Healthy Living on a Budget

June 22, 2020

Everything you do today impacts your future. A healthy lifestyle is a great investment in yourself. A healthy lifestyle is simply making the decision to prioritize your health. It includes a healthy diet, regular exercise, proper sleep (at least 8 hours a night), and quitting unhealthy habits like smoking or drinking to excess.

A healthy lifestyle has short-term and long-term benefits. In the short-term, a healthy lifestyle can help you look and feel your best. In the long-term, a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk of certain diseases like heart disease, osteoporosis, and obesity.

A healthy lifestyle also makes good financial sense. In 2018, researchers found poor health impacts an individual’s finances by making them less able to work or earn money while increasing their medical spending.

Fortunately, a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be a costly investment in your future. Here are just a few ways you can have a healthy lifestyle while on a budget.

4 Ways to Live Healthy on a Budget

1. Meal plan.

Meal planning is simply sitting down to plan out your meals for the week. It’s your menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s where health and savings begin. A meal plan gives you control over what you’re eating and ensures you always have healthy options available. It also reduces your amount of food waste and helps you stick to your monthly budget.

2. Create a food budget.

Groceries are often the biggest expense we have after rent. There are many ways to save money on groceries, but it all comes down to creating and sticking to your food budget. Knowing how much money you have to spend on groceries each week helps you with meal planning. Likewise, meal planning helps you know ahead of time how much money you need for your meals.

3. Make healthy food swaps.

Highly processed foods are often less nutritious and more costly than healthy food choices. It’s easy to swap healthier foods for less healthy ones once you know what to look for.

Here are 5 swaps to get you started:

Try thisInstead of thatHere’s why
Whole wheat breadWhite breadWhole wheat bread is much higher in fiber, vitamins B6 and E, magnesium, zinc, folic acid, and chromium. These support gut, heart, and brain health. The cost for both is the same.
Bulk, plain oatmealInstant, sugar-loaded oatmealA package of flavored oatmeal contains around 12 grams of sugar, or 3 teaspoons. Buy bulk, plain oatmeal. It’s cheaper and doesn’t have the added sugar. Sweeten it up with some cinnamon and fruit for a much healthier option.
No sugar added drink mixesSodaJust one can of Coke has 44 grams of sugar, or 11 teaspoons. Try no sugar added drink mixes, like Crystal Light or your store’s brand, instead. You get flavor without the sugar. A box of Crystal Light lemonade that makes 6 pitchers is around $2.50 at Wal-Mart. That’s approximately 36 glasses. A 12-pack of Coke costs around $5.
Skim milk or 1% milkWhole milkBoth milks contain around 8 grams of protein per cup and loads of calcium and Vitamin D. But, whole milk contains 8 grams of fat per cup while skim milk has just .2 grams. The cost is about the same.
Frozen vegetablesCanned vegetablesThe canning process strips more nutrients from vegetables than the freezing process. Canned vegetables also contain a lot of sodium (salt) that’s not added to frozen vegetables. Frozen vegetables can cost a little more than canned, but not much. Buy in bulk when they go on sale and store them in your freezer.

4. Get active without a gym membership.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week. That includes activities like brisk walking, swimming, riding bikes, or mowing the lawn. Fortunately, you don’t need a gym membership to do these types of activities. Create a schedule, find free resources, and get active. For example, you could take a brisk walk for 30 minutes, 5 days a week. It’s free exercise and all it takes is a little planning.

Healthy living doesn’t have to break the bank, and you can start small. Take a few of these steps, and you’ll be well on your way to living a healthier, more active lifestyle.

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