Budget Dieting 101: Thin Your Waist, Not Your Pockets




Successful dieting should only cost the fat around your hips, not all the money in your savings account. Sure, pre-packaged meals delivered to your door, exotic fat-burning supplements and celebrity-inspired diet regimens are tremendously alluring. Most are also bank-breaking.

With a few tweaks and a small investment of time, you can be your own diet guru, healthy chef and newly svelte client, and have money left over to buy new clothing. Following are a few tips to get you started on your fun, delicious, penny-saving, fat-shaving journey.

1. Cook at Home and Eat Less

When you cook at home, you get to precisely control what goes into your food. You can tailor each dish to your liking and dietary requirements. Arm yourself with a handful of wicked-tasty recipes, plan your meals ahead of time, and shop accordingly.

Restrict your lean meat portions to a total of 6 ounces daily. A 3-ounce portion is roughly the size of your palm. Roughly. Over time, you’ll be able to eyeball a 3-ounce portion of lean meat, a skill that comes in particularly handy when your preparing food or eating out.

Whenever possible, swap out lean meat with vegetarian choices, such as legumes, tofu, eggs or seitan. Eating less meat or eating alternatives at proper portion sizes saves money and calories.

2. Stop Guesstimating Your Portions

Use the palm rule mentioned above, or invest in a food scale. Food scales come in all shapes and sizes, many are digital, and quite a few are less than $10. Regardless of the overall diet you follow, streamlining and controlling your portion sizes is the number one way to prevent overeating, to reacquaint your body with healthy portion sizes and to save money.

At home, explore recipes that incorporate healthy portion sizes, such as mini casseroles in ramekins.

3. Eat More Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and veggies provide tons of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and healthy compounds that fuel your workouts and help your body recover. They’re also loaded with fiber, which makes you feel fuller for longer periods. Try to shop for fruits and veggies in season, and hit up your neighborhood farmer’s market for economical, hyper-local choices. Go frozen if necessary.

4. DIY 100-Calorie Snacks

Make and carry your own 100-calorie snacks each and every day. You’ll be less likely to break down and purchase junk food that is typically devoid of nutrition and very costly. Homemade 100-calorie snacks could fill an entire book, but here are a few perennial favorites.

Air-pop 2 tablespoons of popcorn kernels in a microwave. Mix 1/2 cup of nonfat yogurt with 1/4 cup of your favorite fruit, a spice or two, and a packet of artificial sweetener. Dip 10 baby carrots into 2 tablespoons of hummus.

5. Journal Your Eating Habits

Maintaining a food journal lets you appraise what you eat, spot weak areas and correct what needs improving, such as mindless noshing.

6. Incentivize Your Weight Loss Goals

Weight loss rewards help to break the monotony of dieting and to refuel your desire for success. Reward yourself inexpensively and compassionately (without naughty, costly food) as often as possible. Teat Yourself to a day off at your DIY spa. Sleep in a little later. Curl up with a good book and don’t uncurl until you’ve read the last page.

7. Invite A Friend Along For Your Journey

Studies show that groups who get healthy together tend to lose more weight and keep it off. Your group could be just two people (you and a friend) or two dozen co-workers. The group spirit of encouragement, camaraderie, shared success, and jovial accountability seems to galvanize each group member to work harder, give/receive support more readily, and stay committed.


8. Try a Meal Prep Service

This affords you two opportunities for the price of one.  Namely, you’ll have a prep service that can customize meals to your needs, but also it saves you having to go to the grocery store and be tempted by all the things you’re trying to avoid while you lose weight.  That’s why different services like Nutrisystem have risen to prominence.

But of course, there are going to be the doubters asking about Nutrisystem cost.  But compared to what you’re already spending on food, especially if you factor in coupons and thrifty shopping this is not any more expensive.  Plus it’s an investment into your future health.

9. Go Beyond the Gym

Cardio and free weights day in and out at the local dumbbell pit aren’t the only ways to wage proper war on your fat. There are tons of enjoyable, no-cost activities that burn fat, tone your muscles and replenish your spirit. Jam to your favorite oldies at a mini dance party for one in your living room. Go for a walk before breakfast or after supper, or both.

Search online for free home-based workout and yoga videos. Mix and match daily activities to keep things fresh and fun.



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