Living a healthy lifestyle on a budget

June 1, 2023

Exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and taking care of your physical and mental well-being are all central aspects of a healthy lifestyle. And while these are things that are commonly known, there are extenuating circumstances that can keep you from implementing these lifestyle behaviours.

When it comes to living healthily, it’s hard to ignore the price tag that often comes with that choice. Smartwatches, gym memberships, and prepared meal subscriptions can all help you lead a healthier, more active lifestyle. And with the current inflation rate—the price of food rose by 9.7% from 2021 to 2022—Canadians are paying more for even basic food staples.

Forty-three percent of Canadians feel that they have been affected by the rising food prices. And it’s no surprise when fresh fruit has increased in cost by 10%, meat by 10.1%, and fresh vegetables by 8.2%.

But there is a way to be healthy on a budget! Here are six tips to help you live a healthy lifestyle while keeping your financial health in mind.

Plan out your meals

Before you hit the grocery store, plan out your meals! Think about what ingredients you need and focus on recipes with common ingredients. A common ingredient doesn’t mean a recipe that tastes the same— chicken cacciatore and chicken fajitas use chicken, but that’s pretty much all they have in common. By finding recipes that use the same ingredients, you can have variety throughout the week without little waste.

Once you’ve made your plan for the week, write an itemized grocery list. Include the ingredients you need for all your recipes and whatever you’ll need for snacks. The key is to stick to this list as you are shopping—it will ensure that you only take home the items you need, which will save you money and help you stick to your healthy choices.

Shop seasonally and locally

It’s time to learn a little bit about the seasonality of fruits and vegetables in Canada. Buying what’s in season is always a cost-effective choice—you pay more for produce out of season as it has had to travel further to get to your grocery store. As a bonus, in-season produce tastes better because it is fresh and ripe.

You can also rely on your local farmers market—not only will they have fruit and vegetables that are in season, but they also tend to be more affordable.

Lean into a plant-based diet

As mentioned earlier, meat has seen the steepest increase in price due to inflation (10.1% in 2022). By incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet, you’ll be able to save on grocery costs. Plant alternatives like chickpeas, beans, and lentils are much more cost-effective than meat, and you’ll get the added health benefits of eating a plant-based diet:

  • Reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.
  • Reduces your risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Increase your fibre intake to help prevent high cholesterol and blood sugar levels, digestive disorders, and other conditions.

Get outside

While there are a lot of affordable options when it comes to gym memberships, the great outdoors is the original gym! All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes and a little imagination to turn a park or walking trail into your gym. Head outside for a walk in your neighbourhood, go to a local conservation area for a hike, or visit a park with your yoga mat and run through a few poses.

Buy frozen fruits and vegetables

You can save money and cut food waste by buying frozen fruits and vegetables. Frozen fruits and veggies are typically cheaper than fresh produce and have a much longer shelf life. And they are just as nutritious as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are often touted as the most nutritious option regarding preparation methods. Still, frozen fruits and vegetables are frozen as soon as they are picked, meaning they maintain their nutritional value. They are a great option when trying to live healthily on a budget.

Grow your own fresh veggies

Another way to decrease your weekly grocery bill is to start growing vegetables! Whether you have a large plot of land in your backyard or a small planter in your condo, you can always find space to create your own garden. And, of course, growing vegetables means you can save costs during the summer and early fall (depending on what you plant) and even consider canning any extra produce you may have grown for the winter.

You will save money at the grocery store and get the benefits of being outside and engaging in physical activity. Whether you’re planting veggies, weeding, or watering your garden, spending 30 minutes tending to your garden can burn approximately 135-189 calories, according to Harvard Medical School.

Remember, living a healthy life can be a reality, no matter your budget! 

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