Eating Healthy on a low budget
Eating healthy with little money is not as difficult as it is daunting. There are many ways to save money whilst buying and cooking food. You hear people saying that eating fruit and vegetables can be expensive and if you shop poorly this can be the case.
There are a few ways to save money depending on whether you shop weekly or monthly.
The biggest tip for saving money is plan your meals!
Planning the meals means you know what you are having, know when you need the ingredients and you can prepare some in advance, so if you get hungry you can quickly prepare you meal and have it ready in a flash.
You can buy in bulk
Buying in bulk can be very cost effective and you can shop around for the best bargains. This works best if you buy your food monthly and top up during the week to complete meals.
Storage cupboard items are great to have as additions as buying a small pot of herbs for one meal only can work out expensive. After having planned your meals you will know what you need to get and some herbs can often be substituted for others in recipes.
Cook in bulk and freeze your meals
If you buy your food towards the beginning of the month, you can prepare your meals and divide it into 4 and then freeze three meals and leave one for that week fresh (or freeze all four and defrost). If you have planned your meals then you will know when to get that meal out the night before and have it ready for heating up and eating. This can be very good if you have little time, as all preparation can be done on one day and then most of the rest of the month you can just warm your defrosted meals through. Meat should only be frozen once, so if you buy meat ideally you will buy fresh or buy in a way that you can defrost only a small amount of the food for the meal, if you are preparing on the day.
Buy things when they are on discount
Most shops have an area where good that are coming to the ned of their sell by date as discounted. This is usually late at night and some real bargain can be had. Often the sell by date is not a use by date and as long as you cook and prepare or freeze the fresh food it can be used again.
Buy unbranded food
Branded food is often expensive just for the fact that you are paying for the fancy packaging and advertising that goes into selling it. Most of the time the product is not less quality. Branded goods tend to be on the bottom shelves.
Keep your leftovers
Leftovers can be used to eitehr add to a meal or create a snack in its own right. For example apples going over can be used to make apple pies and crumbles, apple sauce to add to porridge and eat as a fruit snack. No added sugar is needed, just peel chop and simmer in a pan with a tiny bit of water at the bottom on a low heat. Bananas can be frozen and then blended to make non dairy ice creams. Veggies can be reused to add to stews, make curries and soups or even omelettes and frittata. Depending on the veg you can add it to rice to make a stir fry meal in its own right. Left over fruit can be added to plain yoghurt to make a pudding or be made into smoothies. (You can mix with oats and milk/yoghurt to make a breakfast smoothie).
Avoid processed foods and ready meals
Processed foods are often very expensive. People pay for convenience, but an omelette is faster to prepare than a ready meal. Processed foods are usually high in salt and sugar, which are added to enhance the flavours.
Shop at your local grocers
Green grocers often have stock that is “going over” and you can grab a bargain and use the ingredients in a meal. If you get to know your grocer he/she may be able to get food in bulk for you and can often get a discount if the produce is in season. Always buy in season produce as it is usually cheaper. Some grocers will even deliver for you. You can even get to taste produce that you may not have eaten before. One of the best things about a local grocer is you can buy short life produce in small quantities or buy in bulk to get discounts.
Don’t shop on an empty stomach and always take a list!
Making a list and sticking to it is a good way to ensure you don’t go over budget and always shop when you have eaten.
Avoid fizzy drinks and sweet beverages
Apart form the fact that they have huge negative health impacts, they costs money and are unnecessary. Drink water from the tap and buy a filter if you are worried about the chemical content. Add a slice of orange, lemon lime or other fruit to give you drink a bit of flavour.
Happy and healthy eating!