A lot of people who want to lose weight tell me they’re discouraged by how expensive it is to eat healthfully. It’s true; healthy food can be pricey. But there is no reason you can’t lose weight on a budget. I have never been in a well-off financial position since I started my weight loss journey, but that hasn’t kept me from losing 120 pounds.

Weight loss does not require specialty foods. Some of the most expensive foods in the grocery are those pre-packaged 100-calorie snack packs. These are great if Doritos or Oreos are an absolute must for you and you’ll down the whole bag in one sitting. Otherwise, they’ll eat up your budget.

Plan, plan, plan. Plan what you are going to have for meals and also plan your snacks. Plan dinners that will make leftovers so you have them for lunch or to save you the trouble of cooking dinner the next night.

Buy fruit that’s in season for your snacks. It’s cheaper than processed snacks and healthier, too. I consider bananas a weight-loss and healthy eating bargain. They’re fairly cheap and keep for awhile longer than some other snacks.

Coupons, coupons, coupons. It’s obvious. And there’s a lot of coupon advice on the Web, so I’ll spare you what you’ve already a million times. I clip for the things we already buy and the things we’d like to buy if they’d go on sale (organic milk and almond milk, for example). A few weeks ago, I clipped a coupon for $1 off two bags of Snyder’s Organic Pretzels. The pretzels went on sale last week for two for $4, which made them two for $3 with our coupon, and we decided that was worth it. I also clip any razor, hair or make-up coupons because I love to try new beauty products, and coupons are the only way I can justify that.

You don’t have to plan two different meals for your family. A lot of my weight loss advice might sound trite because for a long while, I lived alone, so I only had to answer to my own tastes and dietary concerns. But for the first six months of my weight loss, I lived at my mom’s house, and there was no way she was going to cook two separate meals. I ate what the rest of my family ate for dinner – just a lot less than what I would eat previously. If I can eat Hamburger Helper and lose weight, there is no reason you can’t, too. Bulk up the meal with some fruit or veggies.

Know when to splurge – and when to save. Lean meat is always worth the extra bucks; I liked to stock the freezer when the grocery had a sale on boneless skinless chicken breasts. Greek yogurt is also a pricey-but-worth-it buy (though Dannon and Yoplait are both making cheaper options now). Organic options are great – when you can afford them, and when they make sense. I don’t think organic bananas are worth it because bananas have such a thick skin.

How do you save money – and eat healthfully?

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