I have heard the excuse on many occasions that it is too expensive to eat healthily, but with a bit of planning and effort it is possible to incorporate a wide variety of healthy, nutritious foods into your diet. It is true that many unhealthy, convenience and junk foods are remarkably cheap but eating these foods is like putting diesel into a petrol car. I believe that it is important to invest as much as you can afford into buying the best quality food that you can, as it truly is a wise investment into your future health and could potentially save you money in the long run! Here are some very simple, budget-friendly tips to assist you to make good choices for your health and well-being.
- Focus on whole foods. Unprocessed foods are generally much cheaper and more nutritious than their processed counterparts are. For example, jumbo porridge oats are a much more cost-effective option compared to a commercial breakfast cereal. They can be bought in bulk and last for ages!
- Buy frozen fruit and vegetables. These are often of equivalent or higher nutritional value compared to fresh ones and can be so much cheaper. There are numerous other advantages, such as long shelf life and time-saving, as they are often already washed and pre-cut. Frozen berries and frozen spinach work wonderfully well in a smoothie! I also love to stir frozen berries into natural yoghurt as a quick and healthy dessert or snack.
- Buy in-season fruits and vegetables. Not only are they cheaper but they also taste better when grown in season.
- Plan your meals to avoid waste. Meal-planning is a very worthwhile investment of time, as it will help you to avoid waste by ensuring that you can make a shopping list of just the items that you will require. Make sure to stick to your shopping list, as it is easy to get distracted by in-store promotions and special offers that are not necessary. Online shopping is a great way to avoid the temptation of buying non-essential items. Also, make sure that you are never hungry when you go shopping as this will influence your choices and ideally go shopping alone!
- Get to know your local butcher. Your butcher can advise you on cheaper cuts of meat and how to cook them to get the best from them. It is also worth mentioning that many supermarkets offer massive discounts on meats and fish when they are approaching their expiry date. Buy as much as you can afford and store it in the freezer if you are not going to use it straight away.
- Visit the local farmers market. Not always the cheapest option, but there is a possibility that you could get a good deal if buying several items plus the food is often of much higher quality and more nutritious compared to what you will find in the supermarkets.
- Buy cheaper protein sources. Lentils are a very cost-effective vegetarian protein source. They can be bought in bulk, have a long expiry, are very versatile as they can be added to soups, strews, casseroles, curries and they are highly nutritious. (Check out my recipe on our Recipe Blog for delicious lentil curry!) Tinned mixed beans and chickpeas are another great way to bulk up various dishes and they are very cost-effective. I always like to add a tin of mixed beans to my home-made soup for an affordable protein boost. Seeds such as pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are a very inexpensive source of protein and essential fatty acids and can be much less expensive than nuts.
- Cook in bulk and freeze. This is a great way to save time and avoid waste.
- Prepare your own food as much as possible. Bringing lunch to work with you will save you more money than you can imagine and it also gives you total control over what you are eating. A great way to save time is to cook enough food for your evening meal so that you have some left over to have for lunch the next day.
- Supplements. These are a great way to ensure that you are getting the full range of nutrients for good health. Unfortunately, modern farming techniques and poor soil conditions means that even the freshest food is not as nutritious as it was years ago so we could all benefit from a good quality supplement. At LloydsPharmacy, we have a great range of supplements to suit all budgets.
So there you have it. It is possible to avoid unhealthy, processed foods and still look after your pennies – you’ll be looking after your body and mind too so it’s well worth the effort!
Best of luck to everyone focused on Changing their Health direction this week. Stay tuned to our Blog and Facebook pages for more advice and recipes.
Written by Avril Reilly, LloydsPharmacy Governy Square Carlow