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Healthy Eating on a Budget

All we seem to hear on the radio and television is news about the cost of living crisis. The Guardian reports that, in May, the annual increase in food prices had reached 8%. For many that is causing major decisions to be made about where to cut back or prioritise their spending each week.

Is it still possible to feed yourself and your family in a way that supports good health for the longer term? I believe that it is possible and I have some tips to share with you.

  1. Buy fruit and vegetables in season. In supermarkets or greengrocers these are usually displayed at the front of the shop. They are plentiful so the shop needs to offload them! So go to the shops with an open mind over which fruits and vegetables to buy and snag a bargain. Out of season fruits and veggies will always be more expensive.

  2. Don't make the mistake of thinking that highly processed foods are cheaper than fresh. The real value of fresh foods lies in their nutrient content and their lack of added salt, fats, additives and hidden sugars. A bag of cheap chips may indeed be 'cheap as chips' but does it provide any value in the diet other than energy?

  3. Protein is often the most expensive part of a meal so think about alternatives to meat. Meals can be based around eggs (omelettes and frittatas for example), legumes, tofu or canned fish. All turn out to be far cheaper per kilo than beef, lamb or chicken.

  4. Leave out the expensive 'treat ' items. Gourmet cookies, special ice cream, chocolate...they all add up and they are not doing you any good! Now's the time to double down and concentrate on the healthy core foods.

  5. Look through a supermarket's website and plan your meals around this week's special offers. You can always buy a slightly larger amount of a special offer food and make a batch then freeze some for a dinner next week too.

  6. Don't waste anything. Use every part of vegetables- the stalks, leaves and all. Amazing what a stir fry or pasta sauce can hide! Serve leftovers for lunch next day, or freeze for next week. At the very least give it to the dog and save on dog food!

  7. Don't be take in by brand names. For the most part products are identical and come from the same factory yet carry different labels and the accompanying price tag! A canned tomato is a canned tomato, is a canned tomato after all, so do yourself a favour and go 'no-names'.

  8. Bulk out meat and fish dishes with some legumes or tofu to streeetch a smaller amount of meat/fish. For example make a chilli con carne with lots of red kidney beans and just some beef. Or, add chickpeas to a chicken curry or lentils to a bolognese sauce. As well as saving dollars you'll also be adding valuable fibre to the meal.

  9. Shop less frequently and buy to a plan. The fridge should be almost empty when you shop again.

  10. Embrace recipes which can use up lots of bits and pieces. Eg Stir fry, frittata, curry or salads.

  11. Eat out less. Home cooking is always the cheaper option and doesn't need to be time consuming or flash to be nutritious.

Take these tips on board and spend a little extra time thinking about your menu and your shopping and you'll be pleased and excited with what can be achieved that still fills everyone up and supplies all their daily needs without breaking the bank and without them turning their noses up!

For recipe ideas head to my recipe collection for inspiration.

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