how to diet without going broke

How to diet without going broke

Dieting doesn't have to be expensive ... and we show you how!

Today's gyms, with more lights than a disco, more classes than a higher education university and more instructors selling PT's than people exercising, lead one to believe that attending a gym can be extremely expensive.

As we pass through the ?healthy? of the hypermarket, with prices that resemble a Gucci store in Dubai, leads us to think that changing our habits by exercising more and following a more balanced diet may be impossible in times of crisis.

The intent of this article is to share some ideas, at least regarding the diet, and to allow monthly spending on the diet to be no excuse for not getting started.

First of all, some important points:

  • Preparation - When we don't have meals prepared, it leads us to make less accurate choices: we end up eating out (more difficult to track calories and more spent ???), shopping on occasion at the supermarket (more expensive, less controlled).

  • Being important doesn't mean being cheap - We can save on the diet, but it doesn't mean being overly boring. We are going to buy in moderate doses more expensive things, less essential for the diet, but that will allow us to taste what we like in a smaller percentage.

    As another saying would say: ?it's a knife with two vegetables?. It benefits the wallet and diet with the minority inclusion of these foods.

  • Summarize current expenditures on your food - Possibly they will be surprised (and a lot) with how much they spend on cookies, dinners / lunches outside, sodas, chocolates, gas station stops. And that night that ended in the mobile homes?

As for gyms, I'm not going to advertise, but there are already plenty of low-cost offers with enough equipment to reach the body you are possibly looking for.

If you are sure of what you want, creating your own home gym can be a huge savings in the long run.

The beautiful and ugly flexible diet

The flexible diet (aka IIFYM) is increasingly popular.

In addition to other mistakes made by the misinterpretation of the same, there is the general inconvenience that everything fits ?in the macros?.

Although my view of flexible dieting is to 'be inclusive', that doesn't mean this is an excuse to eat out more or eat 'real food' less often.

I think if the idea is an excuse to eat what you want as long as it fits in the macros, save one day a week to play mathematical equations, trying to keep your focus on less processed foods the rest of the week.


In general, I end up seeing a lot of ?flexdieters? who only shop on occasion, or eat almost always in restaurants, etc.

Thus, I continue to be an apologist for rational thinking:

  • What matters most at the moment?

  • Change your body?

  • Avoid a hole in the budget?

Then set priorities.

Prepare lunchboxes, go shopping taking advantage of promotions, and plan important dates to escape the diet, having these days the freedom and relaxation to eat out and have fun.

Create your menu

Now that you know my basic views on the subject, let's try to understand how to approach the diet in order to optimize investment (because you are investing something, in yourself and your goals).

Steps to create your menu

  1. Define the daily calories / meal, or based only on the purpose of your diet (hypercaloric, hypocaloric, low carb, paleo, etc.).

  2. Create meals based on the objective set for the day (being able to combine practical and easy recipes).

  3. Create several simple options for each meal, so they can vary between them.

  4. Create a basic shopping list, based on your menu.

  5. Print the menu and use it as the basis for your shopping trip, in order to avoid impulse purchases.

  6. Include a list of spices to your liking, which allow you to taste the food and avoid buying foods already seasoned with unnecessary substances / products / calories.


Some (small) adjustments that allow you to optimize your menu

  • The normal pasta is cheaper than the whole pasta, moreover it does not make much difference in nutritional level.
  • White label rice (mainland, pingo doce, etc.) is generally cheaper than other more reputable brands. Nutritionally does not (almost) change anything and those who consume many carbohydrates possibly notice positive impacts on the budget with this change.
  • Save calories and budget by cooking with a good non-stick frying pan and, if necessary, olive oil / coconut oil spray (I usually use extra virgin olive tree spray).

  • Chicken and tuna are cheaper than salmon and noble cuts of cow, use the first in greater quantity, thus cutting calories and possibly a few euros in the budget.

    The fat missing from this exchange can be replaced by dried fruit butter and olive oil, for example.

  • Frozen vegetables are cheaper than fresh ones.

    Now let the ?anti-frozen?? Frozen vegetables will always be a better option than not eating them at all.

  • The same rule applies to canned goods. They are delicious, cheap and practical.


Note: Last chapter has some examples of meals.

How to begin?

They already have the menu, they already have the shopping list, now what?

Now comes the part that is most important.

I read the brochures of the main hypermarkets every week, they are available online and it is easy to find the staple foods that are on sale. It is usually easy to save a lot on meat / fish / eggs with these weekly promotions.

For meat and fish the ideal is to buy if possible for the whole month, pack in individual bags and freeze. The ideal is always to remove to defrost in the refrigerator 24h before.

Always look for possible agreements with local suppliers. For example, in the Power Fitness group we have a supplier of chicken breast at 3.5?/kg. There are many of us and the price is very appealing and without having to run through the lines at Pingo Doce.

The same applies to fruit and vegetables, there is a lot of local commerce with prices equal / lower than hypermarkets. For example, I discovered for weeks that I have a grocery store with products almost all of them made in Portugal at my doorstep (few imported), with a price 15-20% below hypermarkets. And the taste is much better than that of frozen (imported) bananas.

So in summary we can try to use the following idea: ?I consume these 15 foods, of which 5 are on sale and are they worth stocking up on? instead of the impulsive thought: ?I'm going to buy everything, because it's on sale?.

Where to buy?

My favorite supermarkets:

  • Aldi - Enumerating the main articles with good price / quality: canned tuna (2x the normal can), canned in general (includes lentils, ratatouille, jalapeno peppers, etc.), Quark 0%, Curd 0%, lactose-free milk, fresh in general.

  • Lidl - Enumerating the main articles with good price / quality: Ice Tea 0%, Quark 0%, Light Greek 2%, Whole cheerios, assorted cereals, fresh in general.

  • Makro - Enumerating the main articles with good price / quality: Frozen hake loins, Fullprotein 0%, 1L egg whites, Gin and tonic water (it is often cheaper lol).

  • Jumbo - For those who do not have access to the Makro card, Jumbo also sells egg whites.

  • Local market - Always look for what alternatives the grocery stores / butchers in your area offer.


How to save money (and time!) In cooking

Another useful solution is to save time and money in cooking. 

  • Microwave recipes - They do not kill, unlike some lost articles, and are super practical on difficult days (which we all have).

    Who doesn't like ?chips? sweet potato in the microwave?

  • Pressure cooker - It allows you to cook huge quantities of food using only meat, vegetables, spices and some sauce to taste (as simple as ripe tomatoes).

    The ?slow cook? of chicken in page it's my favorite.

  • Cook in advance - Cook in quantities that last for several days. It saves time and money.

Bonus 1: Examples of meals

Below are some examples of meals that can be prepared to be used over several days, which include affordable and of course, TASTY options.


  • Eggs + Whites and Fruit (Sweet version).

  • Egg and / or egg omelet, using the vegetables that are spoiling in the refrigerator.

  • Quark 0% with frozen red fruits, or fresh fruit and / or nuts.

  • Overnight Oats, just cook the oats with water / milk and add Whey if necessary. Leave overnight and consume cold in the morning. (with honey on top just before eating and it doesn't even seem like they are following a diet).

  • Whey smoothie, Fruit, Spinach (frozen does not taste), Cereals, Dried fruits, etc. Fast and effective.

  • Oat and whey pancake. One classic.

Lunch dinner

  • Thins bread with homemade chicken burger and Light cheese (Aldi) + salad.

  • Salad of black beans, onion, tuna and peppers.

  • Slow Cooks with rice, beans and vegetables.

Desserts / Snacks

  • The magnificent Whey Fluff.

  • Microwave cake with whey (#beltsanderbrownie).

  • Quark with Flavdrops + Fruit.

  • Boiled eggs + Fruit.

  • Light curd (Aldi) with stevia and cinnamon. It looks like rice pudding!

* Find these and other recipes here and here.

Bonus 2: Where do we waste???

We have already talked about where to save, and what to follow a balanced diet (whether for gain muscular mass or lose fat) may not be as expensive as many people think.

Finally, let's focus now on where in this area of fitness (not just food) we waste money.

  • Excess protein - Many people have a daily protein intake above 3g / kg in weight.

    Unless you like to waste money, 2g/kg is enough to maintain/gain muscle mass without having too much ?catabolic? in the budget.

    Never forget that the biggest monetary expenditure of our diet is usually in the sources of protein.

  • Organic food - There is still insufficient evidence that the increased cost brings benefits equivalent to the difference in value.

    I don't have this to say not to consume them, but if the budget is a problem, avoid it.

  • Useless Supplements - No supplement is mandatory but it also does not mean that they have no use. For example, whey it is very practical and comes cheap by dose.

    More supplements only if the budget allows.

  • Expensive workout clothes - They are beautiful but do not bring results.

  • Accessories - Pedometers, cardio-frequency meters, etc. They are cute, they can be useful, but they are not mandatory.


I hope that now, at the end of the article, there will be more clarity regarding the doubts as to whether following a diet is expensive, or cheap. Or justifying that they can't follow any diet because they don't have money?

Possibly with some tricks they can make the diet they want, to reach the body they want, spending less than they imagine!

Article written by Team Sik Nutrition

[author image=”” ]Team Sik Nutrition, is a recent group of people passionate about the world of Fitness. The Team's focus is to guide, educate and motivate those interested in achieving their health and fitness/performance goals. All this sharing is based on scientific facts and the experience of the Team members.

The CEO of Team Sik Nutrition, is João Gonçalves. Amateur powerlifter, passionate about Fitness and writing articles.

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