7 clever tips for eating healthy on a budget
Food is more than just fuel for our bodies – it can have a profound effect on our health and well-being. Quality, fresh food gives us important vitamins and minerals that support our immune system and development. It helps protect against certain non-communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, as well as certain types of cancer and skeletal conditions, the World Health Organisation says.
However, when it comes to choosing the food we eat, cost is often the biggest consideration. Fast food is quick, cheap and accessible, so it’s often easy to opt for takeaway over a home-cooked meal.
Fortunately, healthy eating and sticking to a budget aren’t mutually exclusive. With a little planning, you can eat well and stay healthier without breaking the bank. Here are our best tips for eating better on a budget.
1. Cook at home
Preparing your own meals may take some time, but in the end it will be cheaper and healthier, plus the extra portions can be kept for meals later in the week.
Invest in a couple of good cookbooks, or browse through cooking blogs online, to find recipes that focus on simple, fast, healthy meals. Options such as chicken and salad, roast vegetable couscous or chickpea tagine are quick and easy to make, and deliver a tasty meal rich in vitamins and minerals. Once you have a few good recipes up your sleeve, you’ll find cooking meals at home much easier.
You can even prepare snacks such as granola at home. Cereal can be expensive to buy, but is easy to make when you know how – roasting oats, nuts and seeds yourself makes for delicious breakfasts.
2. Ask about discounts and stock up during sales
Certain stores may have special discounts and offers available for seniors or loyal customers. Ask about specials or loyalty cards at your local grocery store.
Another great idea is to stock up on sale items that can be saved for a later date. For example, cans of beans or tomatoes are great staples for healthy meals and can be saved for a long time. If you get supermarket catalogues or fliers in the mail, you can browse them to spot specials before you head to the supermarket.
Just be smart in the supermarket and look closely at specials – sometimes the tempting ‘discount’ is only a few cents.
3. Buy in bulk and buy generic brands
Take some time to plan your meals a week in advance, then buy as much food as you’ll use and try to freeze excess food where possible. Shopping for items such as lentils or nuts is typically cheaper when you buy them from the bulk foods section, compared to packaged food.
Speaking of packaging, when compared with fancy named brands, generic brands in plain packaging often have similar quality products at a fraction of the price.
4. Compare unit price and buy whole foods
Supermarkets are required to list the unit price of items (per gram, millilitre or other measurement), which can help you to choose the best value purchase. Buying larger items, such as blocks of cheese or whole legs of ham, is often more cost-effective than sliced or processed items.
5. Focus on fruit and vegetables
There are multiple benefits to making fruit and vegetables the bulk of your diet. Foods such as bananas, apples, cabbage, sweet potatoes, carrots can all be bought in bulk for a low cost and then be used in a variety of ways.
You can incorporate fruit into your breakfasts, with smoothies or chopped and added to cereal. Salads with lots of fibrous vegetables make filling lunches, and for dinner veggies can be used for anything from soups, to lasagnas and curries.
When shopping for fruit and vegetables, buy produce that is in season to get better deals. Shopping local is a great way to get hold of seasonal fruit and vegetables – farmers markets are great sources of fresh produce. Meanwhile frozen or canned fruits and vegetables can also be bought for a low cost and are handy to use as needed.
6. Try something new
Many cuisines around the world make good use of inexpensive ingredients, such as rice and beans. A couple of simple and delicious meals to try include arroz a banda, a kind of fish paella, and cholent, a traditional Jewish slow-cooked stew.
7. Replace meat with other proteins
Beef, chicken and lamb can end up being the most expensive items in your shopping cart. Along with your new recipes, try substituting those meats with other proteins such as fish, legumes or eggs.
You can often simply swap out the meat for beans or chickpeas for a healthy meal that is still satisfying and full of flavour! Or, if you don’t want to give meat up altogether, a smart idea is to add kidney beans or lentils to a mince dish to make it stretch further.
Keeping these tips in mind will make grocery shopping easier and cheaper, without having to sacrifice quality or taste. And by taking a little time to prepare food at home, you’ll have more control over what goes into every meal and even have some fun exploring new recipes.
Tunstall is committed to supporting people around the world to maintain their health and independence at home. To find out more about the healthcare solutions that we offer, explore our website or give us a call at 1800 603 377.