Eating In to Save Money and Stay Fit

Whether you’re hoping to shed excess pounds or just maintain a healthy weight, it can be hard to achieve your goals if you dine out more than once or twice weekly. Instead of abandoning flavorful and filling dishes in favor of rice cakes and TV dinners, consider any of these healthy, delicious alternatives to your favorite restaurant fare. You could save hundreds of dollars in a single month while enjoying goods from your local delicatessen, farmers’ market or even your own garden.

Don’t let the commercials fool you–not everything on Subway’s menu fits in with your new, healthier lifestyle. Unless you have the willpower to skip the cheese, mayo, dressing and oils, your six-inch Subway sandwich can easily pack as much as 850 calories and 10 grams of saturated fat. Meats from the most popular sandwich shops–Subway, Quizno’s, and Blimpie–are often loaded with preservatives and sodium. Sandwich lovers can prepare healthier, more flavorful meals in their own kitchen. Start with whole wheat options like pita breads, spinach wraps or fiber-rich rolls. Opt for grilled chicken, turkey, or lean pork, or forgo meats in favor of all the vegetables you can eat. Where veggies are concerned, you can’t overdo it (exercise restraint, however, with olives and avocados).

If you order a pasta dish at Olive Garden, Carrabba’s, or Romano’s Macaroni Grill, you can expect to be served as much as five times the recommended serving. That dinner-sized portion of fettucine alfredo? Eat it all and you will have consumed 1,200 calories and a whopping 75 grams of fat! When the mood for Italian cuisine hits, save your money and stick with your plan by creating healthful alternatives at home. Opt for recipes with whole-grain pastas and chunky, vegetable-based sauces or marinara. Toss in diced, grilled chicken and veggies and you’re good to go!

With its rich array of cheeses, meats, and fried morsels, Mexican cuisine is one of the most popular–and fattening–options out there. Fortunately, it’s possible to enjoy Mexican food without blowing your diet. Instead of forking over fistfuls of cash at your local Taco Bell or Chipotle, start in your own kitchen. Incorporate savory, lean cuts of beef and chicken cooked on the grill into vegetable-laden dishes or soups. Homemade guacamole is an excellent addition; go easy on the avocados, which are packed with heart-healthy fats. Load up with fresh salsas made with tomatoes, peppers, onions, and cilantro. You can also add flavor with popular spices like cumin, chili powder, and garlic. Even a bit of cheese is acceptable as long as you opt for the low-fat versions. Avoid sour cream and you’ll be good to go!

Losing those extra pounds doesn’t mean you have to lose everything you love to eat. With healthful, fresh meals from your own kitchen, you can provide delicious fuel for your body to power you through work, school, and your fitness routine. Instead of spending your hard-earned money dining out every night, try the flavorful suggestions from this article. Bon appetit!