As a Nike/Jordan Brand Trainer, Runner, AAU/High School Basketball Coach, and Founder of my own Fitness Brand (GOODWRK), living a healthy lifestyle is imperative to my success. But if i’m keeping it all the way 100 (honest) with you, living a healthy lifestyle on a budget tighter than a pair yoga pants is extremely difficult. To an extent, it’s as though you have to be on the Oprah or Jay-Z budget to ensure that your health goals are reached. Seeing as how most of us are working with a significantly more primitive budget, I figured I’d make a point to highlight the key ways to live a healthier lifestyle while on a tight budget.
Now before I get started on this journey with you all, I want to mention that I am not a nutritionist (yet). I am a health professional, with over 5 years of experience. During my time in this industry, I’ve had profound experiences working alongside some of the top athletes, coaches, trainers etc. in the industry. That being said, these are some tips that have worked not only for me, but for my peers, athletes and clients. Enjoy the journey. Find what works for you, and run with it ;-).
Less Excuses More Priorities
Most people are aware of their area(s) of improvement. However, at times we simply opt to make excuses for not doing the things that we know we should. When it comes to living frugal, I see people make the most excuses when it comes to their diet/nutrition plan, and grocery shopping. Some of the top excuses I’ve encountered over the years are:
- I hate to cook, so I eat out alot.
- I have a big family/children, so we eat a ton of food.
- I’m vegan, pescatarian, vegetarian, and that’s really expensive.
- I’m single and it’s tough to cook just for myself.
- I love eating meat, and it’s really expensive.
It’s true that everyone’s situation is completely different. I’m a single man with no children. I can’t possibly have the same budget situation as a wife with 5 kids. That being said, it’s important to identify then prioritize which aspect of your diet/nutrition is most important you. Regardless of whether you’re cooking for 5, always on the go, or vegan, it’s totally feasible to eat healthy despite your situation. Choosing your food priorities is very much like prioritizing in the other areas of your life. Invest in what is most important to you. It could be cooking for 4 people, or it could be eating USDA Certified Organic foods at all times, or eating on the go. Whatever your situation is, be stubborn about your priorities then stick to them.
Where To Shop
If you’re like me, you shop at various supermarkets or farmer’s markets. I find this extremely useful because the price of certain products vary from location to location. Some meats and veggies at your local Whole Foods may be less expensive at your local/smaller chain supermarket. Set aside some time throughout the week to do some research. Compare the prices of the items you most frequently purchase (meats, veggies, fruits, beverages etc). Then throughout the week, make a point to visit your local retailers, and secure the products with the best deals. The key is to be open minded about the places you shop at, and be stubborn about your priorities. For example: I personally value organic products, but I don’t care about where I get them from. Organic Spinach at Whole Foods cost more than the Organic Spinach at my local Trader Joe’s and my local Walmart. I love Whole Foods, but I won’t by certain products there if they can be found elsewhere for less money. Also, be sure to check out the instacart app. It allows you to have a more precise dollar amount when you’re shopping.
How To Shop
Having a gameplan is crucial to your success. There are certain key principles that you should employ to always “shop for success”. Checkout my #KeysToSuccess below:
- Stick To Your List: Make your list while looking in your refrigerator, cabinets and pantry. This will ensure that you don’t forget anything.
- Never Shop Hungry: Don’t do it, beloved. It’s always going to lead to you overspending and regretting your purchases. That oversized bag of flamin hot cheetos just doesn’t help you be elite. Instead, grab a snack BEFORE you go food shopping. You’ll be full and ready to make your shopping experience a success.
- Lunch Break/Friday: Try to make time to shop during your lunch breaks or on Friday nights. Most grocery stores are fairly empty on Friday nights and during the early and late afternoons. You’ll be able to shop and not be pressed for time, enabling you to make clear headed decisions.
Don’t Eat Out
In most situations you can spend less money on preparing your meals, than you’d spend eating or ordering out. People typically eat out because they’re socializing/celebrating, enjoying a gourmet meal, or simply don’t like to cook. To be fair, I certainly understand that we all have to balance our lives. However, you’re reading this because you’re on a tight budget. Some tough choices have to be made. You can’t continue to eat out 4/5 days a week, then have Top Ramen for the rest of the month, and expect your health goals to be reached. Limit how frequently you eat out. There are some great benefits to eating in. Most of them equating in you saving your money. More money is always better than no money, when on limited funds.
Watch What You Drink
More Life = More Water. This rule holds true in all regards. Instead of soda, opt to drink seltzer water. Grab the flavored ones if you’re feeling frisky. Instead of a cup of coffee, opt to have Alkaline/Electrolyte infused water for energy. If you can’t go without your cup of joe, make your coffee at home instead. If you’re already a big fan of drinking water, but can’t help but have your fair share of alcohol, I suggest getting acquainted with Red Boxed Wine. It’s less costly than a bottle of Hennessy, or your favorite Tequila. Red wine contains procyanidins, which aid in preventing heart disease. Does your favorite bottle of top-shelf Vodka do that?
Coupon Hall Of Famer
Coupons are a game changer. Search for the items that you need for your diet etc, and if they’re listed in the coupon book don’t hesitate to take advantage on a deal. But be careful when using coupons. If you don’t need an item, don’t stock up on it. The idea is to optimize your coins in the most efficient way possible. Purchase items based on their utility as it pertains to your individual diet/lifestyle.
One of my biggest beef’s (hahaha) with eating meat is that it cost so much. Part of the reason why I began living on a primarily plant based diet is because I wanted to save some coin. If you’re going to insist on eating meat, be creative in how you use your meat (LMAO). For example, instead of eating a whole turkey to yourself, use some of that turkey to mix in a soup. Also, take into consideration that meat is high in protein, just like some other veggies or grains. Instead of constantly spending money on expensive meat options, as your source of protein, try opting for some eggs, black beans, peanut butter, or avocados. They’re all great alternatives and delicious in their own right. Try indulging in them more often.
Love Thy Leftovers
Despite what some of these privileged folks may want you to believe, eating leftovers is not only smart, but they taste pretty darn good too! There’s something special taking place in your fridge when you let your pasta marinate for an extra night or two. It’s great to store your food and reuse your ingredients to help recreate another fantastic meal. One bit of advice: Figure out how you can reuse certain ingredients as leftovers once they’re cooked. Think about the versatility of your ingredients, and pick out foods that allow you to reuse them over and over again. Don’t limit your avocados beloved. They deserve to be used in your salads, smoothies, sandwiches, and as a late night snack or with your toast. The next time you buy salad dressing, think about whether or not that same dressing can be used as a marinade for your favorite meat etc.
Store Brand Products
Learn the differences between Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, and Whole Food’s version of the same product. Do they taste the same? Are they priced the same (probably not)? Do they contain the same ingredients (probably do)? I know plenty of people who refer to Whole Food’s as Whole Check, because of their high prices. However, the Whole Food’s brand (365 Everyday Value) products are not nearly as expensive as the other brand’s on the shelves. The same can be said for Trader Joe’s brand products, and the ones at your local supermarket. Don’t invest so much into labels, instead, reinvest into your bank account by making the smart choice and opting to save your money buying the less expensive products.
Get out there and be more active. There are several free and fun opportunities to get a workout in. Looking for a personal trainer, with a limited $20.00 budget? Checkout groupon. Looking to workout in a small group session, but can’t afford to pay more than a few hundred bucks, checkout the GOODWRK Training Collective, District Running Collective, and other great opportunities to get in shape, have fun, and do so on a limited budget.
There are a number of other tips that I’ll be sharing later this week. Be sure to implement the ones mentioned above immediately, and feel free to let me know how things go. Enjoy the journey!