THE Easter eggs have been chomped and those roast dinner leftovers are taking up half the fridge.
But with the summer holidays on the horizon, we will all be thinking of shedding some troublesome Bank Holiday pounds.
As the cost of living goes through the roof, trimming the budget can be just as important as reducing the waistline.
Nutritionist Amanda Ursell reveals how to tighten your belt in more ways than one with some simple swaps and tips that can save you calories and cash.
Trick mind and stomach
YOU can fool yourself into thinking you are eating more than you are. Swap a take-out pizza for a supermarket own-brand, then bulk it up with lots of tomatoes. This trick is known as the art of “volumetrics”.
Substitute a Domino’s Pepperoni Passion (11.5in pizza, £18.99, 1,988kcal) for Sainsbury’s cheese and tomato (12in pizza, £1.09, 919kcal). Add cherry tomatoes (250g, 48p, 63kcal).
You’ve got a healthier meal for £1.57, which at 982kcal is only half as bad for you.
SAVES: £17.42 and 1,006kcal
Control your sugar cycles
SCIENCE shows snacking can help or hinder weight loss.
Sugary snacks such as biscuits and cakes will raise sugar in our blood and trigger the release of insulin. This lowers blood sugar but makes us hungry again.
Choose snacks that keep blood sugar stable.
Swap a Greggs hot chocolate and Belgian bun with 77g sugar (£2.55, 609kcal) for a Greggs bottled water and a 30g pack of KP peanuts (£1.25, 184kcal), 1.5g sugar.
SAVES: £1.30, 425kcal, 75.5g sugar
Drink water before you eat
WHEN we are trying to shed those pounds, drinking water or having a bowl of clear soup before eating a main meal has been shown to reduce our calorie intake.
One study has revealed that following this simple advice led to an extra weight loss of 5lbs over a 12-week period.
This makes both options — water or soup — a great value way to lose some weight with minimal effort.
SAVES: 5lb weight loss
Spritz up your wine
A MEDIUM 175ml glass of white wine costs £4 or more in bars, so order one with a fizzy water on the side.
Mix the two to make a spritzer and share it with a friend. This halves the cost and calories — and slashes your alcohol units, which cause weight gain, by half to 1.15.
SAVES: £2, 80kcal and 1.15 alcohol units
Processed food switches
A RECENT trial by a team at the US National Institutes of Health found that people feel fuller, eat less and lose weight when eating foods that are minimally processed compared with highly processed versions.
So if you want to get rid of some pounds, try switching from a product such as Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Bites (0.9g gram of fibre, 24p, 134kcal per 30g serving) to Tesco porridge oats (2.5g of fibre, 3.6p, 109kcal per 30g serving).
SAVES: 20.4p and 25kcal
THE average Indian takeaway consisting of starters such as poppadoms and bhajis, and mains like chicken tikka masala and pilau rice, can rack up more than 2,000 calories.
Try a supermarket pack for a fraction of the cost — and calories.
Swap a takeaway of onion bhajis, mango chutney, chicken masala, pilau rice and peshwari naan (£19, 2,287kcal) for Asda chicken korma and chicken tikka masala meal for two (with pilau rice, naan and bhajis: £3 per head, 1,145kcal).
SAVES: £16, 1,142kcal
EASY vegetarian swaps save cash and calories. They also pack in plant fibre, which changes the bacteria in our gut, leading to weight loss without lifestyle changes.
A spaghetti bolognese meal of 600g minced beef, can of tomatoes, large onion and 500g spaghetti is £4.66 for four, 461kcal per serving.
The veg version is 600g canned lentils, can of tomatoes, onion, 500g spaghetti, £2.05 for four, 281kcal per serving.
SAVES: £2.61 for four and 180kcal per serving
BEING active helps to maintain muscle mass, which in itself burns calories, but the average gym membership is £30 per month and most members manage to go only three times a week.
On the other hand, a brisk walk, an hour’s housework or dancing to your favourite playlist for 60 minutes burns the same calories per hour as a gym session.
Not only will you save cash and get a sweat on, your family members or housemates will thank you too!
SAVES: Average £30 a month
Sleep more to eat less
A STUDY of 80 overweight people published this year proved how “integral slumber — or lack of it — affects our tendency to put on pounds”.
The Massachusetts General Hospital study in the US revealed that people who sleep less “consume more calories and crave higher-calorie foods — compared with those who sleep for longer periods”. Experts urge us to aim for six to eight hours per night if we can.
SAVES: More than 6.5 hours of sleep a night saved 270 calories per day
Close the kitchen
PEOPLE who eat later in the day lose less weight than those on the same weight-loss programme who consume their main meals earlier, research has shown.
Dieters are advised to consider eating within a set period, such as between 7am and 9pm, and to stop eating at least two hours before bedtime.
Studies have also shown that night-time fridge raiders typically make poorer food choices, adding pounds to their waistlines.
SAVES: Hundreds of calories in late-night snacking.