Many people think that eating healthy is expensive. However, making smart decisions (that includes choosing delicious foods!) about what to buy doesn't have to drain your bank balance at all!
Below are 9 simple steps to help us realise how easy and inexpensive the process can be.
1. Plan your meals = plan your grocery shopping
Plan. Plan. Plan. I cannot emphasise how essential planning is when it comes to eating healthy. Choose a day in the week to plan your meals for the upcoming days, then you can make a shopping list for what you need.
Note: before you go food shopping, make sure to scan your kitchen cupboards and fridge to see what you already have to avoid buying the same thing. Also, plan to purchase what you KNOW you will use, so that you don't end up throwing away what you buy when you realise you don’t need it.
2. Buy in bulk
For items like nuts, seeds, grains and flours buying in bulk is great option. There are lots of stores that specialise in this alone, as well as plenty of online websites you can purchase from as well. Buying in bulk helps you control the cost and buy cheaper, as buying them in small quantities can get quite costly.
3. Shop at international shops
You can often get staples like grains, nuts, seeds, and spices at international shops at a fraction of the cost to supermarkets without lowering the quality. For instance, items like tahini and spices, can be double to triple the cost in your average supermarket.
4. Don’t worry too much over organic
While it can be better to eat organic, it’s better to eat any vegetables rather than no vegetables at all. Maybe eat some organic food but not exclusively. It is more realistic and beneficial to focus on adding more plants to your diet.
5. Stock up on root vegetables
Root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips and turnip are incredibly filling and relatively inexpensive. They can help create a hearty soup, stew or side dish for a very small cost. Incorporating more inexpensive yet healthy foods into your daily routine will help you save money and eat well!
6. Buy frozen fruit and vegetables
Fresh fruits, berries and vegetables are usually in season only a few months per year, and can sometimes be above the budget. So buying frozen fruits and vegetables can be a great option! Frozen options are often harvested and packaged at peak of ripeness so they can often be more nutritious and better-tasting option than fresh fruits that are not in season.
7. Cook large portions, and use the left overs for lunch
Cooking large meals can save you both time and money. Cooking a large batch and using the rest as leftovers helps you make healthier food choices and prevents food waste. Leftovers usually make very good stews, stir-fries, salads and burritos.
In addition, packing your own lunch from left overs reduces the expense of eating out. This will help you avoid times where you’d impulsively buy unhealthy food when you’re hungry and will also help you reuse leftovers as opposed to throwing them away.
8. Replace meat with other protein sources
Eating more protein based vegetarian meals to replace meat is a great way to eat healthy on a budget. Examples are beans, lentils and chickpeas. They are packed with protein and fibre to help keep you full and they are incredibly versatile as well, so choosing plant-based proteins is great for your health and are inexpensive.
Try replacing meat once or twice a week with beans, legumes or eggs. These are inexpensive and nutritious sources of protein. Check out my previous article on protein with different protein sources you can incorporate into your meals.
9. Don’t go crazy for ‘superfoods’
Although the term ‘superfoods’ is actually a media and marketing term, it is used to refer to a food which is known to be healthy. For example, chia seeds are commonly called a ‘superfood’ because they are high in nutrients.
Foods which are promoted as ‘superfoods’ can be very nutritious, but you don’t need them to eat well. Cacao nibs, chia seeds, flax seeds and bee pollen can be great, but if they are not in the budget you don’t need to stress over it. There are other foods that may be worthy of the esteemed ‘superfood’ title such as dark leafy veg, berries, eggs, nut and seeds, turmeric and green tea that might be more affordable and just as nutritious.
Achieving optimal health through food and nutrition is not just about focusing on one or two of the latest food trends. Instead, good health is best supported by eating a variety of nutritious foods on a regular and consistent basis.
Bottom line: You don't have to break the bank to eat well. In fact, there are many ways to eat healthy on a budget!
P.s: Even if eating healthy was more expensive (which as you can see, doesn’t have to be!), then it would still be worth it long term. You really can't put a price on good health and well-being.