In today's episode, buckle up as we tackle the vital issue of counting macros on a budget! With prices soaring and inflation hitting our wallets, I've got the lowdown on navigating the challenge of aligning macro goals with a tight budget. From my own journey, I'll be spilling the beans on seven practical tips, tricks, and hacks to keep your grocery spending in check while still nailing those macro goals. If you're all about counting macros on a budget, you won't want to miss this – stay tuned!
Find show notes at bicepsafterbabies.com/299
- Tips for Counting Macros on a Budget 02:47, 10:26, 12:01, 13:47, 18:35, 22:02, 24:30
- Budget living, strategic planning 04:31
- Freezing Foods 12:53, 15:53
- Manage expiration dates, repurpose leftovers 17:57
- Other Protein Alternatives 19:50
You're listening to Biceps After Babies Radio Episode 299.
Hello and welcome to Biceps After Babies Radio. A podcast for ladies who know that fitness is about so much more than pounds lost or PR's. It's about feeling confident in your skin and empowered in your life. I'm your host Amber Brueseke, a registered nurse, personal trainer, wife and mom of four. Each week my guests and I will excite and motivate you to take action in your own personal fitness as we talk about nutrition, exercise, mindset, personal development and executing life with conscious intention. If your goal is to look, feel and be strong and experience transformation from the inside out, you my friend are in the right place. Thank you for tuning in. Now, let's jump into today's episode.
Hey, hey, hey. Welcome back to another episode of Biceps After Babies Radio. I'm your host Amber Brueseke, and today we are talking about money, money, money, money. And this is obviously an important topic, or at least a topic that is on the forefront of a lot of people's minds. Because man, prices are going up, I'm sure I don't have to tell you that inflation is real. I'm seeing at the grocery store I was just seeing it as we were driving home from the gym. My husband was pointing out that gas prices are going up again and I know I'm not the only one who's feeling a little bit pinched in my budgeting, when it comes to especially the money that we spend at the grocery store, that it's a big deal and when we start talking about counting macros and we start talking about making different food choices, this can be a question that comes up of this reality of having to fit macro counting and your caloric budget into whatever your food budget is for the month.
So I thought it would be awesome to be able to record a podcast to be able to help out in minimizing the amount of money that you are spending when you're counting macros. What are some tips, tricks, and hacks that I have figured out throughout the years that allow me to be able to hit my macro goals while also staying within my you know, food budget goals. So I've gathered my top 7 tips, tricks and hacks to be able to save money on your grocery bill, especially when it comes to starting to count macros. So if you're somebody who is counting macros or wanting to count macros and wanting to do it on a budget, keep on listening.
Leave a Rating and Review 02:31
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Tip#1: Create a Meal Plan 02:47
All right, tip # 1 may not seem very sexy, but I promise you it is probably one of the biggest things that has helped me to save money throughout the years and that is creating a plan. Now to take you back in time a little bit. Many of you know that my husband is a physician and we met like, let's see, we got married in December and he took the MCAT, which is the entrance exam for medical school in April of that next year. So when I say that I've literally been there through the whole entire medical training process. I made it. We got married and you know, I met him as a pre Med. Was with him throughout a lot of college, took the MCAT and then through medical school, four years of medical school, four years of residency and three years of fellowship. And now here we are about 7 years, six or seven, 6 ½ years out of training and I've been through there through it all and if you know anything about medical training. Maybe you know that it's a lot of years, but it is also very, very low pay. A lot of people think you know when you graduate from medical school, you're a doctor. And you just, you must make a lot of money. But what a lot of people don't know is that through those years of training, obviously you're paying to go to medical school, you go into a lot of debt usually and then through residency and fellowship, which for us was seven years, you're making not very much money. In fact, when you don't do the math, if you're in this day's life, don't do the math. But if you do the math of the number of hours that you're working during these time periods, which is usually you know 70, 80 hours a week, divided by the amount that you're making often times you're making under minimum wage.
Budget living, strategic planning 04:31
You just don't make a lot of money during training and so. And we had four kids by the time we were done with residency. So four kids, I'm a stay at home Mom. My husband's in residency, and we lived in Southern California. All of this. I hope that you've seen adds up to the fact that we were very, very strapped for cash. And so I had to get really good at living within a budget and one of the ways that I was able to do that is doing a lot of planning. And I always say that you either, most people either have more money than time or more time than money, and if you have more money than time, then you oftentimes will spend money on things that are going to save you time. You spend money on convenience. You spend money on things that make your life easier, and that's great. That's an awesome phase of life to be in, but we were very much in the phase of life where I had way more time, then we had money. And so I got really good at couponing. I got really good at going. I would go to like 3 or 4 stores every single week. Because I would shop the sales at every single store. The me now looks at that and thinks it's crazy because I have more money than time now, I'm a lot more strapped for time in my life now, but back then I had a lot of time and not a lot of money. And so one of the things that made the biggest difference for me was planning. And planning is a very broad term, so I'm going to talk a little bit of what planning has looked like in different stages of my life, because I do still plan today, but it looks very different from when we were very strapped for cash.
Intense couponing and strategic planning 06:10
So let's start back, you know, when we were in residency and, you know, four young kids staying at home in Southern California, living on one income. My planning at this time was very intense. Every week I would get the papers and I would clip coupons. Man, I was like you guys. I was. I was like those extreme couponers, you know that you, they used to have like those TLC shows that like the extreme couponers like that was me. I had a, I had binders. I had. I would like cut the coupons. And I would like slide them into these little like insert, like these little insert. That so I can see what coupons were and I would get multiples of the papers so I could get multiples of each of the coupons and then I had certain blogs that I would look at and I would create, you know, what's on sale this week. And you know what stores do I need to shop at and you know, how can I use my coupons and how can I stack my coupons to be able to, you know, get the most, you know, get the most out of this, the shopping trip and I would. I would go to three to four to sometimes five different stores in a week so that I could shop the sales and use whatever coupons we're going to work for that specific store. And so not all and then I would also create my meal plan for the week based off of what was on sale that week. So as you can see like this took a lot of time and took a lot of time. A lot of planning because I'm like shopping the sales and then I see, oh, you know, chicken breast is on sale this week. So what am I going to make for dinner? Will I go and look up chicken recipes and then create a list of, you know, here's what we going to eat for dinner based off of the sales. So I think that's an on one end of the extreme of planning. And again, when I had lots of time, stay at home Mom with four kids and very, very little money, you know, that was a good use of my time was I used my time to save as much money as possible.
I Have More Money Than Time 08:03
Now, Fast forward, you know, many, many years later where I'm on the other side of maybe the extreme where we, I have more money than I have time. You know, I'm running a business, I have 4 kids, I have a busy husband. I have way less time than I used to have. You know back, back in the day. But I still use planning to be able to, you know, still save money as much as possible. Although I am willing to spend money now for convenience or to save time, than you know I wouldn't have done in the past. But what planning looks like for me currently is every week, usually on Saturday or Sunday, I sit down and I create a meal plan for the week. I still planned out our dinners for the week, if you listen to last week's episode, you know I talked about how I've started incorporating my lunches and breakfast and snacks into that plan. That's been really helpful for me, but I sit down every week and I have for years, and I create a meal plan for our dinners and often that meal plan I create my grocery list, and I use Walmart delivery. So I you know, send that off and I know that my groceries will be delivered the next day and I'll have you know, groceries for the rest of the week. And then I usually so I do my Walmart order. And then I usually do a Costco trip every week when I drop my son off at parkour, I go to Costco, and then I go pick him up. It's just like my pattern every single week. So I go to, I do a Walmart order, and I go to Costco most weeks and that's it. That's like, that's mostly the extent of the planning that I do. But even doing that small amount of planning is going to saves me a lot of money because I'm not going to the grocery store multiple times a week and you know, every time you go to the grocery store, you spend, you spend money, right? And so one of the worst ways to, I guess one of the best ways if you want to spend a lot of money is to take lots of trips to the grocery store. So the more planning you do ahead of time, the more you have a plan for the entire week, the less trips you're going to the grocery store and the less money you're going to spend.
OK, so I'll admit maybe that wasn't the sexiest number one that I could have come up with, but I think planning is foundational and I think 1 take away hopefully is you asking yourself that question. Do I have more money than time or more time than money? And then that allows you to know, hey, am I willing to spend some money to save time? You may be in a phase of life that is more like that or am I more strapped for money and I have more time?
Tip#2: Minimize Dining Out and Spend More Time Dining In 10:26
Tip #2 is to minimize dining out. Now I know eating out can be fun. I'm not saying you can't ever eat out. I know that eating out, you know, saves a lot of time, you know for a lot of people. So, I'm not saying you can't ever eat out. But if you are again in that phase of life where you are trying to maximize every dollar and you're being really mindful of the money that you're spending, eating out is almost always going to cost more than making the same thing yourself. Back to my time when we were really poor, I made everything like homemade tortillas, homemade bread. I'm just trying to think of like, some of the crazier things that I would make but like anything you can make homemade bread crumbs, homemade sour cream, homemade yogurt, homemade like bagels. Anything that I can make at home I would make because it would save me money. So, and we hardly ever went out to restaurants and you know, it was. It was a lot cheaper for me to feed out my family eating at home. So, again, I'm not saying that you can't ever eat out, you absolutely can count macros and eat out but spending or spending the time and energy to make food at home will always be cheaper than going out to eat. So again, if you want to save as much money as possible and keep your grocery bill as low as possible. I really recommend doing 90 or more percent of your eating at home.
Tip#3: Utilize Frozen and Canned Vegetables 12:01
Tip #3 is to utilize frozen and canned vegetables. Now, I love fresh vegetables as much as the next person. I'm not saying you can't ever have fresh vegetables, but one way to save money is to purchase canned versions of those vegetables or frozen versions of those vegetables. Both can and frozen vegetables or fruit have the same vitamins and minerals and the nutritional profile that the fresh fruit has. But it has the added benefit of lasting a whole lot longer so a lot of the money that we waste on food is because we throw things away because they go bad and foods that are frozen or foods that are canned last a lot longer and often, sometimes a lot of times or even a lot cheaper than buying it fresh.
Freezing Foods 12:53
Another good like sub tip for this is to not let your food go bad by freezing it. So for example you know I like to buy a bag of spinach and if that spinach is starting to go bad, I'll make sure before it goes off before it goes bad, I will put it in the freezer and freeze it and then I will use that frozen spinach in you know, cooked dishes or in my smoothies. Same thing for bananas, you know, don't throw bananas away as they start to brown. If they get past that point of where you want to eat them fresh. Then you cut them up and freeze them and use them in smoothies or to make banana bread. You know, if your strawberries are starting to go bad. You know, cut off the bad parts, freeze them, and they'll last a lot longer. Same thing with like blackberries or raspberries or, you know, most of your fruits can be frozen and used in things like smoothies or any time that you're going to you know cook the fruit.
Tip#4: Reduce Waste 13:47
So this kind of leads into my next tip which is to reduce waste as much as possible. Honestly, a lot of people waste a ton of food and a ton of money every single week. Every time that you're throwing away food that you bought uneaten, you are wasting money and so how can you start to minimize that food waste? How can you make sure you're not over buying? How can you make sure that again, like fresh fruits and vegetables, as they start to go bad that we're either using them right away or freezing them to use for later. One of the best things that I ever did as a college student and like a young married mom, was learning which foods can and can't be frozen and well, now you can probably Google this. Back when I was in college, Google was not quite a thing yet. I actually OK, this is a total side story I'm telling anyway. I actually remember when I met my husband and we were just dating, and I remember I went over to his apartment one day and he sat me down. I was like, let me show you this thing called Google and I didn't know what Google was and he sat me down and he like showed me Google and I was amazed, I mean, I like didn't know. I had no idea what Google was, of course we had like web crawler and asked Jeeves before that. But like I remember him showing me Google. Anyway. the Internet wasn't quite as much of a thing as it is these days and so now you can probably just Google all these things of finding out what foods you can freeze and what foods you can't freeze, but I remember when I was back in college, I just kind of started experimenting. I was like I'm gonna figure out what foods you can freeze and what foods you can't freeze. And I remember one time I bought some extra sour cream and I was like, I don't know, can we freeze sour cream? I'm not sure. Let's try, so I froze the sour cream. Turns out freezing sour cream is not a great idea. Who knew? I remember getting it out and like trying to defrost it and it gets all like curdly and watery and it's not good.
Freezing Gallons of Milk 15:53
So just FYI. I don't recommend freezing your sour cream, however, lots of other things can be frozen. I always freeze my gallons of milk. I've frozen my gallons of milk for years and years and years, we usually buy multiple gallons of milk. I don't want to store it all in my fridge and so I just put the whole entire gallon of milk into my deep freezer. Now, every time I share this tip people ask me like I guess you're kind of supposed to, or at least people recommend unscrewing the milk lid, pouring a little bit out and then re screwing it on because when you put that milk in the freezer, it's obviously as it freezes, it's going to expand and people have said that their milk jugs like explode in their freezer. I will say I've been freezing milk for probably 15 years. And I've never had that happen and I've never poured out milk out of my jug. So for what it's worth, I literally take the jug that I buy from Costco and I put it in the freezer. And then you just let it defrost. You know most of the way on the counter. And then I put it in the fridge and we're good to go. And that's one way that we're able to save money is like buy it in bulk and then freeze it.
Reduce Waste Through Meal Planning 17:07
Okay, so we're talking about reducing waste. So other ways that you can reduce waste are to make sure that you are including into your meal plan things that need to be used up that week. So when I go to create my meal plan for the week. I'm always opening up the refrigerator and looking and seeing what do I have a lot of that I need to use this next week, for example, I had bought a big bag of broccoli at Costco a couple weeks ago and it was Sunday and I was like, making my meal plan and I opened up and I realized, oh, I saw that big bag of broccoli. What can I make with that? And so I went on and found a broccoli soup recipe that I ended up serving for dinner that night and used up a bunch of that broccoli. So the more that you can create your meal plan from things that you need to use up in order to reduce waste, the less money you're going to waste by, you know, just throwing that food away.
Manage Expiration Dates, Repurpose Leftovers 17:57
Other things that you can do is to make sure to keep track of like expiration dates. You know rotating through your cans so that you're always using like the oldest cans so that you're not, you know, hidden expiration dates on your pantry items. And then also getting creative with leftovers. The more that you can, you know, repurpose things, right. So I'll maybe make some chicken and we'll have it served in one way. And I have leftover chicken that we can then repurpose. And put into you know, a different meal. And again, the goal is like, don't throw away food because it goes bad. How can we use all the food that we have before it goes bad.
Tip#5: Use affordable protein sources 18:35
#5 is to look for and purchase affordable protein sources, so protein tends to be one of the more expensive components when you are counting macros, it tends to be more expensive than carbs and more expensive than fats and so as we encourage people to increase their protein intake. This can be a place where it feels like, oh, my budget is a little tight because protein tends to be more expensive. However, you can look for the less expensive types of protein and build your meal plan around those. So some of the ones that I love the most are eggs and egg whites. It's a very inexpensive source of protein. Protein powder. Surprisingly, even if you're spending, my goal is usually to spend between 1 and $2.00 a scoop. So it's like 1 to $2.00 for 20 grams of protein. And if you compare that against a lot of meat sources, protein powder is actually a very inexpensive form of protein. So while it may seem expensive to buy, you know a 50-pound tub of protein powder for the amount of protein that you get in that tub, it usually is very budget friendly compared to if you tried to buy you know that much protein in red meat or in some other meat source.
Other Protein Alternatives 19:50
Canned tuna, another really inexpensive protein source that I used a ton when we were in Med school and residency and fellowship, canned tuna is a you know a really easy low fat source of protein and very convenient, stores for a long time and it's pretty cheap. And then you can also think about some of your plant sources, things like tofu or beans or other legumes are higher, you know, have protein as a source. And because they are plant sources, they're a lot cheaper than your meat sources.
If you do want to use meat sources, I really recommend looking for, you know, lower cost versions of meat sources, and these will typically be either the really lean meat sources or the really fatty ones and so like for example, you can buy, you know, chicken thighs or chicken drumsticks. And that's going to be cheaper than, like a chicken breast. But you may have to do some work. They may be bone in. It may have skin on it. You may have to remove the skin. I remember when we were in Med school. I used to do a lot of this where I don't think I ever bought chicken breast. I always bought chicken thighs and removed the skin, bone in chicken thighs even or chickens drumsticks because they were a lot cheaper than buying the chicken breast. You know, same thing with your different cuts of meat, different cuts of meat can be vastly beef, sorry, different cuts of beef can be vastly different based off of where it is on the cow, and so buying some of those less expensive cuts of meat can save you a lot of money.
And then the last is your dairy sources, right? Dairy provides a very good source of protein, complete source of protein and usually is a lot cheaper than meat. So for someone who's really looking to save as much as possible on their budget, a general recommendation is to eat less meat and to eat more other sources of protein, so more of those plant sources of protein, they're going to be cheaper in the long run. You know, things like your beans and your legumes and your whole grains and your dairy sources are going to be a lot cheaper than any of your meat sources.
Tip#6: Cook and Buy Foods in Bulk 22:02
Okay. Tip number six is to cook and buy in bulk, so the more that you can buy food that you're going to eat, of course. If you buy a big bag of rice and you don't eat it. Or you throw half of it away because it goes bad, this is not saving you money, but most of us know that if you buy a small bag of rice, you're probably going to pay more per oz with that small bag of rice than you are if you buy a large bag of rice, a bag of rice in bulk. So, being smart about this can help you save per serving if you're buying those items in bulk, things like rice or oats or pasta or canned beans or frozen vegetables. If you would use them, buying those things in bulk can save you a lot of money. We, you know, I shop at Costco. I know there's a lot of controversy over whether Costco actually save you money because you have to buy a membership to go there and then a lot of times people are like I buy things that I wouldn't buy there so you know, take it, for what it's worth, whether you buy in bulk at Costco or you go to Sam's Club or even looking at Walmart, there's going to be different sizes of things, and usually I'm going for the biggest size, although I'm always doing Math. That's a tip, always do the math of dividing the amount it is by the ounces and seeing the price per oz, this is something like I teach my kids very early on. I remember we were at the grocery store and I was showing my kids how to either, you know, some stores have the price per OZ listed on the like, on the shelf. But some don't, and so I was teaching my kids how to figure out which one to buy, which one was the cheapest per oz. So do a little bit of math. Like I'll whip out my calculator in the middle of the grocery store and do some math and find out which of the different options that are presented to me are going to be the cheapest per oz.
And a lot of times, the bigger you go, the cheaper it is per oz. But not always. In fact, I was just shopping do my Walmart order this last week and we were looking to buy some Cliff bars. My husband likes the Cliff bars for like pre workout and I was doing math and they have like a four pack and then they have like a 12 pack and then like a 36 pack. And I was doing the math and surprisingly like the four pack was like the cheapest out of all of them. You would think that the 18 pack would be the cheapest but it wasn't. And so I always recommend doing the math when you're buying a bulk because sometimes the bulk thing is not actually saving you any money.
Tip#7: Go for Generic Brands 24:30
And my very last tip to save yourself money at the grocery store when you're counting macros, is to go for generic brands, and I don't know maybe this is like, everybody knows this, but using generic brands can really save you a ton of money, and oftentimes they generic brands are made by the same manufacturer that makes the branded version. They just leave it unbranded and they charge you less because of it. And so there are very few things that I only will buy the brand name of. In fact, I'm like, trying to think of them. And I cannot think of very many, most of the things that we buy are the name the non brands. They're the like Walmart version or the Kroger version, or the Safeway version of whatever it is that we're buying. And again, most of the time it's actually the exact same food just in a non name brand package. So it can save you a lot of money just to opt for the non name brand.
Quick Recap 25:31
All right. So those are my 7 tips. Just as a quick recap, the first one was plan. I know super sexy, but the more that you can plan ahead, the smarter you can be with your choices. Number two was to minimize dining out and spend more time dining in. Number three, utilizing frozen and canned foods in addition or instead of using the fresh version. Number four was to reduce waste, figure out how can you utilize the things that are in your fridge. How can you freeze things that you aren't going to use, that you are reducing waste as much as possible. Number five is use affordable protein sources. Number six is to cook and buy foods in bulk that you're going to use. And then number seven is to opt for the generic brand.
So that's it. These are ways that I have utilized to save money on my groceries. Yes, inflation is happening. Yes, groceries are more expensive and there are also things that we can, you know, do about it and focusing on the things that you can do about it is really valuable and there are ways to save money. We don't have to spend all of our hard earned cash at the grocery store just in order to eat healthy or in order to hit our macros. And the last thing that I will say, I guess I probably could have put this in the section where we talked about eating out, but this idea that you cannot eat healthy for low cost like it costs more to eat healthy is something that I just like just doesn't pan out if you depending on what foods you're focusing on at the grocery store. If you are focusing on basic whole grains, basic, Whole Foods, things like beans and rice. And like I said, whole grains, lentils, you know those frozen fruits and vegetables. The more that you're focusing on those you can eat a very healthy diet for not a whole lot of money. It's when you get into like this specialty items of things that people feel like they have to have or I have to have shrimp or I have to have like high end stuff to be able to be “healthy”. Well, yeah you can, you spend a lot more money doing that way, and no shame, like everybody gets to spend their money where they want to spend their money. But this idea of this excuse that I can't eat healthy because I'm eating on a budget just doesn't pan out. You do have to be creative and you do have to focus on more of the basics like the maybe that's like boring, right? The boring basics beans and rice are super super cheap. You know, focus on eating those instead of eating quinoa, for example. I love quinoa, but it's more expensive than the brown rice is, so if you're really trying to save money, focusing on those cheaper sources of Whole Foods can really go a long way.
Alright. I hope that this was helpful. If you are on a budget and you're looking to maximize that budget while you're counting macros, hopefully you picked up some tips that you can start to implement today to make a difference. And I would love it if you'd share your favorite tip on Instagram or Facebook or TikTok and just tag me and let me know which ones you're trying out. Which ones kind of spoke to you and which ones maybe surprised you? Or maybe you knew everything that I said, and you're already a budget wizard. If so, fantastic, love that for you. That wraps up this episode of Biceps After Babies Radio. I'm Amber, now go on and be strong because remember my friend, you can do anything.
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