You can cut calories and save money cooking at home, which is especially important if you’re stuck at home due to the coronavirus. If you can’t get out and walk and you’re having trouble hitting your typical daily step goal, eating healthier can help you maintain a healthy weight. Use the time that you’re stuck inside to eat healthier by learning healthier cooking methods that don’t require expensive ingredients. Your budget will go further, and you’ll be able to buy in bulk and potentially save trips to the supermarket. Supplement your in-home cardio routine by eating better and you’ll be in a better position to get back to 10,000 steps when you’re able to do more walking.
We’ll cover how you can cut calories, save money, and ultimately save time with smart choices that anyone can make.
Save calories through home cooking
Use proper portion sizes
You can save both calories and money by understanding portion sizes. You might be used to restaurant portions, but those are often double (or more) what you really should be eating in a single serving. Cuts of meat are also often much larger than a recommended portion, which means you’re taking in more calories and spending more than you need to.
1 serving of meat is generally about the size of your palm, while a serving of starchy carbs like rice is about a handful. This means that even a single large chicken breast could realistically be more than a serving of meat. Ideally, half of your plate should consist of green vegetables. Fresh veggies aren’t always cheap and don’t have an unlimited shelf life, but you can get around this by buying frozen veggies (see our tips on this later) or choosing cheaper veggies which you can cook and freeze to thaw later.
Practice your (low-cal) cooking skills!
Use your spare time to try healthier versions of your favorite dishes. By baking or steaming instead of frying or sautéing you’ll save a lot of calories by using less oil or butter. Alternatively, you can cook the same way but swap in healthier ingredients. For example, you can used mashed bananas instead of oil in pancakes to cut calories and add flavor.
If you’re buying in bulk or your fresh fruit and veggie options are limited, experiment with different recipes and cooking methods. If simple steamed broccoli doesn’t appeal to you, you can try sautéing it in garlic and (a little) butter, making an Asian-inspired stir fry, or roasting it in the oven. With the number of recipes you can find online, you’re bound to find a way to make good use out of healthy foods you can buy in bulk.
Healthy cooking skills can last a lifetime as well. Even once you’re able to eat out and walk more, you’ll be happy that you’ve practiced how to make cheap, quick, healthy meals.
If you can’t walk as much, eat healthier!
Your daily walking habit is about more than just losing weight – it’s good for your physical and mental health. It is true that if you aren’t able to walk as many steps, you’ll be burning fewer calories. This can make it easier to put on weight when you simply can’t get as active as you used to.
You can fight this by making a concerted effort to eat healthier and reduce empty calories when you can’t do your regular cardio exercise. You can try putting some of the effort you’d usually do walking into tracking your food intake – especially reducing empty calories. You’ll save money and calories by swapping sodas and sugary juices for water, for instance. It will be easier to get back to your regular step count if you’re able to keep your weight stable and the healthy habits will be an added boost when you’re able to increase your step count again.
Take fewer trips & save money shopping
Add a little inconvenience
While your time is valuable, if you’re going to be stuck at home or you’d rather take fewer trips to the store, you can save money and make your food last longer by skipping convenience options. Cut your own veggies instead of buying pre-cut bags, and use your time to cook instead of going for pre-cooked meals. You’ll usually find if you’re able to buy in bulk, cook in bulk and freeze your own frozen meals that you’ll save money as well as added salt and calories. Since you’re at home and have the time, use it!
Frozen veggies and meats are your friends
Fresh fruits and veggies are great for your health, but it can be hard to find good produce depending on the season and availability. It also has a limited shelf-life, which can be problematic if you’re trying to make your purchases stretch for a longer time. Frozen veggies and fruits like berries are just as tasty and usually just as nutritious as fresh ones. Frozen is usually cheaper, and you won’t have to worry about spoilage for a long time. Frozen meat can also be purchased in bulk, but try to avoid less healthy options like breaded chicken nuggets. There are plenty of resources online to make your own!
Buy dry ingredients in bulk
Healthy, dry ingredients like beans, rice, oats or even pasta last a long time and are usually incredibly cheap. Many people don’t have the time or don’t want to bother to soak and cook beans or make rice from scratch, but since you have the time you can use this to your advantage. On the other hand, there are plenty of dry options that are high in sugar or salt, like sugary breakfast cereals or instant noodles. While they can sometimes serve as a special treat or a snack in emergencies, you’re better off saving money and not keeping them around the house. Use the time you have to make your own, healthier options.
Cut the snacks – your wallet will thank you
If you’re cooking at home instead of eating out, you’re probably already saving a great deal of money. You can save more money (and calories) by avoiding chips, cookies, and other high-calorie snacks. If you have them in the house, it’s going to be tough to avoid eating them. Focus on willpower at the supermarket (or when buying online). Use your free time at home to great creative and learn to make low-calorie snacks for yourself. It’s especially important if you’re stuck at home and can’t get your steps because it’s easy to get sedentary and eat for comfort.
Save time by freezing & storing
Cook in bulk and freeze for later
If you’re planning on spacing out your shopping trips, you can still make your fresh goods last longer by cooking and freezing. Most foods freeze surprisingly well, so long as you have good freezer bags or containers and make sure to get the air out before freezing. Making 1 properly portioned meal may not be efficient in terms of time and budget, so try making more and freezing the excess.
Portion out servings for easy reheating
You’ll make better use of frozen home-cooked foods if you separate them out into portions before freezing. You can freeze pasta with sauce, for instance, but you’ll have a hard time defrosting half of it when you’re ready to eat. Separate it out into proper portions, however, and you can have a quick meal on the go.
This is especially useful if you have kids who are also home with you. Having their favorites ready to go, or being able to make a quick lunch for yourself can be a huge help during a busy day. Weekends are a great time to set out a variety of snacks and meals for the week, so take advantage of them!
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