It’s a common misconception that healthy eating has to be expensive, when actually there are a number of ways we can help keep spending under control but still manage to consume a healthy, nutritious diet. In today’s climate it is especially important for many of us to find ways of eating well for less due to the financial effects of the Coronavirus. Here are some top tips for healthy eating on a budget…
This applies not only to your food shop but also to your meals. Draw up a weekly meal plan using any ingredients which you already have and draw up a shopping list of any missing items. Use this list when food shopping and try not to deviate from it. By planning your meals you are more likely to only buy what you need. Plus there’s nothing worst (especially for our wallet) when we are unsure of what we fancy for dinner and end up picking up every item which catches our eye.
Try not to do the shopping when you’re hungry. People who shop on an empty stomach are more likely to spend more, especially on less healthy foods such as high fat and sugary foods. Shopping online can also be beneficial as not only does it allow you to see what you’re spending as you ‘shop’, but it also gets rid of the temptation of adding unnecessary products into your trolley that increase the overall price.
Look out for weekly offers on fruit and vegetables and try to buy lose rather than in packets so you don’t overbuy. Lastly, look out for markdowns on perishables at the end of the day. These are a great way to bag yourself some savings.
ARE THE ‘SPECIAL OFFERS’ WORTH IT?
We can all be taken in by the ‘buy one get one free’ offers at the end of the supermarket aisle, but special offers are only worth having if it is something you need and will keep and use – go back to looking at your shopping list! Plus special offers may not always be the cheapest option available, instead check the unit pricing on products to make sure you are getting the best deal. This will limit food waste too!
If you are buying a meal deal every day, that’s around £15 per week and could mount up to around £60 per month! Instead of this, opt to take your own homemade lunch to work. Not only can you significantly reduce the cost but more than likely you will have a balanced, more varied lunch.
UTILISE YOUR FREEZER
Frozen fruit and vegetables are massively underrated! Not only can they come pre-chopped and ready to use, but they are also often just as good as (if not better) fresh fruit and veg due to them being picked at their peak freshness. Plus, by using frozen fruit and veg you can cook exactly the same amount you need without the wastage.
Make the most out of your freezer by batch cooking and freezing meals in portion sized containers so you have a healthy, homemade meal when time is short. This is most likely to be cheaper and healthier than a ready meal.
Freeze left over bread. Bread is one of the most wasted household foods but you can reduce waste by freezing it, preferably in portions and when it’s at its freshest. To avoid freezer burn it is recommended that you store it in an airtight container.
According to the NHS, the average family throws away roughly £60 each month. Instead try to use leftovers, whether it be eating them for lunch the next day, or freezing them to add to a meal another day. Leftover vegetables in particular can be made into a delicious soup, thrown into a casserole or used in an omelette.
INCLUDE VEG AND PULSES
Typically meat and fish are the most expensive items on a shopping list so try to bulk out your meals and make them go further by including more vegetables to your meat dishes. The same logic applies to pulses, such as beans and lentils. These are some of the cheapest foods in the supermarket and they are high fibre, vitamins and minerals. Plus they count towards your 5 a day. Another idea is to eat more meat free meals to help keep costs down.
You may also find helpful ideas on the NHS website: www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/20-tips-to-eat-well-for-less/
Contribution from @the_dietitian_assistant