Scrappy Ways To Save Money And Cut Calories

April 5, 2018  |  
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Studio shot. Head and shoulders.

I’m one of those people who gets a huge thrill from little wins, like just meeting the minimum amount spent to get that five-dollar gift card, or using rewards points at a gas pump where the gas prices were already low that day. If I pull into a parking meter that still has some time left on it, I feel like a rock star. So, you can imagine that I specifically don’t like being gouged on prices, or feeling like I have no control over my nutrition. Those are two things that can happen a lot if you’re always on the go or do a lot of traveling. If you don’t plan well, then it can feel like the only way to save money on food is to eat unhealthily. Or it can feel like the only way to eat well is to spend four times the price it would have cost you to make a salad, at a restaurant. I try to avoid all of that with some admittedly funny tricks I’ve picked up over the years. Here are scrappy but smart ways to cut calories and save money.

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Bring a cooler to your hotel

If your hotel doesn’t have in-room refrigerators, ask what the daily rate is to rent one. If it’s more than $10, skip it and bring a cooler. You can get unlimited free ice from the hotel’s ice machine, and keep things like salad and sandwich materials, yogurt, and drinks in your room. Forget the hotel prices.

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Grab these items from the buffet

If your hotel has a complimentary breakfast, or even a continental breakfast buffet that you pay for, toss these items in your bag: oranges, apples, bananas, packaged yogurts, and string cheese. You can put these in that cooler you have upstairs.

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Put hard boiled eggs in a coffee cup

Many breakfast buffets have hardboiled eggs, ready to go in a big bowl. Grab one of those to-go coffee cups, and load it up with a few of these eggs. That’s a low-calorie, high-protein, semi-free snack for later.

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Pack your own blender

A blended drink by the pool will cost you anywhere from $12 to $16, it will be loaded with sugar, and it will be low in alcohol anyways. So pack your own blender. Again, make use of that free hotel ice, bring your own booze, and make low-sugar, better cocktails in the room.

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Take your coffee refill to go

If you are having a meal at a restaurant that offers unlimited coffee refills, take one cup to go. Grab a few sugars and creamers, too. Add ice from any soda fountain you encounter later, and you won’t have to spend that $4 on the iced coffee you were going to pick up at 4pm.

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Make PB&J’s at the kid’s buffet

If you eat a buffet, stop by the kid’s section. You’ll probably find bread, peanut butter, and jelly. Make a couple of these sandwiches to go—they’re a good source of healthy fats and protein.

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Use your hotel’s microwave

The hotel staff will have no issue letting you use their microwave, so go ahead—take home your leftovers from lunch. You can reheat them for dinner.

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Add unlimited free veggies here

Restaurants like Chipotle and Subway (and any build-your-own style establishment) usually allow for free, unlimited additions of all of the vegetables. Those will fill you up on few calories.

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Bring Tupperware to the salsa bar

If you plan on stopping by anywhere with a really good salsa bar, bring some Tupperware (just don’t tell them we told you to do this). Black bean salsa makes a nice high-protein, high-fiber snack for later.

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BYO avocado

When you’re on the road, always keep a ripe avocado in your purse. When you grab sandwiches and salads to go, you don’t want to pay the extra $2 to $4 for guacamole/avocado.

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Snag a few extra gym/lobby apples

Many hotel lobbies and gyms have baskets of free apples lying around. Toss a couple of extra ones in your bag—they can afford it.

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Pack a cold bag

There are some excellent cold bags that fold down flat, take barely no room in your luggage, and can keep food chilled for hours. Keep one in your backpack for long days of sightseeing. That way, you can keep those leftovers from the restaurant.

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Get more from the bar

There are a lot of free garnishes that you can get from the bartender if you just ask. Olives, celery sticks, pickles, carrot sticks, and pearl onions are all perfectly normal things to ask for extra of if you’re drinking a Bloody Mary or Michelada.

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Don’t add meat to Mexican food

If your nachos or burrito comes with beans, then you’re already getting plenty of protein in your meal. If it has rice, then you have complete protein. Don’t pay the extra $4 to $7 to add chicken or beef.

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Meet friends for walks

Catch up with friends over long walks rather than long happy hours. Walking is free, and when you’re chatting, you always wind up walking further than planned, and burning more calories.

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