Building muscle and gaining or losing weight for your sport is not cheap. You can train in your school gym, so that's a freebie (unless you also have a gym membership or buy home exercise equipment). However, the most important component, nutrition, usually has a hefty price tag. (See How to Build Muscle Quickly.)
A balanced diet should always be one of your lifestyle goals. And cost should not be an excuse. (Read How to Customize A Diet Plan to Meet Your Specific Needs.) Get the biggest bang for your buck on healthy foods and beverages with the following.
Money-Saving Consumer Guidelines
Buy store-brand foods
Store-brand products are generally less expensive than name brands, plus you may get future discounts and savings "points" by purchasing in store-brand items. Look for things like:
- Canned fish
- Canned beans
- Canned and bottled nuts and seeds
- Natural peanut butter
- Whole-grain cereals, pasta, bread, popcorn and crackers
- Dried, frozen and canned fruit (no sugar added)
- Decaffeinated black and green tea
- Olive oil
Use Coupons and Check for Sales
Check the circulars in newspapers or your mailbox for discounts on healthy foods and beverages, weekly or monthly coupons and sales. (Check out Not Just for Busy Moms: A Guide To Buying In Bulk.)
Don't buy on impulse. Carefully check similar items on the store shelf. For example, store-brand oatmeal may cost a dollar less than a commercial brand.
Buy Foods With a Longer Shelf Life
Fresh food is rarely the least costly shopping route. Choosing shelf-staple products will mean fewer grocery store visits (and lower gas mileage). For example, dried, frozen, and canned fruits (without added sugar) last a lot longer than their fresh alternatives, and they still contain plenty of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Canned tuna and salmon have just as much muscle-building protein and heart-healthy, brain-beneficial omega-3 fats as fresh fish, at a much lower cost.
Buy Medium-Sized Eggs Instead of Large Ones
A dozen store-brand, medium-size protein-rich eggs generally cost 50 cents to a dollar less than a dozen large-size ones. Note that eggs also have antioxidants for aiding recovery from exercise and sports and also benefit eye health.
Buying fresh fruits in-season generally saves you money. Apples, pears and oranges are common fall and winter months fruits, and cherries, peaches, berries and plums cost less during the summer than they do out of season (during the winter).
Visit Local Farm Stands for Lower Prices and Fresher Products
Fresh-picked veggies, fruits and eggs available from nearby farm stands not only taste better but are generally less expensive than the store versions.
Invest in Water Filtration Instead of Buying Bottled Water
Studies show that drinking filtered tap water is just as safe as bottled water and less costly. Invest in a box of water-purification filters and fill the accompanying pitcher with tap water. Change the filter every two months instead of buying a weekly or monthly supply of bottled water.
Make Inexpensive Meat and Poultry Choices
Sandwich steak, pepper steak and hamburger (chopped meat) are high in protein and usually less costly than T-Bone or sirloin steak. Thin pork or veal cutlets are usually more affordable than pork or veal chops. And a package of chicken wings or legs usually costs less than chicken breasts.
Choose Longer-Lasting Inexpensive Veggies
- Potatoes, yams, and onions generally last about two weeks when stored in a cool, dark, dry location.
- Carrots and celery also usually last two weeks in the fridge.
- Jarred red peppers generally cost less than fresh red peppers and last much longer.
- Canned or jarred olives are also inexpensive and have heart-healthy fats.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock