How to Eat Healthy on a Budget
Eating healthy is quite often incorrectly described as being expensive. It can be if you have all the powders, supplements, superfoods and shop at the one spot exclusively. However eating well does not have to be an expensive process.
It can be quite cheap, however it may involve a little more planning. Before you decide you are out already, keep reading, it’s not as hard as it sounds!
Here are my tips on eating well seasonally for you and your family:
1. Shop at green grocers or markets. Some markets can be expensive however it is a good way to see what is in season and to get a few bargains. Talk to the owner of the shop/stall and see where they get their produce from. My green grocer goes to the market daily and can tell me about the quality of the produce and what’s a good deal. In addition, we pick up a lot of bargains - $0.99 bananas because they are not in bunches, $10 for a 5kg bag of capsicums, and even $0.99kg sweet potatoes. With this comes a little flexibility on our plan for meals that week - if sweet potatoes are cheap, I will buy a couple of kilos and cook them up for a few meals and make some roasted sweet potatoes for lunches. The bananas I will eat as per normal during the week or if they are too ripe, I peel and place in a container in the freezer and add to my smoothies. A jumbo bag of capsicums means we have roasted capsicum dip, stuffed capsicums and a couple of Mexican dishes or a few stir fries.
In addition to all of the fruit and veggie bargains, I also purchase our dried legumes in 1kg lots and do a cook up, portion and freeze.
Another thing to note: what is generally on sale or cheaper is generally in season and therefore cheap due to it’s abundance. Therefore you can incorporate eating seasonally into your meals also. Most weeks we walk out of the green grocer with 2 stuffed full bags for around $35!
2. Meal preparation.
I hinted at this in the last point, but by buying in larger quantities and buying seasonally, means that I prepare meals for the week on the weekend. I have another post on meal planning here but put simply, I will make a few different things on the weekend and mix and match throughout the week to make meals faster but also keeping the costs down by not having 45 different ingredients used for each recipe. Most weeks I have a plan of what we will have for the week so for example my list may look like this:
The common ingredients include: zucchini (used in Mexican bowls, roasted veg salad, and curry), leafy greens (added to Mexican bowls, stir fry and chickpea wraps). From the list, I make my shopping list. I normally leave a few days free for leftovers or for seasonal eating from the greengrocer. If nothing takes our fancy, I may make up a stew or soup with all leftover veggies at the end of the week to clean out the veggie drawers. My meal prep on the weekends usually includes: roasting up some veggies to be part of a meal or for salad lunches, cook up some rice, rinse and cook one type of lentil or legume to eat in our meals during the week.
By meal prepping, I reduce the amount of waste we have, the nights where you order takeaway because we have nothing ready to eat, and means that if we have a hectic week I know I can have dinner on the table within 30 minutes, if not earlier. 3. Don’t buy things you don’t have a plan or idea for.
It’s all good and well to see a bargain and to buy it, but if you are not going to use a whole bunch of kale, don’t buy it. Not only is it going to end up in your rubbish bin but it also money down the drain. If a recipe calls for a few stalks of kale and you are not going to use the rest, substitute for another leafy green veggie you may get more use out of and know you will finish within a week. 4. Grow your own herbs (and veggies).
Herbs are expensive in supermarkets and fruit and veg shops and can be culprits for the rubbish bin at the end of the week. By growing your own herbs, you will be able to see what grows in what season but also be able to use as many or as little herbs as you like. I love that I can make a pesto with nothing in the fridge but a garden full of herbs or that I can add a few sprigs of parsley to a sauce if need be. If you do not have space to grow veggies and even herbs, you can add the herbs with a touch of olive oil and lemon juice to your blender and whip up a pesto at the end of the week. I freeze our pestos and get out when we need a quick pasta meal or even with some veggies and protein. 5. Avoid the powders and superfoods.
Powders and the newest fad are great for convenience, however these supplements prove to be quite expensive and rarely get used up. You can use food sources instead of using supplements and they prove to be much cheaper - adding nuts to your smoothie instead of protein powder, or actually adding the greens instead of the greens powder. 6. You don’t have to have every nut, seed, legume in your pantry.
Some people get overwhelmed with the cost of having every single ingredient in your pantry. I may not have a nut or seed for weeks or months, if it is too expensive. If I see a bag of nuts that is cheap, I will buy some and restock but we do not need every ingredient regularly. I like the flexibility of substituting ingredients out and substituting a nut for another nut is not going to change the outcome of the recipe drastically. 7. Do regular pantry clear outs.
Cleaning out your pantry regularly avoids excess and losing ingredients or ending up with 3 packets of something.
Every few months, I will have an eat from the pantry/fridge/freezer week to use up odds and ends and to clear space. Not only is this good for our pockets as we reduce the amount we are spending but it also means that food is not expiring or going off and we are not wasteful.
These are some of the many tips I offer to my clients so if you want to talk more about it, book in for a consult now via the Book Now button above.
Have another tip? Leave a comment below!