As a college student, finding new and creative ways to stay healthy on a budget was a challenge I dived into, determined to succeed. Eating healthy and staying fit is a lifestyle, so regardless of my situation, I always want to try my best to make it work. I know just how it feels to be overwhelmed by the world of fitness and nutrition all over social media. It truly took me a while to step back and break it down to the basics. Feeling your best doesn't mean you have to put a dent in your bank account. It doesn't mean you spend tons of money on a gym membership or a protein supplement. Sometimes less is more. Here are seven ways that you can get started anywhere, anytime.
HIIT Workouts Are Your Best Friend
Working out at home is an amazing option that's affordable both moneywise and timewise. HIIT workouts not only require minimal equipment but you can also work up a huge sweat in a short amount of time using only your body weight. Working out intensely for 30 minutes at home doing burpees, squat jumps, high knees, push-ups, and more could even burn more calories over time than if you went to the gym to go on an elliptical for an hour. Just YouTube search HIIT workouts you can do at home, follow a fitness guru on Instagram for some inspiration, or see what Class FitSugar has going on!
Stick to Whole Foods
Sometimes the world of health and fitness can be one big cloud of marketing. It can be filled with this person telling you to take that supplement, another telling you to buy this, throw that out, cut this food group, and more. This can only lead to wasting food and accumulating expensive products that you might not even like or stick to. Eating healthy is so simple but we make it complicated. You don't need to have a smoothie for breakfast filled with a million-dollar collagen power and the world's most bougie almond butter infused with adaptogens and other things Instagram told you would make you healthy. Keep your grocery list simple, and stick to the perimeters of the grocery store. This includes lots and lots of fruits and veggies.
Don't Fear Carbs
It seems like everybody's enemy these days is carbs. It may be the keto diet that's making us pass on the bread but there's nothing wrong with carbs! Especially if you're trying to live an active lifestyle, carbs are a great source of energy. Just don't be eating empty carbs like sugary cereals and candy. Try eating more beans, legumes, rice, and pasta. Canned foods are superaffordable, and they'll fill you up fast. If you're trying to feed a family too, carbs are key to cooking in bulk on a budget. Just add some veggies and protein to make it a complete meal.
Start Your Own Garden
You might have not thought of this one, but this is a great way to truly be more conscious of what you're eating. Food is a labor of love and sometimes we don't realize that. Sometimes we take that blessing for granted when we're able to walk into a restaurant or grocery store and immediately find what we need. The great thing about having your own garden is that you can start small and pick your favorite veggies or herbs to grow. You don't even need a lot of outdoor space. You can start right inside your house and move on to more grand things like an avocado tree. Even if you're not able to make an entire farm to table meal, you'll still be saving money on a few ingredients — plus, you can now have organic fruit and veggies without the extra expensive price tag.
Pick Your Grocery Store Wisely
You know exactly what I mean by this if you've ever been in line behind someone at Whole Foods and their total comes out to $150 for some tomatoes and an apple. OK, this is an exaggeration, but knowing where to shop is key if you truly want to save money. Try going to different grocery stores like Trader Joe's in your area and don't shop. Just cruise the aisles and compare prices for staple items you think you'll be picking up on a regular basis. You'll slowly start to see that receipt total going down.
Knowing what your next move is going to be is so crucial. The last thing you want to do is realize you forgot to pack lunch and you end up spending $10 on a basic smoothie or $15 on a decent salad. Meal prepping can be a great option to save money compared to cooking something different every single day. Also, knowing what you have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry at all times is so helpful. Having a list on the fridge of everything you have in stock is a great way to keep track of it all. Bringing a grocery list with you is also a must so you only get what you need.
The Freezer Is Your Best Friend
The most upsetting thing is when so much food goes to waste when it could have been stored in the freezer for weeks (maybe months) without going bad. You'll never know when that day comes where you have nothing to cook and you don't feel like running to the grocery store. Then you could just open up the freezer and defrost a meal right there. A huge tip is that when you find sales at grocery stores, stock up. Buy as much as you think you'll need, and when you come home, freeze what you can't use in the next week. This can be a lifesaver for avocados. We know just how expensive these beauties can be, so next time they're discounted, buy some and freeze them.