In Summer of 2019, I embarked upon a wellness journey.
To me, wellness includes physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. However, I started with weight loss because I knew it would be the easiest area for me to commit to.
I know that sounds odd. Many people don’t consider weight loss to be easy at all. It wasn’t always this way for me, either.
I’ve started and stopped more diets that I can remember over the years.
Some were too restrictive and unsustainable, fad diets where I lost the weight but gained it back. Other times, life happened and maintaining my weight just wasn’t a priority.
My last weight loss success was back in 2017 when I lost about 25 pounds. I managed to keep the weight off for over a year. But, life happened and I have slowly regained about half of the weight back.
In this post, I’d like to focus specifically on how to lose weight without spending a lot of money.
If you’re on weight loss journey with a tight budget, keep reading for 5 tips you need to know!
# 1 Use FREE Food and Fitness Tracking Apps
I owe my 2017 weight loss success to Weight Watchers.
Weight watchers, now called WW, is one of the most reputable, balanced weight loss programs out there today. I believed in it back then and still believe in it now.
However, as I continue to pursue financial independence, paying a monthly fee for a weight loss plan does not align with that goal.
Currently, the Weight Watchers online (digital) program costs $20 per month. If you choose to attend their in-person meetings (or workshops), you’ll pay $45 per month. For me, that’s a tank of gas or a week’s worth of groceries.
Instead, I use a free app called iTrackBites, where I track my food and fitness.
What’s awesome about iTrackBites is that there are several weight loss plans to choose from to suit your dietary preferences. Some of them are actually very similar to Weight Watchers plans.
Note: iTrackBites is not affiliated with Weight Watchers. However, many former Weight Watchers members, including myself, use it as a cheaper (or free!) alternative.
iTrackBites offers a paid version which gives you access to additional features, but the free version works really well.
I encourage you to take advantage of this free app to help you on your weight loss journey! Check out my YouTube video where I go into detail about the iTrackBites app.
# 2 Be Mindful Of Expensive Healthy Foods
There has been ongoing debate about how following a healthy diet is more expensive than a not-so-healthy diet.
We’ve all heard that eating a diet of primarily vegetables, fruit, grains, lean meats, and unprocessed foods is key for weight loss success.
I agree. I found that I was more successful in my previous weight loss efforts when I limited my processed food intake and focused on eating cleaner.
However, many people believe that they must opt for fresh, organic foods, instead of frozen, non-organic choices in order for it to be considered healthy.
And these choices often come at a higher price.
WebMD has an informative article entitled “Is Organic Food Better For You,” where they go into scientific detail about organic food safety, pros, cons, and whether or not it is worth the extra cost.
What stands out most in the article is that, ultimately, it is more important to eat more whole foods than processed food, regardless of whether it is organic or not.
In order to keep things simple and stretch my grocery budget, here’s what I shop for:
- Frozen and non-organic vegetables. Buying frozen is cheaper, and also helps me avoid food waste. I do purchase some fresh vegetables (zucchini, mushrooms, sweet potatoes), but rarely organic.
- Frozen seafood. I rarely buy fresh seafood unless it is on sale.
- Non-organic fresh fruit, unless the organic is on sale or priced low. I’ve never liked canned fruit, so I don’t buy it.
- Keep processed snacks to a minimum, choosing options such as nuts, dates and raisins over chips and sweets. But, I do love tortilla chips and salsa, and buy them every few weeks!
I understand that choosing organic over conventional food items is a personal choice. For some, it may be worth the extra cost for the peace of mind that organic options provide.
I encourage you to do your own research so that you can make an informed decision about what is best for your health…and your budget.
Shopping at expensive grocery stores
Stores such as Whole Foods, known for their high quality produce, meats, and cheeses, are also known for their high prices. I always laugh when I hear someone refer to Whole Foods as “Whole Paycheck!”
I don’t doubt that the quality is great, but I also believe that you can find equally high quality food at more budget-friendly stores for less money.
Grocery store options will vary depending on where you live. However, one of my favorite grocery stores is ALDI! They carry their own brands that rival popular name brand items. ALDI also has locations all over the country and are known for their rock bottom prices.
If there’s an ALDI near you, I encourage you to check them out! Here’s a recent video including an ALDI haul!
# 3 Plan And Prep Your Meals In Advance
Meal planning is one of the most important habits you can adopt for budget-friendly weight loss.
Start by taking inventory of your pantry, fridge, and freezer. Then, make a list of the foods you’ll need for your upcoming week’s menu.
Once you’ve done your shopping, set aside a few hours on a Sunday to prepare your meals for the week.
I do this twice a week, using Sunday afternoons to cook for Monday – Wednesday, and Wednesday evenings to cook for Thursday through the weekend.
You’ll shop smarter, spending less time wandering the aisles, tempted by sales, or items not on your list.
You’ll save money because you’ll be less likely to eat out during your lunch break, or grab takeout on the way home from work.
You’ll also save on extra calories, fat and sugar because you know exactly what ingredients are in the foods you’ve prepared at home. By having your meals prepped and ready to go, you’ll be less tempted to make unhealthy, last-minute choices just to get food on the table.
Here’s a video on how I use inventory meal planning to save money on groceries!
Get Your Inventory Meal Planning Spreadsheet!
…plus other tools in the Resource Library!
# 4 Ditch the Gym Membership
I love the idea of going to the gym.
Being around lots of people with similar goals to lose weight, get fit, or simply maintain a healthy lifestyle is quite the motivator.
However, after years of joining gyms, rarely going, and wasting hundreds of dollars on membership fees, I decided that the gym just wasn’t for me.
I realized that I didn’t need to pay for a gym membership to develop a habit of regular exercise. And neither do you!
Now, I opt to exercise at home. I use my apartment complex fitness center, as well as my personal favorite: YouTube! A simple search of “workout videos” will yield thousands of options to choose from.
And, don’t forget about the best free gym there is: nature! When the weather is nice, I go on long, brisk walks to get my heart rate up.
The truth is, as much external motivation as the gym offers, you still need intrinsic (or internal) motivation to go to the gym and do the work!
So, why not save your money and find that motivation for free?
In July 2019, I started a Summer Fitness Series where I shared my weekly home-based workouts on YouTube. This was totally outside of my comfort zone, but I did it. Check out the playlist below!
YouTube Summer Fitness Challenge Playlist
5. Have An Active Social Life
For many of us, a typical week consists of going to work, managing a household, and maybe finding time to incorporate good self-care habits.
While this may offer some extra calorie-burning benefits, I would also encourage you to make your social life an additional, and super fun, form of activity!
Whether you go for a hike with friends, or have a Salsa dancing girls’ night out, make it a point to incorporate moving your body in your social life.
You’ll burn some extra calories while spending quality time with your closest friends.
You Can Lose Weight On A Budget!
Weight loss doesn’t have to cost a fortune. It’s all about taking to the time to find cost-saving alternatives that will help you reach your goals.
Share your thoughts! Which of these budget-friendly tips will you incorporate in your weight loss journey?