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How to Lose Weight on a Budget

Keep your waistline and your budget in check.


Updated February 15, 2014


Watch your weight and your budget with these 10 tips!

Image: © [2008] Jupiterimages Corporation

Budget living is on everyone's mind these days. The good news is, losing weight doesn't have to mean spending more money. In fact, as you make your waistline shrink, you may make your wallet fatter! Here are some easy ways to lose weight on a budget:




  1. Eat at home more.

    The typical American spends hundreds of dollars a month eating out. You will do your budget and your waistline a big favor by eating at home more often. By the time you eat out a few times in a week, you will have spent enough money to buy the ingredients for multiple meals.

    What's that got to do with losing weight? When you prepare your own food, you are in complete control of preparation method, added fats, extra calories, and portion size. Plus, you won't try to "get your money's worth" by eating a too-large portion or making another trip to a buffet... not to mention that you can't be tempted by a dessert menu at home!

    More: Cooking Methods: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


  2. Clip coupons.

    The best way to save money on groceries? Coupons! Been thinking of trying a new diet-friendly product? Manufacturers often give coupons to generate interest in them. Coupon-clipping for your everyday purchases can really add up, especially if you locate a store that doubles or triples coupons.

    I have started coupon-clipping almost religiously; in fact, I rarely buy anything that I don't have a coupon for unless it's a staple (e.g. produce, dairy, etc.). On a recent triple coupon day, I purchased $75 of items for less than $30!

    More: 50 Foods to Stock Up On


  3. Consider canned.

    Canned vegetables are just as nutritious as frozen ones and can be much more budget-friendly. Case in point: I recently found I could buy a large can of store brand whole kernel corn and get the same number of servings I'd been getting in my frozen single-serving multipack. The price difference? The can was on sale for 39 cents and the frozen multipack was $2.98. The flavor was a little different, but since I often use it in recipes, it is just fine.

    More: Add Flavor without Fat


  4. Buy store brands.

    This may require a little trial and error; the quality of store brand products varies greatly. I have had the best luck with store brands of canned goods, frozen vegetables, and pasta. Store brand crackers and cookies have usually left me disappointed.

    Trying a food for the first time? Invest as little as possible by buying the smallest size instead of those tempting warehouse-size packages -- they aren't a better value if they sit in the pantry uneaten. Another lesson I've learned? Never buy multiples of a new product until you've tried it!

  5. Try exercise videos for free at the library.

    I find new exercise videos and DVDs and diet books on almost every visit to the library. You can even request or reserve specific videos you're interested in. If you find you check out the same video several times, you know purchasing your own copy would be a wise investment.

    More: Before You Buy Exercise Videos


  6. Walk more!

    It's a great time to start walking. If you live close enough to walk to stores or errands, consider how much money you'll save on gas! Start out by walking about 10 minutes at a time (e.g., the nearest store and back) before trying an hour-long trek across the neighborhood!

    More: Start Walking for Weight Loss Today


  7. Bulk up with beans.

    Beans are a cost-effective, low-fat, and nutritous way of adding additional protein and fiber to your meals, both of which will help you feel fuller longer to prevent overeating. Look for dishes that use beans as a main ingredient or add them to foods you already enjoy.
  8. Snack smarter.

    Fight the afternoon munchies by taking your own snacks from home rather than hitting the vending machine. It's much more expensive to buy individual snacks from the machines than to portion out servings from full-size packages into zipper bags. And you can buy a six-pack of diet soda by the time you purchase two or three from the machine.

    More: Smart On-the-Go Snacks


  9. Tap into tap water.

    Invest in a water filter for your tap or refrigerator. Then, swear off those little bottles of water; when you're really penny-pinching, buying water is an added cost that is easy to trim.

    Buy a safe, reusable water container that you can fill up at home to take with you to work, or when you're exercising or running errands. You'll be doing right by your budget and you won't add more used plastic bottles to the earth.

    More: H2... Oh!


  10. Prepare for portion control.

    Sure, those cute little "100 calorie packages" are handy and provide instant portion control. But if you're just as concerned about your bottom line as, well, the size of your bottom, they just aren't worth it!

    Instead, buy the full size of your favorite smart snacks when they're on sale. Then, read the food label to find out what a serving size is, and create your own instant-will-power packages by putting servings in reusable containers. You'll get many more servings for the price as compared to pre-packaged individual servings.

    More: 10 Ways to Control Portions

Related Reading:
10 Ways to Save on Healthy Groceries


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