When I first heard about the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating over two years ago, I knew right away that I needed to try it. I was at the point where I was sick of my weight, sick of my unhealthy sugar addiction, and sick of a lack of energy to keep up with my growing family. If you're interested in starting Trim Healthy Mama on a budget, keep reading!
I am a very busy homeschool mom with 5 kids (4 at the time), my own home business, and a work-from-home job, which means we were on a VERY limited budget with VERY limited time. Because we were so tight on money when I wanted to try THM, I decided to try to break up the additional costs that go along with starting an all-new healthy lifestyle. I'm so glad I did it, and I feel that the Trim Healthy Mama plan is worth extra expense – I lost the baby weight from four kids very quickly, in a healthy way, and kept it off with no problems. Even better, I got rid of migraines and had a great pregnancy with baby #5 (the weight from that pregnancy is coming off even faster than I hoped, thanks to THM!).
Since I often field questions about being a Trim Healthy Mama on a budget, I thought I would share the system I used for that first year of Trim Healthy Mama. Please do not let finances hold you back from getting healthy! You can make easy, painless changes TODAY! This is what I did to start THM very inexpensively:
1. I borrowed the Trim Healthy Mama book from my local library. I saved up to purchase my own book, but while I was saving I wanted to get started right away. For the first two months that I was on the Trim Healthy Mama plan, I used the library book. The library did not have it, so a librarian helped me request it, and they emailed me when it was available. It was easy! Most libraries have a system like this in place. At the time that I started THM, the book had just been released, which meant I was able to renew the book right away without anyone else waiting for it yet. In the time that I've been a Trim Healthy Mama, I've seen the THM Facebook Group expand from just a few hundred members to one hundred thousand, so I know it may be harder to get the book from a library for now. But you can always ask that your library get additional copies, or try to borrow it from a friend while you're waiting to buy it for yourself. Once you're ready to buy, if you can't afford the book from Amazon, try the ebook (which is cheaper), or look for a used version. (By the way, the Trim Healthy Mama Plan book mentions me. By name. Actually, it doesn't, it mentions workingathomeschool.com by name, but it's pretty much the same thing right?!? I'll stop fangirling now and get back to the money-saving ideas). The THM Cookbook is also phenomenal, but not a must-have. My local library has several copies.
2. Buy stevia and unsweetened almond milk – this is where the $8 comes in. I bought Truvia* from the grocery store (I found a $2 off coupon online, so it was actually just $4!). Trim Healthy Mama has since launched their own brand of sweeteners, which I prefer over Truvia, but if you get Truvia and almond milk or cashew milk at the grocery store you can at least get started right away. I can do without most special ingredients, but I LOVE sweets, so the plan is honestly just not very doable for me without an on-plan sweetener. If you have almonds, you could even make your own almond milk and omit that purchase (it normally costs $2.99 where I live, but I found a $1 off coupon online so it was just $1.99). Additionally, if you are not someone who likes sweets, you could definitely skip this step and possibly even start THM with no additional cost right now.
3. I found creative substitutions. Did you know that cottage cheese is packed with protein? I already had low-fat cottage cheese in my fridge, and I substituted the cottage cheese 1:1 for protein powder in healthy shake recipes (like My Favorite Peanut Butter Blizzard). You can't taste the cottage cheese, and it makes very creamy shakes! I also made lots of protein shakes from DashingDish.com, just omitting the protein powder called for in the recipe. The cottage cheese added plenty of protein and wasn't nearly as pricey as protein powder. I have a handy infographic to show how you can make easy substitutions to make healthy meals.
4. I ate what I already had. I could not afford to do a massive shopping trip to buy all new food and ingredients, so I ate what was in our fridge or freezer (sans the bad stuff). I ate eggs, salads, rice and beans, and things that I had always eaten. The trick was eating the right combinations (which is what I learned from reading Trim Healthy Mama). My kids ate up the cereal, white potatoes, honey, and whole wheat pasta. My new method of meal planning is PERFECT for making a meal plan utilizing food you already have in your pantry and fridge.
5. To add on to number 4, I became a meal planner extraordinaire. I made meal plans based on inexpensive, healthy foods that we had on hand, without special ingredients. I have lots of inexpensive meal plans available, including $7 Healthy Dinners that work for THM Part 1 and Part 2. I also use meal plans without special ingredients from Darcie's Dishes.
6. I didn't waste anything! I often hear from people that they are tossing the unhealthy food they have in their house, and it makes me cringe. Instead of throwing things away, I donated unopened packages of food to a local food bank and friends who were interested. I took my bags of white sugar and made sugar scrub to give out as Christmas gifts. We utilized what we had instead of throwing it away, and like I mentioned before – white potatoes, honey, and other ingredients that aren't the best for adults trying to lose weight are still fine for growing kids, so my kids ate the food that I no longer wanted.
7. I changed my weekly shopping list. I swapped out unhealthy ingredients for healthy ones while still sticking to my budget. I purchased real butter instead of margarine, almond milk or cashew milk instead of regular milk, oats instead of oatmeal packets…etc. In some cases I've even saved money because I'm not buying sugary pre-packaged and processed foods!
8. I wasn't hard on myself – and you shouldn't be, either! When money is tight, do the best you can with what you've got. If you at least separate your fuels and cut out sugar and flour as Trim Healthy Mama instructs, you will be heading in the right direction. Eventually you can try new recipes and ingredients as you're able to afford them.
This is how I broke down my costs for the first several paychecks while I was starting THM:
Month 1 – stevia and almond milk
Month 2 – Trim Healthy Mama book
Month 4 – almond flour (or make your own) – I saved up and got 3 lbs of Honeyville almond flour. It tastes the best, in my opinion, but you can use any almond flour without added ingredients (although I do recommend a really fine, blanched almond flour for taste).
As you can see, by spreading my expenses out I was able to successfully utilize the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating without impacting my budget much at all. I did buy glucomannan, but I never used it – it's definitely not an absolutely necessary purchase for me. If you want to see what my Trim Healthy fridge looks like, click HERE.
If you want to read my top tips for getting started with Trim Healthy Mama (or recommitting to it), you can click HERE.
9. I buy meat from Zaycon Fresh – this stuff is great quality at much lower prices to help me feed my family. They are all across the country and I've only had great experiences with them!
How do you eat healthy on a budget? I'd love to hear your best money-saving tips in the comments!
*If you buy Truvia, please make sure you don't buy the Truvia Baking Mix – it has added sugar!