If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of shopping for ‘healthy’ foods, you’re not alone. One of the most common complaints I hear about sticking to a new eating programme is that people can’t afford to keep buying healthy foods. The short answer to the predicament is that yes, often a healthier diet can appear more expensive. The slightly longer and more accurate answer is that your previous diet was jam-packed with cheap nonsense which has no right making its way into your body, and that if you want to see genuine improvements in your health and wellbeing you are going to have to invest a little more than you have in the past, and this investment may come in the form of a few shopping trips.
The rewards you will reap from these shopping trips however will save you more than just money in the course of your lifetime. How about cutting your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, increasing your fitness levels and life expectancy to name a few? Are these really to be so quickly dismissed at the thought of a cheaper food bill? With that said, there are definitely ways to cook and eat more efficiently in order to stick to your plan and not spend unnecessarily.
For a start, your should stop buying pre-made versions of foods like salads, sandwiches, microwave meals and soups. They may seem convenient for lunch but adding the cost up over the month (a sandwich and a drink per day is about £5 which amounts to £100 a month) will definitely push you over your food budget without you even realising it. Instead spend less than a tenner and pick up a lettuce, a bag of carrots, some peppers and a whole chicken and make enough lunches to last you the week as well as some easy dinners.
Often protein can be the most expensive ingredient when people start eating healthily, as processed meats are deemed as more convenient and often less preparation is involved. Incorporating that all important protein into each meal can be made more affordable by using some of these tricks. Canned fish is a great option and can be kept on hand for those moments when you realise you have nothing in the fridge but vegetables. Eggs aren’t just for breakfast – omelettes, pancakes or scrambled egg served with leftover vegetables is a quick and cheap option for lunch or dinner. It’s also a good idea to boil a batch of eggs at the start of the week and use them to add extra protein to any meal. Frozen prawns are also reasonably priced and can be quickly defrosted to make salads and stir fries at the drop of a hat.
Fruit and vegetables an essential part of a healthy diet, but don’t get sucked into buying the more expensive varieties. Pre-chopped packets are often twice the price of regular versions and will spoil quicker in left unused. If you like your vegetables ready prepared, spend one day a week washing and chopping up all your veggies and store in airtight containers ready for use. Frozen vegetables are a much cheaper option and can usually be cooked in minutes. Frozen fruit is also a great addition to homemade smoothies, yoghurt and pancakes.
Most households will have some waste, but planning effectively should make sure you minimise this as much as possible. Keep a notepad in your kitchen and write down anything that you throw in the bin and the reason why. You might find that certain foods go off quickly, in which case you could plan to eat these earlier in the week before they spoil. You might find that a bag of carrots always lingers as you only use one or two a week, so you could plan to make soup with them in future or use them as an extra snack to take to work. On the other hand, you may just find you are bored with eating the same foods all the time and need to get some inspiration before hitting the aisles next week.
Remember to set a budget every week and work around a meal plan to ensure you don’t pick up anything you don’t need at the supermarket. Get familiar with the reduced isles, look out for deals and buy in season fruit and vegetables for optimum freshness. Try shopping in the same store regularly and take advantage of any points schemes they have to get even more money off. Remember, look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves. Not to mention those pounds and inches dropping off your waistline!
This guest blog was written by Fiona Reid – you can find her blog at http://www.fionalikestoblog.com.