It’s a well-known misconception that healthy food is expensive. In fact, fruit and vegetables can be pretty cheap to buy. With a bit of forward planning, it’s totally possible to eat a healthy, balanced diet on a budget. So don’t let the fact that things are tight put you off trying to improve your diet. Here are a few hints and tips to hep you to eat a healthy diet when you’re on a budget.
Meal planning is something I am pretty passionate about for so many reasons. Planning meals for the week ahead and then writing out a shopping list based on that plan will mean that you save money on your weekly shopping bill. By planning your meals ahead, you get rid of that aimless wandering around the supermarket buying a tonne of things you don’t need.
Planning your meals also means you can make sure you have everything ready for the next few days. If you know what you’re eating each night, and you know that you have the ingredients in the house, then you’re limiting the temptation to order that takeaway or pick up a chippy tea. Sit down at the beginning of the week, or the weekend, whenever suits you best, and plan some healthy meals.
Waste not, want not
The average UK family wastes around £470 of food every single year!!! That’s a pretty shocking figure! If you’re planning your meals, then food waste should be minimal already, but think about what you’ve got in the fridge and check used by dates when you buy. If you make a large meal and have leftovers, either eat them the following day or freeze.
Buy frozen fruit & veg
Frozen fruit & vegetables are still packed full of beneficial nutrients and they tend to be a lot cheaper than buying fresh. There’s a HUGE range of frozen items available these days, you can buy frozen berries, mango, broccoli, even frozen chopped onion! Frozen produce has the added benefit of having a long life too. You can buy in bulk safe in the knowledge that it will last.
Batch cooking is a great way to save money and cook healthy meals. Batch cooking simply means cooking a “batch” of food in one go. Some people like to dedicate one day a month to batch cooking and then freeze meals for the month ahead. There are LOADS of meals you can prepare in advance in this way – soups and casseroles are particularly good ideas. You can also batch cook tomato and vegetable sauce to use as a base with pasta, lasagne, spaghetti bolognaise etc.
Eat less meat
Meat is notoriously expensive. Why not try to have at least one meat-free meal every week in order to cut the costs down. You can also pack meals with more vegetables to make them stretch further.
Use cheaper cuts
For meals where you are eating meat, consider buying a cheaper cut than you normally would. If you’re cooking a meal in the slow cooker, you’ll get away with cheaper cuts. The slow cooking process tenderises the meat more than cooking quickly, meaning that even cheap cuts of braising steak will be juicy and soft when you come to dish it up.
Take advantage of offers
Every fortnight, Aldi offer 6 fruit and veg at a discounted rate. Why not plan a few meals around their discounted produce each week? By doing this, you’re ensuring that you’re eating a variety of fruit and vegetables (vital as part of a healthy diet), as well as saving yourself some money too. Win – win!
I tend to find that I spend less on my food shopping when I shop online – even factoring in the delivery charge. Most supermarkets will offer a delivery pass which means that you pay one monthly fee and can receive as many deliveries as you like. Charges will vary between supermarkets and will depend on your area, but I pay £5 per month with ASDA.
Seeing the total bill slowly creeping up really makes me assess what I’m putting in my online basket. I’m also less tempted to impulse buy when shopping online than I would be if I was actually walking around the supermarket.