04/18/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Five Money and Calorie Saving Tips

I have a few money and calorie saving tips to share with you. During this recession we are all trying to save a few bucks. I have read that the recession will mean people won't eat as well and will gain weight. That doesn't have to happen. You can eat well, watch your calories and be healthy for less.

Tip 1) Air popped popcorn is a fun, low calorie snack food to have. At just 31 calories a cup, it is a bargain. It is also high in fiber and has some nutrition as well, which is more than you can say for most snack foods. The only negative is that if you are buying the prepackaged, single pop bags, it is expensive. What I do is take a paper lunch bag, put about 1/3 cup unpopped corn in the bag, fold the bag down and microwave it for approximately 2 minutes and 45 seconds. Voila, very cheap air popped pop corn.

Tip 2) This tip takes time but is worth it. Rather than buying pre-chopped carrots, celery, jicama, etc, I spend some time every few days and wash and chop carrots, celery, cucumbers, jicama, mushrooms, etc. I keep these ready to grab in the fridge for healthy, low calorie treats. This is less expensive than buying the pre-chopped veggies and having these handy have prevented higher calorie hunger grabs. You can get some humus as a dip or I like lite sour cream mixed with Vegit. Yum.

Tip 3) Bake your own French fries. I buy a big bag of organic potatoes from Trader Joe's for under $4.00. They taste really good and last a long time. All you do is wash them, chop them into fries, spray with canola oil spray, season and bake on a cookie sheet at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes. Turn them over half way through. You will have healthy, low calorie fries for a fraction of the cost of buying French fries at your local diner.

Tip 4) Once a week I make a low calorie casserole type dish, like spinach and ricotta cheese stuffed pasta shells. You can find this recipe on the back of the jumbo pasta shells you buy at the market. I then make small servings and freeze them. One frozen meal like that at the market ranges from $4 to $6. Frozen meals are convenient but if you make your own you save big time, not only on money but calories as well.

Tip 5) If you like chocolate sauce, you can make your own for less money and calories. Get cocoa powder, add sweetener and mix with really hot water until you get the consistency you like. It is less calories than store bought chocolate sauce and much less expensive too.

That's it for now. Good luck and let me know how you're doing.

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