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How to Lose Weight on a Budget

Financial Journey (featured column)
by Karen Kuebler

Losing weight doesn’t have to lead to an increase in your grocery budget. I have often heard this common complaint when it comes to dieting. I also can relate to this subject because I have tried losing weight a variety of different ways.

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On the high end, there are plans that could cost you a bundle if you go with their prepackaged food plans. It’s tempting because the meals sound so gourmet, commercials make them look like restaurant fare, and they take away having to make last minute decisions or planning for the future. They also entice you with a low registration fee because they make their money on the food they sell. One big problem–once you’ve lost the weight–you haven’t learned to eat differently to maintain your weight loss without continuing to buy their pre-packaged meals.

Free Support

Support groups have proven to be very effective for helping to lose and maintain weight loss, but there are weekly or monthly fees attached that can add up. These plans have proven to be highly effective, but the ongoing costs might not be friendly to your budget. With some creativity, you can develop your own weekly support group of friends. I found the one key thing that helped me in support groups was the accountability of weighing in weekly. The exchange of ideas was also helpful–there are many community boards on various sites to provide and share support and exchange ideas, as well as report your weight loss for the week.

Sometimes we are taken in by commercials and ads that make "their product" sound like a magic potion. The Hollywood Diet with an orange color drink makes it looks so easy, I never tried that one! Let me just remind you, there are NO magic potions!

I once succumbed to buying some hypnosis tapes at a pretty hefty price because I was feeling desperate. Fortunately, the company refunded my money when I received them and I explained to them that I didn’t think they would work for me.

I have overspent on my grocery budget to buy pre-packaged dinners, liquid replacement meals, protein snack bars, 100 calorie prepackaged snacks, diet snapples for a treat, etc. I have joined support groups and purchased a lot of their prepackaged snacks which can run about $2 per snack bar or liquid meal replacement.

In the long run, I found that following some very basic and sensible plans have helped me lose the weight without spending for the 'extras' and I’m able to do it without feeling deprived. If you are willing to put in a little extra effort to get started–you will find that you can cut your food costs, as well as have your meals prepared ahead of time.  If you are lacking good resources for low fat recipes, there are three very frugal sources--the internet, cookbooks from thrift stores and books from the library.

Dieter's Best Friends

A first basic rule to follow is to get rid of any non-diet friendly foods from your environment. If you have members in your family that won’t buy into this, ask them to put their stash of food somewhere where you won’t find it. Eventually, you can start to eat the foods you enjoy in moderation–but until that time comes I would recommend not storing them in the house.

Fresh produce is one of the dieter’s best friends. I buy the produce that is on sale each week. This gives me a good variety over time without costing an arm and a leg. When something I really enjoy is on sale, such as strawberries, I’ll buy extra and freeze them. I have also found that buying berries frozen at wholesale stores is more cost effective than buying them fresh. When they thaw, they make a nice juice to put in my yogurt, cottage cheese, and cereal.

I’ve also learned not to purchase excess in bulk. It’s tempting to buy the large bags of apples and pears from the wholesale stores, but I hate it when I have to throw out spoiled fruit. It is the same as throwing money down the drain. Many veggies can be purchased on sale, blanched and frozen for future use.


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Copyright © 2006 by Karen Kuebler. All rights reserved.

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