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Losing weight on a budget

Published May 05. 2010 05:00PM

It's true you are what you eat. The food that you eat each day has a major impact on your weight and overall health.

I've always tried to eat moderately healthy. But as I've struggled to balance work and home life, I've also noticed that what I eat has a big impact on my energy levels, work performance and weight. I've gained about 10 pounds since college graduation, and I've been working hard to get back to my collegiate weight.

Because I'm not willing to sacrifice a lot of time or money for my weight loss goals, I've been finding creative ways to eat healthy on a budget. The following tips will help you to trim your diet and your waistline without increasing your grocery budget!

Quality over quantity

We all know what we "should" be eating. Whole grains, lean protein, and lots of fruits and veggies. If only eating right were as easy as naming healthy foods.

The key to eating healthy, cost-effective meals is to focus on quality. You don't need to serve filet mignon every night, but you can't expect to make a satisfying, heart- and waist-healthy meal with the fattiest cuts of beef.

Stock up on higher-quality cuts when they go on sale, or seek out new recipes that emphasize vegetables and protein sources other than meat.

Last week, I made the most delicious salmon fillets. I had gone to our local discount grocery store to search for inexpensive, healthy meal ideas.

I was delighted to find bags of wild-caught salmon for $3.49 a pound a real bargain! I seasoned the fillets with salt, pepper and chili powder and seared them on the stovetop for a zesty, healthy meal.

From fridge to table, the entire meal took less than 20 minutes to prepare and cost less than $5. And because the food was so flavorful, my husband and I both felt satisfied with smaller portions of food.

Plan ahead

Today, I found myself staring at an empty refrigerator. It wasn't really empty it was full of cake and soda and all the goodies I've sworn off. And I was hungry! There's nothing worse than staring at a pile of food that you "can't" eat, with no tasty, healthy meal alternatives in sight.

While it's important to plan ahead if you want to save money on your grocery bill, it's doubly important to prepare for meals and snacks if you're watching what you eat. Keep a supply of fruits, vegetables, and healthy munchies on hand to avoid any diet mishaps.

Preparing healthy, inexpensive meals takes some prep work. The less you choose to pay for your food, the more prep time there will be involved. Set aside time to chop veggies, or bake a few chicken breasts the next time you use the oven for a quick and easy salad topping or sandwich filler.

You'll be less likely to grab junk food or takeout if you've got fast, healthy options at home.

A freebie tip

Exercise has nothing to do with your grocery bill, but it is an important part of your overall health. Getting your heart rate up doesn't have to cost a lot of money. In fact, you don't even need to dedicate a lot of time to exercise to become healthier or lose weight.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced in 2008 that the average adult would greatly improve their health by being physically active at least 2.5 hours per week about 30 minutes, five days a week.

You don't need a gym membership to accomplish this. Go for a quick walk around the block, or take the stairs instead of the elevator. If it gets your body moving for at least 10 minutes, it counts!

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