Getting Fit and Saving Money: start with diet

Once again, I am not following what my readers might expect of me. This is a post of how you can tweak your diet for the sake of your health and your wallet. I might write a post at another time explaining how I came to know any of this.

A friend of mine, who contributes over at The High Tea Cast, recently expressed her developing relationship with exercise in this post: she’s beginning to understand that it exists. But she finds herself in a pickle when she compares the price of a gym membership to her empty bank account. So she’s worked out alternatives: instead of getting on one of those treadmill contraptions she’s going to take up running; instead of sitting on a stationary bike and putting all of her effort into going nowhere she’s going to use her real moving bike. It’s old-fashioned, but it works.

If you’ve recently decided to get fit, or are putting it off on the back of it being expensive, I thought I might lend a hand. Being aware of what you eat is a big step, and healthy eating may just save you some money (I understand if this becomes a post-Christmas issue).

Dried beans. I use them as a partial meat replacement. If the recipe calls for 200g of beef you’ll be able to make do with 100g of beef and 50g of dried black beans (they turn into just-over 100g once you’ve soaked and cooked them). 200g of chicken can become 100g of chicken and 50g of pinto beans. Nearly every supermarket stocks these now, and they are a fraction of the price of meat. Meat is nearly always the most expensive element of a recipe.

Nutrition: Dried beans contain plenty of protein and complex (i.e. healthy) carbohydrates. That makes them ideal for any exercise plans: cardio or weights.

More vegetables. You never really need more than 100g of meat in any given meal. If you’ve replaced some with beans you only need 50g of meat. Cutting meat back makes a meal cheaper. Bulking a meal out with more carrots and onions and crisp red pepper means you can eat less meat and still be full. Simples.

Nutrition: the levels of vitamins in vegetables means you will be able to metabolize the calories you eat better. That means that you will have more energy for getting on with a cardio plan.

Bake your own. It is cheaper to bake your own cakes and muffins and bread. I use wholemeal flour when I do that. But my ex-girlfriend enjoyed baking a lot more than I did, so she normally did it. When she baked she used a half-and-half wholemeal to white flour. I’d link you to her food blog so that you can get some ideas, but she never got round to starting it (when/if she does start the blog it will have porridge bread and breakfast ideas and the best chili con carne you can eat etc. hint hint!).

Nutrition: you can be sure of what you’re eating. You can even control how much sugar you use. You can make sweet cakes using more fruit. You can control the calories and the quality of the food.

There, I’ve saved you some money towards your new exercise plan. Or beer. You’re going to spend the extra money on beer, aren’t you? I knew it.

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