How to Save Money » Frugal Living

Lose weight on a budget: A how-to guide

Often, we think that eating healthier is going to cost a lot of money, that losing weight needs to involve fancy diets systems or food plans, or that you’ll need an expensive gym membership.
The truth is, losing weight doesn’t have to mean spending a ton of cash.

The following are tips for losing weight on a budget.

Your motivation and mindset

Weight Watchers is recognized for offering a diet plan that is effective, healthy and sustainable. A few of the main reasons why it works so well:

1. It involves a system of accountability and support
2. It involves changing your eating habits forever.
3. You don’t deprive yourself of foods you enjoy.

The good news is that if you don’t have room for Weight Watchers in your budget (or your schedule), you can still lose weight by applying the same principles in your life.

Accountability and support

Try to form your own buddy system by creating a support group. Get a few friends or family members to join you in losing weight. This way, you can hold each other accountable and you can keep each other going through the ups and downs.

If you’re unable to enlist people in “real life”, there are many popular weight loss support communities online, like 3 Fat Chicks and Fat Secret.

Don’t go “on a diet”

In order to lose weight, you need to commit to changing your diet, rather than go on a diet.

Think of your weight loss journey as a lifestyle change rather than a short term, “reach my goal weight only” type of change

Set achievable and sustainable goals

It’s really important that you set short and long term weight loss goals and celebrate the wins.

Plan for gradual, steady and healthy weight loss. This generally means losing 1-3 pounds a week.

Your diet

Write down everything each day

Writing down everything you eat and drink each day can be helpful, especially when you are first getting started. This helps to make you more aware of exactly when, what, and how much food you are eating on a daily basis.

You can do this using a basic notebook or you can use free online tools such as Eatracker or Sparkpeople.

Plan your meals

By planning your meals and snacks for the week, you are less likely to stray from healthy eating.

Your weekly grocery shopping trips should include nutritional research in addition to your coupon, sale and price research. Use Canada’s Food Guide to help you make wise food choices.

Also, Eatwise has a searchable database with lots of foods and provides nutritional information about each.

Include vegetables & fruits

Be sure to include plenty of fruits and vegetables, reduce the amount of meat and include high protein, high fiber foods such as beans to your diet.

Save money by replacing a meal or two a week with bean based dishes (these are highly nutritious and budget friendly).

Drink plenty of water

Be sure to drink the best free beverage of all – water. It’s essential for keeping your body healthy and it also helps to keep you feeling full longer.

Best of all, it costs you absolutely nothing.

Eat less food

Many people overindulge and eat more than they actually need to on a regular basis.

Eat less food and exercise portion control. Use smaller plates. Chew your food well and wait a few minutes before deciding to get a second helping.

Chances are, by slowing down, you’ll feel full and eat less.

Split meals when dining out

Restaurant portions are usually much bigger than they should be.

Share your meal with your spouse, child or friend and cut the calories (and the cost).

Your exercise plan

Walking or jogging

Get moving and go for regular walks or jogs. It’s completely free and the cardio is great for weight loss.

You can easily adjust the speed and duration of your walks/jobs as your fitness level improves.

Check out this great post that shows how many calories you will burn doing certain activities for one hour.

Play sports

Go outside with your kids (or friends, if you are childless) and have fun playing basketball or soccer, or join a local recreational league.

Stay active by playing a sport that you really enjoy. This is an easy, free (or very inexpensive) way to get fit.

Skip the gym

This may not be an option for everyone, but creating a home gym can save you quite a bit of money.

Consider creating your own home gym if you have the space (and if you can stay motivated to keep up your routine at home).

You can also opt for low cost fitness accessories such as jump ropes, fitness balls, and resistance bands.

Use your local library & online resources

There’s plenty of useful information and resources for exercise planning available to you at your local library and on the internet.

Visit your library for fitness videos and books. Search online and you’ll find exercise routines that you can follow at home for free.

Day to day activities

Look for small ways to add more activity to your day-to-day routine.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Stand instead of sitting. Use a basket instead of a cart when you shop.

If you look at your routine closely, you’ll see that you can easily add more activity to your life – even if you are busy.

Your mindset, diet, and exercise are all important factors when trying to lose weight on a budget.

Be creative with your activities and stick to a frugal, healthy diet and you will be well on your way to a healthier you.

Please share your frugal weight loss tips in the comments!


  1. Fit Girl

    In the last 2 months I have found a free website called the data base of food is incredible. It has a huge list of Canadian Restaurant meals as well. I have been on it for just shy of 2 months tracking my food everyday and I have lost just shy of 10 pounds and happy to say I am very close to my goal weight.

  2. Kelly

    i highly recommend too.. They even have a free app! I have gone to WW in the past and this is exactly the same .. You can even get a support system of family or friends if they all join too. It’s a super easy way to keep track of what you are eating and how much you exercise! The app even allows you to scan barcodes to make it even easier.

    I also recommend for amazing recipes that have simple ingredients for the most part.. Everything I have tried so far has been a huge hit with the whole family.

    With the help of both of these sites I am down 4lbs (in just under 2 weeks) and that’s even with all this rain and skipping out on outside play/walk time with the kiddos.

  3. Pat

    For the last 10 weeks my family has cut out processed food other than BBQ sauce, ketchup, etc… I still stick to my budget of 100.00 a week and always keep an extra 20.00 in my wallet incase I come across an amazing deal. We have been eating real food and I have lost 2 pounds each week since we started. Myfitnesspal has helped us with portion control but we have not added more exercise. Getting back to the basics when it comes to meal planning has improved our overall health in a short time and even my 16 year old says she has more energy and feels better!!

  4. smaller B

    Whenever I am hungry not at meal time (just before bed quite a bit) I eat low-calorie yogurt(35 calorie per 100 grams). If you are scared of aspartame or splenda this is not for you. Put in some fruit if you want and it is still low-calorie and fills you up. I also eat Greek yogurt, plain, and fruit and a dash of splenda to get filled up with lunch and it helps me stay filled up. Be careful, not all greek is the same, look for the low fat/high protien varieties to fill you up. Not cheap but it freezes great if you stock up on sale.

  5. Krista

    To replace aspartame in Splenda, the Natural Value section of Loblaws and RCSS has Stevia in packets. Stevia is a natural sugar. I have also seen it in the baking aisle.

  6. angela

    weight watchers is about $100 for 6 months. pretty decent price for someone starting out and not realizing how many points(calories) are in food. 2 triangles of laughing cow cheese – 1 point. amazing! skip the sugar and eat fruit and if you want an indulgence eat dark chocolate. 7 pounds lost in one month. 🙂

  7. Kayla

    My best advice if you want to lose weight is to eat at least 8 servings of fresh fruit or vegetables every day. You will be amazed how much food you aren’t eating if you focus on reaching this amount every day. We usually have two vegetables with a meat at dinner, and snack on raw veggies throughout the day.

  8. Betty

    Having had to lose weight on quite a few occasions and couldn’t succeed for some reason, I’d advise seeing a Dr. first to rule out anything like diabetes (yep, it will make it harder for you to lose weight), uterine fibroids, hormones, etc. After my kids were born, couldn’t figure out why after walkin 3-4 miles a day & cutting back on food why I wasn’t losing weight. Fibroids can add 20-30 lbs. to you & they don’t usually go away until you are in menopause (or they are surgically removed). I also found out years later that I had gestational diabetes with both girls even though I was never tested for it & should have been which makes you more likely to have Type 2 Diabetes in later years & cause you to put weight on even though you are trying to lose the weight. Once the fibroids shrunk, I lost 30 lbs. without even trying!!

    If there is nothing physically wrong with you healthwise, it’s a good idea to cut back on breads & starchy veggies (think peas, corn on the cob: yes, they are veggies but they are starchy veggies which will add on pounds.). If you still can’t lose the weight, ask the Dr. to refer you to a Dietician. Dieticians are very knowledgeable & can help you a great deal with portion sizes, hints, etc. I know I learned a lot from them!!!

  9. jackie

    i eat every two hours with a protein every other meal and eat clean no processed foods just good old fruits veggies and meats. I cut out simple carbs and only have one to two servings of complex carbs a day. for dairy i only have non fat varieties. the biggest thing for me was reading labels of the stuff i do buy i was amazed how much sugar were added to foods i never even thought had sugar in them. At first i planned just one week of meals out and stuck to those until my cravings for garbage foods was gone it helped to know okay at 10 i eat this. once i got used to eating that way i started adding different items and dishes into my diet. i like the beachbody website for getting info and they have some great recipe ideas on there also. i used myfitnesspal to help track potions and calories until i got used to how much i needed to eat. Instead of going to the gym i workout at home daily for an hour i had lost 45 lbs. now i am pregnant and am so glad i started this i modified my workouts a bit but am still doing it daily and eating clean. my weight gain has been right on par with being only baby weight. and will have only a bit to lose afterwards instead of the 30 + lbs i had to lose with my other kids.

  10. Dawn

    Myfitnesspal is my best friend!! When I remember to use it. To anyone that uses it please feel free to add me as a friend ([email protected]) of love to get and give some extra support!!

    • Jan

      I sent you a friend add request Dawn 🙂

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