Quite a while ago -before I did the recent blog facelift- I ran a survey to ask for your blog feedback. Your thoughts and input are invaluable me, and I’ve used your strategies to tweak and improve things over the past year. I have a small notebook filled with your requests for future posts, and have been making my way through them. A common request was about healthy living on a budget, because let’s be real, athletic apparel, organic and whole foods, and fitness classes/gym memberships can be a little pricey.
Here are some of my tips to get in the things you love, and live a balanced and energized life without breaking the bank.
Tips for Healthy Living on a Budget
1) Some of the best things are free. One of the most amazing things about healthy living is that it can be as low-cost or as splurgy as you want to make it. No matter how much you decide to spend in a way that works for your family, you can get in an awesome workout or meditation session for free.
Here are some of my favorites:
A walk, hike, run, or bodyweight workout.
A swim in the bay or pool.
A meditation session. (iTunes has quite a few meditation podcasts, and there are quite a few on YouTube too.)
Yoga at home or a podcast.
Barre, Zumba, bootcamp, core work or strength videos,for free (yay, YouTube!) at home.
2) Find your food and fitness values and prioritize from there. For me, certain things (orangetheory!) are worth spending extra, while other things aren’t as important. Write down a list of the significant factors of your fitness journey, and rank them in priority. This will help you narrow things down! A huge one for me is organic meat, as it’s something that’s very important to me. Berries, on the other hand, I will try to buy organic, but if they’re not available and I really want some blueberries, I’m buying the conventional blueberries.
3) For food, stick to a meal plan, or at least avoid going to the grocery store hungry. When I go to Trader Joe’s at lunch time, before I know it, our cart is filled with snacks.. and it’s everything in my power to not open the edamame crackers NOW and start snacking. Usually, we’ll go to Trader Joe’s after Sunday breakfast which helps to avoid impulse buys. Meal planning -we eat the same staples for lunches and breakfasts, but I plan out snacks and dinners- has helped immensely, too. Before, we would grab random things that looked good. At dinner time, it felt like we had a fridge of food that we weren’t sure how to combine into a full meal. Now, we buy the ingredients for what we need, which results in less waste and a variety of healthy meals to choose from.
4) Lurk sales and discount sites for fitness apparel. Most of the time, I make purchases on sale or at a discount, and rarely will pay full price for an item. If there’s something you’ve been wanting, do some Google research to see if you can find a discount code, and price the it across a few different websites. For example, with my recent Brooks shoes, I ended up finding them at the cheapest price online and found a bonus extra coupon. It definitely pays to do a little sale research! Another amazing resource is Fabletics (<— affiliate link). They have beautiful workout apparel, with great quality, for very reasonable prices. I’ve also found the gear at Old Navy and Target to be functional and high-quality for the price.
5) Shop your local co-op or farmers market. At the farmer’s market, we’re able to get produce and meats for the same or less than we’d pay at the store. I’ve also found that we’re able to buy exactly the amount we need instead of extra produce (like an enormous bag of celery that I needed two ribs from and sat in the fridge to wilt until eternity).
6) Think of a reasonable reward treat on an occasional basis that works with your budget. If you give yourself a long-term goal to look forward to- this saving goal could have nothing to do with fitness or healthy living!- celebrate your success by treating yourself to something you’ve been wanting. It’s great motivation to stick to your goal!
7) Buy what you need, whether it’s in bulk, or a small amount from the bulk bins. We’re able to get large amounts of organic produce, eggs, and meat at Costco for great prices, and small amounts of ingredients (like quinoa flour, medjool dates, and raw nuts) from the bulk bins at the health food store.
(Excited to buy bulk wine again one day haha)
8) Plant some herbs! I love this one, and am so glad we started doing this quite a few years ago. For the same price as a pack of store-bought herbs, you can buy a small plant or seeds that will produce herbs for the entire summer. Mint, basil, rosemary and cilantro grow well and are frequently used in our house.
9) Explore online classes and studio-hopper passes. There are so many fantastic online class options that are less expensive than attending a live class. Some of my favorites include Physique57, Barre3, CrunchLIVE and DailyBurn. New programs like Class Pass and Fitn enable you to take classes at multiple studios for one price. This is awesome for the gym-hoppers like me who like to do a bit of everything, but are unable to purchase monthly memberships at all of their favorite studios.
10) Groupon and intro studio passes. Groupon has fantastic fitness deals and is a great way to explore new classes and studios. Another option is to check out the introductory passes at new-to-you gyms and studios. Many of them will offer a free or super discounted week of classes to lure you into buying a package. You may end up finding something new you love!
Some tips from friends:
Monica (Run, Eat, Repeat): I am big on seeing what’s on sale and then planning your menu around that. So, you have to be flexible when you get to the store but it’s worth it. Make your shopping list: – Lean Protein and then buy the best/sale one. Costco! There are plenty of things you can’t buy in bulk unless you’re shopping for a football team. But, there are a lot of great buys at bulk stores like – oatmeal, rice, beans – basically things that don’t go bad quickly.
Amber S. (via Facebook): If we can’t afford to buy ALL organic, we prioritize organic pastured meat, and save on sticking to conventional produce. Buying meat in bulk helps too. Also Sprouts and TJ’s are super affordable when you stick to the staples and avoid the pre-made splurges…(as you know). Freeze leftovers in ready-to-heat portions. I am notorious for leaving leftovers to rot in the fridge (unrealistic hopes of husband eating it for lunch the next day…ha!)… But I am getting better about stashing it away in the freezer for those days I just don’t feel like cooking!
As far as fitness goes, I joined a local free running club (MRTT) and can’t even tell you the last time I stepped foot in a conventional gym for my cardio. My 24hr fitness membership is useless right now but I just can’t seem to cut the cord. Free running (and free therapy since we always buddy up for safety…. Ha!), and a weekly splurge on OTF, supplemented by the occasional at-home Fitnessista HIIT workout or burner.
Theodora (Preppy Runner): Figure out what’s important to you in your budget. What can you give up? A few years ago, I really wanted to join a more expensive gym and was looking for somewhere else I could cut back. I realized I watched almost no TV and wouldn’t miss cable, so I cut the cord and joined the fancier gym without ever feeling it in my budget.
Whitney (via Facebook): Eat more vegetarian meals and drink less milk. Lots of lentils, quinoa, beans for protein. Meat, organic free range or otherwise, is a budget buster for sure. Oh and peanut butter. LOTS of peanut butter.
What are some strategies that help you save money on healthy living? What’s worth spending extra to you? Do you have a gym membership or a Class Pass-type studio hopper?