It is now February – how are your resolutions going? I know many of us want to lose weight and save money and sometimes it seems impossible to do both at the same time. When we are so eager to drop a few pounds, we easily pull out our wallets to pay for gym memberships, diet books, diet foods, and diet food programs.
I was even convinced to join Weight Watchers for $42-something a month. That is quite a bit of money for a meeting of motivation and weighing in. I know some people swear by it, but it wasn’t for me. Also paying over $500 a year was definitely not for me. Chances are that if you are reading this, you have been guilty of throwing money at the million-dollar diet corporation. Whether it’s through a gym membership you don’t use or paying money for pills that have “magical” claims or for special shakes and frozen entrees. Let’s not get started about how expensive meal delivery systems are, such as Nutrisystem.
For example, I bought a 7 lb whole chicken for $4.07 (It was $7.07 with a $3 markdown coupon at Target). At home, I had a bag of frozen vegetables from Costco and a 10-lb bag of brown rice. I cooked the chicken whole with a little olive oil and a ½ a lemon, and a little salt. I then cooked my rice in the rice cooker, while also allowing it to reheat the frozen vegetables.
It was probably 15 minutes of prep, if that, and two hours of cooking. After everything cooled off a bit, I measured 4 ounces of chicken out at a time and placed them in my reusable containers. I then scooped ½ cup of rice and vegetables on top. This made 8 containers worth. I used .50 worth of rice, .50 worth of garnishes, and $1-2 worth of frozen vegetables. I estimate it cost me about $6-7 to make everything or .75-.88 per dinner. I just saw a sale for Smart Ones frozen entrees for $1.88 each. If I bought eight of those, the cost would be $15.04, so right away I am saving $8-9 for eight meals.
There are many more food options you can make too. Try making a huge pot of whole wheat pasta with a side of tomato sauce and ground lean turkey. Or make a huge crockpot full of soup, stew, or chili. I like making salads for lunch too. I just put a homemade dressing right before I eat it, instead of when I make it. These meals will probably cost .75 or less per serving, increasing your overall savings.
Don’t forget snacks. Instead of buying individual containers of yogurt or cottage cheese, buy the huge container from Costco, Sam’s Club, Smart and Final, or BJs, and divide them into single servings using smaller Tupperware containers or even recycled jars (since I buy a lot of things at Trader Joes, I seem to have several small jam and salsa glass jars that are perfect to use). Just by buying the larger tub and splitting it up will save you a $1-2 each week (remember, little amounts add up – $52-104 savings a year).
I really believe that if you take this approach, you will save yourself a lot of money throughout the year. Not only will you be saving money on your grocery bill, but you will also save money by not eating out. Why grab a burger at lunch when you have a container of food already waiting for you? Finally, with this method, you are sure to lose weight (as long as you stick to healthy options within your daily calorie range, that is). You will most likely lose weight better than if you were on the Slimfast, Nutrisystem, or Lean Cuisine plan because you are putting real food into your body, not some fake food that needs a lot of preservatives to stay fresh or a lot of sodium to taste good.
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Diet and finance has a lot in common! Both very simple, yet we always want simpler solutions. The solution is real simple for a diet or personal finances. Eat less calories than you expend and you will lose weight. Spend less than you earn and you will do fine. Still, we want some special easy way to solve weight loss or personal finance. It is obvious!