EATING HEALTHY ON A BUDGET
With so much information going around about what is healthy, what is not (and so much of it conflicting), we can feel a little lost. Add to that is seems many foods recently considered amazing for your health are costly (and perhaps plain weird). It is no wonder we stick to what we know.
But it seems our Western style eating habits are doing more harm than good.
Never fear! We have some insight for you, to boost health, fill you up, and won’t leave you remortgaging the house.
Affordable and accessible
With all our books, suggestions and recipes, we consider the accessibility of foods, and their affordability. Not everyone can indulge in daily acai berry, mesquite cacao sprinkle, super-greens-super-powder smoothie bowl. And to be honest, whilst such foods have value, so do the more commonly found foods, waiting to nourish you in your local supermarket!
So here goes!
One: Beef out with beans
Some people have a natural aversion to beans or legumes, but try letting these guys into your life.
Meat is one of the more expensive household food items.2 So try subbing some out for lentils, cannellini or black beans in your bolognese, chicken pie or lamb stew. Your meals will go further and offer an amazing boost in protein, fibre and other micronutrients, without hurting the back pocket.
Please note: If you are among the small portion of the population who may have health issues requiring close consideration of content, please discuss with your healthcare practitioner.
Two: Go bulk and embrace frozen
On the whole, nutritional value is retained in frozen vegetables and fruits – and you can buy these in bulk, reduce waste (as you can keep them for up to a year), saving pretty pennies.
A small caveat is that some foods, vegetables particularly, are blanched prior to freezing. This WILL reduce nutritional value, especially of heat sensitive nutrients such as vitamin C. So try to ensure you’ve a mix of fresh and frozen in each meal.
Other foods to buy in bulk and store include cheap cuts of meat (great for the casserole or curry), nuts and seeds, and dried beans and legumes.
Three: Portion for the veg
Make half your plate veg, and reduce your overall meal portion size by 20%. The idea is you will eat what you need, not until you are super, dooper full.
Vegetables in general are cheaper than meat, and better for you than refined foods such as white pasta or white bread.
Four: Salvage what you can!
Wherever you can, save and store leftovers, freeze excess produce, or make the leftovers of existing meals into new meals. This not only reduces waste and saves you money, but is better for the environment too. Great!
Five: Consider your spend
Are you willing to prioritise the food for yourself (and whoever you feed) over other things in your life? We aren’t talking about fundamentals, like toothpaste, but consider using the cash spent on a Kirspy Kreme or that extra glass of wine at the pub on a Friday (for example) to buy good food at your next round at the supermarket
Nutritional bang for your buck
Overall, eating seasonally and making food from scratch will be cheaper and better for you. Good staples to have in your kitchen include eggs, tinned or dried beans, lentils and chickpeas, frozen fruit and vegetables, yoghurt, herbs and spices and whole grains.
What you may wish to consider also, is eating better now will save health costs in the long-term (or in some cases the short-term!). We don’t simply want to eat for calories alone – so while fats, oils and sweets are initially 4 times cheaper, they may be over 20 times less nutrient dense. Ouch.2
But you will be pleased to know, that research does indicate that healthier, nutritious foods are cheaper overall.1
- Carlson, A & Frazão. E 2012, ‘Are Healthy Foods Really More Expensive? It depends on How You Measure the Price’, S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
- Connell, CL, Zoellner, JM, Yadrick, MK, Chekuri, SC, Crook, LB, & Bogle, ML 2012, ‘Research Brief: Energy Density, Nutrient Adequacy, and Cost per Serving Can Provide Insight into Food Choices in the Lower Mississippi Delta’, Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, vol. 44, pp. 148-153.