. But, if you want to buy some equipment, items such as jump ropes, resistance bands and light weights don’t cost much.
CHECK YOUR INSURANCE
Some insurance plans cover nutrition counseling, depending on your circumstances. It never hurts to give your provider a call and check whether meeting with an RD is part of your benefits. You may have a copay or be able to get a number of sessions for free.
CONSIDER A WORK WELLNESS PROGRAM
If your company offers a program, you may be able to find support groups or at least connect with coworkers who are also trying to lose weight and take walks at lunch, share healthy recipes and be there when one of you is having a tough day.