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The struggle to lose weight is difficult at any time, but when money is tight, the obstacles seem insurmountable. Every diet appears to not only require money, but often quite a lot of it. What can you do when there isn’t much room in your budget for fancy food or special appliances to prepare it?

Healthy eating doesn’t have to cost a fortune. It’s true that you may not be able to afford to buy all organic produce or pre-packaged nutrition bars, but if you shop carefully and choose wisely, eating healthy to lose weight is often possible without spending any more than you usually do.

Start by cutting out unnecessary food expenses, if there are any. No more $5 coffees, convenience foods, pre-packaged foods, or fast food stops. No more candy bars, chips, or soda pop. Everything needs to be made from scratch, from real ingredients.

Don’t freak out! There are short cuts for those who aren’t the greatest cooks or have a busy schedule. Once-a-Month-Cooking and crock pot cooking can save a ton of time.

For ingredients, concentrate on the produce aisle. If you buy conventional, fresh fruits and vegetables can be surprisingly cheap. Compare a ten pound bag of potatoes to one little box of Hamburger Helper—they’re often the same price, but the potatoes produce far more food. You can put together a very cheap meal from potatoes, carrots, an onion, and a little butter or oil, and some spices.

You can also buy grains and legumes, such as brown rice, quinoa, lentils, and chili beans. They are very healthy, cheap, versatile, and filling. These take extra prep time though, so cook a giant pot of each item up, let cool, divide into marked freezer bags, and lay the bags flattened and stacked in the freezer.

Going vegetarian can definitely save a lot of money if you avoid packaged foods and gourmet ingredients. But even if vegetarianism isn’t for you, you can save a lot of money by cutting back on your meat consumption just a little. Go meatless one day a week. Or instead of serving big filets of meat, try cutting it into bite-sized pieces and serving it in a yummy rice, veggies, and sauce mixture.

If you have the time, growing and canning your own food can save a lot of money. Or you can buy items in bulk, such as pick-your-own blueberries when they are in season, and freeze them in freezer bags for later use.

Salads can be time-consuming to make if you like a lot of veggies and variety in them. So spend an evening once a week chopping up all the onions, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, etc. and putting them into labeled baggies. Then put the baggies into a plastic bin, and put in the fridge. The next time you need a salad, it will take only a minute or two to prepare, instead of ten or twenty minutes!

There are so many ideas out there for eating healthy on a diet. With a little creativity, you can come up with a diet plan that will help you chip away at those extra pounds, without making a huge dent in your budget.

We have not received any compensation for writing this post. We have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that we have mentioned.