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 and stop 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/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 – 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.
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.
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!).
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.