It’s a common theory that eating healthily is expensive. If you are eating salmon for breakfast, steak for lunch and organic chicken breasts with a sea bass starter for supper, then yes your shopping bill would be large. There are cheap alternatives however, and, by making a few smart choices you can eat healthily on a tight budget.
Avoiding waste is key to keeping your shopping within a budget. Studies by ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ have shown that in the UK we throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink every year*. This averages to £470 of waste per year per household. If you have children it is even worse, with the average family household throwing away £60 in food waste. Here’s 4 smart ways that you can avoid waste:
Check the Date
Do you only freeze on the day of purchase? That’s what it says on the packet, right? You can freeze the product right up until the use by date. So, if you know you’re going away and haven’t got the time to use what’s in the fridge, then place it in the freezer for a later date.
When preparing food it is easy for the hungry stomach to take over the mind and demand a big portion of food. You then end up with more on your plate than you actually need causing you to over eat or throw away what you do not eat. Instead, go for smaller portions and if not fully satisfied finish your meal with a portion of fruit.
Cook Once, Eat Twice
It is cheaper to cook for two than to cook for one. Spend any time in the kitchen and this is a self-evident truth. So, when you cook for one always prepare a meal for two and freeze or save the second meal for later. This will save you a lot of thrown away food as you can’t use half an onion, half a carrot or half a cauliflower in a recipe without eventually throwing away good food. Even better, cook for four and save yourself time as well as money.
Storing leftovers is a good idea, just remember to use them. Bubble and Squeak is a long-time favourite, for example. Add your savoury leftovers to a frying pan and cook them up with mashed potato.
Once you have the basics of kitchen thrift established you can develop your skills even further by making the correct choices and establishing good economical habits.
Planning is important, always make a list and shop with wisdom. Try cheaper versions of food and let your taste buds be the judge of the quality of food you buy rather than the fancy label. Here are some tips of what to look for when out shopping.
Meat and fish
Often sold cheaply at the end of the day – especially fish. If you are able to shop later in the day you can often buy at half price and freeze. Cheaper cuts of meat are also great value, chicken thighs for example, which is the tastiest part of the chicken rather than the more expensive breasts. Also buy neck of lamb or shin of beef. Remember that the cheaper cuts of meat can be excellent if cooked slowly at a low temperature. Tinned fish can supplement any fresh fish you purchase. The tinned fish has a longer shelf life and healthy omega 3’s in abundance. Get the spring water rather than brine to minimise the salt.
Fruit and Vegetables
Frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables are much cheaper and still high in nutrients. Frozen, pre-chopped vegetables can be added to dishes in the precise quantity you need so no waste. Check out small greengrocers for your fresh fruit and vegetables as they are often cheaper than the supermarket and be sure to buy loose rather than in packets; again, that will save you money. Buy the seasonal fruit and vegetables and you will be buying as cheap as it gets.
Economy ranges of dried carbohydrates such as rice and pasta are cheap and often as good as the more costly brands. Buy these items in bulk and save even more. For health purposes eat baked potatoes or wedges baked in the oven rather than deep fried chips. Much healthier.
Lentils are a great, cheap highly nutritious food. They can be added to most dishes. Make up a giant saucepan of cooked lentils and add them to dishes as you need. You can add lentils to a dish and cut down on the quantity of meat. This will cost less but take nothing away nutritionally. Always look at introducing pulses, beans and eggs into your recipes as a substitute for the more expensive meat. You don’t have to go vegetarian, just use less meat. Here are some other meal ideas which cost very little without sacrificing nutritional value.
Saving by meals!
The cheapest nutritious breakfast is porridge oats. Get the ordinary version with no added sugar or salt. Add some dried fruit such as half a dozen dried prunes for one of your five a day. This is much better than cereal which is processed and full of sugar. Porridge Oats are recognised as a superfood because of their all-round health giving properties. They release energy to your body slowly so you get a boost throughout the morning. Cereal will only give you a temporary sugar boost making you feel hungry an hour or two later.
A bowl of pasta is an ideal lunch. You can have it with a very basic tomato sauce or still keep within a tight budget by splashing out on a tin of tuna and adding a few pieces of cheese and some mayo. A couple of minutes in the microwave and you have lunch for less than £1.50.
One pot meals such as stews and curries are ideal ways of using up any vegetables you haven’t used in other meals. You are restricted only by the size of your saucepan so can create many meals at a time. Even better, if you have a slow cooker which you can leave on all day you will be able to use the cheapest cuts of meat, any spare veg you have and create dishes which taste delicious. Discover the world of herbs and spices and you will be cooking meals that are not only nutritious but economical.
So, Is eating Healthily really that expensive?
With correct planning, and some easy changes to your current diet, eating healthily doesn’t have to be expensive. You can enjoy eating healthily and well all year round, which will make a huge change to your lifestyle.
Statistics taken from http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/