“It must be really expensive to eat healthy every day” is a comment that I’m often faced with when I’m talking about my passion for good food, but my very own journey started from frugal beginnings.
I eat a healthy, balanced and tasty diet that doesn’t cost the earth and I have very little waste at the end of the week. Some simple planning and creativity comes in useful, as well as eating as seasonally as possible.
I was recently shopping with a friend and noticed that my trolley was full- whereas hers was only half full. At the checkout, my bill was significantly less and stocked me up for the week. Making healthy choices doesn’t have to be expensive, in fact my experience of a balanced vegan diet has seen a huge drop in my food costs. I’m delighted to share some tips with you!
Top tips for healthy eating on a budget:
1. Make good use of local fruit and vegetable markets; they are far cheaper than most supermarkets and you’ll get more for your money. You’ll find there’s less bulky plastic packaging to throw away too!
2. Buy ‘versatile veg’ that you can use in many different ways. For example spinach can be stir-fried, added to curries and eaten raw in salads. This is the perfect way to get your greens and reduce waste at the end of the week.
3. Stock up on soft fruits like blueberries, strawberries, grapes and peaches which require little or no preparation. That way you’ll always have time to throw them into a blender or pack them into a pot for snacking, without having to peel and chop. These fruits never get wasted in my fridge as they are so convenient- if there’s a few left I bake them in a crumble for a tasty dessert.
4. Canned chickpeas, kidney beans and green lentils are cheap and full of protein. They will last in your cupboard for ages, so stock up when they are on offer. As they are already cooked, you can make a hearty meal fast. On average, a can of kidney beans cost 50p, whereas a pack of minced beef will cost £4- a healthier, tastier, cheaper chilli awaits!
5. Don’t be afraid of frozen vegetables– I’m not talking about those tasteless mixed chopped vegetables! My favourite frozen vegetables include peas, sweetcorn and butternut squash, as they retain their shape, texture and taste, whilst being available at a low cost out of season. By using what you need and putting the rest back in the freezer, you’ll waste less too.
6. Nuts are nutritional powerhouses and contain essential fatty acids, however they are often thought of as an expensive luxury. If you buy a 200g bag of walnuts for £2 and sprinkle 10g on your salad it works out at just 20p per salad- for 10 salads! Buy a few varieties and keep in jars- they’ll look pretty in your kitchen too.
7. Be creative with the old vegetables at the back of your fridge. I often create tasty fritters with almost done courgettes, frozen peas and a few store cupboard essentials.
8. Don’t spend lots of money on expensive vitamin and fruit waters. Slice any fruit of your choice into a bottle and fill with water! My favourite is strawberry, blueberry and basil.
9. Fill up your cupboard with dried herbs and spices, which generally cost under £1 per jar. By adding more flavour to a dish, you’ll use less salt too. I love fresh basil, parsley and coriander which grows well on a window ledge.
10. Chopped tomatoes are the perfect store cupboard essential and base for so many healthy dishes. Think minestrone soup, quick curries and slow cooked casseroles.
What are your favourite ways to eat well on a budget?