How to lose weight on a budget is what it literally means, what it means- how to make lemonade out of lemons. It doesn’t matter why you have chosen to eat clean on a budget and lose weight, what matter is that you’ve decided that no matter what, you are going to shed off the extra pounds.
I applaud you for that because so many people wait for the perfect conditions when in fact you can achieve anything that you want if you really want it.
As you may be aware, weight loss is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise’ and what and how much you eat is way more important than the hours you’ll spend on a treadmill try to ‘out-exercise a bad diet.’
Working out for an hour is easy, what is hard is what you do during the other 23 hours that you have to nourish your body with the right food.
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How to eat clean on a budget and lose weight
What you will realise is that it even harder when you are trying to lose weight on a tight budget. This is because of the misconception that to eat clean, you have to buy into the ridiculously overpriced ‘healthy foods.’
I won’t get into what I think about some of these ‘healthy or organic foods’ but what I will tell you right now and probably the most important thing that you can take away from this article is this:
The fastest and best way to lose weight is really not about you eating organic this and that, or gluten-free this, and gluten-free that.
Calories are calories where your chicken is organic or not or whether your bread is gluten-free or not.
The fact that most healthy foods are way more expensive than junk food shouldn’t be a stumbling block to meeting your goals in your weight loss journey.
Unless you have a medical condition that makes it impossible to lose weight, there really shouldn’t be a reason why you shouldn’t lose weight even when you can’t afford the healthiest meals.
As long as your food isn’t overly processed or refined, you can eat clean on a budget and lose massive weight without spending thousands of dollars on food. Here is how you can lose weight on a budget:
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*This post may contain affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure here
How to lose weight on a budget in 7 simple steps
1. Plan and prepare your meals in advance
Have you heard about this wonderful thing called meal planning? Meal planning is when you plan and prepare your meals in advance and is the best tip if you want to lose weight on a budget and busy schedule.
You can plan and prepare your meals for as long as you wish and as long as your freezer can handle the quantity.
Depending on how busy your schedule is you can prepare meals a week, 3 days or even 2 weeks in advance. It’s all up to you.
I prefer planning my meals a week in advance usually on Sundays. A week out is the perfect balance to maintain some form of freshness especially when it comes to food like chicken breast, which seems to dry up pretty fast, in my opinion.
Your life will be much more simplified when you don’t have to think and worry about what you’ll eat when you get off from work.
For 7 days a week, your breakfast, lunch, and dinner and in-between snacks will all be sorted out.
The awesome thing about meal planning is that it’ll also help you to stick to your planned healthy meals.
When you don’t have a plan for what you are going to eat on a particular day or time, it’s easy to dive into whatever is sitting in front of you. Meal planning will also help you put a stop to mindless snacking.
2. Do your grocery shopping in bulk to save money
Planning meals in advance will become easier once you start buying your groceries in bulk.
What you should do here is write down your grocery list for the month, fortnight or week, and then plan your meals for the week around the list.
Once you know exactly what you are going to need to prepare your meals, only then should you go out to the store, and do your shopping.
When at the store, be strict and stick to only, and only, what is on that list, no negotiations. This is how you are going to lose weight on a budget effortlessly.
3. Cook your own meals
Yes, Suzy, it’s time to learn how to cook!
Eating out or ordering in when you are trying to lose weight on a budget must be out of the question.
If you don’t know how to cook, this is the perfect time to learn basic cooking.
The internet today is full of quick and easy healthy meals that you can prepare without much effort.
I am not qualified to dispense financial advice but will say this: if you are looking up how to lose weight on a budget, dining out should be a huge NO-NO until your finances are in better shape.
Buying a ‘healthy’ sandwich here and there may seem like a great idea to eating clean when you are on the run, but those small amounts of money spent on sandwiches and smoothies will eventually add up.
Something you should always remember while you try to eat clean on a budget and lose weight is that you do not have to learn how to cook world-class meals.
Your life is not MasterChef, and neither are you in competition with anybody.
You can find easy healthy recipes for weight loss on a budget to help you cook sumptuous meals in a flash.
One of the cookbooks that I love is meal prep: the complete meal prep cookbook for beginners. It promises delicious but simple healthy meals for weight loss and delivers on it.
If you can afford to buy this book right now, then I would advise you to get it, but if you can’t, make Pinterest and the internet your true love.
Read: how to maintain weight after weight loss
4. Track the calories
Again, I’ll sing this song- eating clean and losing weight have got nothing to do with eating organic foods or any fancy diet that might pop up every now and then.
The amount of calories that you consume versus the amount that you expend determines whether you gain, maintain or lose weight. That simple.
For example, if your maintenance calories (the calories you need to maintain your body weight) are 2000, you should subtract about 200 to 500 calories to arrive at the number of calories you should be consuming to lose weight.
To understand this better, there are free tools such as MyFitnessPal that will hold your hand while you learn how to track and calculate the calories that you burn, as well as consume.
How to lose weight on a budget and busy schedule
5. Drink like a fish
You have to literally drink water like a fish because not only is it free in most case, but it’ll help you stay hydrated and lose weight.
You have to chuck out that bottle of wine for a while because alcohol can dehydrate you and also lead to weight gain.
Water is life as they say, and when it comes to losing weight, water is, the life that weight loss depends on.
Apart from revving up your metabolism, water can also help you curb hunger as well as help your body get rid of waste.
Study also shows that drinking water before meals helps to suppress appetite.
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6. Stock up on frozen fruits and canned vegetables
When your finances are tight, canned and frozen foods that include macronutrients are a lifesaver.
Your pantry should contain essentials like canned tuna, canned kidney or black beans that don’t have high amounts of sugar and salt, lentils.
Your freezer, on the other hand, should be stocked with bags of frozen vegetables
You should have on hand, these foods in your pantry and home even if you are not trying to lose weight on a budget.
Cheap and healthy foods that will help you lose weight when you are on a tight budget
- Canned tuna in water – cheap source of protein
- Kidney beans – look for the option that is low on sugar and sodium
- Lentils – dry or canned
- Chickpeas and peas
- Oats – stay away from instant oats, they are highly processed and contain too much sugar (I love this overnight oats recipe with chia)
- Sweet potatoes
- Brown rice
- Frozen vegetables like green beans, cauliflower, broccoli and butternut squash
- Chilli peppers to rev up your metabolism
- Greek yoghurt or plain yoghurt
- Frozen fruit
- Kale and spinach
- Avocado, when in season
- Chicken breasts
- Canned fruit in water and not syrup
6. Workout at home if you can’t afford gym membership
If you can’t afford it, there’s no reason for you to sign up for a gym membership to keep fit and lose weight.
There are many ways of exercising, such as running outdoors and at-home workouts for beginners, and the best part is they are either free or cost next to nothing.
Read: 5 easy ways to avoid winter weight gain
Running outside your neighbourhood, or taking part in Parkruns is absolutely free. I recently joined my local Parkrun and I love it. (You can find one in your area here).
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If you are a beginner, you can start by walking outside your home at least 3 times a week for 20 minutes, until you are fit enough to throw in a little jogging here and there, or run the entire distance.
At home workouts to lose weight
If you would rather workout at home, these are some of the best inexpensive weight loss workout programs that you can start with:
- Summer workout plan – your ultimate bikini body workout challenge
- How to tone flabby arms- ultimate arm toning exercises for females
- 30-day fat burning workout routines for beginners
- Working out at home using fitness DVDs
- Working out using YouTube workout channels
- Downloading fitness apps on your phone and following the training plans
My final thoughts on how to lose weight on a budget
Lastly, I’ll say this to you from the bottom of my heart. As someone who had to survive on a shoestring budget on several occasions and also lost weight, my advice to you is this:
Losing weight is not easy, no matter what anybody tells you. Don’t ever be too harsh on yourself.
Don’t pit yourself against others who are on an entirely different weight loss journey from yours.
You have no idea what goes on behind the closed doors of most fitness models that you might be looking up to for motivation.
There’s a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ struggles between all the incredible weight loss success stories, and the before and after photos that we often see on social media.
Be true to yourself, to your WHY, to your finances, and to your personal story.
As you try to eat clean on a budget and lose weight, you might, and will fail along the way.
The secret to successful weight loss is to get up and start again each time you fail. Don’t stay down for longer than 5 days.
Find the strength within you to stay consistent, and keep going no matter what!
Don’t give up on your weight loss goals.
Yes, you will be discouraged time and again, especially when results seem slow. Just never ever quit.
I have struggled with weight since 2005 when I had my first child and I know how it is like.
Keep going until you reach your goal.
Feel free to email me on the email address listed here, if you need some encouragement here and there.
32 thoughts on “How to lose weight on a budget in 7 simple steps”
Meal planning is huge. It really helps me stay on track and not binge eat when I plan ahead. These are all really great tips.
Planning out meals in advance is what I need to do. I try to cook at home most days so I can control the calories, etc. Plus, fresh is always best. I need to use all these tips!
These are great tips! I do try to meal plan when I can. I also try to cook more at home, but I do love to go out since I hate to cook.
My weeks are much easier when I plan out my meals. My kids always eat my healthy foods. If I cut up vegetables for me to snack on, by the time I go to have them, they’re gone. I’m glad my kids like to eat healthy, but I’m the one the doctor told to lose weight and they were told to gain weight.
These are so really great tips. I’ve been using the MyFitnessPal app for almost a year and love it. I try to meal plan as often as possible.
This is exactly what I needed to try to help to get my summer body back! When I head to the grocery store Friday I will definitely look at getting most of the food you listed. Thank you for sharing!
I know many people doing Keto right now and it seems to be working. Hopefully this can fit into their diet too.
Good food is very important for weight loss. I love making fresh meals to go along with exercise!
I think meal planning is the best thing you can do to lose weight on a budget. It really helps you see where your money goes when you don’t.
I think one of the biggest things is to cook your own meals. Eating out is convenient and fun but it’s really hard to eat out often and keep calories in check. Preparing meals at home lets one be in control of ingredients.
I need to start counting my calories and drinking more water. I don’t even know why I said more because I don’t drink any. I said I would change that this year but this post might be the motivation I need to not just say it, but to do it.
It’s sad that healthy food is more expensive than all the processed junk. I feel like eating healthy on a budget is definitely a challenge – thanks for the tips.
People are often mistaken about losing weight when it comes to budget. They’ll always say that it’s too expensive, when in reality, you can eat healthy and save money. Love this guide, I’m sure a lot of people will find this helpful.
I never considered signing up for a gym membership because I know they cost a lot. If we are really determined to lose weight, all we need is the will power to do it. Plan ahead and be creative with our meals. Set up a goal chart at home to track our progress and just do exercises at home.
My trainer would say that as well. It’s always going to be 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. That’s why it’s really important that you eat healthy every day. This guide can really help people who are following a budget.
Cooking your own meal is the best option there is especially if you want to stay on budget and keep a healthy lifestyle. No matter how you exercise if you don’t put good nutrition on your body, the result is not what you expected.
working out at home is really possible with the ways mentioned above. There are mobile app available for free that are easy to follow and keep up . Videos and youtube is also helpful since lots of youtube instructors are good motivator.
Cooking my meals is my best way to control the calories and fat. I like this post because a lot of people can use it. Purchasing better foods cost so much sometimes and it makes me just wanna go up the street to the nearest fast food place.
You have no idea how excited I am to have come across this post. It is perfect timing as I have been looking into losing my post pregnancy and baby weight. I had also been wondering how to not spend so much on it too.