Trying to trim down after recent indulgences? It can be easy to let yourself think you can only do so with specialty supplements and meals made by one weight loss company or another. The truth however, is that there are a number of ways you can reduce the calorie content of your meals at home without any additional funds in your food budget. (See also: 6 Painless Ways to Reduce Calories)
Typically, the seasoned snack mixes made from woven cereals, pretzels and pita crisps offer a 60 percent reduction in fat over standard potato chips. While they tend to be at least a buck or two cheaper per bag, there are ways to save even more. First of all, it’s been my experience that most grocery chains offer this item in their store brand line of generic items, making it even more affordable. From there, you can take the savings even further by shopping at a discount grocery chain if you have one available. I have a Save-A-Lot in my neck of the woods. You may have different options where you live. (See also: Grocery Saving Strategies Anyone Can Use)
If you want to cut carbs without spending money on specific types of sandwich breads and tortillas, going with a wrap made of produce is a great way to go. Many people tend to gravitate towards romaine hearts for this option, but cabbage makes for an extremely affordable and long-lasting option. In fact its durability is what makes it one of my favorite cheap weight loss foods. At a cost of just pennies per pound, cabbage can be stored easily in your fridge and be used to wrap up anything from Thai-seasoned ground meat to lentil Sloppy Joes and even Asian noodle salads. The leaves are sturdy enough to hold up to heavy fillings and provide an easy serving of cruciferous veggies.
While popular as a dipping option for tortilla chips, salsa can serve as an alternative for other things as well. For example, if you add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to a cup and a quarter of salsa and whip together in the blender, you’ve got yourself a full-flavored salad dressing with far less fat than you’d be consuming with regular store-bought products. You could also use this same mixture as a sauce for cooked black beans or as a basic soup broth ingredient.
As discount grocery chains go, this is one of the better ones. In addition to having great deals on wine, produce and other staples, the Aldi chain carries a low-calorie food line called Fit and Active. Healthy oven sandwiches, snacking granola, frozen fruit bars and more are all up for grabs, at a price that trumps all of the major brand name diet foods. So if cooking isn’t your thing, this might be an option for you.
If you’re not careful, you can easily consume a half-day’s calories in beverages before you realize it. For me, my love of Bailey’s Irish Crème is a huge downfall. That’s why I try to pay attention to what I drink when I’m at restaurants or cocktail parties. Unsweetened tea, lemon water and bloody Mary drinks all make my short list, as do homemade versions of strawberry daiquiris and margaritas made with real fruit as opposed to sugary substitutes. I toss a bit of Stevia into the blender as a calorie-free alternative to simple syrup if the recipe is suited to it. At restaurants, water with lemon is typically available at no charge, making it a go-to beverage option when trying to maintain my weight on the road.
What are your favored ways to shave calories affordably? Do you have a definite downfall item that you try to avoid?