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Monday, April 4, 2011

Healthy Living on a Budget

You would have to be living under a rock to not have heard (or already witnessed) the fact that the cost of food, fuel and other essentials is skyrocketing.

But fear not, you do not have to resort to living off of Walmart brand potato chips and cola (you won't be living long if you do!). Healthy living is still possibles on a tight budget. Here are a few tips:

Food

Inconvenience yourself - Sorry, but it is much more economical to avoid convenience foods, even things like pre-cut fruits and veggies. Set aside some time to slice and dice what you need for your meals for a few days. Involve the kids and have them do some age-appropriate tasks (wash the produce, spin and tear lettuce leaves, pack everything into containers, etc.).

Plan ahead - Plan your meals for the week so you know exactly what you need. Do one big grocery shop, stick to your list and avoid impulse buys. This will also help you avoid waste, which is really throwing away money.

Comparison shop - Even if you hate getting paper flyers in the mail, it pays - literally - to check out where the sales are. Most grocery stores have their flyers online now. Yes, you may have to stop at several different places to get everything you need, but hey, if you do this on foot or bicycle, it can count as part of your daily physical activity!

Eat More Rice and Beans - Meat, pasta and bread is less economical than lentils, beans, and (brown) rice, all of which you can buy in bulk. Hey, they're healthier too!

Organic deals - If you want to eat organic, you can usually get better prices by ordering a box through local farm cooperatives that will deliver the produce to your door. Or check out local markets or even the store-brand organic lines at your grocery store.

Supplements

Scale Back on the Daily Vitamin - Most of us like to take a multi as insurance, but truthfully, unless you have a specific health problem or deficiency, you can get most of what you need by eating balanced, varied, healthy diet. Moreover, some multis contain too much of certain vitamins, which can be harmful. You can also take it every other day, or even once a week. Also, stick with basic multis, you don't need the fancy "weight-loss", "stress-management" vitamins, which rarely provide enough of any of the "magic" ingredients to live up to their claims.

Protein - Even vegans can get all the protein they need from real food, and protein powders are extremely expensive. Just make sure if you are eating only vegan sources of protein that you remember to combine legumes with a (whole) grain in order to get a complete protein source.

Exercise

Skip the Gym - You don't need a gym to stay fit. Put a hold on your monthly dues, if you need to and try working out in your home or outside with nature. You don't even need fancy equipment or a lot of space. Check out some of the latest exercise DVDs or put together your own routine.

Take the Shoelace Express - Leave the car at home, skip public transport and either walk or ride your bike. You'll save money, the environment and get fit!

Leisure Time

Use your local public library - Instead of buying new dvds, books and cds for yourself and the kids, check out what they have at the local library for free!

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