Buy frozen. We're not talking corn dogs or chimichangas -- although both have taken up residence in our freezer at times. We're talking those frozen green things called vegetables. Since eating large quantities of fresh produce can get pricey, supplement your meals with frozen vegetables, such as broccoli, green beans and spinach.You'll get the same nutrients at a lower cost. Canned fruits and veggies are another great, cheap option.
Protein for less. Forget pricey protein drinks to accompany workouts. Cheap, lean protein has been waiting in your cupboard and fridge all this time in the form of eggs, beans and dairy products. These staples also provide essentials like fiber, antioxidants and calcium. To top it all off, they also sustain the feeling of fullness, which helps fend off between-meal cravings of chocolaty goodness, er, badness. If you're a kitchen novice like I am, here are 30 ways to cook eggs and how to prepare beans.
Work out while working. Many of us are stuck at a desk for most of the day. If we're lucky, we have a window to peer out of, but that just means we get to view the nameless few who can exercise as they please. A nifty list on WebMD details a few ways to exercise at your desk. Aerobics, stretching and strength training are all options from the comfort of your cubicle. And if you opt for a vending-machine run, take the stairs.
Just move. Running is one of the most obvious free ways to get an all-over body workout. But if you equate running with cruel and unusual punishment, like my husband does, instead just focus on moving every day. Here are a few everyday activities and the calories they'll burn in just 30 minutes (for a 155-pound adult):
- Mowing the lawn: 167 calories
- Grocery shopping with a cart: 130 calories
- Playing with your kids: 149 calories
- Weeding your garden: 172 calories
- Bicycling (12–13.9 mph): 298 calories
Free Health Apps
Counting calories. Many smartphone apps offer free calorie tracking (both burned and consumed). Lose It! helps you track pretty much everything, from meals at restaurants to exercises. It even has a built-in barcode scanner for recording the food you just ate. Talk about easy!
So keep on having photo-ops with tulips and posting "Ready for spring!" in exorbitant quantities on social media. Your beach body on a budget is waiting just around the corner. And rather than spending money on a gym pass, we'll all have more money to put toward that beach vacation. Now I just need to figure out a way to reintroduce my translucent skin to that big yellow thing in the sky.
Joanna and Johnny are the writing duo behind OurFreakingBudget.com, a personal finance blog documenting the joys, pains and realities of living on a budget.