Inflation has many families taking a closer look at their spending habits. They’re weighing cheaper options for TV services and cell phone plans. They’re trying to eat out less and pinch pennies at the grocery store.
Many of these people also want to live in ways that promote their mental and physical well-being. But living a healthy lifestyle can be expensive. Between gym memberships, buying organic, and eating clean, it’s difficult to be frugal and fit.
Is it possible to stay healthy and not break the bank? With some creativity and discipline, you can find ways to live well and save money at the same time. Here are five tactics budget-conscious people can use to start living better right now.
1. Buy Healthy Food With a Longer Shelf Life
Let’s face it: Fresh produce isn’t always a cost-effective purchase. That’s because fresh fruits and vegetables spoil more quickly than frozen or canned ones. A better solution is purchasing frozen fruits and vegetables, which can last in a freezer for months. Fresh produce might last only a week or two.
Another great option for getting all the health benefits of fruits and vegetables is using super greens powder. You receive many of the same good nutrients without dealing with any food waste. Like frozen foods, green powders have a longer shelf life than fresh produce. You can also consider canned fruits and veggies. Be sure to read the labels, though, as some canned foods contain unnecessary sugars or preservatives that aren’t good for you.
2. Plan Nutritious Meals and Leverage Leftovers
It takes a little bit of forethought, but planning healthy meals each week can save you money. Shop for nutrient-rich and preservative-free food like free-range chicken and frozen fruits and veggies. Then turn them into nutritious stir-fries, soups, and casseroles that can do double-duty as one night’s dinner and the next day’s lunch. Doing this helps you to avoid spending money unnecessarily on unhealthy lunch at a restaurant.
Rather than regard leftovers as a ho-hum byproduct of your cooking efforts, plan meals with them in mind. A single poached chicken can become the base for veggie-laden chicken tacos, chicken salad, or chicken chili. Meanwhile, the broth will yield a delicious risotto or warming chicken noodle soup. By taking the “planned-overs” approach to meal prep, you’ll both save money and eat better. Unlike takeout or restaurant meals, which contain unknown amounts of oil and salt, you know what you’re consuming when you eat your own leftovers.
3. Take Advantage of Tech
You can do more with your mobile devices than post TikTok videos and snoop on your co-workers’ Instagram feeds. These days, many grocery stores and other places where you buy food have mobile apps that can save you money. Whether it’s through digital coupons or frequent shopper programs, make the most of retailer apps that offer discounts or give cash back. Apps such as Fetch, Rakuten, and Upside also allow you to earn gift cards or money back when you shop.
Before you hit the grocery store, use a recipe app or website to plan healthy meals. Many of these apps allow you to customize meals based on your nutritional preferences. If you need gluten-free or dairy-free recipes, for example, many sites will help you plan accordingly. You can also specify if you need low-sodium or low-calorie dishes. Use your iPhone or Android to save money on food and eat well at the same time!
4. Work Out at Home
Gym memberships can be expensive. Many gyms require you to sign a long-term contract that you most likely won’t take full advantage of. Save money by buying a few pieces of equipment that will allow you to work out at home. You can get a kettlebell or set of dumbbells to do weight training, while a jump rope provides instant cardio. YouTube has hundreds of videos from fitness experts that lead you through workouts that match the intensity level you desire.
Just like grocery stores apps and recipe planners, there are dozens of fitness apps available. Many of these are either inexpensive or cost nothing at all. You can track the miles you walk/run in your neighborhood, monitor your heart rate, and plan daily workouts. Working out at home can save you a ton of money and help you maintain your physical health.
5. Get Outside With the Family
An underrated low-cost way to keep your entire family healthy is to get outside and get moving. You can take family walks around the neighborhood. You can go to a local park and throw around a football or a frisbee. If you have smaller children, find a playground. Increasing outside play time and reducing screen time benefits everyone.
Another cheap option for having healthy fun together is to explore nearby state or national parks. You can search for national parks near you on the National Park Service website. Many of these locations have free or low-cost entry and offer numerous activities your family can enjoy. Whether you’re hiking, biking, swimming, or paddling, parks are a great way to stay active at little expense.
Living a healthy life doesn’t mean draining your bank account. With a little planning and discipline, you can save money and push toward your health goals in the process. Take advantage of these tips and help your family and yourself to feel great physically. You — and your loved ones — will be glad you did.