Yes, it is possible to eat well and keep fit, even if you're pinching pennies until they squeak. Here's how...
1. Scrimp on organics. Skip the healthfood store: it's the supermarket chains that are really on a health kick. Coles (www.coles.com.au) have a huge selection of home brand organic products, everything from tomato sauce to tea bags, along with ready-to-cook free range chicken, and specialty items like organic spices and packaged nuts. Woolworths also has an organic house brand and some stores offer locally grown produce. Many food co-ops provide organic fruit and vegetables visit the Friends of the Earth website at www.foe.org.au to find one near you. Or shop at a farmers' market (www.farmersmarkets.org.au).
2. Sweat and save. Dump your gym membership and work out for free with online classes at http://exercisetv.tv, or pick up yoga or Pilates DVDs from your local library. For a small outlay, invest in an Iron Gym ($59.95; www.irongym.com.au), a strength training gadget that turns any door into a push-up and dips bar and abs toner. Pick up discounted treadmills and weights from www.gymdirect.com.au, or get a full-body workout with kettlebells (from $65.00; www.kettlebells.com.au).
And who doesn't love the Wii Fit, which lets you play tennis, ski, or bowl in the privacy of your own home? Buy discounted Wiis at www.shopbot.com.au. You can also get lucky with gym equipment freebies through Freecycle (www.freecycle.org/group/AU), which connects unwanted items with people who want them. Get great deals on workout wear at www.shopmania.com.au; sign up and they’ll email you when clothes or shoes in your size are on sale.
See if your health insurance plan offers perks for healthy behaviour – some will rebate all or part of the cost of running shoes or heart-rate monitors, for example. If you really need encouragement, consider a boot camp – sessions start at just $10.00 (www.bootcampsaustralia.com), compared with up to $100.00 for a personal trainer.
3. Eat well for way less. You don’t need a big backyard to grow your own food - for around $70.00, an Earthbox (www.earthboxaustralia.com) doubles your yield of staples like tomatoes and zucchini, with no extra effort. Buy a food drier (from $149.00; www.ezidridehydrators.com.au) – by drying fresh produce that you buy when it’s in season and therefore cheapest, you’ll save a fortune on pricey things like sun-dried tomatoes, fruit leathers, and pastes. A Biosnacky sprouter ($32.95; www.avogel.com.au) is another great idea for your health and your hip-pocket.
Sprouts are high in vitamin C and cancer-fighting antioxidants, and they’re a cinch to grow. For a few cents, you can upgrade the nutritional content of sandwiches, stir-fries, muffins, and salads.
Waste not, want not – buy in bulk and never throw out food again with a Eurolab Food Vacuum Sealer ($99.95; www.dealsdirect.com.au), which prepares food for long-term freezer storage. Save 50 per cent-plus on vitamins at www.thexton.com.au. Discount Drug Stores (www.discountdrugstores.com.au) offer considerably lower prices on medicines. And replace bottled water (up to $400.00 a year) with a stainless steel bottle and tap water ($31.90; www.biome.com.au).
YOUR SAY: Any great tips on staying healthy without forking out the cash? Share them below!