Staying Fit on a Budget

We all try to make our dollars stretch. Sometimes we wonder if we can do that while still eating healthy and being active. This article explores how we can do that first with our meals and then with being active. Don’t skip the end or you will miss a great recipe for cucumber dip and making baked chips.

Meals on a budget

Cook once for all week

Make a large batch of your favorite meals on your day off (double or triple the recipe). Freeze in containers. Use them throughout the week and you won’t have to spend money on take-out meals.

Be creative with leftovers

Spice up your leftovers—use them in new ways. Such as, try leftover chicken in a stir-fry or over a garden salad, or to make chicken chili. Throwing away food is throwing away your money!

Keep it simple

Buy vegetables and fruits in their simplest form. Pre-cut, pre-washed, ready-to-eat, and packaged foods are handy, but often cost much more than when purchased in their basic forms.

Try canned or frozen

Compare the price and the number of servings from fresh, canned, and frozen forms of the same veggie or fruit. Canned and frozen items may be less costly than fresh. For canned items, choose fruit canned in 100% fruit juice and vegetables with “low salt” or “no salt added” on the label.

Being active on a budget

Gyms and fitness centers are great places to get your needed exercise; however, the simplest and cheapest activity is walking. Get some good walking shoes, find a sidewalk, and there you go. No gym membership needed. No costly equipment to buy for your home. For building strength, get two cans of vegetables or bags of rice right out of your cupboard. Go to for ideas on how to get walking.

Here are some other tips:

Get your heart pumping

For your health, do at least 2½ hours each week of exercise that calls for moderate effort. A few samples are brisk walking, biking, swimming, and skating. Spread activities over the week, but do them at least 10 minutes at a time.

Be active your way

Mix it up—there are endless ways to be active. They include walking, biking, dancing, martial arts, gardening, and playing ball. Try out many activities to see what you like best and to add some new ones.

Make active choices throughout the day

Each little bit of effort can add up and doing something is better than nothing. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, go for a 10-minute walk on your lunch break, or park further away from work and walk.

For more tips on eating better and being active, go to and check out the 10 Tips Nutrition Education Series by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Here is an easy and low cost dip to make, plus save money by making your own chips!

Cucumber Dip 

Take one cup of peeled, seeded, and shredded cucumber and press between paper towels to get rid of extra moisture. Let this stand for 15 minutes, pressing the paper towels at times. Next, mix the cucumber with one cup of plain low fat or fat free yogurt, 1 teaspoon of dried dill weed, and ½ teaspoon of lemon juice. Cover and chill in the refrigerator. Makes 1 1/3 cups. Each tablespoon is one serving, which equals 9 calories with 0.3 grams of fat. Use with baked chips. Learn how to make these next!

Pita and Bagel Chips

For pita chips: Take a round pita bread and cut into 8 wedges. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes.

For bagel chips: Cut a bagel in half. Cut each half horizontally into thin slices. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.

Both recipes are from Cooking Light Five Star Recipes – The Best of 10 Years. Oxmoor House, Inc, 1996.

Call Four Corners if your family needs health tips, recipes, or a free program for your group: 402-362-2621 or toll-free at 877-337-3573. Email questions to We all can stay fit on a budget!