Eating Better on a Budget
As prices of food are rising, eating well while trying to save some money can be super challenging. But fortunately, with a little planning and some helpful tips, buying and preparing delicious and healthy meals is not as impossible as it may seem!
First I want to give you this scenario, which was published by Zoe, a passionate Accredited Practising Dietitian who aims to promote food in moderation (http://www.figureate.com.au/). OK, so look at the following scenario:
Out of the following two days, which meal plan do you think is healthier?
Meal Plan 1
B: 2 Weet-bix, banana, milk & coffee
MT: Apple + handful of nuts
L: Sandwich with chicken & salad
AT: 1 slice of toast with vegemite
D: Pan fried meat or fish with baked potato, carrots, broccoli & green beans.
S: Cup of tea with milk & dark chocolate
Meal Plan 2
B: Smoothie with kale, banana, berries, chia seeds and almond milk
MT: Fresh squeezed juice (apple, carrot, beetroot, celery) + handful nuts
L: Quinoa salad with spinach, pomegranate & organic chicken
AT: Date & coconut protein ball
D: Pan fried meat or fish with steamed carrots, broccoli & green beans.
S: Cup of green tea & raw organic dark chocolate
Have you had time to think about it?
OK well, neither day is ‘healthier’, because they both have similar nutritional content! And surprisingly, both days have around 65g of sugar (naturally occurring and added sugar).
Now, out of the two days, which meal plan do you think is cheaper?
…I don’t think I have to tell you. We live in a society where eating green, raw, paleo, or anything that that has a fancy name attached to it is ‘healthier’ for us. But to be honest, I don’t think we actually enjoy this food; we eat it so we can post pictures about it and show everyone that we are cool and on this awesome health kick. When in fact, we could still be having good old wholegrain toast and plain vegetables and fruit, and still be ‘healthy’!
Social media has over-complicated healthy eating, and it is making some us think that this way of eating is impossible (financially and physically – I mean, who can be bothered spending 2 hours making a plate look pretty to take a picture of it and post it, before even eating it?)
Incorporating the ‘cool’ food trends in your diet is OK, but I want to emphasise that healthy eating is simply just about getting enough food from each of the food groups. It doesn’t matter if you decide to have a fancy salmon and smashed avo on toast, or just a can of tuna with a handful of walnuts – you’re still eating similar nutrients, without the added $$.
So how about other tips on saving cash while eating healthy?
Here are my top 10 tips!
Be supermarket savvy – look through catalogues and on supermarket websites to know which items are on special
Write down a shopping list and STICK TO IT
NEVER shop when you are hungry
Shop for fresh foods where possible – in the case of fruit and vegetables, see if frozen and canned varieties are cheaper.
Frozen usually is the best option
Shop for LOCAL fruit and vegetables that is in SEASON
This way you’re saving yourself the cost of importation
Try having a meat free or vegetarian meal - Meat-free Mondays are a great option!
Stretch your meals but adding beans/legumes to them: stews/mince dishes
Buy items in bulk
Package them into smaller portions yourself
Buy blocks of cheese and grate it yourself
Buy whole fruit and vegetables and prepare them yourself
Buy generic/home-brands where possible
Think about novelty packaging… Do you really need that cereal just because it comes in a fancy container?
Fill your trolley with mostly grains, fruit, vegetables
Check your shopping receipts.. Sometimes operators make mistakes.
I hope this has given you some ideas about saving money and still being healthy! Just remember, we can only do the best we can with what we have, but every little positive change can make a difference!
Joyce Haddad, Director of A Dietitian's Mission, is an Adelaide based Dietitian/Nutritionist and Master Personal Trainer with a passion for health and wellbeing. ADM aims to help the public make informed and realistic nutritional choices and ensure everyone has a healthy relationship with their body and with food.