Healthy eating on a tight budget

Healthy eating on a tight budget
Dr Mike Edgley

A common complaint of both individuals and families is that it’s too expensive to eat regular healthy meals. 

Watching the prices of proteins and produce rise over the years, it’s hard not to become downhearted about what your shopping bill might look like if you pack your trolley with healthy foods. 

But, before you opt for the processed route (which can often end up even more expensive), take a look at these tips and hacks for eating healthily on a tight budget. 

Make a list – check it twice 

Planning your shopping list is five minutes in your day that you won’t regret. 

A staggering amount of household rubbish is attributed to unused/wasted produce that sits in your fridge like an abandoned afterthought. 

Jot down the meals you want to make for the week, then only list the ingredients and quantities you actually need so nothing goes to waste. 

Add staple foods to your meals 

Certain foods are metabolised slower than others, and fill you up quicker, keeping you satisfied for longer. Foods such as fresh potatoes, pasta, rice, oats, whole grains, and legumes are cheap, healthy, and a great source of slow-burning energy. 

Buy what’s in season 

Do some digging on seasonal fruit and vegetables and stick to the list for each season to make sure you’re not paying top dollar. Prices are generally set on supply and demand, so in-season fruit and vegetables are typically much cheaper, more plentiful, and tastier! 

Minimise the meat 

Our bodies don’t tend to need as much meat as we statistically consume at each mealtime. Meals that use meat as an ingredient rather than the star attraction of the dish can help spread out the quantities and get more bang for your buck. 

It’s also a great idea to mix in some vegetarian meals throughout the week to minimise the need for buying larger quantities of meat. 

Go cheaper over convenient 

It’s easy to fall into the habit of getting all your groceries in the one place to make things more convenient, but the habit is hurting your hip pocket!

 Shop around at different places such as fruit and vegetable stores, produce farms, butchers, and bulk discount stores to find yourself a better bargain. Specialty shops are often cheaper and better quality, making the extra trip worth your time. 

Go for budget over brand 

Unless you have a very refined palate, it’s often difficult to spot the difference between budget brand products and their name brand equivalents. In most cases, the ingredients tend to be identical (beans, corn, beetroot, crushed tomatoes), and the rest is just fancy labels and a higher price bracket. 

Swap out soft drinks 

Not only are these beverages harmful to your health, but they also add up on the docket. Consider swapping soft drinks out for soda water, fresh juices, or cheaper alternatives.
Your body and your wallet will thank you! •

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