Last week the economy crashed to historic lows. Walking through the financial district of San Francisco had the feeling of a mass funeral. Men and women walking with slumped shoulders and blood shot eyes. A truly frightening time for all of us. Unfortunately we have no control over the market, so now is the time to focus on what we do have control over…our daily expenses.
How do we cut costs but still maintain the healthy, active lifestyle we need to thrive? Because after all, we do need sound bodies and minds to get us out of this mess! Believe it or not, you don’t have to resort to canned tomato soup and frozen dinners. You can eat farm fresh, organic food and stay fit on a budget. I am here to show you how!
Here are several tips I use to cut my food and fitness costs:

How To Eat Healthy On A Budget:
Navigate The Farmers Market Like A Pro:Farmers markets are the go to place for fresh organic produce. The certified organic seal of approval is typically accompanied by a higher price tag compared to their pesticide ridden counterparts. Here’s how you get around the hike in cost. Chat up the farmers. I found at my local market that several of the stands I typically bypassed because they didn’t have a huge banner announcing their certification, where using organic farming techniques. I was humbled by the fact that the majority of the farms where in the process of being certified which takes several years. They have to prove that they have been using organic farming practices for quite some time. A lot of the farmers were only a year or a few months away from certification. The produce was cheaper without the label, but still organic!
Another way to buy organic on the cheap is to buy the “less than perfect” specimens. The ugly, ripest guys are cheaper. A little bruising never hurt anyone, especially if you’re using it in a smoothie the next morning.

Make H2O Your New Best Friend: Do you really need milk? Or that fizzy juice concoction? High fructose corn syrup laden drinks are not only horrible for you, but cost money you don’t really need to spend. Stick to H2O (and maybe some wine) and save yourself calories and dollars.
Spice It Up: Pass on those pricey sauces or dressing and spice up your dishes with cheaper options. Never underestimate the power of onions and garlic! Super cheap compared to that six dollar organic teriyaki sauce flown in from Japan. Hit up Costco for items like olive oil and vinegar in bulk. Grow your own herbs and add them to every dish. Viola!

grass fed beef

Swap Out Meat: Instead of reaching for the grass fed beef, pick up a can of lentils. Beans and legumes harbor tons of protein and cost pennies compared to organic meats. You don’t need to become a vegetarian, maybe just buy enough meat for two meals a week.
Stay In: Eating out causes the largest dent in my food budget. Not only is dining out more expensive than the home cooked version, it’s probably not nearly as healthy. You don’t smother your omelette in butter at home, why pay more to eat worse food? Coffee is a big budget buster for me. It’s just too easy to hit up Starbucks on my way to work, but I have to remind myself that 3 dollars a day adds up quick. Pack lunches and snacks so you won’t buy on the go. I know staying in to eat isn’t always the most fun, but that’s just one more reason to invite friends and family over. Make it a potluck and save even more.
Plan Your Meals: A tried and true method of many mothers out there is to plan all of your meals for the week. Make a list of every ingredient for each meal and only buy what you need. That way you don’t over buy or stock up on things you already have in the pantry.

How To Workout On A Budget:
woman doing push up

Use The Outdoors: Cancel your pricey gym membership and hit the pavement or trail. Running on that damn treadmill was mind numbing anyway, right? You can get a fabulous workout just using your environment. You’ll find me scoping out stairs and hills all over the city! Map a challenging route for yourself that takes you through various obstacles or run to a nearby park and hit the ground for some push ups and crunches. Or if you have a body of water near you, do what I do and complete a run-swim-run. Mix up your environment and activities to keep it interesting.
Buy A Jump Rope: For like seven bucks you could be jumping your way to a healthy heart and slim waist line. Compact, cheap and a killer workout all in one. Beware… it’s not as easy as it looks!
Learn And Utilize: So let’s say you have a gym membership now, but want to cancel to cut spending. Use your last week or month as a member to learn all you can about proper form. Practice and absorb as many exercises as you can that don’t include the machines. For example, steal moves from that cardio dance class or Pilates mat and create your own workout to do at home. If you have a set of hand weights at home, even better. You can perform all the exercises from the machines using free weights. Get creative and stay motivated. You really don’t need someone barking at you to feel the burn.
magazine rack

Hit Up The Magazine Rack: Shape, Fitness, Self, and the plethora of other “get fit” magazines are full of great exercises and tips. The only problem… you don’t want to spend twenty dollars on five magazines you are only going to toss. You could go to these mags websites, but unless you are a member you probably don’t have complete access to everything they offer. My solution… write down the exercises without buying the mag. I know it’s super sneaky, but it totally works. Go to a book store where you can read through the material and are not forced to buy.
 When it comes to your health, what do you do to save money? I’ve offered up my solutions, but the more the merrier. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.