Healthy eating doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Planning your meals in advance can ensure you buy only what you need, cutting right down on costly waste.
First, have a good look through your fridge, freezer and kitchen cupboards. Make a note of what you already have and what you will need for the coming week. Look for recipes based on these ingredients and devise a meal planner for the week. Remember to include breakfasts and lunches.
Next, write a shopping list for ingredients that you will need for the recipes that you have chosen. When you do your shopping, only buy food that is on your list.
Cooking from scratch, with whole, raw ingredients is usually cheaper than buying processed food/ready meals. And with no added chemicals or preservatives, it is invariably better for you. And remember that premium packaging contributes to the overall cost of processed items.
Consider meat-free days
Cooking meat-free meals once or twice a week is an effective way to reduce your shopping bill. Meat and fish tend to be the most expensive items on a shopping list, whereas beans and pulses are lower in cost. Look out for recipes for bean-based stews or vegetarian chillis. Beans and pulses are full of protein and fibre, as well as essential vitamins and minerals.
As well as being good for your pocket and good for your health, making the decision to eat less meat makes you part of positive change for animal welfare and for your planet.
Make the most of your freezer
Shop bought frozen fruit and vegetables are underappreciated! Produce is frozen immediately after picking, which preserves nutrients that would otherwise deplete over time. They can sometimes even be better for you than fresh versions, which may have spent a long time in transportation (then add to that a few more days sitting in your fridge).
The average household with children in the UK throws away £700 worth of food every year, made up of mostly fresh produce like bread, milk, fruit/vegetables and eggs. You can freeze all of these items while they are still fresh.
Top tip: crack eggs into ice cube trays to freeze them.
If you prefer your fruit and vegetables organic but are concerned about the cost, check out PAN UK's 'Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen' list to help you choose which produce to prioritise. Fruits and vegetables are also cheaper while they are in season.
Don't forget about breakfast!
It's important to eat a source of protein at all meals, including breakfast. This will balance your energy and make you less likely to experience cravings for unhealthy foods later in the day. Porridge oats are an inexpensive source of breakfast protein and can be livened up with some cinnamon and dried fruit, or grated apple.
About the Author
Julie Hypher is a BANT registered Nutritional Therapist and the founder of Wildwood Nutrition, a dedicated nutritional therapy clinic in Hamble, Hampshire.
She runs private clinics every Tuesday and Thursday.