Five Foods That Can Help You Lose Weight Without Breaking Your Budget


It may seem counter-intuitive, but obesity has become a growing problem among the nation's most poor. This is because it's simply cheaper to eat unhealthy food. If you have ever seen the HBO documentary “The Weight of the Nation,” you learned that among the 10 states that have our nation's highest obesity rates, 9 of them also rank as our poorest. Those who live in poor neighborhoods are surrounded by cheap fast food (think dollar menu), have no parks in which to exercise, and no time in which they can cook healthy food or exercise anyway.

If you are in this situation, don't despair. We don't have to succumb to this epidemic of “too many calories and not enough nutrition.” Here are a few healthy options available to all that don't cost an arm and a leg, and won't take you all day to cook if you work all the time. While there are many meal prep options, people worry about Nutrisystem cost for example, but while that isn’t as expensive as you might think, there are other options out there as well that will be a little more budget friendly.

If you need something savory and filling, don't reach for the hamburger and french fries. Instead, keep a crock pot of beans going every day. This is so inexpensive. A small, 4 cup crock pot of beans can feed 3 or 4 people with a very filling meal for only 50 cents if you use dried beans. Plus, dried beans taste so much better than canned when you flavor them with your own favorite seasonings. Best of all, beans provide some of the highest quality nutrition that we can get on a tiny budget. This is because beans don't just provide much needed protein, they also provide fiber—something that is eminently lacking in most of our fast food diets.

There is an argument taking place that apples are among the dirtiest foods full of pesticides on the market, and organic apples are too expensive to be in reach. This may be a valid argument, but imagine the amount of toxins and pesticides that are in a shelf stable snack. If pesticides are a concern, wash and/or peel the apple before eating it. One apple can cost as little as 15 to 25 cents, less than half the cost of a Twinkie, and it will still satisfy the sweet tooth at the end of the day. Even better, apples last a long time when kept in the refrigerator. You can even pair the apple with peanut butter for even more protein, or cinnamon (said to increase metabolism) for something a little sweeter.

If you have a hankering for ice cream, reach for the yogurt instead. Yogurt provides something that your ice cream won't—probiotics. Probiotics used to be a large part of our healthy diets when we ate more fermented foods, but most of what we eat now is literally dead because it's pre-packaged and shelf stable. We NEED probiotics in our diets. That's how our guts digest and convert the vital nutrients we need to be strong. And there is a great deal of research suggesting that adding sufficient probiotics to our diet helps us to lose excess pounds. Watch out for sugar though. Most yogurts still have some sugar in them, which may be unwanted if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, but there are several brands that are very low in sugar, so these are the ones you should look for. And if you really want that cold and creamy ice-cream like treat, try freezing it! Take care of your gut health and you will find that you will lose weight much quicker.

If you have never tried jicama and homemade ranch dressing (made with Greek yogurt of course!), give it a shot before you reach for that next potato chip. Jicama's sweet, nutty flavor really kills cravings while satisfying the need to snack on something savory and crunchy, and it looks like a cross between a potato and an onion. Best of all, it has very few calories and it contains inulin, which is a prebiotic carbohydrate that helps to stabilize blood sugar. So, it must cost an arm an a leg since it's so healthy right? Nope! Jicama can often be found for as little as 50 cents a pound or even cheaper when it is on sale and it lasts for several weeks in the fridge when it's stored properly.

Steel Cut Oatmeal
Breakfast cereal is the human equivalent of dog food. It's a shelf stable food like product that sits on store shelves for months before we eat it. Why would we want to start our day with a food-like product when we can have the real thing? Real oatmeal is full of fiber, filling, easy to make and can be dressed up with any goodies we like. Best of all, it can cost even less than your favorite cereal per serving. Try adding honey and cinnamon instead of sugar and you'll never miss that bowl of sugary cereal that leaves you reaching for a snack before you even make it to lunch time.

These are just a few of the options we have available to help us trim our waist line without tapping out our budgets. It's not easy to to break the old fast food, and pre-packaged dinner habit that has been hurting our health for years, but if we can change our diets a bit at a time, we will not only increase our health, we will look and feel better than ever. Best of all, since many of these healthy foods are even cheaper than their processed alternatives, we may have a little more money for the gym or exercise equipment at the end of the month.


  1. Beans are such a staple in my pantry -- they're so healthy, cheap, filling, and versatile! I love oatmeal when someone else is doing the washing, but when it's just me I get a bit lazy. And apples are definitely a wonderful snack!


    1. We always keep beans in the pantry as well. They are a great substitute for meats and can even be made into "burgers". Much healthier and cheaper than beef. Oatmeal is great, but I agree that I don't eat as much as I should or would like because if I am in a hurry and can't wash the bowl straight away, it's impossible to clean.


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