By Chloe Quin
Is it possible to make more healthy choices on a tight budget? Many people use the excuse that they “can’t afford” healthy food to buy supposedly cheap junk. In actual fact, you can save thousands of dollars and improve your heath and fitness with some simple choices and changes.
Expensive gym memberships chew up cash – and thousands of us don’t even use them. Instead, get walking and cycling. It’s a better mood booster than being indoors, and you’ll also get your Vitamin D from sunlight. Annual savings (based on average gym membership costs): $960.
Soft drinks are bad for your teeth and weight, and bottled water is no safer or healthier than what comes out of the tap. Carry a water bottle with you when you go out, cut carbs and stay hydrated. You can always filter tap water if you prefer, though it’s not necessary. Supercharge this saving by cutting out a coffee a day as well. Annual savings (based on cutting out one soft drink and coffee per weekday): $1,690.
There’s tonnes of free bushtucker out there even in urban areas, as well as plenty of people letting fruit drop off their trees and rot. Ask your neighbours for surplus citrus, and gather tasty greens such as dandelion or nasturtium leaves. Rosemary grows everywhere, so if you’re having roast lamb, no need to buy it from the supermarket. Annual savings (based on two free weekly servings of greens): $260.
Food waste is a huge cash drain, with Australians estimate to throw out 20% of the food that they buy. Government estimates for household food waste ranges from $1,000-$2,000 a year. Most food is wasted by people forgetting expiry dates, over-buying, and not using leftovers. Better planning means you’re less likely to grab takeaway junk food because your vegetables have wilted and moulded in the fridge. Annual savings (based on most conservative government estimates): at least $1,000.
As Tyler Cowen observes in An Economist Gets Lunch, Asian supermarkets are typically packed with cheap, fresh greens. Bunches of herbs and leaf vegetables are much bigger and cost far less than in major supermarkets. Annual savings (based on three cheaper purchases of greens each week): $256.
It’s easy to spend $10 or more every day on a sandwich and drink in the city. Take food from home – better still, leftovers – even just a couple of days a week, and you’ll quickly start shaving down your food bill. It also gives you more choice and control over what you’re actually eating. Annual savings (based on saving two $10 lunches a week): $1,040.
So there you go: $5,206 saved through some fairly simple changes. And that’s not to mention the extra gains you’ve made for your health, which could save you money on healthcare costs in the long run.
Chloe Quin is wellness expert with online health insurance provider Health.com.au, whose mission is to help Australians access affordable healthcare that’s easy to understand. Also a qualified yoga instructor, Chloe is passionate about empowering women to boost their health and fitness in fun, family-friendly ways.
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