How to Eat Well on a Budget
One of the first things people seem to think about healthy eating is that it must be really expensive. I totally understand why you might think this, but I promise it doesn’t have to be pricey. I’ve been eating this way for the last few years and I spend less now than I did before I changed my diet – it all just depends on what you buy. So to help you out, I’ve shared my top tips for eating well on a budget:
Don’t Panic Over Your First Shop
When you first change the way you eat, it may seem a bit daunting and your initial shop will probably be pretty expensive as you’ll need to stock up on your new pantry staples – tahini, almond butter, tamari, quinoa etc. However, once you’ve done this you’ll be good to go for ages and if that’s too much you can slowly build your cupboards over time rather than doing it all in one go.
Buy in Bulk
Buying ingredients in bulk may take up more space but it can save you a lot of money. There are lots of sites online that sell kilo bags of nuts, seeds, grains etc at much better prices than you’d get in a shop. Places like Amazon and wholefoodsonline are great places to get started.
Don’t Get Distracted in Health Food Shops!
If you’re anything like me you may find that you get a little overexcited in your health food store and want to buy absolutely everything you see. Of course if you pick up every raw chocolate bar or bag of kale chips in the place it will be pretty pricey! So if you want to stick to your budget it can be easier to make a shopping list beforehand and be strict with yourself – only buy what’s on the list, or make it even easier and buy it online where there’s less distraction!
A little planning does wonders for saving money. As I’m always cooking and recipe testing it’s impossible for me to stick to a meal plan, however, if you know your routine then this can be a great way to reduce your food bill as you won’t buy new ingredients every day.
Don’t Waste Anything
Cooking larger quantities is an effective way of saving money, especially when it comes to using fresh food. If a recipe calls for half a bag of carrots but you know you won’t use the rest of the carrots in another recipe, then make double the recipe and freeze the other half. I do this all the time and it’s amazing – you save time, food and money, plus you have a freezer full of goodness to enjoy when you don’t feel like cooking.
Love your Beans
Beans and lentils are some of the cheapest foods you can find in the supermarket. They’re packed with goodness and are really energising, so they’re the perfect addition to any main meal, especially as they’re so versatile. I use them a lot to bulk up a meal, and if you’re veggie they’re a great meat replacement.
Less is More
Whilst I’m a veggie I know lots of you enjoy meat, which can be quite pricey, so I’d really recommend setting yourself a budget to use and spend it on eating good quality meat. This may mean having it just a few times a week, instead of everyday but quality over quantity really is so important here. If you’re going to splurge on one thing do it on organic, free range meat.
Don’t Panic Over Organic
Another thing to think about is buying organic. While I do try to buy organic where possible, I believe that it’s better to eat non-organic veggies than no veggies at all! If you’re able to buy some organic food then I’d recommend looking at the dirty dozen or clean fifteen – you can find these lists online and they’re updated every year to show the ingredients that contain the most amount of pesticides. So I focus on trying to get these ingredients organic and don’t stress about the others.
Seasonal Produce is the Best
Seasonal produce tends to be much cheaper than imported, out of season food, so it’s worth being very conscious of this when you shop and make your shopping lists.
Markets are your Friends
Markets tend to be much cheaper than supermarkets so if possible try to stop at a market every weekend to stock up on goodness to enjoy all week!
Embrace Frozen Foods
I love keeping my freezer stocked with frozen berries so that I always have them to hand when I want to make a smoothie. Plus it’s so much cheaper than buying fresh berries.
Don’t go Mad for Superfoods
It’s important to remember that you really don’t have to go out and buy every superfood under the sun. Instead start slowly and gradually buying one then another, and if you never buy any then don’t worry – you can still be healthy without spirulina and maca!
Sweet Treats Cost More
If you are choosing to bake everyday then eating well is going to be pretty expensive as buying lots of dates, nuts and cacao really adds up, but traditional baking isn’t that cheap either. I love sweet things and need to have sweet things on hand at all times, so don’t worry I’m absolutely not suggesting that you never make anything with these ingredients. I just find that if you bake once a week you’ll have enough energy balls or sweet potato brownies to see you through the week and it won’t feel crazy expensive. Plus you save lots of money not buying chocolate bars!
Simple is Best
The things I eat on a day-to-day basis are pretty cheap. I focus on lots of brown rice, homemade hummus, roast veggies and greens for most of my savoury meals and porridge with banana for most of my breakfasts. These things cost so little but make me feel amazing, so don’t feel that you always have to make something fancy as that can take more time and cost more but it doesn’t always taste better!
I hope this has given you all some ideas about saving money and being healthy! Just remember, we can only do the best we can with what we have so don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do everything perfectly at this point in life – every little positive change you make can make a difference!