Often times, we assume that you can either eat healthy while spending a fortune or buy low-quality food for cheap – but definitely not both! You may even hear buzzwords such as ‘superfoods’, ‘plant based’ or ‘organic’ and immediately dismiss them as the unnecessary bougie option you can’t afford. However, where there’s a will, there’s a way and we’ve created some tips for eating healthy on a budget that will help guide you through the shops.
- Cook in bulk and freeze – Buying in bulk will almost always be the cheaper long-term option. When doing your shopping for the week, try buying a few extra serves, make it and save it for a night when you aren’t up for a big cook. This way, you won’t be tempted by getting takeaway or going out to eat and blowing the budget!
- Don’t shop when you’re hungry – Going to the shops on an empty stomach is an impulse splurge waiting to happen. We’ve all been there – eyes bigger than the stomach where absolutely everything looks exactly like your cravings. Eat before you shop in order to avoid unnecessary spending on excess junk food.
- Pack your lunch – Committing to a packed lunch each day can be a bit of a chore, we get it. However, if you designate one day for meal prep, you can check it off for the week. You’re also guaranteed to have five extra healthy meals each week, which really adds up!
- When eating out recognise you can ALWAYS order more if you’re still hungry – This advice can be hard to hear, especially if going out to eat is a rare delicacy. You get to the restaurant, see the extensive menu and want to try a little taste of everything! However, this type of ‘grazing’ ends up equating to an extremely pricey bill along with an overly full stomach due to switching between multiple flavours. Try just ordering what you really need and if you’re still hungry (chances are you won’t be) then go ahead and order more.
- Prep your own snacks at the beginning of the week – We all love our snacks, but it’s important to prepare for those 4pm hunger waves by having something you can turn to that’s both healthy and easily accessible. Otherwise, you may find yourself rushing to the vending machine for a bag of chips or lollies instead! Subbing in cheap healthy snacks such as a bag of grapes, carrots and hummus or even popcorn is more cost effective and much healthier.
- Recycle and repurpose leftovers – Don’t throw them in the bin! Even the tiny bits you have left can be put to good use in another dish. You can have a leftover night where you combine all the bits you have saved to make a dinner full of unique flavour combinations.
- Track how much you’re spending while cruising through the store – When wandering through the shops you should have a plan and stick to it. We suggest making a list of all necessary items and trying to limit experiment purchases. In addition, keep track of the cost of each item on your phone and add it up as you go along. This way when you’re trying to decide how many of those last minute ‘just to try’ purchases you can afford, you can base it off how much you’ve already spent.
- Generic brands are your friends – While we all have our preferred brands for certain food items, there are often very subtle differences between the basics i.e. tinned tomatoes, pasta, chips, etc. The generic brand will almost always be cheaper so go for that – if it tastes terrible you can at least say you’ve tried and revert back to your favourite.
- Try different protein sources – Protein is necessary in every diet. However, many people often default to meat while there are plenty of other sources of protein that are just as yummy. Examples of cheaper, secret protein-packed foods include eggs, Greek yogurt, almonds and edamame beans.
- Freeze fresh produce – Fresh produce is so delicious and full of nutrients but it can add up quite quickly if it isn’t in season. You may not want the veggies straight away but months down the track you will have access to produce that is no longer available.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a luxury for the rich and the famous. Stick to these guidelines, have a plan and shop with a purpose. This way you can ensure you eat clean while still having money left in your weekly budget.