I think we can all agree that New York City isn’t the worst place to live if you’re trying to stay in shape. Between walking (literally everywhere) and the innumerable healthy food options all over the city, it’s not impossible to have your ideal summer body year round.
What many people may not realize, however, is that this is also completely possible without spending $100 a month to work out in a (let’s face it, self-esteem-crushing) gym, having way more month at the end of your money. For college students, the struggle isn’t as bad with gyms on campus but between school, work and the attempts of having an actual social life, who really has the time?
There are two main things that I’ve invested in since moving to New York that have made life in the city much more easy and frugal.
A kitchen and a bike.
Now, I know you’re probably confused about the kitchen part– well, as a college freshman, we didn’t have kitchens in the dorms and my meal plan was rather scarce. This made it very hard to eat the way I wanted with overpriced dining hall food and the Brooklyn restaurant life where burger joints live right next door to salad joints. As a second year, I’ve made the beautiful transition into a real, New York-style dorm complete with a full kitchen.
I grew up accompanying my mom to grocery stores, watching her tactfully choose food that would stretch and last the entire month. She’s pretty much a pro at getting the most bang for her buck and don’t even get me started on the coupons! Now, when I do my shopping at Key Food, I always remember tips like:
- Make a list
- Buy the store brands
- Shop with cash so you won’t go over budget
And probably the most applicable to me… NEVER GROCERY SHOP ON AN EMPTY STOMACH!
The beauty in having total control over what you get to eat is what makes staying in shape much more manageable (and fun!). Chicken, for example, is one of the best meats for you and can last so much longer than you think. Jerk chicken, brown rice and cabbage is a fan-favorite in my household. Here are some recipes for tons of fun chicken meals you can try. Making your own meals is, by far, the easiest way to manage your diet and do it meagerly.
Now, let’s discuss the best way to get to said grocery store. I’ve found that, in my two solid years of being a New Yorker, biking is probably one of the best decisions I’ve made. I bought my bike on Craigslist last year for $70, which is a total steal if you know anything about a good bike! Not only does it make me feel like I’m the queen of leg-day, I get places much quicker and much cheaper.
Don’t get me wrong, when places are in walking distance, 98% of the time, I’ll walk. It’s just something about cutting a 45-minute-trip to 15 minutes that really is appealing. Saving $5 subway fare and time? Can’t really beat that.
I’ve recently started an internship in the city that I’m excited to start riding to when it get’s warmer outside. I’d be saving roughly $100 a month and getting a pretty fierce workout in the meantime.
During the summer, my favorite places to bike in the city are the Hudson River Greenway and Coney Island via Prospect Park. Not only is it a beautiful ride, but seeing all of your fellow bikers taking the ride with you is super-encouraging and worth the leg-burn.
Thrillest.com tells us 23 more reasons why biking in the city is the best!
So, the next time you think you have to sacrifice being frugal for being fit, think again!