Can I Eat Well On A Budget?
With the cost of daily living increasing, many of us are looking for ways to save money, but that doesn’t mean compromising on healthy eating. While it may seem easier to pop to the store and buy a bargain pizza for £1, you can easily create a nutrient-packed meal for the same price. It just takes a little planning.
Weekly meal plans can help you get ahead of the game. Knowing what you’re going to eat and when can really take the stress out of your supermarket shop, and save you money. It’s also a great way to make use of cheaper store cupboard ingredients that often sit gathering dust.
Write a shopping list
Writing a shopping list from your weekly meal plan can help you stay on track in store and limit expensive impulse purchases that often just end up being thrown away. Buying larger quantities of ingredients is often cheaper, though you’ll only save money if you actually use the food. It’s also worth remembering that an offer only saves you money if you intended to buy it in the first place. So, if it isn’t on your list, walk away.
Check your cupboards
Take some time to go through your kitchen cupboards, and once you’ve thrown out anything that’s out of date, make a list of what you have available to use. Then set yourself a challenge to use these ingredients in the upcoming weeks. They’ll only continue to sit there otherwise and you may discover some new favourite recipes.
Batch cooking meals not only saves money, but also time in the long run. While it might seem like a chore preparing extra portions, you’ll thank yourself on busy days when instead of grabbing an expensive ready meal or take away, you reach for a nutritious, money saving, batch cooked option instead.
Learn to love leftovers
We all cook too much from time to time, but don’t throw anything away. Even the smallest leftover portion can be added to a new meal. If you end up with lots of different leftovers, get creative in the kitchen. And if you know you’re likely to have leftovers, factor this into your meal plan.
Ditch the brands
We all know that branded foods are more expensive than supermarket own label, but knowing if the extra money is worth it really is down to personal taste. Chances are staples such as pasta, rice, beans, potatoes or tinned vegetables will all taste the same, so why not give some a try and find out which you like. You’ll be amazed just how much money you can save.
Stock up on nutritional basics
Tinned beans, pulses and legumes are packed full of fibre, protein and vitamins and offer a real bang for your nutritional buck. They’ll also save you money as they’re cheap, and often on offer, and will last a while in the store cupboard without going out of date. Why not try switching chicken for some chickpeas in your next curry? Not only will it save you money, but it’ll taste great and elevate the nutritional value of your meal.
Make friends with your freezer
There's a myth that frozen fruit and vegetables are less nutritious, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Fruit and vegetables are frozen quickly after harvesting, meaning they retain their high nutrient levels. In fact, they may even be better than fresh fruit and vegetables that have been lingering in the supermarket for days. However, the way you cook can affect their final nutrient levels. Stick to steaming vegetables where possible, rather than boiling.
Frozen fruit and vegetables are much cheaper than their fresh alternatives. By choosing frozen, you don’t have to miss out on some of your summer time favourites, which are otherwise expensive any other time of the year.
Balance is key
A healthy balanced diet doesn’t skip foods you enjoy. Moderation is key, and if you enjoy a food, never exclude it completely. However, limiting the amount of high fat, sugar and salt foods you buy won’t just stop you overeating them, it will also save you money.
Eating healthily really doesn’t need to be expensive. Creating meals out of store cupboard ingredients, and using your freezer for leftovers, will help you to cook and eat cost-saving and nutritious meals. Just remember, if you’re heading to the shop, don’t forget your list!
Lucy Jones (ANutr) is a Registered Associate Nutritionist with a first class BSc Nutrition degree. She is passionate in sharing evidence-based and practical advice to help enhance health. You can find more from Lucy on Instagram at @lucy.nutritionn.
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