Keeping a beach body year-round can be expensive and stressful to the bank account. Grocery shopping, supplements and gym memberships add up. Many of us who engage in physical activity to improve our health live paycheck to paycheck, and our diet has to revolve around that. I am here to share with you a few of my secrets on how to budget your meals and get the best bang for your buck. I personally have maintained an 8 percent body fat and still pack on muscle mass while only spending $75.00 a week at the grocery store.
Find Smart Ways to Shop
Have you ever watched the gas pump meter rack up in money as you’re pumping? I feel the same way when I am checking out of the grocery store. My hands get clammy and I start to sweat as the total adds up at the register, perhaps more than what I was expecting to spend. You’re paying more these days, not only at the gas pump but also at the grocery store. Blaming it on oil prices, global warming, weak crop yields or your salary is not going to solve anything. What it all means is that you need to find smart ways to shop. These expert tips can help you save on your grocery costs without depleting nutrition.
Think out of the box when creating your meal plan for the week. You have to start eating cheaper foods that pack the same amount of nutrients you’re aiming for in your diet. Remember you are not dieting for taste, although it should still be pleasing to the palate while maintaining the proper nutrients you are looking for. For example, healthy dark, leafy greens like kale, broccoli, Swiss chard, collard greens and spinach are so nutrient dense that they are worth including in your weekly grocery list. You get a lot of nutrient bang for your buck with these super-healthy greens.
Focus on Your Diet
A few years back when I was determined to develop a six-pack, a friend told me it is 80 percent diet 20 percent exercise. So I followed that routine and found there was some truth to it, but you don’t need to hit an exact 80:20 ratio to shed pounds. It is, however, very important for people to focus primarily on diet when they’re trying to lose weight.
The key to weight loss is taking in fewer calories than you burn. The reason dieting is so much more effective than exercise is because it takes a lot more activity to create a 600- to 800-calorie deficit through working out. You would need to run seven to 10 miles a day to lose 1 pound a week. I found that changing to a healthy diet means I can do less cardio at the gym, and not have to burn off as many calories.
Save Money and Eat Well
For most people, groceries are the second-largest monthly expense after housing. The good news is that people who use a food spending plan and shop carefully can cut their food costs by 25 percent. My goal is to provide resources and information that everyone can use to improve their health quality and keep you beach-body ready. Incorporating more inexpensive yet healthy foods into your daily routine will help you save money and eat well.
6 Tips to Help You Save on Groceries:
- Set a weekly food budget. I typically aim for $10 less than what I want to spend.
- Buy in bulk. Buy frequently used ingredients in bulk.
- Calculate your macronutrients accordingly to the food on your list and your diet plan. Macronutrients are a type of food (fat, protein, carbohydrate) required in large amounts in the human diet.
- Find out when sales happen at your local markets or grocery stores. Check the circular.
- Make a shopping list, which will help you stick to purchasing only what is on the list.
- Shop smart. Generic brands are usually less expensive but often just as good.
When you’re on a budget and shopping for one, it can feel nearly impossible to stock up on healthy foods. The best nutrition strategy is the one that actually happens, because behaviors, not ideas, are the secret to changing your diet. By shopping smart and keeping your money within a budget, you will be able to have a few extra dollars for the supplements needed for optimal performance. The top three supplements I keep stocked up on and take daily are:
Fish oils are packed with omega-3 fatty acids that are essential nutrients important in preventing and managing heart disease. Fish oils also help reduce symptoms of depression, hypertension and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), joint pain, arthritis and chronic skin ailments like eczema.
BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) are the essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine, which comprise around 35 percent of your body’s muscle protein. They are “essential” because your body doesn’t make them on its own. BCAAs reduce muscle fatigue, speed recovery, decrease the loss of other amino acids from muscle during exercise and help the body absorb protein.
Men’s multivitamin helps me to bridge nutrient gaps. Becoming deficient in any one of these essential vitamins causes breakdown of the metabolic pathway that produces optimum efficiency, and performance will dissipate very quickly.
Grocery List for Savings
Pack on Muscle Without Breaking the Bank
Save on fruits and vegetables. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables in season at your local market. When produce is in season, the sales are great due to the abundance the stores receive in stock. Also go to your local farmer’s market toward the end of the day for the best bargain deals. I say this because toward the end of the day or first thing the next morning, the workers at the market will discard fruit and vegetables that are not as pleasing to the eye. If you are planning on adding it to your meal that night, it’s a great way to save a little extra change. Many vendors prefer to sell what’s left at a discount rather than have to pack it up.
Use sale items for recipes. Develop recipes by using healthy ingredients that are on sale each week. If you feel you are not creative enough to come up with healthy recipes, then a smart way to do this is to search the web for recipes using those ingredients. I have found this to be one of my favorite things to create with my daughter. I usually try to search using two complementary sale items at once, to narrow down the search and take advantage of multiple sales. Work on being able to assemble something nutritious and reasonably tasty using lots of different sets of items. Once you can master this, it becomes very easy to shop for groceries.
Check your leftovers. Before you write out your meal plan for the upcoming week, see what you have left over in your pantry and refrigerator. Take inventory of what you have on hand so you don’t overbuy. When you do make a list for the grocery store, take into account how you plan on using leftovers. Know what they are and when to use them. I save my vegetable scraps (like carrot tops, onion trimmings and extra bits) in a large container in the freezer. When the bag is full, I use it to make homemade vegetable stock and even sometimes use them in a healthy soup.
Use rice, beans and vegetables. Always have plenty of rice, beans and frozen vegetables on hand as they can be combined to make an inexpensive and very healthy, easy meal. It will make for the backbone of anything you might want to make. Wild rice and chickpeas (garbanzo beans) are my go-to foods as they are very inexpensive, and are both packed with high protein and carbohydrates as well as being low in fats. Just add some herbs and a bit of flavoring, and you have a nice side dish to your meal.
Wild rice is higher in protein than white rice and grains, is gluten free, optimizes digestion, improves bone strength and has an impressive level of antioxidants.
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) are particularly high in fiber. The choline in chickpeas helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Including chickpeas in the diet lowers the amount of low-density lipoprotein, or bad cholesterol, in the blood.
Pack on Muscle and Save Money
The preparation I have taken in budgeting my food shopping has saved me a ton of extra money every week. I can still pack on muscle and get the nutrients my body deserves. The first week I started the better budget, it started to pay off. I’m confident that by sticking to these simple (and budget-friendly) methods, I will be able to continue to save each week and not need to take a second mortgage out for my food shopping.
Check out my “Beach Body Workout” on Monday.