5 easy tips for fueling fitness without breaking the bank
Becoming physically fit requires fueling your body with healthy food options. In a time of rising food costs, eating healthy can feel more expensive than ever. However, with these tips for fueling fitness while spending less at the grocery store, offered by Lisa Money, RDN, you’ll have a pantry full of excellent inexpensive options.
Brand name doesn’t always mean better
“People are a little hardwired to gravitate toward those brand names we know on sight,” said Money. “But often the only real differences between brand names and generic involve packaging and price.”
Those well-known brand names tend to invest more financially in their product, but usually, that investment is in the form of spending more on eye-catching designs and ads that stick in the mind. The store brand might be a little less flashy, but the product is identical (or nearly so), and the choice to forgo excess design and advertising means you’ll pay significantly less.
An average of 20–30 cents saved per item adds up during your usual grocery run and becomes an even more significant savings when you look at it over the course of a month, six months or a year.
Is a deal really a deal? Check the cost per unit
Buying in bulk is a great way to save on overall grocery prices, but those ‘buy in bulk’ suggestions can be deceptive. Look at the price listed on the shelf just below or above the food item and find out the cost per unit. This is often listed as the cost per ounce, especially for canned goods. For meat or produce, you might find this information directly on the packaging, too.
Consider buying a ‘family pack’ of lean protein like chicken, which might cost twice as much initially, but you can freeze the unused meat for use later and save by paying less per pound. A single whole roasted chicken could easily provide protein for suppers for multiple days in a row for less than $15.
Try out Meatless Monday
For many athletes, having a plan to get enough protein to support their muscle development and overall strength is their main focus, and meat prices are rising significantly. However, there are meatless options that offer plenty of muscle-building and fitness-fueling proteins.
While processed options like seitan can be pricey to pick up, there are some excellent, cheaper meatless proteins you can build a meal around. Try sticking to meatless meals once a week, and watch your savings grow.
Some great meatless protein options include tofu and edamame, Lentils, green peas and beans. Don’t forget that some dairy items like Greek yogurt can provide almost as much protein as meat.
Keep eating your faves, with a few cost-saving changes
“One of the best ways to save without feeling like you’re having to give up all your favorites is to check out recipes for those favorite meals that switch out some of the more expensive ingredients with cheaper substitutions that still taste great,” said Money.
One example might be cooking your mom’s best meatloaf recipe but adding some mashed red kidney beans in place of some of the called-for meat or using oatmeal to help create satiety and bulk. Do you love a delicious grilled chicken sandwich? Take all those between-bread ingredients and eat them on cheaper-to-buy rice instead.
Don’t go get groceries without a list and a plan
It’s easy to make a quick run to the store to grab a few things for a meal that night. And then to do it again the next night, and the next and the next. Before you know it, those little ‘unexpected’ grocery store trips are adding up.
Cut out all that extraneous spending by sitting down once per week and making a list of planned meals and the ingredients you need to purchase to create them. Less expensive but still healthy food options to add to your weekly meal plan include:
- Grains: Rolled oats, barley, pasta, Cream of Wheat, grits, rice
- Vegetables: Cabbage, potatoes, carrots, frozen peas and other vegetables, corn, canned tomatoes and corn
- Fruits: Bananas, apples, dried fruits, canned fruit, and fruits currently in season
- Dairy: Milk, yogurt, cottage cheese
- Protein: Beans, lentils, whole turkey or chicken, peanut butter, ground turkey, peanuts, canned tuna or salmon
With a list in hand, you’re more likely to stick to your meal plan and less likely to fall victim to all those delicious, expensive impulse purchases.
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