7 Budget Friendly Health and Fitness Hacks

7 Budget Friendly Health and Fitness Hacks – Chic and Domestic
7 Budget Friendly Health and Fitness Hacks – Chic and Domestic

Going on a health and fitness journey can be hard enough! Trust me, I’m doing it. Some days are great, some days are better than others, some days are difficult to push through.

Being a busy mom on a budget, I try to find ways to do everything with my wallet in mind. When I decided that it was really time to take my health, and fitness seriously, I went shopping. TOTALLY not necessary, but ehh doing a little bit of budgeted shopping makes me feel like I’m taking things a bit more serious. If I spend money on it, I’m going through with it! No questions asked.

Looking at my health as an investment, there were a few things that I wanted to purchase to better equip myself with what I needed to stay consistent.

1. Utilize the Outdoors
The most budget friendly fitness hack I can give is to utilize the outdoors. Go outside! Get yourself some much needed Vitamin D. It’s summer, sweat it out! Switch up how you do your daily workouts and change your scenery. Use your backyard or outside deck to do a quick 15 or 30 minute workout routine in between daily tasks. Instead of hitting the gym, go visit your local park or nature trail for a walk or run. I actually tried hiking this summer with my husband (the ex-military/aspiring personal trainer, yea that was fun) and it was a great workout for me.

2. Meal Prepping
Healthy eating has been so much easier for me without the need to stand in front of my refrigerator wondering what I’m going to eat. It also saves me from reaching for a snack vs reaching for a well balanced meal or snack. I’ve also been loving meal prepping for my grocery budget because it saves me from having food go to waste. Clean eating means a lot of fresh ingredients, and it sucks when things don’t get used before they go bad. Meal prepping along with my normal family meal planning has been a lifesaver thus far.

Check out some of my favorite meal prep containers here!

3. My Fitness Pal
Along with meal prepping, I’ve been tracking my food, water, and exercise intake with the free My Fitness Pal app. At first I found it to be tedious to keep up with, but after about a week of figuring out how it worked, I feel like it has really helped me to watch what I’m eating, and how much I’m eating.

*Fit Mom Tip: Try out Cronometer, Keto Diet Tracker, or Calorie Counter by FatSecret

4. Fitness Blender
I am in loveee with Fitness Blender. Did I mention that I love it? If you’re anything like me, sometimes it’s hard to come up with general workouts, especially when you’re first starting a fitness journey. Sometimes it’s difficult to find workouts for a specific target area, or maybe you’re doing the same workouts and your body needs a change. Fitness Blender has been great for the days that I don’t have a ton of time, or I just need a quick workout routine that I can do in my living room without too much change to my already hectic schedule.

5. Planet Fitness
For the days that I am up for going to the gym, I like having my planet fitness membership on hand. It’s only $10 or $19.99 a month depending on the plan. You also get a few perks with the $19.99 black card membership. I don’t know about you, but that’s worth it to me to have 24 hour gym access. Gym memberships can get costly very quickly, but this has by far been the best gym option for me and my lifestyle.

6. Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are a cost effective way to strength train in the comfort of your own home. It’s a great piece of workout equipment to have to help tone your entire body, work your muscles, and add variety to your at home workout routine. It’s pretty inexpensive compared to buying a large variety of weights for someone just starting out.

7. Jump Ropes
Jump ropes are another inexpensive piece of workout equipment that makes working out a breeze. They’re light weight and great for cardio. It’s a great replacement for a short run if the weather is working against you that day. #NoDaysOff! Utilize it at home, or even throw it in your bag to take along for an outdoor workout session.

 

If you’re interested in getting healthy and fit, join the 30 Day #FitMomFab Challenge here!

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How To Store Freezer Meals Like a BOSS

In my part 2 of my Freezer Meals 101 series, I’ll be explaining some tips for storing to give your food’s freshness an extended expiration date. If you caught my previous freezer meal post, you’ll know that saving money and time has inspired me to revisit freezer meal planning, and prepping. In my other post, I talked all about planning your meals and how the art of freezer meal prepping is what you make it.

First things first, let’s talk about how to properly store your meals to stay fresh, and conserve your freezer space. You’ll never be able to enjoy those delicious freezer meals you’ve prepared if by the time you pull them out to cook, they’re covered in freezer burn.

Some Things You’ll Need:

Permanent Marker
It’s essential that whatever you do, you’re able to label your foods. A month from now, you’re going to want to know what everything is before you grab it, and exactly when you made it. Nobody likes to play the fresh or not guessing game when it comes to their food.

Plastic Wrap
Any one of your preferred plastic cling wraps works just fine. You can use plastic cling wrap to individually wrap your portions of meat for freezing. Since the portions will be placed in freezer bags they’ll be protected from the cold. The plastic wrap serves to block out air from touching your food. Air is actually what causes freezer burn on your foods.

Ziplock bags
Do not cut corners when it comes to your ziplock bags! Make sure to use freezer quality bags to protect your food from the extreme cold. I’m just as fabulously frugal as the next person, but I’ve found that cheaper storage bags are much thinner, and will have you regretting it when after all of your hard work, you find that your tasty meals are now freezer burned. That’s not good for anyone.

Foil pans or non-aluminum baking pans
This won’t be a necessity for everyone. It obviously all depends on what you’re choosing to freeze and how you’re choosing to freeze it. Foil pans are good options for lasagna or casseroles for you to freeze and just pop in your oven later. Kind of like make your own Stouffers. It’s actually best to buy inexpensive, disposable pans for the purpose of freezing because you end up throwing them right in the trash after eating. If I ever use pans I still make sure to ziplock them for extra protection from the cold anyway, so buying expensive pans for disposable would be a waste. Also, (just a tip) if you’re preparing freezer meals to be gifted, this will be perfect so that the recipient won’t have to worry about returning your dish after enjoying the meal.

Freezer Tape
Freezer tape is the best option as opposed to other kinds of tape. Remember, it has to stay sticky when it’s frozen, be durable enough to withstand the cold temps, and stick to various surfaces. Most importantly, you have to be able to write on it without smudging and fading. Freezer labels are also a great choice if you can find them, because it basically kills two birds with one stone.

Some Tips For Labeling:

Always remember the date!
I’ll mention this a few times throughout this post about the importance of adding the date to your meals. I can’t stress this enough. I actually like to label my bags before packaging everything up. It’s easier to write on an empty bag, and it helps to not forget things that I need to label.

Label Your Foods
(Obviously) You want to know what everything is when you’re ready to go back and cook it. Too many things start to look alike.

Include Cooking Instructions
If your meals come with a lot of specific cooking instructions, make sure to add that somewhere on your label. I skip this a lot, mostly because I’m the only one who really cooks in my house, and I already know how I want the meals prepared. This is a great thing to do if your significant other cooks, or you have older children who sometimes handle dinner. It will prevent a lot of headache to mention that this meal goes in the crock pot, or this should be cooked frozen in the oven for 30 minutes.

Some Tips For Packaging:

Portion sizes before freezing
I’ve found this to be most convenient when I’m separating marinated meat, but it’s also a GREAT way to store soups. When I make a large pot of soup or chili, I find that it’s better to freeze one large bag (for family meals) and a few smaller bags. (for individual bowls) and that way if you just want a bowl to yourself, you aren’t thawing and heating an entire pot of food for one.

Wrapping Meat vs Bagging Meat
Meat that involves a marinade should be stored in its own personal ziplock bag. Meat that will be going into a pot or crockpot with beans, corn, or raw veggies (like a soup or stew) can be stored in a ziplock bag together. Meat that will go with a side of veggies are better wrapped and separated. (I hope that made sense!) If you’re storing something like marinated cilantro lime chicken, store it bagged and ALONE. If you’re storing something like Chicken Tortilla Soup that you plan to throw in a crockpot, you can store it bagged and TOGETHER. If you’re storing raw chicken, a side of fresh broccoli, and red potatoes, wrap your chicken FIRST, and bag everything as one meal.

Avoiding air pockets
Huge, HUGE tip is to avoid air at all costs. When you’re packaging all of your foods, remember to remove as much air from the bag as possible before sealing. Be your own food saver!

Some Tips For Freezing:

No glass or plastic containers
Glass breaks, which is a MESS (although I have successfully frozen things in mason jars before, still wouldn’t recommend it) Plastic containers can end up being a waste of space, and they also put you at risk for too much air exposure which will freezer burn your food.

Allow cooked foods cooling
If you’re freezing cooked foods, you have to give your food cooling time. Your freezer will have to work ten times harder to bring down the temperature of food that’s freshly cooked, and this can also cause other things in your freezer to start to thaw. Cool down first, and then store.

Some Tips for Storing:

Store your meals flat
Storing your meals flat is your best bet your convenience, because it makes them freeze quicker, and thaw quicker when it’s time to cook them. It also helps to maximize storage space in your freezer because you can stack them, and once they’re frozen, you can also lean them up against the freezer if need be.

Older items at the front, new items at the back
This just makes it easier for you to cook your older meals first to ensure that no food is going to waste.

How To Store Freezer Meals Like A Boss. Freezer Meal Prep 101 - Chic and Domestic
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What’s For Dinner!? Vegetable Stir Fry

A great way to get in your intake of veggies and eat your colors is to whip up a good stir fry. You can incorporate any kind of veggies that you like, and serve them over rice, noodles, or just eat them by themselves. The ingredients I used were just some of my favorites, and also what I had on hand, but you could also try things like mushrooms, eggplant, carrots, the list goes on. I have so much rice that I need to use up, so I’ve been planning a lot of meals that pair easily with that. I made this meal with limited ingredients this time, nothing too elaborate, because I was aiming for dinner to be quick, simple, and to the point. From start to finish, this meal took me about 30 minutes to prepare, and surprisingly my toddlers had no problems eating their veggies, which is always a plus in my book!

INGREDIENTS
Soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tsp. finely minced fresh ginger
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Green Pepper
Red Pepper
Yellow Onion
Brocolli
Zuchinni
Sesame Seeds, for garnish
Sliced green onions, for garnish
White or Parboiled Rice

DIRECTIONS
1. Chop and prep your preferred veggies.
2. Add sesame oil to your pan over medium heat, and start by adding in your larger veggies (Peppers, zucchini, onion), little by little. (You don’t want to add too much at one time, because it will start to make your vegetables soggy, and nobody wants that!). Cook until they start to soften.
3. Continue this process of cooking your vegetables to your liking, and adding in things like onions
4. Season your stir fried vegetables with salt and pepper to taste, minced garlic, and ginger, and continue to stir your vegetables.
5. Add soy sauce, and continue to cook for 3 minutes.

 

For more recipes from The Chic Kitchen, Check them out here!

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Weekly Meal Plan Menu #2

Back and ready for another week of Meal Planning!? If it just so happens that you have been following my blog for a while, you know that I love meal planning for my family of 5. It’s been one of the most beneficial things that I’ve started doing to stay in budget when it comes to our household groceries. I check in weekly to break down my weekly meal plan, and explain my thought process in planning and scheduling things how I do them. If you’re interested in getting started, check out my blog post HERE on how to start meal planning. It’s a great read, really easy explanations, and full of really great tips.

I meal plan on Wednesdays, because I like to check out what’s on sale at my local grocery stores. If I lost you just now, no worries I’ll explain. The average grocery store prints their new sales ads every Wednesday. They normally come in the newspaper if you get one, but you can also check them out online if they have an official website. If you’re a couponer, even better! You should already know the importance of matching your coupons with weekly sales to maximize your savings. I do my plans from Monday to Sunday for the following week, just for schedule purposes. I normally grocery shop on Thursday or Friday of every week.

I normally plan out breakfast meals for my kids, a various list of lunch options (We plan, but we definitely wing it!), and our family meals. For other examples of my weekly meal plans, check them out here on my blog.

This week I’ve planned the following

Monday: Breakfast: Oatmeal

Lunch: (Options) Peanut butter sandwiches, applesauce, fruit, yogurt, string cheese, carrot sticks, leftovers

Dinner: Bacon Ranch Turkey Burgers, Cucumber and Tomato Salad, Baked Beans

Tuesday: Breakfast: Eggs, Fruit

Lunch: (Options) Peanut butter sandwiches, applesauce, fruit, yogurt, string cheese, carrot sticks, leftovers

Dinner: Jambalaya

Wednesday: Breakfast: Pancakes, Smoothies

Lunch: (Options) Peanut butter sandwiches, applesauce, fruit, yogurt, string cheese, carrot sticks, leftovers

Dinner: Barbeque Chicken Sliders, Salad

Thursday: Breakfast: Yogurt, Fruit

Lunch: (Options) Peanut butter sandwiches, applesauce, fruit, yogurt, string cheese, carrot sticks, leftovers

Dinner: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Friday: Breakfast: Eggs, Fruit

Lunch: (Options) Peanut butter sandwiches, applesauce, fruit, yogurt, string cheese, carrot sticks, leftovers

Dinner: Barbeque Chicken Pizza, Pepperoni Pizza

Saturday: Oatmeal

Lunch: Tuna and Crackers

Dinner: Chicken Tortilla Soup and Salad

Sunday: Breakfast: Pancakes, Eggs, Fruit

Lunch: Tuna and Crackers

Dinner: Grilled Chicken Salad

An important reason to meal plan is so you’re wasting less. Less food, less money, less time. In my Meal Planning 101 article, I explain the importance of using leftovers, sides, and extra condiments in other dishes throughout the week. I’ll be using the leftover Hamburger Buns from Monday’s meal (Bacon Ranch Turkey Burgers) and using them for my Wednesday meal Barbeque Pulled Chicken Sliders. I’ll be using my leftover Barbeque Chicken from my Wednesday meal on my Friday meal of Barbeque Chicken Pizza. Ideally, I plan to find a large pack of Chicken Breast for a reasonable price to use in my Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday Meal. Feeding a large family on less!

Meal planning doesn’t have to be as complicated as you would think. Spending 30 minutes to an hour worth of your time, can save you lots of time (and money) over the course of your week. So why not start? Save yourself some much needed time, and money and start planning.

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