Your gastric sleeve surgery cost may be in the rearview mirror, but you still have bills to pay, right? If you’re in the stage of life where saving money is a must—or you’re just a naturally thrifty person—this is the blog for you. Many potential patients assume that the VSG lifestyle translates to expensive (all that meat!), but the truth is that a satisfying gastric sleeve diet can be done on a budget.
Tip #1: Don’t waste produce
How many times have you tossed limp lettuce or moldy mushrooms? That’s money down the drain. The most important step in avoiding this situation is to plan, plan, and then plan some more. It’s what I tell every vertical sleeve gastrectomy patient, but it’s particularly important if you want to maximize your food budget. Jot down your meals and snacks for the week and make a grocery list for the specific amounts needed. Don’t buy perishables—even healthy ones—that aren’t on your list or that you don’t have plans for. But if you simply can’t resist that second package of berries or your neighbor drops 50 pounds of eggplant on your doorstep, freeze them before they go bad. Most produce freezes beautifully if you prepare and store it properly.
Tip #2: Skip pre-packaged snacks
Most times, you have to choose between saving time and saving money. If you’re more interested in the latter, you’ll be spending some time in the kitchen. Companies know they can mark up pre-packaged snacks like protein bars and trail mixes like crazy because, hey, convenience is what most people are after. Not you, though! There are so many online recipes these days for low-carb eating, including bars, smoothies, and many other kinds of snacks (cauliflower tots, anyone?). Bonus: making your own allows you to control the ingredients, calories, and portion size. It’s a win-win.
Tip #3: Grow it yourself
Think you don’t have the time or space for a garden? You’d be amazed at what you can grow on a balcony or patio with just an hour or two of hands-on time a week. And if you have 10 or 20 square feet of front or back yard space, you can grow a significant amount of produce. For those who’ve never considered a garden before, either because of space or time constraints, container gardening is a great starting point; popular veggies like tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers are just a few of the possibilities you can grow in a container. And growing your own produce means you can eat organic without the price tag of organic food at the grocery store. If you don’t grow anything else, at least give herbs a try. They’re easy to cultivate and will save you tons of money at the grocery store.
Tip #4: Be flexible
Think outside the (recipe) box if the ingredients are too pricy. If a recipe calls for kale, for example, but it’s marked sky high at the grocery store, you can easily swap in another leafy choice like spinach or turnip greens. Many kitchen warriors feel like they have to follow a recipe exactly as written in order for the dish to turn out well, but that’s rarely the case. When you have an unhappy price tag surprise in the supermarket aisles, pull out your phone and check one of the many sites dedicated to low-cost swaps. You’ll find replacement ideas for everything from porcini mushrooms (baby bellas) to pine nuts (pepitas) to prosciutto (thinly sliced ham). And never buy an expensive ingredient you’ll only use once. After a while, you’ll feel more confident in the kitchen and in your ability to make almost any recipe work within your budget.
Most of us are looking to keep our wallets as full as possible. But sometimes time is scarcer than money, which is why I’ll discuss tips for speeding up your VSG prep in an upcoming blog. In the meantime, happy saving!
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“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.