Calorie Counting With No Money: 13 Best Budget Friendly Tips


Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and achieving weight loss goals often requires us to keep track of our daily calorie intake, but calorie counting with no money on a super tight budget may seem hard.

When you’re on a tight budget, it can be challenging to count calories effectively without spending a fortune.

But I got you! In this article, I will share some unique and useful tips to help you count calories without breaking the bank.

Calorie Counting With No Money: Best Budget Friendly Tips

I am going to share with you the best tips that will help you learn how to count calories and eat healthy when trying to lose weight, WITHOUT making you go broke in the process.

No, you do not need a ton of money to shed body fat in a calorie deficit, so I hope you know this.

It may seem like many healthy foods sold in grocery stores are super expensive, but there are ways to get around this and save money.

Eating healthy and being calorie conscious should not drain your bank account.

Start taking some of these great tips into consideration, and you will be golden.

1. Utilize Free Mobile Apps and Websites

Counting calories has never been easier, thanks to the plethora of free mobile apps and websites available today.

These resources provide extensive databases of food items, making it convenient to track your daily caloric intake without spending a dime.

Take advantage of popular apps like MyFitnessPal, Lose It!, or Cronometer.


These apps offer features such as barcode scanners, meal tracking, and personalized recommendations.

By utilizing these tools, you can effortlessly monitor your calorie consumption while staying within your budget.

I couldn’t survive without MyFitnessPal, and I don’t pay a dime for it. I use the free version.

I track all my daily calories in there and it is so easy.

Related Post: Does MyFitnessPal Calculate Your Calorie Deficit For You?

2. Prioritize Whole And Unprocessed Foods

When it comes to cost effectiveness and nutritional value, whole, unprocessed foods are the way to go.

Not only are they often more affordable than processed or pre packaged alternatives, but they are also packed with essential nutrients and are generally lower in calories.

These foods will also help you to stay full longer than processed foods, and they will last longer because you can freeze what you do not use.

So, while they might seem more expensive right out the gate, you end up saving money in the long run if you prepare over time and freeze them for later.

Include a variety of whole foods in your diet, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and lean proteins.

Not only will these foods help you stay within your budget, but they will also keep you feeling satisfied and nourished throughout the day.

3. Plan and Prep Meals in Advance

One of the most effective ways to count calories on a budget is by planning and preparing your meals in advance.

By dedicating some time to meal planning, you can save money and have better control over your calorie intake.

Start by taking advantage of weekly sales and discounted produce.

Plan your meals based on these budget-friendly options and stock up on pantry staples that are versatile and long lasting.

Consider batch cooking and utilizing leftovers creatively to minimize waste and maximize your resources.

I am sure you have heard of meal prepping. Well, this is a great way to save money as well.


All you need to do is pre cook your food for the week in larger batches, and portion it out for the week.

You can even make different recipes from the same cut of meat you are using that will last the entire week!

For example, if you make chicken breasts ahead of time, you can use them for low calorie chicken sandwiches, salads with chicken, and even chicken dinner recipes.

You can even take these meals with you to work or school for lunch.

Start meal prepping! Not only is it fun, it makes life so much easier.

Related Post: Saving Calories For Later: Should You Do It?

4. Buy In Bulk

This step is piggybacking on my last great tip, you should meal prep with items you buy in bulk.

How do you buy in bulk easily?

To make bulk shopping easier, start by identifying the items you frequently use and consume.

Make a list and prioritize the items that have a longer shelf life or are non perishable.

Research local warehouse clubs such as Sam’s Club or Costco or online retailers that offer bulk options at discounted prices.

Consider joining a wholesale club to take advantage of their bulk offerings! You can actually save a ton of cash doing this.

It’s also crucial to have sufficient storage space to accommodate your bulk purchases, so you might want to straighten up the pantry.

Finally, create a budget specifically for bulk shopping and stick to it.

By following these bulk buying steps, you can streamline your bulk shopping experience and enjoy the benefits of cost savings and convenience.

5. Try Canning

Canning is an excellent method for preserving bulk foods, allowing you to extend their shelf life and enjoy them long after their season has passed.

To start canning in bulk, first, gather the necessary equipment, including canning jars, lids, a canner or large pot, and basic canning tools.

Prepare your bulk foods by washing, peeling, and cutting them into suitable sizes.

Next, follow a trusted canning recipe that matches the type of food you’re preserving, whether it’s fruits, vegetables, or even soups and stews.

Fill the jars with the prepared food, leaving appropriate headspace as indicated in the recipe.

Process the jars in a canner or pot of boiling water for the recommended time.

Once done, carefully remove the jars and let them cool.

Check for proper sealing, and store the sealed jars in a cool, dark place.

Canned bulk foods can last for a year or more, providing you with convenient, ready to eat options whenever you need them.

6. Start A Garden

If you have access to even a small space, consider starting a garden.

Growing your own fruits, vegetables, and even herbs can significantly reduce your grocery expenses while providing fresh and nutritious ingredients for calorie conscious meals.

Plus, it’s comforting knowing where your produce comes from, and did I mention how fun having a garden is?


All you need are seeds, soil, and water to get started.

If you do not have space, some things can even be grown in your home, especially herbs.

If you have limited space indoors, there are still several vegetables that you can successfully grow in your house.

Here are some vegetables that are well suited for indoor growing:

  • Leafy Greens

Varieties like lettuce, spinach, kale, and arugula are ideal for indoor gardening.

They have shallow root systems and can be continuously harvested by cutting outer leaves while allowing the inner ones to grow.

  • Microgreens

Microgreens are young, tender greens harvested when they are just a few inches tall.

They are packed with nutrients and can be grown in small containers or trays.

Popular microgreens include basil, radish, mustard greens, and broccoli.

  • Herbs

Many herbs thrive indoors and don’t require much space.

Options such as basil, parsley, cilantro, mint, and chives can be grown on a windowsill or under grow lights.

Harvesting fresh herbs can add flavor to your meals without the need to purchase expensive store bought ones.

  • Scallions/Green Onions

These versatile vegetables are easy to regrow from their white root ends.

Simply place the roots in water and watch them sprout.

You can continually harvest the green tops, ensuring a constant supply of fresh scallions.

They’re so delicious and can be used in tons of recipes.

  • Cherry Tomatoes

While they may require slightly more space than other options, compact cherry tomato varieties can still be grown indoors with proper support, such as a trellis or stake.

Look for dwarf or patio varieties specifically bred for small spaces.

  • Peppers

Some compact pepper varieties, like mini bell peppers or chili peppers, can thrive indoors.

They may take a bit longer to grow and produce fruit, but with adequate sunlight and care, you can enjoy homegrown peppers.

Remember to provide your indoor plants with sufficient light, either through a sunny window or using grow lights, and ensure proper watering and ventilation.

By growing these vegetables indoors, you can have a fresh supply of homegrown produce even with limited space.

    Try it out! You’ll save a ton of dough doing this.

    7. Shop Seasonal And Local

    Take advantage of seasonal produce, as it tends to be more affordable.

    Visit local farmer’s markets or look for community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, where you can get fresh, locally sourced produce at a lower cost.

    Also, you will be helping out the farmer’s instead of major corporations.

    8. Utilize Frozen Foods

    Frozen fruits and vegetables can be an economical alternative to fresh produce.

    They are often more affordable, have a longer shelf life, and can be just as nutritious.

    Stock up on frozen options and incorporate them into your calorie counting meals if you are not already doing this.

    Whatever you don’t use, throw it in the freezer!

    9. DIY Snacks and Drinks

    Snacks and beverages can add up to a significant portion of your grocery bill.

    Instead of purchasing pre packaged snacks, try making your own at home.

    For example, bake homemade granola bars or low calorie desserts for a healthy and affordable snack option.

    When I started making my own low calorie desserts at home, I realized that most desserts were able to be made into lower calorie versions.

    Try some of my recipes for yourself!

    Recipes To Try: Low Calorie Fudgy Hershey Brownies

    Low Calorie Golden Oreo Fluff

    Low Calorie Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake

    Low Calorie Biscoff Danishes

    10. Practice Portion Control

    Portion control plays a crucial role in calorie counting, regardless of your budget. However, you don’t need expensive measuring tools to estimate portion sizes accurately.

    Instead, try using visual cues and hand measurements.

    For example, a serving of protein should be roughly the size of your palm, a serving of carbohydrates should fit in your cupped hand, and a serving of fats should be about the size of your thumb.

    These simple tricks can help you keep your portions in check without spending a dime.

    11. Drink Water To Stay Full

    Store bought drinks and bottled beverages can quickly increase your expenses.

    Jump for water as your primary beverage and add flavor with slices of lemon, cucumber, or mint.

    It’s not only calorie free but also cost effective.

    Also, drinking water will help you to feel and stay full for longer.

    12. Make Use of Community Resources

    When you’re on a tight budget, community resources can be a lifesaver.

    Look for local food banks, community gardens, and farmer’s markets that offer affordable or even free produce.

    These initiatives are often designed to provide nutritious foods to those in need, so don’t hesitate to take advantage of them.

    Additionally, consider volunteering or participating in food related community programs.

    Not only will you have access to quality ingredients, but you’ll also be supporting a worthy cause and connecting with like-minded individuals in your community.

    13. Create a Support Network

    Embarking on a health journey alone can be challenging, especially when you’re on a limited budget. That’s why it’s essential to create a support network to help you stay motivated and inspired.

    Join online forums or social media groups focused on calorie counting and budget friendly meal planning.

    These communities are filled with individuals who share tips, recipes, and experiences.

    Engage with others, ask questions, and contribute your own ideas. Together, you can overcome challenges and celebrate victories, all while staying within your budget.

    Related Post: Summer Calorie Counting Tips

    Last Words

    Counting calories on a limited budget is entirely possible with the right strategies and mindset.

    By utilizing free mobile apps, prioritizing whole foods, planning meals in advance, practicing portion control, making use of community resources, and creating a support network, you can achieve your health goals without breaking the bank.

    Remember, it’s not about how much money you spend. It’s about making conscious choices and developing sustainable habits.

    So, embrace these tips, adapt them to your specific circumstances, and embark on a journey towards a healthier you without worrying about your wallet.

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