Eating healthy on a budget

Life is pretty hectic at the moment, not only have I just gone and bagged myself a new job (Wahoo!), but I’m also in the midst of buying a new house. The last couple of weeks have been crazy with mortgage applications etc. (fingers crossed!) and I’ve really had to be a bit more conscious about all the money I’m spending, especially when it comes to food. You may have already noticed that my Instagram hasn’t been super full of my latest inventions as I really have had to reign it in.

Although, it has got me thinking… is it really possible to eat a super healthy diet on a budget?

Well the answer is yes of course. Eating healthy need not cost the world. With a few simple tips you can fit your diet into your budget no problem. Just forget about the next big health trend and concentrate on wholesome, natural, unprocessed foods – it really is that simple.

I put together my Top 10 tips, so we can stay healthy whilst stopping wasting money on food… together.

Prep and Plan

This has to be my number one tip. How often have you gone to the shops without a plan and ended up spending over £50 on food only to get home and discover you don’t have a single full meal, and you have to keep going back to the local shop to pick up the things you still need. 

Instead, go in with a plan. Take 20 minutes out of your day to have a think about, and research, recipes for the week. Then write a shopping list of all the ingredients you’ll need and head to the shops. And to make sure you don’t deviate from the list, you might want to think about including any treat meals in this – it’ll also mean you’re less likely to binge on your treat day as you already have everything you need.

Don’t shop on an empty stomach

Shopping on an empty stomach is the worst thing you can do. You’re more likely to give in to cravings and throw even more food than usual in the trolley. If you haven’t got time to eat a proper meal, at least have a snack or a shake, you’ll be surprised how much less you buy.

Get freezing

Buying pre-frozen fruit and veg can save you a fortune, and what’s more it tends to be much fresher than the ‘fresh’ stuff as it’s frozen and bagged earlier than it takes for fruit and veg to make it to your supermarket shelves. Plus it saves you time in the long run as frozen fruit and veg is usually pre-chopped and even sometimes already portioned into neat little bags.

The freezer is quite literally a busy (wo)mans best friend. 

Cut down on waste

The freezer also comes in handy when trying to cut down on waste – simply pop any leftovers from the week in the freezer – et voila. You can also freeze herbs & any fruit that’s about to turn, ready for when you need it.

Buy in season

Buying seasonal foods can save you a pretty penny as it’s usually from local sources (or at least from the UK), so food miles and transport costs are much lower.

Think asparagus in Spring, strawberries in Summer, squash in Autumn and cauliflower in Winter.

Bulk Up

Buying in bulk is a great foodie hack as it’s much cheaper than buying as and when you need. Obviously this doesn’t work for fruit and veg but when it comes to grains and pulses, if you’ve got the space, it’s worth it.

Plus, using grains and pulses to bulk up your meals will mean each meal will go much further. Consider adding extra beans to your chilli or lentils in your soups – you’ll definitely get more bang for your buck!

Don’t stress about buying organic

If it’s putting a strain on your wallet then organic shouldn’t really be the focus of your shop. Instead, shop smart. Look at what fruit and veg uses the most pesticides and buy those things organic and everything else standard. 

Check out the clean 15 and dirty dozen here 

Beware of health food fads

Yes, chia seeds may be good for you but are they really a diet staple? Instead, look at what the nutritional benefits of your favourite health food products are and see where else you can get this in your diet. Chances are if you’re eating a varied diet with plenty of fresh fruit and veg then you won’t actually need these overly marketed, usually extortionately priced, health foods. Not only will you save money, but think about all the food miles you’ll have saved. The environment will thank you for it.

Give Veggie a Go

Even if you’re not ready to go full veggie you WILL save money cutting meat a couple of days a week. Instead you can use your bulk bought grains and pulses to replace the meat in your meal. And don’t worry about where you get your protein from as there is plenty in these ingredients – for example, black beans and brown rice will provide you will a full protein – animal produce isn’t the only source of protein. Just do your research and you’ll never have to down another protein shake again (another great way to save money!).

Drink Water

Are you prone to buying an expensive coffee on the way to work or the newest fancy ‘healthy’ flavoured water as a treat? Then STOP. I mean it. This is the biggest waste of money ever! All you really need is a nice big glass of tap water (preferably filtered but not a necessity). Water will help keep you hydrated, give you energy (bye coffee) and can help stop your cravings (yup, sometimes we mistake thirst as a craving).

Grow your own 

It’s really the gift that keeps on giving. If you have the time & space you can grow a variety of fruits and veggies in your own garden. Or even if it’s just growing your own fresh herbs in the garden or house you’ll save money – I mean, how many times have you bought basil or parsley for a meal and ended up throwing most of the bag away? I know I have.

So there you have it, my top tips for eating healthy on a budget. I’m esepcially going to start being more conscious about the health food products I’m buying and whether I actually need them – which of the above tips are your favourite, or do you already put any into practice? Let me know in the comments below.

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I’m a fairly organised person at best (at least I’m a bit of a control freak), so I like to plan my meals out way in advance and usually do a big cook on a Sunday and again on a Wednesday to ensure I’m well prepped. However, when the lovely Hannah over at Nuba Health offered to cook AND deliver my lunches for a week I jumped at the chance of getting a little extra free time to focus on work and life rather than the kitchen.

Who are Nuba?

‘Let us do the thinking, whilst you do the eating’

That’s the drive behind start up business, NUBA health. A new food delivery company in Manchester aptly named after a tribe from the Nuba Mountains who live a completely subsistence lifestyle. Nuba delivers healthy, natural convenience food to your desk, door or gym. Whether you lack the time, knowledge or willpower that it takes to have a successful, consistent, healthy diet that continues 365 days a year, NUBA are there for you.

I actually had the pleasure of getting to know founder Hannah through twitter and soon got a feel for how passionate she was about supplying healthy, nutritious food to the people of Manchester. In her own words Nuba’s goal is ‘to help everyday people make a lifestyle change, or support healthy people with their longer-term goals’.

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What about the food?

Like myself when I first got the healthy eating bug, many ‘clean eaters’  meal prep to save time during the week; this can often lead to eating rice, broccoli and chicken, day in day out, 5 days a week. However, on Hannah’s plan the menu is constantly changing in order to keep you on your toes, and on track.

I don’t eat meat, only fish and whole foods, so going on a healthy meal plan can be slightly uninspiring, with halloumi & salad usually making up the base of my meals, so I was pleasantly surprised when Nuba suggested they could still provide an exciting and, more importantly, varied menu for the week – they were even excited at the prospect of catering for me as they didn’t have any other non meat eating clients at the time. 

Over the week I got to try 5 very different meals from Baked Salmon & Pesto Butterbeans with Spinach to Quinoa Falafels, Tabbouleh and homemade hummus. The meals were always super fresh and incredibly tasty I still needed to have an afternoon snack at my desk but other than that the meals were really satisfying and filling. Every meal had a great balance of healthy fats, protein and carbs, and Nuba will provide you with a full breakdown of the macronutrients to ensure that they fit into your day.

If I had to give any criticism to the meals it would be that some were slightly under seasoned, and not quite spicy enough for my tastes but with a little salt and pepper to taste that was easily rectified. I can appreciate that they have to cater for everyone, and I’m sure once you are on the plan you can specify your tastes to the team who comes across as highly adaptable.

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The face behind Nuba…

After getting to sample Nuba’s meal delivery service I thought it would be great to get to know the director and founder of Nuba so we met up for a proper chat rather than a quick 30second chat as she was dashing about delivering meals – here’s what she had to say…

What did you do before NUBA and where did you get your inspiration from to go it alone in the health world?

Ever since University I’ve wanted to have my own business and always in food. I come from such a foodie family. The inspiration for NUBA really came when I moved back to Manchester 5 years ago which was such a positive move for my own health and I took control of my diet. I was surrounded by friends and family who either didn’t know how to, or didn’t have time to and so the idea was to help people like them.

Where do you get your inspiration for your ever changing menu from?

Haha. Everywhere! I’ll be watching Saturday morning kitchen and think “I wonder if I can make a healthy version of that”, I’ll see something on a menu, I’ll miss an old comfort food so make my own twist on it. For our corporate menu I’ve had the help of an awesome nutritionist and food scientist, so I can’t claim all the glory for those recipes!

Can you tell me a bit about your fitness regime?

Like most busy people it’s sporadic, or at least more sporadic than it used to be and I’d like it to be. Exercising puts me in a good mood and is so good for managing stress that I miss it as soon as I get too busy and make a conscious effort to fit it back into my week. I love the outdoors but am no good at road running, so I stick to weights in the gym. I like lifting weights as you can get a bit competitive with yourself, and I challenge myself more than I would on a treadmill.

What do you eat in a typical day?

I start every day with Porridge made with Almond Milk and frozen blueberries (from Tesco….they do the best frozen blueberries!). Even in the summer, I love porridge, and it fuels me through the busiest period of my day. For lunch I have a NUBA meal (bias!) which will usually be high protein, lots of veg, and a bit of carbs. As I spend a lot of time in the kitchen I tend to not want to cook in the evenings so will have a salad or something light. Breakfast and lunch are the main meals of my day.

What’s a ‘day in the life’ like for you?

I wake up between 3 and 4am, have my breakfast and get ready for the day. I am in the kitchen around 5am ahead of deliveries, and start preparing all the meals for the day. We cook through until around 9am, when everything then gets packaged up and ready to go. Deliveries – my favourite part of the day…seeing all my customers, hearing how they’re doing, which meals are their favourites and recently we’ve been testing out some new packaging too. By 1pm my day is done and I’m on to emails and business development. I usually hit the gym around 3pm (2-3 days a week) to take a break from my laptop. I work long days in the week, starting early and often working through the evening, but I have a rule of not working on the weekends, in line with my 80/20 ethos. Weekends are for relaxing and switching off.

What’s the most fun part of running your own business?

Hearing customers’ stories; the best bit by far is when someone goes out of their way to tell you that our meals have really helped. I am also quite sociable and very chatty, so I love networking and meeting new people, and building relationships with other people who share my ethics and are also supporting people to be the best that they can be. Some of my best clients are business coaches!

…and the most challenging?

You encounter a lot of obstacles and you can climb over them, work around them, or give up. I think the most useful skill is resilience, and as nerdy as it may sound, I read a book recently called Resilience by Eric Greitens. That book was great for making you realise that these things are normal, and that the most successful people are those who can handle the hard times and bounceback the quickest.

Any advice you’d give to someone looking to start a business in the healthy and fitness industry?

I would definitely support anyone who wanted to start a business in any industry. I have had so much support and there is an awesome community of startups and mentors in Manchester who have really helped me, so I’d do what I can to help others. With any business really, it’s just establishing that you have a market, what your USP’s are, and then testing the idea.

And finally, what does the future look like for NUBA?
I have lots of ambitions for NUBA, and the first was getting the meal plans live which we finally have! Woo! I would love to work with cafes and gyms, places that have an audience that might want to eat healthily and provide them with some local fresh, tasty options and show off that healthy food can taste great too.

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It really was great meeting Hannah and chatting about everything from food and travelling to local fitness venues – it really is evident that London isn’t the only place where health and fitness is thriving. Hannah’s love and passion for health and fitness really does show in everything she does, she says;

‘The Nuba mountains logo also reflects your journey, it doesn’t matter whether you are a fitness pro or a total beginner, it’s your own personal journey and it’s starting that counts… one day I’ll climb my own mountain’ 

You can check Nuba out here or follow them on Twitter or Instagram

Tips to starting weightlifting

Do you even lift bro?

If the answers no then where have you been for the last 18 months.

Lifting is everywhere and it’s here to stay.

Weightlifting is a great way to build muscle, fight fat, increase mobility and even ease depression. Not only will it help you on your way to getting that banging body, it’ll also help you lead a healthier, and all round happier, life! So what are you waiting for?!

Read on for my top 5 tips on starting a weightlifting program.

Get your form on point

I can’t stress enough how important this is. Not only will it help to keep you safe and injury free; it’ll also help you to keep hitting those coveted PB’s you’ll hear gym goers getting overly excited about.

Additionally, it’s much easier (and quicker) in the long run to spend time dialling in your technique to begin with than it is to correct poor form once it has become habit.

How to:

Find a personal trainer – yes it might be expensive but it is so worth it. Just a few sessions will help you with your form as well as giving you a good idea of what you can achieve/do in a typical gym session.

Start Light

Don’t be one of those people! You know the ones with the massive egos?! You might think you’re god’s gift or that you’ve been doing xxxx sport for ten years but that doesn’t make you Arnie. Start off light and work your way up – you’ll probably get to the bigger weights quicker as you’ll have concentrated on learning the correct technique and preparing your body for all the extra stress you’ll be putting it under in the coming months.

How to:

Literally start with an empty barbell and once you have mastered that, add some weight. Every lift you perform should feel right and should be performed to it’s full range of motion. So if your lift is anything but perfect, take the weight off and start again.

Set yourself goals and stick to them

It’s so important to set yourself goals and weightlifting is the perfect way to do this as you can easily track your weights to see how much you are improving.

How to:

Set yourself smaller short term goals and larger long term goals. It might be to perfect your technique by the end of the month, increase your weight by 10kg in 3month or enter your first powerlifting competition in 6months. No matter how big or small, as long as you are setting goals, tracking them and pushing yourself hard you won’t be hitting the dreaded plateau.

Look after your body

You only get the one body so make sure you are looking after it. Yes our bodies can take a lot of stress and will work hard under pressure but make sure you’re looking after, and not abusing it – your lifts will suffer if you’re not treating it right!

How to:

Firstly, make sure you warm up before your workout especially if you sit at a desk all day (check out my article on keeping healthy at work). Do some static and dynamic stretches before getting your heartrate up and finally warming up your lifts.

Secondly, make sure you are getting enough sleep. The more strain you put your body under the more rest it will need to recover. For more information check out a recent article on the blog here.

And finally, make sure you are feeding your body right – as the saying goes, you wouldn’t put regular unleaded in a Ferrari!

Just Start

…because there’s just no time like the present!!!

How to:

Stop reading this blog post and get your ass to the gym before I come round and drag you there – just joking! But definitely look into how you can get started – research local gyms, PT’s, lifting classes or get in touch with your friend who lifts to see if they will show you the ropes. Once you start you’ll turn your back on your cardio bunny days for good!

Please remember if you have any underlying health issues then make sure you consult a doctor before starting any new fitness regime.

And finally, if you have anymore questions about starting a weightlifting program or need pointing in the right direction then please leave me a comment below and I’d be happy to help!!

Happy Lifting!

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It’s that time of year again when we want to look good for our Summer holidays but we don’t want to substitute our social lives; the sun is out and we want to enjoy it while it lasts – which we all know won’t be long!

So instead of stressing over whether we can join our friends for dinner in the sun – lets just be a little more considerate about what we’re putting in our stomachs. A few wise food choices can go a long way. 

Now I’m not saying that you can’t have the ‘unhealthy’ option – just save it for the weekend maybe..!

Read on for my Top 10 Healthy Food Swaps…

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I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve attempted to make a healthier coconut cake (using coconut flour) only for it to turn out too sloppy, too flat or too dry. I’d nearly given up when my parents invited me round for Sunday lunch and I thought I’d give it one last go.

My Dad is a coeliac you see and has been since before I was born – so it’s always been difficult to make treats that are suitable for him when we get invited over. One Christmas time I even had a full on meal prepared with a delicious stew bubbling away on the stove, only to realise, as I was running through the ingredients one more time with my Mum before plating, that I’d used the wrong type of stock and that my Dad couldn’t have ANY – it was heartbreaking watching my Dad watch us all eat whilst nibbling on a Gluten Free mince pie! Needless to say, these days I need to take extra care that I get it just right – I don’t think I’ll ever live it down.

With the memories of that foodless Christmas time meal I knew that I had to try one last time to make a delicious coconut cake that would meet my Dad’s approval and wouldn’t send his stomach into overdrive with that rogue glutenous ingredient. So armed with my previous failed recipes I headed to the kitchen scooped up all the ingredients I needed and got to work…

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