It is commonly thought that it’s not possible to lose weight and save money at the same time, right?
You know the typical excuses:
Healthy food is so expensive.
A gym membership costs a fortune.
Wouldn’t it be nice to find ways to actually lose weight and save money at the same time?
That is why I bring to you this list:
53 ways to lose weight and save money
This post contains affiliate links. You can just ignore them if you wish 🙂 If you order something through the link, then I will get a small fee – there’s no difference to the price you pay.
Now, I won’t list things such as using coupons, savings cards or choosing particular supermarket chains. My goal is to be global here. I want to simply make a list of things that you should keep in mind when you are planning your weight loss program and making choices for food and exercise.
I’ve always said that when it comes to losing weight the most important thing you need to do is to plan it well.
It’s the same thing with saving money while on a diet:
If you plan it well you will succeed.
Are you ready? So…. here’s a short version of the list:
…and then a longer version of the list:
1. Eat clean
When you start a healthy diet you will automatically save money as you will limit or no longer buy fast food, sodas, sugars or processed food. You might think that all that processed food doesn’t cost that much but it all adds up.
2. Buy according to season
Food that is in season and available in abundance right now will not only taste better but it will be distinctly more affordable as well.
BBC Good Food has a brilliant table on what’s in season and when.
3. Eat more fruits and vegetables
If you pay attention to the unit prices then fruits and vegetables have usually got quite low prices per pound/kilo. So just by adding a lot of them to your diet will probably save you money as you will be eating fruits and vegetables instead of food that costs more per unit.
4. Buy root vegetables
Root vegetables are among the cheapest healthy food you can buy. If you are prepared to buy bigger packages then there are often really good offers on root vegetables such as carrots and turnips/swedes/rutabaga. Root vegetables are amazing for oven roasted vegetables, stews and soups.
5. Choose the cheapest nutrition packed leafy greens
The world of leafy greens is wide and varied so you need to pick the best buys. One of the best things that you can buy is spinach, and when you consider all the nutrients you get from it it’s very affordable as well. You can eat spinach in your salad and add it to your smoothies or pretty much any dish you make.
Cabbage and kale are another cheap leafy greens with many health benefits and cabbage is possibly even more versatile than spinach. Wise Bread has compiled a list of 15 ways to prepare cabbage. If you don’t know what to do with your kale, take a look at these tips on how to cook kale by No Meat Athlete.
6. Cook from less expensive cuts of meat
Not every meat you buy needs to have a word ”filet” on it. Buy a Crock-Pot or a casserole and find online recipes on how to make meals from chuck roasts, shins and shoulders. They require more time in the oven but with very little work from your part you’ll end up with delicious tender stews.
Chicken legs or just thighs or drumsticks are usually very cheap and you can make delicious dishes from them. You can always remove the skin before cooking if you try to cut down on calories.
7. Ground meat is cheap and cheerful
Ground beef – as well as ground pork, turkey and chicken – is often an affordable source of protein and very versatile. If you’re running out of ideas then take a look at Buzz Feed’s 25 dinner ideas on ground beef or turkey.
8. Choose cheaper proteins
In general, meat is a more expensive source of protein.
Beans, lentils and other legumes contain a lot of protein and are a much cheaper option. Try some Indian recipes for flavorful vegetarian dishes. Just notice that some diets, for example paleo (including primal, Whole30 etc.) do not allow legumes.
Eggs are a great inexpensive protein and very versatile – you can add almost any vegetables and other proteins to your egg dishes. Eggs are not just for breakfast – you can easily build a lunch or dinner around eggs.
9. Canned food might be an option
Fresh food is obviously the first choice but there are canned food alternatives that you should consider. Canned tuna for example is a great affordable protein that you can easily add to your salad or have as a snack. Canned fruit is cheap too – just make sure it’s not preserved in syrup.
10. Remember that you can also buy frozen produce
Frozen vegetables are surprisingly cheap. Another great thing about them is that they are often picked when they are ripe and frozen straight away. You can use frozen vegetables for example in stir frys, pastas and soups.
Learn more about How to Cook with Frozen Vegetables.
Frozen berries are usually a lot cheaper than fresh ones and are great for smoothies. Notice, however, that it’s often advised that you should boil imported frozen berries before you eat them.
11. Oats are affordable grains
If your diet allows grains then they don’t get much cheaper and nutritious than oats. You can prepare oats in many ways and they make a particularly good breakfast. The Kitchn has 5 ways to prepare oats.
12. Fruits make a cheaper snack
Fruits such as watermelon or oranges make a great healthy and affordable snack, especially when they are in season. The watermelon is in season in the spring and summer and oranges in the winter.
Bananas are very affordable year round and make a great base for smoothies.
13. You can grow your own herbs
Store bought herbs are often very expensive and many recipes require just a stem or two. You can try growing your own herbs – or at least learn ways to make the store bought herbs last a little longer.
Planet Natural tells you how to grow your own herbs.
Serious Eats has an article on how to store fresh herbs.
14. Grow your own vegetables
If you have even a small garden of your own or a balcony, you can grow your own vegetables.
Reader’s Digest on the other hand lists 9 vegetables that you can grow indoors.
Oh my – I got so excited about this while making my research on this subject I (who haven’t even seen the sight of a green thumb) am actually considering trying to grow some tomatoes and cucumbers in my balcony this year!
15. Pick your berries and mushrooms
If you have a chance then you should definitely go and pick your own berries (like blueberries) and mushrooms. Here’s a few reasons why:
- They are superfood with a lot of vitamins and other nutrients
- They cost a lot if you buy them at a supermarket
- Picking them will be a great exercise
- You can take the whole family with you – it makes for a great day out
- You can stock your freezer with amazingly healthy food. Food that will help you lose weight and cost you absolutely nothing.
16. Make your own pastes, sauces and dressings
Making a lot by yourself is cheaper but it also allows you to make sure that what you eat is made of natural high quality ingredients without additives.
Salad dressings are one of the easiest things to do. Store bought dressings are often expensive and contain sugar and additives.
You can also make different types of pastes yourself. Peanut or almond butter for example are easy to make at home as well as Indian curry pastes.
17. Make your own bread and pastry
If you’re new to baking all you have to do is to find a basic bread recipe online and once you ”master” that, start experimenting with it! Remember that you can add vegetables such as crated carrots to your bread.
Pastry in particular is so much cheaper when you make it yourself. Again – there will be no additives and you know exactly what you are eating (so you can count the calories). If you know there will be leftovers or you’ve made a bigger patch of your favorites on purpose, just freeze them straight away.
18. Drink tap water
While you’re on a diet you are probably also paying attention to how much water you are drinking. You can spend a lot of money each month in drinks, so just drink tap water! You can also use filters if you like or need.
19. Make soups
Vegetable soups are such an inexpensive lunch or dinner.
20. Buy in bulk
There are several foods that you should consider buying in bulk, such as brown or basmati rice, potatoes, vegetables that are in season (the ones that store well and/or can be preserved), oats (and other grains) and legumes.
If you eat organic meat then you should take a look at how much you could save if you bought it in bulk and stored it in the freezer.
21. Cook in bulk
Choose a day – Sunday for example – when you cook a lot. Cook next weeks’ lunches and a couple of dinners beforehand. It will save you a lot of time when you’re busy with all the work during weekdays – and I’m sure we all know how hard it is to stick to our diet when we’re busy and don’t have time to prepare proper food.
Remember when you’re cooking in bulk that you can also freeze your food in serving sized portions.
22. Plan your grocery shopping
Planning your diet and deciding in advance what you’re going to buy (and sticking to it) from the supermarket – you can use my daily planner – will help you tremendously if you want to lose weight and save money.
23. Plan your main dishes around what’s on sale
I do this all the time. If chicken’s on sale, then that’s what I’ll have for the next couple of days etc.
If it’s a really good discount you might want to consider buying more so you can put some of it in the freezer.
24. Use your freezer wisely
If you buy a big chunk of meat you might want to cut it in half before freezing and freeze those pieces separately. This way you can prepare two different dishes from it and don’t have to eat it all at once.
Also, if you like your steak like I do and don’t have a big family to feed, you might want to cut the loin you bought to single servings and freeze them all separately.
If you like to marinade your steaks then you should marinade your steaks first and then freeze them. This way when you defrost them in your freezer the meat will be ready to be prepared straight away without you having to worry about marinading it after first defrosting it.
25. You can freeze fruits, vegetables and herbs too
A lot of things can be frozen: fruits and vegetables too! You might have lots of bananas that are getting too ripe and you know there’s no way you’ll be able to eat them and you’ll end up throwing them away. Just cut them to pieces and freeze them. You can use them later for smoothies.
Another problem that people often face is that there’s a recipe that only requires a little bit of something: like a little bit of fresh rosemary or ginger. You go to a store and buy some rosemary and ginger but only use one third of the product for the dish. You then store the rest of it in your fridge and eventually throw it away when it goes bad.
Does this sound familiar to you?
You can easily freeze fresh herbs and ginger. For fresh herbs just put them into a resealable freezer bag and store in the freezer. If you plan to use just the leaves later on it is best to remove the stems and just freeze the leaves.
Wikihow has great tips on how to freeze ginger.
26. Have just three meals a day
You do not need to have 5 – 6 meals a day to keep your metabolism running. Quite the opposite. If you’re diet allows it, have just three meals a day. It is OK though to have a snack between meals if you get hungry.
27. Check what you already have every now and then!
You might have a lot of food in your pantry and freezer. And they do have a best before date (even the ones that you have frozen). Plan your next meals around what you already have.
It is a good idea to do a proper inventory at least once a month so that you won’t end up throwing expired food away.
28. Try to shop just once a week
If you’re like me you go to a supermarket to buy some zucchini and you leave the store with two bags full of food. I make this mistake again and again. I just love browsing through things when I’m buying food and end up buying a lot more than I planned to. If you visit the supermarket just once a week you’ll save a lot of money!
29. Have a basic understanding of what everything costs
This seems very basic but I’ve noticed that there are a lot of people who don’t really take a look at how much their chicken or salad costs. Obviously, it’s great if you don’t have to but by understanding how much different products should cost you get a crasp on when the products are expensive or cheap.
30. Don’t just look just at the price of the product – take a look at the price per unit
This one is related to the previous tip. Always have a look at how much the product costs per pound or kilo. It is so much easier to compare prices that way. Also, when you’re buying meat pay attention to how much skin and bones there are. They might mislead you when it comes to the price of the product.
31. Let your eyes wander
When you compare the product prices, take a look at the products placed in the higher or lower shelves, not just the ones in your eye level.
32. Never go to a supermarket hungry
There’s some scientific research to this but we hardly need it: Anybody who’s ever been on a diet already knows this! If you go shopping hungry, you’ll not only buy more but you might make wrong choices as well.
33. Don’t forget the ethnic stores
A lot of people have ethnic supermarkets nearby. If you eat a lot of rice you might want to consider buying it in bulks. Ethnic stores also often have cheaper spices, dry legumes, pastes and sauces – sometimes even fruits and vegetables – than what you’ll find in a supermarket.
34. Visit farmer’s markets
A farmer’s market – if you have one nearby – is a great place to buy local and usually organic produce. Visit the market at the end of the day when it’s possible to get better deals.
35. Eat out a little less
Eating out is very expensive compared to cooking at home. When you cook at home you also know exactly what’s in your food – that’s important when you are planning to lose weight.
36. Do as much from the scratch as possible
You know that buying whole foods is smart because then you know what’s in your food. Another benefit is that it will cost you less. If you buy your food as whole instead of pre-cut or otherwise prepared it will cost you a lot less.
To save money you could shred your own cheese, peel and cut your carrots (instead of buying baby carrots) and make your own salad mixes.
37. Remember to use the left-overs
Last night’s roast chicken will make a great chicken salad the following day or you can slice the roast beef for sandwiches.
38. You don’t need to pay for the brand
Generic products (the store brands) are often as good – if not even better – than the well-known ones.
39. Learn to cook
Don’t know how to cook? It’s never too late to learn. It’s amazing how many recipes and instruction videos there are online these days. Just google your keywords and start cooking!
40. Don’t go overboard
Don’t buy in bulk if you end up throwing half of it away. Try to always find the best quality price ratio: You shouldn’t buy anything just because it’s cheap if another product is slightly more expensive but tastes much better.
Here are some tips on how you can save money by not having an expensive gym membership and still lose weight and get fit. Everyday activities like cleaning the house, taking the stairs and gardening are great exercises but I’m trying to list things that will take you’re fitness to another level.
41. Just walk
42. Run or jog
You can also run or jog if you feel comfortable with that. Another great option is to do sprints! Read more about the benefits of sprinting on Mark’s Daily Apple . Mark Sisson has also some sprint workout suggestions.
43. Go hiking
Well, hiking is walking but it’s still different. Make a plan to see what’s around you a little bit. It’s so funny that there might be wonderful outdoors pretty much at our doorstep but we never go and wander. When the weather is nice, pack your lunch and go search the wild nature.
44. Try Geocaching
I have a cousin whose entire family is really into geocaching. They can spend most of their weekends walking in the woods finding the caches.
Don’t know anything about geocaching? Read Geocaching 101.
Now I’ve already mentioned saving money buy growing your own vegetables and herbs but gardening is great for losing weight as well: You’ll be on your feet the whole time, squatting, bending and moving.
46. Start cycling
Now you’re obviously only going to save money with this tip if you already have a bike. But if you do, start using it. Cycle to work and to supermarket if possible or make longer trips in the weekend.
47. Buy a workout DVD
There are many inexpensive workout DVDs and they are surprisingly efficient. At one point I got so into them that I cancelled my gym membership: There was no point in paying a lot of money per month when I could get the same benefits basically for free while working out at home.
If you’re a beginner / moderately active I can recommend Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred. It’s a tough workout even if you are quite active when it comes to exercising!
48. Find exercise options online
You will find so many free exercise programmes online and exercise videos on YouTube that they will keep you busy for a very long time. SparkPeople for example has their own library of free workout videos.
49. Take a challenge
You’ll find a lot of motivational challenges online. Here are a few examples:
- Couch to 5K programs such as Cool Running plan or NHS plan
- 100 push ups program
- 30 Day Ab Challenge by Fitness Magazine
50. Utilize TV breaks
Spend your TV breaks doing jumping jacks instead of a visit to the fridge! Keep this up and you will notice very quickly how much easier it gets. Obviously you can substitute jumping jacks with another exercise.
51. Purchase a kettlebell
Kettlebell is such an amazing workout tool. The thing about it is though that you really, really need to have a proper technique. So if you’re interested in this, take a couple of kettlebell classes too see what you think about it. If you like it and feel comfortable with your technique, buy your own kettlebelland do your workout at home. The workout is super effective as you will be using your entire body to do most exercises.
Women’s Health Magazine website has a short kettlebell workout plan.
52. Join a cheap gym chain
Weight training is invaluable: it will help you lose weight, sculpt your body and as you get older having strong muscles and bones becomes just so much more important.
There are a lot of cheap gym chains these days – you know those ones that charge just 10 – 25 dollars or euros per month. They are basic but totally have everything you need. If you are motivated to take the leap and go to the gym 2 – 3 times a week then this is amazing value.
The adults should play more. With children, yes – but among other adults as well. It’s a wonderful stress relief, doesn’t have to cost anything and will burn calories. Go play Frisbee, jump on a trampoline, build a sand or snow castle, dance or go miniature golfing with friends. Try to play a little every day.
I hope you find these tips helpful! How do you save money while you are eating healthy food and exercising at the same time?