All too often I hear people complain that eating healthy is too expensive and it is impossible to eat healthy on a budget. With celebrity chefs and social media celebrities endorsing expensive foods like Acai berries, coconut water and activated nuts it can be easy to think that healthy eating is all too costly. However, with a little planning and creativity you will realise this is not the case at all. It is possible to purchase food that is good for you and your wallet too if you consider a few helpful tips.
Writing a shopping list is a great way to avoid spending too much money at the grocery store. Simply setting a small amount of time aside each week to write a list of products you need to make healthy meals for the week ahead can save you from the appealing snack food isle at the grocery store and assist with purchasing ingredients which go together to create healthy meals. It is also always a good idea to never go to the grocery store on an empty stomach, as this can lead to purchasing convenience foods and snacks which are often expensive and lack nutrition.
Shop in season
Shopping in season is a great way to save dollars at the supermarket. Produce that is in season, is not only cheaper, tastier and fresher but you are also benefiting the environment too! Fruit and vegetables which are in season are going to cost you less as the markets aren’t needing to ship the produce in from different parts of the world. In season fruit and vegetables are often easy to find as they are advertised towards the front of the grocery store. Look out for specials at farmer markets and independent grocer’s too!
Being creative is key to making your meals more economical. Look for cheaper cuts of meats such as lean minces which are high in protein and low in saturated fat. Canned fish such as tuna and salmon are another cheap alternative that are high in omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Sometimes it can be helpful to look through catalogues and see what is on special that week prior to go shopping so that you can base your meals and shopping around what is cheap that week.
Consider frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables
Often people consider frozen and tinned produce to have lesser nutrition value of fresh. However frozen/tinned produce can often even be of higher nutritional value as the fruit and vegetables are conserved when they are freshly picked meaning they retain their nutritional value, texture and flavour. Tinned legumes are a great high protein, high fibre option which can be added to stews, curries or pasta sauces. Replacing half the meat in a dish with tinned lentils, kidney beans or chickpeas is a great option for reducing the cost of a meal and simultaneously increasing its fibre, vitamin and mineral content. Just be aware of food labels and steer clear of added salts or sugars.
Dining away from home
There is no reason you can’t still eat out occasionally whilst on a budget. When dining at restaurants consider sharing a meal with a friend to save money as often serving sizes are larger than the recommended portion. Alternatively keep the leftovers for the following day’s lunch. Cheaper options in the food court include sushi, sandwiches and rice paper rolls. Avoid fried fillings and look out for lean meats and vegetable filled options.
Nicole Poidevin completed her Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics at Griffith University on the Gold Coast in 2015. She is passionate about educating people around evidence based nutrition and living a well-balanced lifestyle. Nicole is currently working full time at a medical nutrition company within the home enteral nutrition team and strives to deliver best care to patients who are discharged from hospital and requiring ongoing nutritional care.
When not working, Nicole enjoys keeping fit either at the gym or getting outside and going hiking, she also loves cooking and developing/adapting recipes to meet specific nutritional requirements.