For most people, weight loss comes with a price tag. Between purchasing gym memberships, workout clothes and healthier foods, losing can cost you. But as with any other life-changing endeavor—like wallet-busting weddings and pricey baby registries—there are plenty of unnecessary healthy-living expenses that can be trimmed right along with your waistline.|
The next time you're headed out grocery shopping or to dine out at a restaurant, consider steering clear of these non-essential budget busters.
Bottled Salad Dressings
Ready-to-pour dressings may be high on taste and convenience, but they also pack plenty of added sugars, artificial colors and flavorings, and other processed ingredients. To save money and peace of mind, try making your own by mixing olive oil and balsamic vinegar—or try one of these healthy homemade recipes to keep your salads low on cost and calories.
Yogurt may seem like a sure thing when it comes to choosing healthy snacks, but some of the pre-flavored varieties have just as much sugar as a Twinkie and only contain a fraction of a serving of actual fruit. If you have to have some extra sweetness in your plain yogurt cup, try adding berries, bananas, honey, cinnamon, apple butter or granola.
Don't be fooled by the healthy-sounding name—packaged veggie chips have many of the vegetables’ original vitamins and nutrients processed right out of them. "A serving of veggie chips isn’t a healthy substitute for fresh, frozen or even canned veggies," says registered dietitian Toby Amidor. Plus, they're pretty much in the same ballpark as regular potato chips when it comes to fat and calorie content.
Before choosing a veggie chip, Amidor recommends looking closely at the nutrition information on the label. "If you find that the food contains a high amount of calories and saturated fat, but very few good-for-you nutrients such as fiber, vitamins and minerals, then skip it."
That expensive bottled green juice may not be worth the money when it comes to investing in healthy hydration. "Juices typically consist of only the naturally-occurring sugar found in fruits and vegetables, with the fiber stripped away and no protein or fat," says registered dietitian Chelsey Amer. "After drinking a juice on its own, you may be left with a blood sugar spike, which won't satisfy and satiate you."
Instead, Amer prefers to make her own green smoothies at home. "When I blend a variety of veggies and fruit, I'm keeping the fiber in the final product, plus I can add other ingredients with protein and fiber to create a more well-rounded snack or meal," she says. "Lately, I've been loving my chocolate berry smoothie made with wild frozen blueberries, frozen beets, zucchini, spinach, chocolate protein powder and avocado [all] blended together with some non-dairy milk."
They may seem like a healthy grab-and-go breakfast or snack, but store-bought granola bars are often packed to the gills with sugar, preservatives and artificial ingredients. Omit the unwanted ingredients—and save a little dough—by making your own granola bars at home with whole grains, natural sweeteners, healthy nuts and dried fruit.
Although it may not be a particularly high-ticket item at the grocery store, soup can be even more economical if you make your own with veggies, broth, leftover meat and any other ingredients you want to use up. Plus, it will be less processed and much healthier than canned or frozen soups. You can also prep a big batch and then freeze it in single-size portions, so you'll always have some ready to grab.