by Vicky Monroe
Last month, I mentioned that I wanted to change my lifestyle and get healthier. Unfortunately, I gained about 20 pounds during lockdown when we were all stuck inside near our fridges. That pushed my BMI over the edge and made me clinically overweight.
I know that carrying extra pounds long-term could be bad for my health, especially with my chronic illness and family history of heart attacks. So I’m trying to improve my diet and fitness so I can shed the extra pounds.
My partner would also like to lose some weight and has decided to join me, which makes things a lot easier. Because we’re both onboard, there are no temptations in the house like apple pie or brownies, which are my weaknesses!
Staying Under Our Eating Out Budget
I didn’t know when I started this health journey that it would also have financial benefits. A few months ago I shared an updated budget that included $80 per month for eating out. Believe it or not, our health goals have caused us to stay well under that budget.
So far in the month of October, my partner and I ate at Burger King once as a cheat meal and spent $7 by getting discounts through the mobile app. I also grabbed a six-inch Subway sandwich earlier this week, which was $6 with tip.
My partner is on a work trip this weekend, so we won’t be going out to eat at all. Next week we may treat ourselves to a $30 or $40 meal if we feel like it, but we just haven’t wanted to go out.
We live in rural Michigan where most restaurants serve bar food like burgers and fries, which doesn’t really fit in with our low-calorie, mostly plant-based diet. Plus, I know I can make a more nutritious meal at home that tastes almost as good for less money, so there’s not much of an incentive to go out.
Groceries Are Cheaper Too
Since we’re not eating out as much while trying to reach our health and fitness goals, I thought our grocery spending would increase. But surprisingly we’re actually staying under our grocery budget. It turns out healthy food is cheaper than all that processed junk we were buying before!
I’ve budgeted $80 per week for food, but it seems like we only spend $75 every other week when we do a bigger stock-up. During the lighter two weeks of the month, we’ve only been spending around $50 because we’ve been shopping mainly in the produce section, with some beans and tofu thrown in for protein.
I used to think produce was too expensive and would skip pricier items like mushrooms and broccolini. The irony is, I would refuse to spend $3 on a package of mushrooms or strawberries and turn around and spend $5 on a discounted pie from the bakery section! Now that I’m not impulse buying packaged foods, I can splurge on some specialty produce to make my meals healthier and more varied while staying under my grocery budget.
Because I’m not limiting myself to the cheapest vegetables in the produce section, I can make so many delicious, healthy meals that just aren’t served at restaurants around here, such as Thai curry hot pot. I didn’t anticipate that eating better would enable us to save money and enjoy mealtimes more, but I’m not complaining!
Have you found that eating healthier helps you save money? Or do you spend more when you’re on a fitness kick? Let me know in the comments below!
Vicky Monroe is a freelance personal finance and lifestyle writer. When she’s not busy writing about her favorite money saving hacks or tinkering with her budget spreadsheets, she likes to travel, garden, and cook healthy vegetarian meals.