Healthy eating on a budget

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Image: Getty
Image: Getty

Most of us spend a lot of money on food, in fact, according to the latest consumer survey we spend 13% of our annual budget on food. Crazy, don’t you think? Unhealthy food is indeed more convenient and often cheaper than healthier alternatives. Or is it?

Quality food isn’t always expensive – there are several nutritional superheroes that deliver the good stuff for less. Think about oats; at R38,99 per box, it works out at R1,00 per serving, providing you with improved immune health, reduced risk of obesity and chronic disease. Much healthier than sugary cereals, right? 

While it is certainly possible to blow your budget by loading up on every trendy health craze, it is also possible to stock up on healthy foods without breaking the bank. Eating healthy on a budget IS possible, it just takes a game plan and a little creativity.

Our friends at Fedhealth share a few ideas on how to slash your food budget and make room for healthy eats:

Plan and prep your weekly meals ahead

Whether it’s veggies for the week, tomorrow’s breakfast, lunches or dinners, prepping food in advance is a step in the right direction towards eating healthy. Plus, it’s also a good way to eat what you have in the fridge to minimise waste.

Learn to love cheaper cuts of meat

Bone-in, skin-on, and organ meats are all dirt-cheap (and more nutritious and flavourful). Try lamb neck, shin of beef or pork belly – delicious! Buy chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts, or buy the whole chicken and use the carcass for stock. 

Grow your own herbs and vegetables

Even apartment dwellers can grow tomatoes in a hanging pot by the window.

Cook large batches of food and repurpose leftovers

Make a garlicky spinach and white bean soup with leftovers from a rotisserie chicken.

Buy frozen fruit and veggies

They are picked and frozen at peak ripeness (and thus more nutritionally dense), they are often better value because you only use what you need and freeze the rest.

Buy seasonal produce

They are super fresh, use what you can and prep the rest. 

Replace meat with other proteins

Try having canned fish, eggs, or legumes on meatless Mondays. They are inexpensive, nutritious and easy to prepare. 

Cook at home

It’s much cheaper, you also gain the benefit of knowing exactly what’s in your food. 

Embrace wholegrains and beans

Brown rice and quinoa are inexpensive and tasty ways to bulk up a meal. Use black beans to stretch your meat.

Make simple switches

Nuts are expensive but sunflower and pumpkin seeds are equally packed with vitamins and minerals for a fraction of the price. 

Don’t buy drinks!

Cut soda and processed juices from your shopping list. Buying beverages in any prepared form is an expensive, unhealthy option. Even fruit juices cause a big insulin spike in the body and are expensive with little nutritional value.

There is a belief that healthy eating means having to spend a lot of money. Turns out you can eat healthy and save money! So, don’t worry too much about the latest “superfoods.” Although foods like maca and spirulina are great, humble veggies such as kale, cabbage and spinach pack a nutritional punch too!

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