20 Small & Inexpensive Changes To Make Your Life A Little Healthier

1. Walk

A few extra steps today could be the start of lifelong, healthy journey. Adding walking to everyday situations, like taking the back parking spot walking during lunch, is easy. You can also walk around the mall in bad weather (leave your credit card at home, though) or the beach on vacation. It’s easy, and can set the tone if you’re just starting out with a health routine.

2. Download an App

From workouts led by professional athletes to running from a zombie apocalypse, the number of free fitness apps is vast. You can find something for every skill level, apps tailored for women, those short on time, the outdoor enthusiast, and more.

3. Use Your Bodyweight

You don’t need a gym membership to tone up — focusing three-to-six minutes on each muscle group for an hour total will suffice, and you can easily do that with bodyweight. Modifications can be made to most exercises, too, which is easily researched online. You can even find schedules to help you plan your routine.

4. Make an at-Home Gym

If you do like the feel of a gym, you can make one at home for pretty cheap. Start out with three different weights of dumbbells (like 5, 10, and 15 lbs.), resistance bands, sliders, and a kettlebell. And don’t feel like you have to go overboard — you can get a ton of exercises out of even just one piece of equipment.

5. Watch YouTube

There are more than just cat videos on YouTube. Fitness professionals make a living posting free videos of HIIT, yoga, and Pilates for all skill levels.

6. Search Groupon

This site is known for savings on restaurants and getaways, but they also offer savings that benefit your health too! You can find discounts on teeth cleanings, chiropractic exams, massage, and fitness classes.

7. Drink Tea

Way cheaper than a latte, tea has health benefits that not only make it more budget-friendly, but health-friendly, too. Tea contains antioxidants, boosts your immune system, can help with sleep, and has a number of other health perks. Take that, coffee!

8. Join a Recreation Club

Most cities have social running, biking, or walking clubs. These are more for socializing than competing, so you’ll find every skill level. Check local running and biking stores or Meetup groups to see what’s available in your area.

9. Eat at Home

There’s no question that you consume more food and more calories at a restaurant then you do at home. Heck, if I have the opportunity to not cook or do dishes, I’m getting the most complex thing on the menu — not a salad. Plan your weekly menus to make eating at home easy and convenient, while allowing yourself a “cheat” meal two-to-three times per month. Your waistline will thank you.

10. Plan and Meal Prep

The key to make eating at home affordable and convenient is planning. Deciding your meals ahead of time, sticking to your grocery list and prepping what you can beforehand will keep you from eating out after a long day.

11. Eat More Eggs

Eggs are a great source of protein, and extremely filling. Reheating egg cups for a quick breakfast or whipping up a hearty frittata for dinner is an inexpensive meal that packs a healthy punch.

12. Eat Your Beans

The average for ground beef, the cheapest albeit one of the most unhealthy choices in the meat family, is around $3 p/lb, and chicken averages at $3.41 p/lb. Dried beans and lentils come in at $1 per pound. And considering you get the same amount of protein in a cup of beans as a ½ burger, that’s a lot of protein for a third of the price, and way healthier.

13. Try Tofu

The same argument can be made for tofu, which costs an average of $2 per pound. It’s not my favorite protein substitute, but it has far less cholesterol, fat, and fewer calories than meat.

14. Get Whole Grains

Including whole grains with your meal keeps you fuller longer. Replace the old refined white flour products with inexpensive whole grains like brown rice, oats, and whole wheat pasta.

15. Buy What’s in Season

I’m known for not looking at a fresh fruit or vegetable unless it’s on sale. Fresh produce offers you the highest nutritional content, but isn’t always the most affordable. You can usually tell what’s in season by what’s on sale, but find a Seasonality Chart online so you can plan your meals accordingly.

16. Buy Off-Season Veggies Frozen

Everyone’s guilty of tossing a few vegetables because they went bad “too quickly.” Frozen veggies keep much longer, and are more affordable when you want something that’s off-season. And they’re hands-down healthier than their canned counterparts.

17. Shop at Ethnic Markets

Mexican and Indian cuisines rely heavily on low-cost ingredients. You don’t have to be eating a specific list of recipes to shop at these hidden gems, though. In addition to their native offerings, ethnic markets carry many items you’d find at traditional grocery stores at cheaper prices.

18. Leftovers for Lunch

Eating out for lunch every day, or even a few times a week, can add up. Make enough for dinner that you can easily pack it up for lunch the next day and avoid the temptation of going out.

19. Go to Farmer’s Market at the End of the Day

If you’re looking to save at a farmer’s market, go at the end of the day. Vendors would rather discount their products to sell rather than load them back in the truck. You need to ask for it to get it, but it’s much less crowded at the end of the day, so negotiating is easier. You’ll get even deeper discounts for buying in bulk, or going in bad weather. Some markets don’t allow end-of-day discounts so check your local market for details.

20. Meditate

Take time out of your day to sit and rest. Meditation reduces stress, anxiety, chronic pain, and boosts your immune system. There are quite a few free apps available to help guide you no matter what your experience level.

Jen writes about her and her husband’s journey to pay off $86,000 of debt in less than 2 years on her website, Saving with Spunk. Follow her on Twitter here!

Image via Unsplash

  • Sonic Ruth

    This scrambled tofu recipe is the tits, my dudes: http://www.isachandra.com/2009/10/tof-u-and-tof-me-scrambled-tofu-revisited/

    I make it all the time – for breakfast, for brunch, to put in tacos at dinner! So good.

  • Sara

    I second shopping at ethnic markets. I had a Chinese grocery store near my old apartment and it had the CHEAPEST produce and meat. Also, tons of unique products I wouldn’t find elsewhere.

  • Lauren

    +1 for drinking tea. I have been known to bring a tea bag to a coffee shop to meet a friend and ask for a cup of hot water when my budget was really tight — I refuse to pay $3 for something I bought myself for like 10¢. I don’t make a habit of this but it’s good for when you have a friend who wants to grab coffee and you just can’t swing the cost.

    • Jack

      I did that a lot when I was in school. I’d still pay for a pastry or something, but bring my own teabag.

  • odetomysocks

    Was anyone else weirded-out by the way the author talked about “ethnic” groceries? I also shop at international food stores, but I’m aware that those stores are intended to serve local immigrant communities. This article is a little tone-deaf, especially with the phrase “native offerings.” International grocers are not “offering” middle-class white girls cheaper food. They’re supporting their own communities. White girls can shop there too, but we need to be cognizant of the fact that we’re walking into a space that was *not built for us.*

    • T

      As an “ethnic” person who shops at mainstream grocery stores as well as the “ethnic” ones, I took no offense at the phrasing and thought it was fine.

    • Ella

      I think we should cut the author some slack here. Her point seems to be that certain items are cheaper at ethnic (international) grocers. Buying peppers and bok choy and eggplant at the Asian grocery store is definitely cheaper and a good hack! And it’s a great way to build community! How entitled would you have to be to think the neighbourhood owned international grocer was there to give you dealz?

    • Anon #5

      “They’re supporting their own communities.” <– Yes and no. First and foremost they are a small business and would probably appreciate the extra business.

  • Stellah

    Honestly, my favorite of these is using your own body weight. I think that it’s important to be able to lift and work with your own body before you ever step foot in a gym. Personally, I’ve lost over 15 pounds simply through body weight exercises.

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