Healthy Food on a Budget

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For those students, workers, people on a budget, or people who want to save for that holiday, here’s my top 10 tips on eating healthy for less.

  • Shop local.

Buying from your local fruit markets is generally cheaper than big supermarkets who only pick the “best looking” produce. Farmers markets and fruit shops use local produce so your supporting the area as well as saving money. If you don’t have access to markets, look out for “odd bunch” produce.

  • Buy in season.

Fresh produce is always cheaper when it’s in season. So do a quick bit of research and get an idea on what fruit and veg you can be buying for the next couple months.

  • Write a list before you shop.

In the days leading up to the food shop, get an idea of what meals you want to be making the following week, figure out what ingredients you need, and stick to that! Too often we walk around the supermarket buying food that ends up going to waste.

  • Avoid wasted food.

Following the last point, if you start to think your produce is going bad, know what to do with it. Fruit and veg can be put into the freezer, and used in smoothies. Or make a stew, soup, curry with whatever you have left. Meats also can be thrown into a quick stew, curry, stir-fry or pasta.

  • Buy in bulk.

For packet foods and meats, it’s cheaper to buy bulk. So rather than buying for the next day or two, buy for the next week or so. If it’s a staple item such as rice and oats, buy a big bag and it wont go bad if its stored correctly. Use your own containers to separate you the serving size for snacks and meals instead of buying lots of little packets. This will also reduce waste. Win-win.

  • Make friends with beans.

In my eyes, beans and lentils are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. And they’re cheap! If a recipe calls for a type of meat, half the amount, and fill the rest with beans. My favourite is to and brown lentils in with beef mince for my spaghetti bolognese or Mexican chilli recipes.

  • Don’t shop hungry.

This is probably one you’ve heard before, but it reigns true for me. If I’m hungry when I shop, I’ll buy snack bars and extra bits and pieces I don’t really need. So have a meal or a snack 30 mins before going to shop, and remember to stick to your list.

  • Avoid the “health” isle.

We all know the one, where every box and packet reads ‘good for you’, ‘weight loss’, ‘low carb’, ‘high protein’…etc. These are usually over priced. Stick to the basic, whole foods, with single ingredients (fruit, veg, grains, meat…).

  • Chose home-brand.

Something I learnt last year, was that known brands are more expensive because we are paying for their advertising. Yeah, that’s right. The TV commercials, billboards and fancy packages are payed for by us when we buy it. 9 times out of 10, the food isn’t much better than the home-brand version. So save yourself some money by making the switch.

  • Eat out less.

It’s a bit of a no brainer, but take the time to make your breakfast, pack your lunch, organise snacks, ad prepare dinner. I’m not saying never eat out, because we all love a good social gathering. But for weekdays, make it a goal to not buy any meals on the fly. It’s healthier, and it’s cheaper.

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