Cutting calories and your budget

You can easily cut 500 calories by making small diet and exercise changes throughout your day. Here’s a few tips

  • Breakfast: Drink water instead of orange juice (calories saved: 117)
  • Snack: Have sliced cucumber and a tablespoon of hummus instead of a bag of chips (calories saved: 119)
  • Lunch: Swap out your salad’s creamy ranch dressing for fat-free Italian (calories saved: 66)
  • Dessert: Eat half of a cup of strawberries instead of a half of a cup of chocolate ice cream (calories saved: 118). PS..strawberries are a power fruit!
  • Exercise: Stroll at a moderate pace for 30 minutes (calories burned: 125 for a woman weighing 145)

Limit pre-packaged diet foods.If you have been relying on foods like frozen diet meals that do the calorie counting for you, you may save money by cooking at home and calculating the calories in your dishes yourself. All you have to do is add up the calories in each ingredient and divide the total by the number of portions the recipe makes.

Buy fresh fruits and vegetables in season. Whether you shop at the supermarket or the farmer’s market, seasonal, local produce is often the better deal. If you’re craving a dish that calls for out-of-season produce, use frozen — it’s cheaper and whatever you don’t use will keep for a later date. And now with June (hopefully) approaching, summer fruits will be plentiful! And you can always freeze what you don’t use!

Make beans and rice a protein substitute.Beans and rice are affordable, especially if you buy them dry and prepare them yourself. You just have to watch the portion sizes with teh beans. You should stick with half a cup serving. It goes from being a high-fiber, nutritious food to being high-calorie very quickly. You can stretch your dish by adding veggies, such as onions, peppers, celery, and tomatoes. And try brown rice instead of white.Brown rice and white rice have similar amounts of calories, carbohydrates and protein. The main differences between the two forms of rice lie in processing and nutritional content.Several vitamins and minerals are lost in this processing and polishing process. A part of these missing nutrients, such as vitamin B121, vitamin B, and iron are sometimes added back into the white rice making it “enriched.  Whenthe bran layer is removed to make white rice, the oil in the bran is also removed and small amounts of fatty acids and fiber.

Do the prep work yourself. The more preparation that has gone into your food before you buy it, the more it will cost. You can save a lot by buying fresh greens instead of bagged salad and whole chicken instead of boneless breasts (always remove the skin).

Plan ahead with healthy snacks. If you know snacking is a weak spot for you midday at work, plan ahead. Packing a snack you make at home will save money and calories. Also keep in mind that a container of raw veggies or melon chunks is more budget-friendly than the box of cookies or bag of chips you used to buy.

And with the onset of summer: Grill, baby, grill.!!!  Grilled vegetables, chicken, fish, and lean meats are healthy, tasty, and low in fat, and you won’t need to spend money on sauces or other recipe ingredients. This approach works for low-fat and low-calorie diets. If you’re not counting carbs, add a small potato or ear of corn, which can be tossed on the grill.

So, get out, get moving and get healthy! You won’t just cut calories, you’ll cut your waistline!

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