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Five tips for being happy and healthy on a budget

If you're saving for a new home, salary sacrificing into super for retirement, or just struggling to pay the mortgage, taking care of your health and happiness can seem like a great expense.

The good news is, it doesn't have to be. Here are our top five tips for staying happy and healthy, without going broke.

One, plan

Planning is the secret to healthy eating on a budget.

Make a list and stick to it, planning your meals and snacks for the week.

Fill your pantry with versatile items from the five food groups (bread, dairy, fruits and veg, cereals and meat), eliminating the need for discretionary spending on snacks.

A healthy diet can be healthy for your budget too, with a range of great options for inexpensive and wholesome nutrition.

Replenish your pantry with staples like oats, grains, fresh vegetables, and fruit.

Healthy foods will give you more energy, keeping you fuller for longer, so you don't end up reaching for more.

Opt for what's in season and what's on special.

And don't shop when you're hungry - to avoid the binge on your bank account.

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Two, get your exercise kicks for free

If limited time and money has killed your gym time, fit exercise into your work day. Walk, run or cycle to work - you'll shrink your carbon footprint and boost your metabolism.

On duty, take the stairs and get out and walk at lunchtime.

You could also try bringing your family's fitness activities under one umbrella.

Instead of paying separately for yoga and gym membership, kids' gymnastics and swim classes, partake in all these (and more) at your local YMCA or PCYC!

Three, become a smart shopper

Buy in bulk any non-perishable items that are on special or cheaper by the dozen (e.g rice, oil, meat, vegetables, canned food, bread, pasta), and cook meals to freeze for later.

And don't be shy to stock up on frozen fruit and vegetables to minimise food waste - frozen foods are generally less expensive, last a long time and retain their nutritional value.

If you can, get along to your local markets every week and shop seasonally for farmer's gate prices.

Also consider introducing some non-meat proteins such as tofu, legumes, eggs and nuts to your diet - they're cheaper than most meats and can be a great source of protein.

Four, get online

Use your smartphone as a health and fitness accessory.

Check out the range of free web resources on diet and lifestyle - eatforhealth.gov.au, nutritionaustralia.org and Lorna Jane's movenourishbelieve.com have some great recipe ideas and healthy tips and tricks for feeding the family.

There are also plenty of great free fitness apps such as Nike+ Training Club, which offers more than 100 workouts for people of all fitness levels, and FitStar Personal Trainer, which assesses your needs and fitness levels and tailors your very own workout.

Five, stop and smell the roses

Given the prevalence of anxiety, stress, depression, and other emotional turmoil in the fast-paced world we live in, mindfulness has become more important than ever.

There are a number of ways to do this and meditation is one of them.

Meditation is the art of mindful breathing - by focusing your attention on the ebb and flow of your breath, you allow your mind to fully occupy the present moment.

The good news is - there is no right or wrong way to do it and it's completely free! All you need is a comfortable place to sit and five minutes of your time - your body and mind will thank you for it.

Health and happiness is priceless - but feeling like a million dollars needn't cost you as much.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at www.cancerqld.org.au or call Cancer Council on 13 11 20.

Topics:  cancer council health



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