Start the New Year right by planning your restart today. Here are five ideas for refreshing your fitness resolutions.» read more
Find out how to stay healthy while keeping your bank account in tip-top shape too.
Day 1Snag free health apps
There are about 3,000 iTunes applications designed to boost your health and fitness—and many are free. MyNetDiary has 91,000 foods in its database to help you plan healthy meals, and its community forum is reviewed by a registered dietitian. Free Menstrual Calendar helps you predict your periods and fertile days. Fitness Keeper uses GPS tracking for runners who want to keep tabs on their distance, speed, and calories burned.
Day 2Flank Steak With Mashed Potatoes
There’s no reason you can’t have steak on a budget. Lean and rich in iron, flank steak is a delicious, easy-to-cook meat. Rosemary and thyme provide just enough flavor while still keeping your tab under $15. The mashed potatoes will fill you up, and the green beans provide 25% of your recommended dietary amount of vitamin K, which maintains strong bones. Get recipe here.
Day 3Sign up for a prescription savings program
Many pharmacies offer programs that give you cheaper meds for a small annual cost. For an enrollment fee of $10, for instance, CVS allows you to fill a 90-day prescription for one of more than 400 generic medications for $10 each. At Wal-Mart, you can buy a month’s worth of generic meds for $4 each (or a 90-day supply for $10) with no up-front fee.
Day 4Use coupons
These aren’t your mother’s coupons: Sign up for a service that sends you exactly what you need—from discounts on healthy frozen entrees ($2 off five Lean Cuisine meals at Target, for example) to organic, gluten-free, or all-natural foods—for a small handling fee. Try TheCouponClippers.com, TheCouponMaster.com, or Health.com's sister site AllYou.
Day 5Eat organic (cheaply!)
Buy organically grown: You don’t need certified organic, just organically grown. Some farmers use organic farming practices but have chosen not to become certified organic because of the added red tape and expenses. This means you can often buy organic fruits and veggies from these farmers for around 50% less than what the certified farmers charge.
Day 6Get a free workout soundtrack
Download Pandora, Slacker Radio or one of the many free music-streaming apps to access a whole playlist of tunes on your smartphone without paying a dime. (Just make sure that all that streaming doesn’t overload your smartphone’s data plan.)
Day 7Eat more soup
High-volume, low-calorie foods like soups and stews fill you up fast. Add potatoes, veggies, and low-sodium broth, and you have a week’s worth of meals for only a few bucks. Plus, studies show that dieters are less likely to overindulge if they start their meal with a low-fat soup.
Day 8Talk it out
There’s a free self-help group out there for whatever is bothering you, whether it’s physical or mental. Check out MentalHelp.net/selfhelp, a searchable database of about 1,000 support groups for people dealing with acne, addictions, allergies, breast cancer, eating disorders, headaches, infertility, OCD, parenting, and many more issues.
Day 9Shop full
If you go grocery shopping while you’re hungry, you’re liable to wind up with a cart filled with foods that curb your cravings: snack bars, pretzels, and more crackers than you know what to do with. These convenience foods are among the most expensive in the supermarket and add little nutritional value to your diet. So next time you go shopping, avoid temptation and go on a full stomach.
Day 10Pasta With Shrimp and Peas
This lemony pasta dish will feed a family of four for less than $14. Not only are peas and shrimp economical, but they’re also packed with nutrients. A serving of shrimp has about 50% of your protein needs for the day, and peas are rich in vitamin C and fiber. Get recipe here.
Day 11Buddy Up
Get a trainer for half price by training with a buddy, or sign up for 30-minute training sessions instead of hour-long ones. Bonus: Besides being cheaper, the shorter workout may move faster and be more intense.
Day 12Buy frozen
Frozen veggies can bulk up your dinner while slashing your supermarket bill. Add them to a hearty pasta dish for minimal calories but maximum satisfaction.
Day 13Chicken-and-Cornbread Salad With Lime
Instead of buying a box of croutons, toss leftover chunks of hearty cornbread in this salad. The zesty homemade dressing, made from extra virgin olive oil, contains half the saturated fat of other creamy dressings. Get recipe here.
Day 14Hoisin Pork With Vegetables and Noodles
One takeout meal will cost you the same amount as this four-serving dish. Pork is inexpensive and low in saturated fat, so it makes the perfect economical entree. Bell peppers are good sources of folic acid, fiber, and vitamin B6, all of which help prevent cardiovascular disease. Get recipe here.
Day 15Use an urgent-care facility
Emergency rooms aren’t always the fastest choice for your medical care needs—and certainly not the most cost-effective. For conditions that aren’t life-threatening, you may be able to save time—and money—by going to your local urgent-care facility. Sometimes called a “doc in a box,” these freestanding walk-in centers usually offer extended hours, and their doctors can treat non-life-threatening medical situations, perform basic X-rays and lab work, and dispense prescriptions.
Day 16Stop wasting food
Embarrassed by how much past-its-prime food you toss each week? That waste can add up to hundreds of dollars a year! Cut your losses by using the Reynolds Handi-Vac Vacuum Sealer ($10 for starter kit; retailers nationwide), which preps meats, fruits, and vegetables for long-term freezer storage. Simply defrost the frozen ingredients when you’re ready to use them. Or stock up on EvriFresh sachet disks ($4): They neutralize the food-spoiling ethylene gas that produce releases in the fridge as it ripens.
Day 17Join Pinterest
This eye-pleasing social media site acts as a pin board for healthy parents and the DIY crowd. You’ll find healthy Crock-Pot recipes, great games for a family night-in and some aww-inspiring puppy pictures.
Day 18Brown bag it
The best way to s-t-r-e-t-c-h your food budget is to eat in more often. A takeout lunch can cost $10 or more, but you can make a sandwich or have soup and salad from home for around $2.
Day 19Cheese-Bacon Tart
This rich recipe tastes gourmet but will cost you less than $10. Low-fat cottage cheese creates a creamy base while keeping the dish figure-friendly. Although this recipe provides plenty of protein and more than 25% of your daily calcium needs, it’s lacking veggies. So be sure to serve a mixed-greens salad on the side. Get recipe here.
Day 20Create a medical family tree
Start planning a healthier future by asking relatives about their health conditions and those of your ancestors. Then visit FamilyHistory.hhs.gov to create a free Family Health Portrait that reveals your risks. Raising health awareness this way can help lower your risk of major diseases.
Day 21Eat more eggs
Eggs are easy on your diet and your budget. Two large eggs have around 150 calories. Combine with a sprinkle of low-fat cheese and whatever veggies are on sale, and you have a gooey treat that won’t break your calorie bank. Use caution though if you have heart disease, or are at risk for heart disease. Although eggs are better for you than previously thought, the American Heart Association still recommends limiting your intake to no more than one a day, and only if you also limit other sources of dietary cholesterol.
Day 22Buy in bulk
Hit up bulk stores with a group—but be sure to bring only your healthy-minded friends along. It’s hard to beat prices at retailers like Sam’s Club, Costco, and BJ’s Wholesale Warehouse, but few families can go through a big bushel of bananas before they go bad. You won’t feel guilty loading up on your favorite fresh produce if you’re splitting the cost. But steer clear of processed-food aisles: Just because there’s a deal on an economy-size box of Oreos doesn’t mean you should fork over the cash.
Day 23Chicken in Spicy Chipotle Sauce
Spicy and savory, this dish helps cut down on your grocery bill without cutting the flavor. The chili powder adds a kick to lycopene-rich tomatoes and corn, while the oregano adds flavor to the chicken. Plus, chicken is rich in niacin, which may help lower your cholesterol and process fat. The recipe is great on its own, but you can also serve it with black beans for a boost of fiber. Get recipe here.
Day 24Skip the gourmet coffee
Nix that expensive Starbucks habit. Instead of ordering a $4 cappuccino, make yourself a cup of coffee at home. Use a whisk to whip up some steamed skim milk on your stove top, and add a dash of cinnamon. Spices like cinnamon are low-cal and low-cost, plus they’re full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, making them a great investment for your long-term health.
Day 25Save $170 in the shower
That’s how much you can cut from your water bill each year by taking shorter, cooler showers, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Your budget and your skin will thank you. Hot water causes blood vessels to expand, causing you to lose more moisture. To keep your skin soft and supple, limit showers to around five minutes and think warm, not hot.
Day 26Eat more vegetables
The foods that cost the most per serving are high-quality proteins (i.e., beef, poultry, and seafood). Consider this: Salmon costs about 62 cents an ounce and beans cost 4 cents an ounce, making the salmon 15 times more expensive than the beans. When you do eat meat, make it go further financially by adding a lot more vegetables to the dish.
Day 27Give and get for free
Loads of useful items from BabyGap, Science Diet, Tempur-Pedic, Love My Belly, and more great brands are available for free on the grassroots network Freecycle.org, a smart online location for secondhand giveaways. The site’s goal is to keep good stuff in use instead of letting it get thrown away and end up harming the environment. Keep in mind: Available items change daily.
Day 28Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
A far cry from the brown sugar sweetness of traditional sweet potato casseroles, this five-ingredient recipe is the perfect savory snack. By using low-fat dairy products, this recipe contains only 6 grams of fat (a fraction of other recipes). With as much fiber as two cups of brown rice, you won’t be left with a rumbling stomach. Get recipe here.
Day 29Compare prices
Using the unit pricing system (shelf tags), you can do your own price checks on comparable items to see which offers the best deal. Unit pricing provides the price per standard unit, often 1 ounce. For example, Tropicana orange juice costs 9 cents an ounce, but the exotic pomegranate-blueberry juice next to it is 25 cents an ounce—more than twice the price. In the cereal aisle, most big brands are around 30 cents an ounce, but store brands are about 15 cents an ounce, or half the price.
Day 30Get a free skin checkup
The Skin Cancer Foundation will provide free skin screenings during its Road to Healthy Skin Tour. Check SkinCancer.org for availability in your area.
Day 31Cheesy Squash Casserole
Not only does this dish use ingredients readily available in your kitchen, but it is also low in cholesterol and diabetes friendly. Squash is naturally rich in vitamin A, which may prevent plaque buildup in arteries—so enjoy this delicious dish guilt free. Get recipe here.