Ok, so we all know we should be eating plenty of wholegrains, fish, lean meat, vegetable oils, nuts and fresh fruit and vegetables but for some of us filling up the trolley with all of these types of foods can be REALLY difficult! Why you ask? Yep you guessed it..the cost! Despite what many will say, eating healthily can be quite costly and if you have a tight budget already, many of these foods probably get replaced with slightly cheaper and most likely less healthy options. So, for those of you who perhaps fall into this category I have put together a few helpful hints to assist you in managing to eat a healthy balanced diet without breaking the budget!
- Write a shopping list – your shopping list should resemble the healthy eating pyramid, spending the most money on your eat most foods, a smaller proportion on your eat moderately foods and the smallest portion of your list (and food budget) should be made up of your eat in small amounts foods.
- Always plan ahead and include some healthy snack options on your shopping list
- Decide what meals you are going to prepare for the following week and write your shopping list to suit.
- Use your local supermarkets’ weekly mail catalogue to make use of the specials when writing your shopping list.
- If you are going to a party, try and eat at home before you go to decrease the temptation to tuck into party foods and other less healthy snacks throughout the night.
- Pack your lunch for work/class the night before when possible, so that time isn’t an issue in the mornings.
- Pick a day of the week to make your designated grocery shopping time each week, always take a shopping list and try to make this a weekly ritual!
- Prepare your shopping list BEFORE you go shopping and only buy what is written on the list.
- Bulk buy non-perishable everyday items such as rice, pasta, flour, tinned tomatoes, tinned tuna, lentils/legumes, noodles, stock cubes, tinned vegetables etc.
- Buy meat in bulk when it is on special and freeze in serve size portions.
- Frozen vegetables are a great alternative to fresh when fresh produce is not in season or is too expensive
- Look for specials/clearance items and do your grocery shopping as late as possible in the day to take advantage of the clearance specials at the end of the day
- Always shop around and check your local butcher/green grocer as they may have specials or cheaper prices for some products than the larger supermarkets.
- Don’t buy extra unneeded junk food items such as softdrink, chips and chocolate when grocery shopping even if they are on special! (There is less temptation to eat these unhealthy food items if they are not in the house!!)
- Choose the cheaper home-brand items where possible, (especially for staple food items like flour, milk, rice etc) as more often than not the only real difference is the price.
Saving time and money in the kitchen:
- Prepare meals in bulk and freeze them in portion-sized containers – (they make a quick, healthy and cheap alternative to take-away when you have limited time!
- Take left over’s to work/class etc rather than buying your lunch.
- Bulk up your meat dishes with legumes, chic-peas and lentils – reduces costs and overall fat content whilst increasing recipe bulk.
- Use up old vegetables in soups or to bulk up meat dishes, where freshness is not nearly so important.
- Frozen/canned vegetables and fruit are a great way to prevent wastage due to their extended shelf life. Frozen vegetables/fruit in particular are usually just as nutritious as fresh produce and tend to be less expensive.
- Limit takeaways – despite popular belief they are actually usually more expensive than home cooked meals (especially when buying for more than one person) and lack the nutritional quality.
- Include some form of protein to meals wherever possible (such as lean meat, tofu, tuna, legumes, low fat dairy, eggs or nuts), as they help to increase satiety and prevent unnecessary snacking throughout the day.
- Store perishable foods like bread/crumpets/wraps etc in the freezer to prevent mould growth.
- Use fruit that is starting to perish to make stewed fruit or a healthy smoothie for breakfast.
Some sites to check out for extra information on how to eat healthily on a budget and some great recipe ideas!
– Food Cents Program: http://www.foodcentsprogram.com.au/
– DAA Cheap and Cheerful Recipe List: http://daa.asn.au/for-the-public/smart-eating-for-you/recipes/browse/?course=0&cuisine=0&type=0&category=50&ingredient=0
– Swap it Don’t Stop it Campaign Information: http://swapit.gov.au/ways-to-swap/swap-tips
- Nutrition Australia: http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/food-and-nutrition
OR BECOME A MEMBER OF A COMMUNITY KITCHEN NEAR YOU! Check out this site for more information: http://www.communitykitchens.org.au/
Hope this is helpful!