9 Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget
One of the most frequently asked questions I get is; how do you maintain a healthy lifestyle on a budget? Healthy eating can seem expensive from the outside when you consider things like overpriced superfoods but it really doesn't have to be. With a few simple tips and tricks, you can reach (smash!) your health and fitness goals on a budget!
Today, dietitian and foodie Rachel Parfitt shares her top 9 ways to eat healthy on a budget.
1. Don’t be fooled by ‘health foods’
By all means, if you have a nutritional condition like coeliac disease, that requires you to eat specially manufactured foods (e.g. gluten free products) then go ahead and purchase these health food products. However, if you have no intolerance to certain foods, then just buy the regular options, as these health foods are much more expensive and designed for a niche market.
Just because something is in the health aisle, doesn't make it healthy. But it probably is more expensive!
2. Pick seasonal fruit and vegetables
When fresh produce is in season it is a lot cheaper to buy because it does not need to be imported internationally. Seasonal fruits and veg are also tastier and higher in nutrients... and better for the environment.
When in store, look for the discounts on fruit and veg because those foods are most likely in season and in big supply.
To find out what is in season at the moment, check out this post.
3. Opt for home brand products
Skip the fancy-pants brands where you can. Home brand products are often cheaper than other products and can be equally as good as more expensive alternatives. Great items to buy from home brand include oats, canned tomatoes, beans and nuts and seeds.
Just check the labels on the products. If you recognise the ingredients, it's a pretty good sign.
4. Shop local
Buy fresh fruit and vegetables from your local farmer markets rather than supermarkets. Not only are you supporting local businesses, but you can often get fresh produce for much cheaper as the suppliers don't add a huge profit mark-up to their products.
You may even notice the produce keeps for longer because it doesn't have to travel so far before it gets to you!
5. Write a shopping list
This easy-peasy technique will help prevent you from over buying food (that may potentially end up wasted) and will allow you the budget your weeks’ worth of food accordingly. It may also prevent spontaneous purchases that looks tasty - but aren't so good for you.
(We think this is a great downloadable shopping list template to get you started!)
6. Buy canned foods where possible
Canned vegetables like fish and legumes are a great way to bulk up your recipes for a very low cost. They are much cheaper than fresh alternatives, have a longer shelf life and are convenient for cooking. Simply drain well and rinse before eating.
Adding food like chickpeas and beans into your diet is also a great food to eat to support good mental health.
7. Buy non-perishable foods in bulk
If there is a great special on one of your favourite healthy products then buy multiples of them to save you money in the long run, as the special may not last very long.
There are awesome places popping up like The Source Bulk Foods that sell nuts, seeds, grains and herbs in bulk. Get involved.
8. Cook in bulk
If you are making a soup, stir-fry, curry etc. then cook in bulk (e.g. enough for 6 servings). Once you have finished with dinner you can save a serving in the fridge for to eat over the next few days. With the rest of the leftovers, simply separate them equally into some ziplock bags, seal them, label them and place them flat in the freezer.
Once frozen, the ziplock bags can be stacked on top of each other and easily defrosted whenever desired over the next month or so. This will help prevent you becoming bored after having the same meal for six dinners in a row and will reduce food wastage!
9. Learn how to use leftovers
In Australia, we waste 25% of all food! Think about how much food you end up throwing out and how many $$$ that equates to.
Don't feel ashamed to ask for a takeaway or doggy bag when you eat out - it's the right thing to do! If produce feels like it's passed it's perfect date, make it into a mash or dip! Use leftovers in casserole to create entirely new dishes. This is your chance to get creative and have fun in the kitchen! For more tips, check out the awesome peeps at Youth Food Movement.
So really when it comes down to it, money shouldn't top you from achieving your health goals. Having a budgetary constraint might mean that you have to work a little harder to find cheaper alternatives, but it is 100% possible.
About the Author
Rachel Parfitt is the lovely creator and director of The Nutrition Playground. As an APD Dietitian, Rachel is a firm believer that a healthy diet should include and abundance of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low fat dairy with the occasional treat. Rachel lives and breathes nutrition and aims to teach the everyday person how to love healthy food, manage cravings and optimise health. She loves spending her free time in the kitchen experimenting with healthy recipes. Follow her inspiring Instagram at @thenutritionplayground!