It's the start of a new year and like every year, gyms are filled with the beaming faces of hopeful people looking to shed those few extra pounds, healthy recipes are being added to the list of things we want to try, and old jeans and dresses from our glory days are being dusted off as we tell ourselves, "I'll fit into this soon." We all want a healthy life where we live to be 100 years old, without aging and rocking the body of Beyoncé til the day we die.
But let's face it, we don't want to put in the countless hours (or even minutes) of work that need to be put in after working 8-12 hour days when we have classes that require hours of work, kids that need washing and feeding, significant others that need lovin', migraines that feel like death, and an endless list of things that need to be done by the following day. It's just too much! And I'll be the first to admit it. I'm all about dreaming big and reaching those long-term goals, but you need an action plan and baby steps to help you get there. This strategy I use won't make you loose that extra inch or 50 lbs that you want to get rid of, but it'll sure as hell help you get there.
1. Know your budget.
Eating healthy is not cheap and can get pretty darn pricey, especially if you factor in significant others and kids. Rest assured that it is possible. Know what your budget is and stick to it! For me, this means making one bulk trip for monthly essentials, buying my Herbalife, and then putting some money aside to pick up random things throughout the month. For you, it may mean taking only x amount of cash with you to the grocery store on your weekly trip. (TIP: Taking cash and leaving your debit/credit/cash card at home is a sure way to make sure that you don't go overboard).
2. Know who you're cooking for.
If you're single, this may not apply to you as much, but if you're cooking for more than just yourself you want to be sure that you're buying things that everyone will eat. Yes, I LOVE buying a ton of fruits and veggies for myself, but my boyfriend prefers Wheat Thins. The other day I said to him, "Maybe I should go Vegan--for a healthier lifestyle." His response was that I can't say I want to be better with grocery money and then want to eat things that he won't--it just doesn't work like that. Therefore, you can't buy butt-loads of milk if everyone else in the house is lactose intolerant because it'll go to waste and so will that money you spent on it.
3. KISS (Keep it simple, silly).
One of the biggest things I see are meal plans that give you different daily recipes and recipes that call for tons of uncommon ingredients. Sure, they sound great and I'm sure they taste fantastic, but ain't nobody got that much money to be spending on things you'll only use sporadically--especially not when you're on a budget. Try choosing a few ingredients that you can do a lot with. Buy things like oatmeal, chicken, salmon, and brown rice. They're pretty inexpensive and you can do a trillion things with them! They're my go to grocery items. ***Keeping this in mind, make sure you make your grocery list before you go to the store.***
4. Enough of the junk food!
Cookies, donuts, chips, ice cream, soda and candy are all pretty good tasting things, they make you feel good for a minute and then you feel eater's remorse (like buyer's remorse, but with the food you just ate). I'm not saying to quit cold turkey--that's how you go into a junk foodie relapse--but wean yourself off of it. Try not buying that huge bag of chips when you go to the store that your "kids" like. Hold off on your daily soda at work. If you're consistent and do it in steps you're more likely to stick to this good habit and it will save you tons of money!
5. COSTCO (or coupon) it up.
I LOVE Costco! Living in Hawaii is expensive in all facets, so it's nice to be able to buy certain things bulk and not pay up the hoo-ha for them. I can get 3 cartons of almond milk for $8 and oatmeal to last me for years for $10. How great is that?!? If you don't like Costco, it's too far, or you don't have one in your town at all, I suggest taking an hour a week to sit down and just coupon. Many times, you can combine coupons for added savings. Remember, you should be doing this after you've already made your grocery list. If it's not on the list, you don't need it.
6. Drink water.
My mom hates drinking water. When we were younger, she would use Crystal Light and say that it was "flavored water." Even then I knew there was no such thing because adding that flavor meant it was no longer water. I haven't lived with her for quite some time now, but when I talk to her I always ask to make sure she's drinking enough water. It's a simple thing, but such an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. Not only is it good for you, but you can save oodles of money by skipping out on your sodas or oh-so-good Starbucks Frappuccino. If you like filtered water, buy yourself a Brita filter to be green! You're now a money-saving, eco-friendly goddess with your new found glow from being good to your skin with that water!
7. Stop buying the super expensive stuff at restaurants.
If you're like me, you like eating out. It's my favorite pastime filled with wonderful memories of friends, the city and good times. I absolutely love finding a new good spot to eat, have a cocktail or grab a cup of joe; but it can get pretty expensive if you're not careful on what you're buying because the super good stuff is always way more expensive. Unfortunately, I love great tasting things and have wasted a ton of money on eating out. Two of the things I've found to be most helpful when eating out are 1) sticking to whatever chicken plate there is (chicken is usually one of the least expensive things on a menu) and/or 2) sharing with someone (it not only cuts the cost in half, but the many times extremely large portions in half).