A new chapter: Tips for fueling your body on a budget

Many of you won’t know this, but husband is embarking on a new journey. He has recently left his high flying New York retail management job to work for a much smaller boutique brand with lesser responsibilities so that he can focus on his goal: to help others achieve their fitness goals like he has achieved his. He is on the way to becoming a pilates instructor and will work on creating a name for himself in the Manhattan market.

I’m so very proud of him and can’t wait for him to start feeling fulfilled in his new endeavor. That being said, this does put a new spin on our lives, bringing a vast reduction in incoming money. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I never see things like this as a problem, only a challenge. So starts a new chapter in our lives.

The balance between budget and healthy eating has historically been a difficult challenge. Cheap foods are generally terrible for you. The fresh, healthy stuff costs more and takes more effort. Luckily for us, I’m both a tightass and a creative cook.

Throw down that gauntlet, life. I got this.

There are a few ways that we’ve already reduced our food spend in the past few years:

1. Flexitarian Eating

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Reducing your consumption of meat can heavily reduce your monthly food bill. Fruit and vegetables that are in season are usually the best value and the best way to fuel your body with micronutrients that haven’t degraded. Meat is expensive in dollar terms and (as more and more research is finding) expensive to the environment. I don’t eat no meat, I just eat less meat.

2. Alcohol

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I don’t drink. Husband very rarely drinks. Money = saved. So, so much money.

If you want to know, our thinking behind this decision is that alcohol just didn’t bring any joy to our lives. Generally, a boozy night just ended up with us feeling sorry for ourselves the next morning and skipping a workout. All power to you if you love the one or two drinks and feel like it adds to your life. It didn’t for us, so it was an easy decision to stop.

3. Headstrong Grocery Shopping

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I shop according to price. The cheapest things in the market make it into my basket and there are a LOT of things that fit into my basket. I never skimp on quantity because I eat a LOT. I also try not to skimp on quality by purchasing from local small time markets that pile high with fresh produce. Our cheapest local market is a good 10-15 minute walk away and with around 30lbs of food attached to my arms, it’s a bonus bloody good workout just doing a grocery run.

Things that I purchase tend to be on the $2/lb or less scale. Because of that, my fridge is always filled with a completely random assortment of fresh produce. That’s why point 4 is so important.

4. Creative Cooking

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I’ve got a talent. I can look at a set of ingredients and conjure up an image of a dish using said ingredients. Whether I’ve cooked it before or not, my brain just manages to come up with something. I’m convinced that this is purely because of the amount of food media I consume (pun intended).

If you don’t have this talent, expose yourself to lots of recipes, blogs like this one, TV shows etc. If you don’t love it as much, just start by subscribing to a couple of pages on Facebook and Instagram and having them automatically fill your feed with ideas. SALT’s pages are here: Facebook and Instagram.

A while ago, I was browsing through Reddit and I came across a discussion asking, “When did you know you were poor?” There were some answers in there about a lack of gaming system or less allowance than the other kids. Then, there were some quite sorrowful ones about neighborhood or living in a trailer. Then, there were the heartbreaking ones about not being able to afford the subsidized lunches at school (which here can be as low as $1 per day). That got me to thinking that there should be an easily accessible list of foods ranked by calories per dollar. For the person that is just thinking about surviving, that list could be a lifesaver.

The very next day, I came across another discussion entitled, “What do you hope your kids never find out about you?” Again, the usual sex and drug answers, but then one user posted something along the lines of, “I hope my kids never find out how many meals I’ve skipped so that they can eat.” I was done. That is love, plain and simple. Any day of the week, I would do that for my family, but that fact is that I’ve never had to. I came from a family privileged enough that we never had to go hungry (thanks mum and dad). Millions of people around the world aren’t as lucky.

I read the replies that streamed in to this person’s post: how incredible that was, how touched people were, the typical reddit half jokes that they didn’t come to the forum to feel anything. Then one person posted this. The exact list I was referring to. Michael had done all the math but had also gone a step further by working out protein per dollar giving everyone the beginnings of insight into nutrition per dollar instead of just calories. He then took the stepper for another spin and created a recipe e-book filled with THE most dollar-efficient meals that (no) money can buy.

Michael is a hard working genius, ladies and gentleman. And so, I’ve started research into a new series that we’ll be running on SALT in conjunction with Efficiency is Everything‘s Michael Kirk. I’m going to be SALTing his recipes, putting a focus on what’s important to the gym-going public: balanced macros, a heaping serve of micronutrients and, most importantly, the delicious-factor.

The best part? Michael has offered to do the math! Yes, even though I look Asian, I know when to pass the mantle to greater talent.

So, keep an eye on your feeds. I hope this helps you become more efficient in your consumption, thereby creating your most efficient body.

 

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