Weight loss programs are great at promoting healthy lifestyles, but they never tell you how to follow their program on a budget. Most diet programs have specific foods that they want you to eat and specific meals they want you to make. If you are not already eating those foods, your first trip to the grocery store can cause severe sticker shock. How can you lose weight without breaking the bank?
First, pick a diet program with a weight loss meal plan that encourages eating natural foods. Diets rich in whole foods like lean meats, beans and lentils, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and whole grains are best for eating on a budget.
Next, review the suggested meals on the plans as well as the flexibility of the diet program. Does the meal plan give you the option of moving your meals to different days of the week or different weeks in the program or is it rigid?
Flexibility is key because then you can tailor your weekly meals to specific ingredients. By keeping your meals to less ingredients each week, you can buy in bulk (see tips below), have less waste, and spend less overall.
Once you've decided on your diet program and your weekly meals, it's time to start shopping. Here are a few tips for saving money on your diet grocery bill:
Buy Generic. Buy a brand that is cheaper than your normal brand. Experimenting with generic products will give you an idea of which generic items you can buy instead of the name brand to save money. I have found that most generic items are just as good and sometimes better than their name brand counterparts. Every once in a while I am disappointed and realize that a name brand item is required. It's personal preference. Give it a try!
Bulk is Best. Become a member at a warehouse club or look for bulk item purchases at your local store (some retail and grocery stores carry bulk items to compete with the warehouse clubs). We save a lot of money by purchasing our healthy foods from our warehouse club. Milk, bread, eggs, rotisserie chicken, some baking ingredients, and fruits and vegetables are the items we buy in bulk at the warehouse club. Make sure you know the normal price of your grocery items before you go to the warehouse club. Sometimes you can get extreme discounts on your food. Other times, you will save more by buying them on sale at the grocery store. Price comparison is the key!
Read Your Circulars. Most stores have websites that include their online circulars. Use their "search" option on the website to quickly find the items you eat regularly on your diet program to find that week's best deals. Grocery stores rotate their sale items every 4 to 6 weeks, so when you find a great sale on your everyday items, buy enough to get you until the next sale. Depending on the item, consider freezing perishable items so you may buy more at the discounted prices and have it around until the next sale. This is great for meats. I also do this for peppers, onions, carrots, and celery, but chop them into the size you would use for cooking prior to freezing. I would not recommend defrosting the frozen vegetables and planning to eat them raw. This is only for quantities you would cook with. Also, base as much of your weight loss meal plan menu as you can on what’s on sale that week to save you money.
Frequent Buyer Cards and Coupons. Membership cards are FREE at your local grocery store and should be carried with you at all times. They will ensure you qualify for the very best discounts the store has that week. Look to combine your sales with coupons and you can get healthy food at EXTREME discounts.
Think Outside the Grocery Store. Retail stores and drug stores have small grocery departments with some items that are cheaper than at the local grocery store. The staples (eggs, milk, bread) are often at a reduced price to entice you through their doors. Price savings on other items vary, but shopping outside the grocery store can save you money.
I hope these tips help you to afford the food you need to achieve your goals. The first step to living a healthy lifestyle and losing weight is selecting the right diet program for you. I cannot stress that enough. If you do not choose the right program, the one you pick will end up being just another diet.
If you pick a weight loss meal plan that is very strict, you will end up binge eating the things you are depriving yourself of. You then risk feelings of guilt and negative self-image because of "cheating" on this plan.
The key is finding a healthy lifestyle that will enable you to eat well, exercise in a way that you enjoy, and still shed weight. It can be done. Slow and Steady Wins the Race!
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