23th February 2018 | Blog
Healthy eating on a budget
Cost can really discourage us all from sometimes eating as healthily as we intend to. There is a pre conception in a lot of people that healthy stuff is more expensive. Sure, it can be, but a little imagination and effort and you can keep the cost down. It can be really tempting to buy pre packaged, high calorie ( and salt, sugar ) food for little cost, but it all adds up and most importantly, really isn't good for your health. Pre packaged healthy food is so convenient but often isn’t easy on your wallet either so its really tricky. We’ve been talking about this a lot n the office the last few weeks and came up with our our collective top tips and pointers that we found helped us save a few pounds (and as a little extra bonus could help us lose a few pounds off the waistline too!):
First and foremost. save money by learning to cook from scratch yourself.
You dont need to go from zero to Jamie Oliver before you are allowed to start cooking. There’s so many one pot recipes out there which are super easy to master and cheap to make. Learning how to cook appealing and heart warming food, especially at this time of year, is such a great life skill and gives you the independence to step away from the pricey ( and very, very rarely healthy )supermarket short cuts. Make yourself start, once you’re into it habit will take over. Trust us, even the most lazy ones in the team here took baby steps into the world of cooking and now they are a meal prep Queen.
Buy frozen fruit & veggies.
Frozen fruit and veggies are hugely underrated and often I forget about how useful they are. Not only do they come pre washed and chopped (we all love a shortcut) but they’re just as good for you (although best to avoid those with added salt, sugar or fat) as they are picked and frozen when they’re at the top of their game and as you only use what you need, theres limited wastage. Winner.
Before you head to the super market, write a list of what you need. Plan your meals for the week ahead (so that all ingredients on your list gets used) and make sure you eat a big meal before you go - we’re all guilty of the high sugar impulse buys when our tummies are rumbling! Also leave the family at home if you can or do an online shop - avoiding the pressure of succumbing to all the demands makes it easier!
Cook in bulk and freeze in portions.
Your freezer is your new bestie. If I am making something like a bolognese / stew / soup / chilli, I always cook double in the slow cooker and freeze the leftovers in either one or two people portions and baby pots for our toddler. It’s so great being able to pull out healthy and convenient meals from the freezer for busy days therefore successfully avoiding the take away demons. I also figure if you’re going to the effort of cooking you may as well do it all in one sitting and save yourself some time. Your organised self with thank you. This also doubles your chances of healthy lunches in the office during the week and avoiding those nutritionally dead, cardboard sandwiches ( that are never really cheap either ). If you are a meat eater, bulk your meat meals out with beans, lentils and other pulses which are cheap, full of goodness and make the meal stretch even further.
Chicken is not the only protein source.
Protein doesn't have to mean meat - there are so many other ways of getting protein, and dont go telling us you cant train and build muscle from plans alone - David Haye is an ex heavyweight boxer who is vegan and we aint arguing with him! Cheaper protein alternatives include tinned beans ( cheap and convenient), tinned tuna (has more protein than chicken), lentils (have more protein than beef), greek yoghurt, nuts and eggs.
It’s a pretty obvious one, swap your well known brands for a supermarkets own brand, especially in the staples. When I made this change I couldn't believe the money I was saving (cereal is a biggie!).Also, change the way you shop in a supermarket. Look down the world food aisles and you’ll often find bulk chickpeas, spices or breads at a better price than the ‘themed’ aisles that the big brands live in.
Freeze left over day to day items.
You might have half a loaf of bread that you’re not going to get through in time. Get it in the freezer and use it individually for toast! Bananas about to go ripe and brown? Chop them up and pop them in a freezer bag and make ‘Banana Nice Cream’ when you fancy an instant sweet treat - pop 2 frozen and chopped bananas, a cup of milk (any kind) and 2 tables spoons of peanut butter into a blender and voila!
Compare pre packed with loose.
Fruit and veggies can sometimes cost more pre packed than loose and also pre packed sometimes aren’t as fresh ( not to forget that none of us like all that extra packaging!) . Vegetables are also cheaper when they are in season so you’ll save money by bearing this is mind and you will benefit nutritionally by varying your fruit and veg intake around the year.
Save all your veggie cuttings and keep popping them in a bag in the freezer. When the bag is full, with some extra seasoning you have a fantastic base for a homemade vegetable stock.
Have a ‘cheapie dinner’ night weekly.
We always have one ‘cheapie dinner’ night a week and it’s often the most delicious (surprisingly). These meals are usually a way of using up left over veggies / chillies / herbs in the fridge and making a frittata, a ratatouille or anything weird and wonderful you can mix up . The basics can really be a nice change and are always good to have before or after a big weekend blow out.
Honestly, its not that difficult to eat healthy foods on a tight budget. It just takes a little more extra planning and creativity. Its all too easy to fall into a vicious cycle of either unhealthy or pricey and quick meals. It just takes a little discipline and organisation to break out of it. You’ll feel a million dollars, more healthy and maybe even a little smug when everyone else is struggling to pay day or complaining about their boring lunches
We hope you find these tips useful and as always, be happy and healthy - that’s all that really matters!
Jade and the rest of the team x