It’s a common argument in the health industry that eating well equals being a richie rich and spending a lot of money on weekly groceries. This couldn’t be more untrue. Sure sometimes buying better quality or organic groceries can be hefty on the weekly budget, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend hundreds of dollars per week to eat healthy.
It’s possible to be on a food budget and still eat really well — you just have to be clever and efficient about where and how you spend your hard-earned cash. Here are six suggestions on where you can start things…
1. Don’t shop hungry
Follow your list of grocery shopping rather than your cravings. You don’t want to find yourself in the confectionary aisle where every cookie and brownie mix looks good and you end up having a momentary lapse in decision making. This will not just result in your blowing the budget, but you would do it on a food item you never even wanted in the first place. Nobody likes grocery shopping guilt!
2. Make a plan of attack
Before you head to the grocery store, plan a few meals for the week. Include meals like stews, soups, stir-fries or healthy pasta and rice dishes, for which you can plan out how to buy the more expensive items such as fish, poultry, and beef, and portion control. Plan a menu and attack it smartly at the grocery store.
3. Choose animal products wisely
While buying sustainably and organically farmed animal products is the best way to go, especially if you’re feeding the entire family but it does cost more. A solution: buy quality meats that cost more, but eat less of them. This is an excellent way to balance the costs and be mindful of the environment. When it comes to animal products, think quality over quantity, always.
4. Buy essentials in bulk
For all your spices, dried fruit, nuts, frozen berries and peas, legumes, grains, beans, rice – think buying bulk! These things have longer shelf life and the quality is not that important (compared to fresh produce or animal and dairy products). Buy what you need in bulk and remember you are not paying for packaging, labelling and advertising on canned or pre-bagged foods — homebrand is OK for these kinds of foods, if you’re on a budget.
5. Cook once a week in bulk
I say this a lot and follow it religiously myself — prepare a large batch of a favourite recipes on a Sunday afternoon and freeze portions in a Tupperware container. When you come back tired on a Tuesday night from work and have zero desire to cook, there’s something delicious waiting in the freezer for you. You can also use the leftovers over the next couple of days to save money spent on take-out meals for lunch.
6. Freeze things
When you see some of your favourite items on sale, stock up and freeze. This is a great way to save on local or organic fish, poultry and meat. And don’t let leftovers go to waste; freeze leftover soups, stews, sauces and casseroles.
Do you have any tips on eating well on a budget? Share them below.