At least they're better for you than Twinkies!
Last week I wrote a post speculating on how a tough economy might affect health and fitness choices. And then I asked readers for help with suggestions on how to eat healthy and exercise on a budget.
Thankfully, many of you sent me handy tips and links!
But before we get to the specifics, perhaps I'll make just a few general observations and caveats:
1. Many of these tips may be things you may already know--but don't do. I know I found it helpful to be reminded of ways to save money that I was familiar with but had gotten
2. People who make suggestions are coming from various levels of income and frugality. Some of you have already cut back expenses to the bare bones and have been doing all these things for years. So I imagine reading suggestions aimed at those more carefree about money could be annoying. ("Tell your butler to take your golf sweaters to the discount dry cleaners. And don't forget to ask your chauffeur to use your old recycled gym clothes when waxing the limo!") Well, we don't have any quite like that. But for those of you who are already really thrifty, sorry if we may not exactly be breaking new ground here.
3. There is often a trade-off between time and money. Some money-saving tips that are practical for one person who has time may be completely asinine for another person who doesn't have a spare second. No one should feel "lazy" if realistically they just don't have the same flexibility to make some of those trade-offs.
And so, in the spirit of "Take it for whatever it's worth," here are some Tips and Links for you to check out.
Saving Money on Your Workout
Over at Diet Blog, our friend Ali (from the Office Diet) assembled Seven Ways to Exercise on a Budget.
Three of those suggestions:
1. Go running--outside, where it's free.
2. Buy used exercise equipment instead of expensive new stuff; and
3. Find an exercise buddy to work out with instead of paying a personal trainer. (And Bunnygirl suggests using Craigslist to find one in your area.)
4. If you have a personal trainer but really don't want to quit, see if he or she will offer a discount for semi-private sessions.
5. Look for a local boot camp.
6. Try body weight training instead of expensive gym equipment: Lunge, squat, push-up, climb hills, etc.
7. Many of you, like readers Jane and Charise The Great and Leslie at The Weighting Game, have noticed that you can save money AND get a good workout by biking or walking instead of driving on your errands.
8. And to save on childcare expenses, SeaBreeze suggested doing group runs and rotating babysitting duty.
9. Crabby says: don't forget your local library as a source of exercise dvds and books on fitness, weight training, etc.
10. And the Crab also reminds you to check out public playgrounds, parks, tennis courts, city rec departments etc. Often there are cheap adult leagues and classes, or even free weekend or evening pickup games if you like soccer or basketball etc.
Home Exercise on the Cheap
Some bloggers have observed that home gyms don't necessarily have to be expensive, and can save mega bucks over the long run in gym fees.
11. Shauna, the Amazing Diet Girl, has some really good suggestions on setting up a home gym, including tips on equipment and exercise dvds.
12 Reader Little Keebler tipped us off to another great nearly free home workout plan, including tips on equipment and lots of free web resources to guide you through your workout.
13. Bunnygirl suggested that for those who have a bike, purchasing a bike trainer is cheaper than buying a whole separate exercise bike.
14. And of course we're big fans of hiking here at Cranky Fitness. It's a great way to combine entertainment and exercise, and unless you choose to do it in the Swiss Alps, it's usually either cheap or free.
Shopping, Cooking, and Eating on a Budget
1. Many of you suggested buying food in bulk. For example, Brenda buys "frozen chicken breasts in 5 lb. bags, lean ground chuck in 5 lb. cartons to divide into 1-2 lb. sections, frozen fish in large bags or prebreaded in large boxes, generic cans of tuna and salmon, and variations of brats to freeze."
(Note: we're going to assume she means the meaty kind of "brats" and not the human kind. Freezing your children, even for brief periods of time, is illegal and not advised no matter how obnoxious they're being.)
2. Several of you, like Gabrielle and Bunnygirl, suggested gardening as a way to save money on food, as well as get some exercise.
3. Geosomin reminds us you can can your own food. Wait. We don't mean form chorus lines and start kicking--although that would be a good one for our previous list on exercise. Er, you could can your own food.
4. Another popular suggestion is to make soups, stews, casseroles and other large pot meals, and freeze the rest for later. Like the Bag Lady says in her post on cutting expenses, you can use cheap cuts of meat or go meatless.
Like the number Seven? Ali has some more great suggestions over at these Diet Blog Posts: Seven tips for healthy food shopping, and Seven Ways to Eat Out Healthily on a Budget, and Seven Tips for Free Diet Support and Advice. Among the suggestions:
5. Buy produce in season;
6. Skip the expensive "diet" foods;
7. Go out for lunch rather than dinner; and
8. Rather than paying for books or memberships, read free blogs for nutritional advice and support (We're fans of this one!)
9. Mystery Girl Terrie is careful to watch the expiration dates on her food and uses it even if she doesn't want to before it expires. She also keeps an eye on contents of her produce drawers and tries to use everything before it turns green and soggy. She relies more on eggs and less on meat for protein.
10. TK recommends we cut out sodas, lattes and sports drinks, and she even roasts her own coffee!
11. The folks at Ecosalon have a post on Ten Ways to Eat Well on a Budget, including this one: "Assemble snacks at home in small baggies using foods like nuts and seeds, dried whole grain cereal, cheese, dried fruit, and fresh vegetables and fruits rather than buying less healthy, more expensive, pre-packaged and processed snacks."
12. Ecosalon and the Bag Lady also suggest drinking filtered tap water instead of bottled water--a practice endorsed by the Crab as well.
13. Leslie has a post over at Pink Spandex on Eating While Impoverished which includes great tips, including filling up on the Budget Miracle Food that is Lentils.
14. Kim from the awesome Elastic Waist has a great series on eating cheaply; here's the first Destitution Diet post. One suggestion is to used dried legumes which are much cheaper than canned, and it includes a recipe for Lentil Soup! More miracle Lentils! The second Destitution diet post is all about Homemade Convenience Foods, and there are couple more in the series after that too.
Amy Hendel at healthgal.com had some great suggestions too, some of which we already covered. But she reminds us:
15. Make a shopping list and stick to it.
16. Supermarket bargains are usually located on the highest and lowest shelves rather than found in the middle or on the ends of aisles.
17. Avoid pre-cut, pre-packaged fruits and vegetables and meat.
18. Take advantage of buy one, get one free deals and freeze the rest.
19. Crabby adds that she never knew you could freeze milk but she found out you can! This info comes in handy if you've overbought or are leaving on a trip and don't want to toss it all out.
20. And there's a blog called Simple Dollar, that's all about saving money. They've got a food category with lots of posts about eating cheaply. (Thanks, Melissa!)
21. Mark's Daily Apple also has recommendations for eating healthy on a budget. For example, even the anti-processing Primal folks don't hate modern conveniences like packaged salad greens--if the alternative is buying leaf lettuce and letting it all rot before you get to it.
22. Of course no budget list would be complete without mention of sales, discounts, coupons, and warehouse stores. Bargains are everywhere! You can apparently even get grocery coupons online now.
Thoughts or Further Suggestions? We'd Love to Hear 'em!