Being a Fit Frugalista

As I walked toward my office the other day, I was intercepted by my supervisor. “Oh! I brought in donuts today! Come on! Let’s go get one!” So I did. Someone else had brought these little chicken nuggets wrapped in biscuits, and I had one of those too. About three hours later I snagged another donut. Later on, after a meeting, my supervisor then “surprised” us with King Cake. So I had a piece. I was full of doughy doughy sugary goodness for the whole day. And it hadn’t cost a single penny.



There are other costs associated with food that sometimes we forget about when blinded by not having to buy/prepare a meal because it was provided by another source, whether it be work or school.  That free food cost me 633 calories. Approximately 50% of my caloric intake per day. Approximately 73% of my daily recommended fat in four items.

So I learned that the corporate world is like college. Free Food. If your experience was anything like mine, then you knew that whatever organizations you joined would have pizza, every career fair you attended would have a sandwich tray, every board you served on would have cookies, and so on. Before you know it, your pants are feeling a little tight. Your fingers feel a little swollen. You are feeling sluggish and can’t remember the last time you did anything outside. But it’s a dinner you don’t have to buy. And if you’re quick, it’s lunch for the next day too.

But at what point does that desire to be frugal (well I can save a lunch if we’re being taken out by my supervisor, well I can save a packet of oatmeal for another time because we have donuts,…) meet up with that wall of fitness? At what point does frugality mean we are compromising our health?


I see this photo plastered all over the place:


And technically it is totally true. Assuming you have the $200 to plop down on groceries in advance. And the time, knowledge, and supplies to cook. I loved to cook, but in my own experience as a student, I didn’t have the time to spend in my residence hall’s public kitchen. I wasn’t allowed a crockpot or hot plate. I didn’t have anything more fancy than a cookie sheet (for pizza rolls) and a pot to boil water in (for ramen). And with an hour break between classes, how are you going to refrigerate that lunch? You’re not. So like many students, I got into the habit of eating out. A lot. $1 menu. Which is obviously not that healthy. There are tons of great posts on how to make an effective meal plan, so I’m not going into that (check this guest post over at My Alternative Life if you wanna hear more about that too or to make a meal binder go here!). So I didn’t invest the money into pots and pans. I didn’t invest money into groceries. I ate lots of very cheap, very quick food. But at what point does frugality mean we’re compromising our health. I mean. Sodium isn’t that bad for you is it? Three times my recommended serving every day? NBD right?

Part Three: Now what? 

Now I do have the means to make my own food. I have a refrigerator at work to keep a lunch in. And when it hit me at the beginning of the year that it’s pretty much now or never as far as getting in shape and losing weight, fitness became something I thought about a lot. I started logging everything I put in my mouth. And suddenly it became stark clear that my office was a minefield of donuts, birthday cakes, and Chinese luncheons.

mLNC6Things that I can’t partake in anymore and be healthy. Because as I wrote this I came to the realization that what I was doing was not being frugal. Going to a meeting every two weeks for free pizza to take home is not being frugal. Not bringing my lunch and having cake and ice cream instead is not frugal. It’s being cheap. And I choose being fit over being cheap.

So what are your experiences with the corporate, academic, and miscellaneous worlds and food?