Moms have a lot on their plate — between taking care of the kids, the house, the pets, the husband…the list goes on and on. But most importantly, moms need to take care of themselves, and that means staying fit and healthy. Budget-conscious mommas need not worry, you can eat right and exercise without breaking the bank. Here’s how.
1. Create budget-friendly meal plans
With a little pre-planning, you can easily create yummy, family-friendly meals. Here’s how I ensure we don’t break on our grocery budget each week. My goal is to stay under $150 per week to feed a family of four. The steps I take to do this include:
- Look at your local grocery store flyer the night before you go shopping. Gather up all of your coupons and get ready to outline your dinners for the entire week. I post this schedule of dinners on the fridge so everyone knows what’s coming up and can lend a helping hand if needed. For example, if pasta is listed, my husband can start boiling water. While I focus mainly on dinner, you can do this for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. I tend to buy the same staples each week when it comes to those meals. For example, for breakfasts, I always keep bagels, cereal, and frozen pancakes on hand. Lunches include ham, yogurt, PB&J, bread, Doritos, and juice packs.
- Create a week of dinners. As you schedule them, be sure to look at what’s on deck for the week ahead in terms of kids sports, after-school meetings, working late and other events that may throw a monkey wrench into preparing family dinner. On evenings when there are numerous activities, I try to make a crockpot meal since dinner is essentially done when you get home. Here’s an example of my menu for the week:
- Sunday — grilled or baked pork chops + french fries (can also be thrown on the grill or baked) + salad
- Monday — pasta with sauce + salad
- Tuesday — crockpot chicken teriyaki + broccoli + rice
- Wednesday — tacos + nachos
- Thursday — leftovers (clean out that fridge!)
- Friday — pizza (can be frozen or takeout if you’re just exhausted from the week)
- Saturday — meatloaf + cauliflower mash + roasted potatoes
- Build a core group of meals. It’s good to have your go-to dinners that are easy to make and the whole family just loves. In our house, the staples are chicken teriyaki, tacos, and pasta.
- Match up your meals with the sales flyer. Each week your meals will vary slightly based on what’s on sale. For example, ground beef and pork chops may be on sale this week. Next week, it may be fish and pasta. Some of your means may be interchangeable. For example, you can try fish tacos or beef teriyaki.
- Prepare what you can ahead of time. Sunday afternoon I usually spend about an hour preparing dinners for the week. This eliminates the scramble and stress during the week when I’m trying to get dinner on the table. Some things you can prepare in advance include: putting all the items in the crock pot, making salad, cutting up vegetables and browning beef. The more you can do beforehand, the less stressed you will be during the week.
Related tip: Ibotta is a free app that gives you cash back on groceries, clothing, toiletries, and so much more. Sign up and start using Ibotta now, and get $10 in your account. Sign up here!
2. Burn calories with at-home workouts
You don’t need a ton of gym equipment or time to get in a good workout. Here are several low-cost, no-cost ways to get your heart pumping when you’re crunched for time:
- Incorporate 10 minutes of exercise throughout the day. Do walking lunges, jump rope, squats, crunches, push-ups. Get a full-body workout and get the kids involved. You can do this at any time — when you wake up, during your lunch break, before bed. When my children were younger, they loved to try and keep up with whatever I was doing. Now that they’re older, they still like to see what kind of workouts I’m doing.
- Go for a quick walk during lunch. Pop the kids in the stroller, or if you’re a work, take get outside for a quick walk. Nowhere to walk? Do laps around the parking lot, do laps around your house, get on the treadmill. Just get moving!
- Create your own workout. I actually found this idea on Pinterest. Get popsicle sticks at a craft store and a plastic cup. Write a different exercise on each popsicle stick, mix them up and put them in the cup. Exercises can include jumping jacks, burpees, push-ups, squats, wall sits, or anything you’d like. This will keep you guessing and interested, plus it provides a quick and a good workout.
Related tip: Get your workout on with an at-home workout service like Beachbody. I have been using Beachbody since 2012. They now let you use ANY workout program through Beachbody On Demand for a fifth of the price of a regular gym membership.
3. Use free resources to help keep you on track
“There’s an app for that.” True, and most of the time those apps are free! Let’s look at some great free apps to help you track your diet and get some sweat-inducing workouts for your body — and your mind:
- MyFitnessPal — There’s a saying that you can only change what you focus on and measure. That’s especially true when it comes to tracking your food each day to really see how many calories you’re eating. MyFitnessPal is my go-to resource for keeping my diet on point. It’s important to track anything and everything you eat. A taste of this or that adds up over the day and don’t forget beverages, like the milk you add to your coffee!
- Freeletics Bodyweight — provides customized workouts in limited space. As the title suggests, most exercises are using your bodyweight to get a solid workout.
- The Johnson & Johnson 7-minute Workout — Short on time, this is the app for you. Who can’t fit 7 minutes into their day? These are bite-sized cardio workouts based on your fitness level, from beginner to expert.
- Down Dog — Get your zen on with this yoga app. You can select session length, difficulty and more. I’ve been trying to incorporate more yoga into my exercise routine and this app makes it super-easy.
- Insight Timer — While this isn’t a workout app per se, it’s been a life-changer for me. This app provides guided meditation. I tried to spend at least 10 minutes meditating each day and the results have been nothing short of amazing. I find myself less stressed and actually looking forward to each session. I highly recommend at least giving it a chance.
You’re a role model for your kids, especially when it comes to eating right and working out. Get them involved and you may just discover that you have a fabulous new workout partner. Depending on how old your kid(s) are, you can also have them help you with the grocery shopping, meal planning and keeping you accountable for your diet. Show them what’s on sale and let them help plan the week’s menu. Give them the job of reminding you to log your food in MyFitnessPal. Children love to be helpers, and they will help keep you motivated and push you.
I’m Allison Jackson, a hard-working mom of two who knows first-hand what’s like to struggle with your weight. Through FitMomsofNJ, I help busy moms fit healthy eating and exercise into their lives. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
What tips would you like to share for moms who want to get fit on a budget?
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