There are two transformation stumbling blocks I hear about more than any others. Coincidentally, they’re two of the biggest burdens we all face in our everyday lives, even without the added stress of a weight loss plan or a new fitness goal. Can you guess what they are? Time and money.
There is no secret formula and no magic wand I can wave to magically allow for extra cash in your bank account or extra hours in your day (wouldn’t that be nice! 😉). I know that eating healthy can be more expensive than sticking to your current meal plan, but it doesn’t have to be! Prepping + planning will SAVE you money, and it’s vital to transformation success.
Chris and I fully understand these challenges, so we added a ton of features to The Transform App that combined your fitness goals, meal plans, grocery lists, workouts, and more to ease you into your transformation and give you all the tools in one place.
Fast Fact: The average American spends over $200 a month eating out. $200 a MONTH! If you’re married, we’re talking $400 a month, and that’s without throwing in the cost of your kids’ food too!
If you plan your meals and your grocery list ahead of time to be ready in a pinch, you won’t be caught stuck in a drive-thru (again!), saving you time and money!
Tips to Eating Healthy on a Budget
Saving money and eating healthy start with meal prep, but they are generally executed at the grocery store. To successfully do this, retraining your shopping habits is a key to success. Instead of thinking about what you need on a week-to-week basis, plan ahead in accordance to what’s on sale, what you can store in your freezer, and what you NEED right now. Before you shop, always check your fridge and pantry because you may already have what you need. Your new grocery shopping mantra is plan and prep, not just meal prepping, but grocery saving money planning.
1. Check-in with Your Food Waste.
Sometimes the woman we feel we are on Sunday when we’re grocery shopping is a woman who has tons of time to meal prep, make food from scratch, and wear all the hats. By Wednesday, we are no longer that woman, and the groceries that we’ve spent a ton of money on are turning into waste. Sound familiar? One of the biggest budget busters and overall wastes of money we see is exactly that…WASTE! The key to success: realistic meal prep.
At our house, we have a white board calendar. Each week, I write in our daily meals. If we ate the entire dish, it gets an “X.” If there are left overs, we give it a circle, and if we never made it (hey, it happens), it gets a check mark. The meals that had leftovers get an “X” (in addition to the circle) once we have eaten the leftovers.
By the end of the month or week, I’m able to see what meals I actually made, what meals I dreamed I could make but never did, and what leftovers went to waste. This gives me a more realistic idea about our food waste. Now, I can make more of what we eat, leave the wasted dishes behind, and keep the leftovers going.
Eat the leftovers. This also applies to the days you go out to eat because portion control is everything, and leftovers will save you a ton of money and time, as will eating the food you buy.
Remember to pickup some containers—the Powell Pack approves of this 6 pack of clear storage containers under $35—to see and store your leftovers for easy access and an organized fridge. Who doesn’t love the feeling of having an organized fridge?
2. Produce Tip: Eat Produce That Is in Season.
In AZ, carrots, asparagus, and tomatoes are in season in April. Buy extra and freeze them so you can eat them off season and save money. Off season produce is more costly. If you aren’t sure of what is in season, a quick Google search with your location and produce in season will get you going. We make tomato sauce using fresh tomatoes and freeze it for year-round use.
Joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is another great way to eat fresh and save on produce. A CSA will send you fresh produce oftentimes cheaper than a grocery store, and you’re supporting a local business. It’s a win-win.
3. Check Sales Fliers + Stock Pile Items When They Are Cheapest.
You can buy coconut milk with a coupon for sometimes less than $1, and it can be frozen (keeping in mind it’s best to do this only if you use it in cooking and don’t plan to drink it after thawing). That means you don’t have to be beholden to the store price or run out to the store when you have a missing ingredient. You may not need an ingredient right now, but if you’ll need it in the future, you have the space, and it’s on sale, so stockpile it. This is especially handy for household items like toilet paper and toothpaste. You can sometimes even coupon and get the item for free or with money back (aka a “money maker item”). Yes, that’s right, they will add money back to your bill, which saves you money on those ingredients you need for this week’s shopping trip.
If you’re new to grocery shopping on a budget, starting a spreadsheet before you go is great so you can see your total and total saved before you even set foot into the store. You can also shop online or create your grocery list online to stop from impulse purchasing. When online, some grocery stores will even allow you to sort by price, so you know you’re always getting the items at the lowest price instead of staring at the overwhelming tags in the grocery aisle. Sites like krazycouponlady.com and livingrichwithcoupons.com share the weekly deals for many grocery stores every Sunday with links to coupons, so you don’t have to do the extra leg work to find all the best money saving items.
Bonus Tip: Around specific holidays—Mother’s Day, Christmas, Father’s Day—grocery stories usually have a promotion on gift cards. Our local grocery store offers $10 off on any $10 grocery purchase if you buy a gift card of $50 or more. You can either buy a gift for someone or you can buy a gas gift card for yourself. You’re getting $10 for filling up your car, which you’d do anyway.
4. Stay Away from These Items to Save $$
Instead of picking up canned beans, opt for dried beans. Buy nuts and mixes (plus other items) in bulk. Skip on kids juice boxes—buy a container and regular juice for much less. Plus, you can get the cups personalized with your kid’s names (Ruby loves this one). If you really want to save because you have the extra time, leave the pre-cut veggies at the store and make chopping part of your meal prep.
Buying in bulk is a great tip that will stretch your dollar further. In your meal prep, choose snacks and meals that use similar ingredients when you’re buying in bulk.
Maybe you pick meals for the week that all use chicken. This allows you to bulk buy your chicken and then prep it and season it for each specific meal.
5. Hit Your Water Goals
You’ve heard about water more than once from us, and if you’re a Transform App user, you’re used to our daily water check. But seriously, whether you’re eating out or eating at home, choose to drink water. It’s cheap (free.99) and so, so good for your body. If you get bored with water, then try out a Boost Shot for some extra flavor (and benefits).
If you have some extra money in your budget, opting for seltzer instead of soda is another great way to #treatyourself without breaking your transformation goals.
Taking the time to plan your meals is the best way to keep your bank account and your belly full on your transformation journey.
Got any transformation tips or tricks of your own that save time and money? I’d love to hear them! Share them in the comments, and who knows, you may just see them in a post someday. 😉
PS: Workouts, meal plans, and a community of like-minded Transformers are all included in The Transform App. Join today!
9 Tips for Grocery Shopping Success || Meal Prep Made Easy
Meal Plan Makeover: A Step-By-Step Guide to Un-Suck A Sucky Meal Plan
Our 12 Month Transformation, Month Four: Prep & Plan!
How to Drink Water When You Don’t Like the Taste
Six Tips for Diet Success