You don’t have to break the bank to eat healthy. Just a bit of creativity is all that is needed. Here are my tips for getting a good quality diet on a budget.
1. Plan ahead
How many times do we visit the supermarket without a shopping list or any idea of what meals we will be making for that week? Being unprepared and not planning for the week means spontaneous trips to the supermarket and a trolley full of foods that we either won’t use, have bought just because they were on offer or because we fancied them at the time. Knowing what meals you are going to make can save money by reducing these splurges on items we don’t need.
2. Cook from scratch
Cooking from scratch is not only healthier but also cheaper than buying convenience foods. When cooking from scratch you are able to cook in bulk getting more for your money. Save money by making your own sauces rather than buying pre-packaged sauces and dressings. A tomato sauce (to add to pasta for example) can simply be made by frying an onion, some garlic and adding a tin of tomatoes!
3. Shop later
Most supermarkets slash the price of various food items in the evening. This can include foods such as meats, breads and vegetables. The smaller local supermarkets (e.g. Tesco’s) are more likely to have these offers as they have to restock food items in the evening and so often slash prices substantially.
4. Buy from the butchers
Often meat can be cheaper from the butchers, and if you are buying several pieces of meat the butcher may often offer a discount. You may also find that pieces of meat are larger than you would find in the supermarket thus getting better value for your money.
5. Buy supermarket own brands
If you are buying basic products such as tinned tomatoes there is no need to go for the expensive branded packs. Often you are just paying for the brand packaging. Buy own brand oats, grains (such as brown rice), tinned tomatoes, eggs etc. and save some money.
6. Use markets
Buy your fruit, vegetables and nuts from local markets or local fruit stalls. These items are often much cheaper, and you will be supporting local businesses.
7. Don’t be afraid to buy frozen fruit and vegetables
Fresh fruit and vegetables are great, however frozen varieties (e.g. frozen peas) are also highly nutritious as they are frozen straight from picking which locks in the goodness). Frozen veg also lasts longer! You don’t have to have all frozen but a few items here and there can save you some money. Frozen berries are great to have in the freezer and can be added to breakfast, yoghurt and as part of smoothies.
8. Shop around
This may sound obvious but sometimes we shop in the same place for convenience when we could be getting certain items cheaper elsewhere. The prices of foods in supermarkets change on a daily basis and so shopping in a few places can save money in the long run. Look online before you go shopping to check price differences of your most expensive items.
9. Try alternative foods
For example try alternative dark green veg that you don’t often think of using such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts or kale, which are packed with goodness (such as vitamin A, C, iron, fibre, potassium, calcium, magnesium) and often much cheaper than other vegetables.
10. Cook in bulk
Cook double in the evening and have the same meal for lunch the next day. Variety in the diet is important but having the same meal the next day here and there is fine.
11. Buy fruit and vegetables that are in season
Fruit and vegetables tend to be more expensive when out of season. Take advantage of trying different fruit and veg when it comes in season.
Relatively inexpensive items:
Carbohydrates: Sweet potatoes, oats, rice, pasta, potatoes.
Fruit and vegetables: Broccoli, carrots, kale, cabbage, bananas, apples
Sources of protein: Eggs, tinned fish (e.g. mackerel), quark (soft cheese)