Healthy Eating on a Budget isn’t Impossible
Global economic crisis, financial turn down, recession…there is no escaping the realities of what is happening to the economy at the moment.
Many people think that healthy eating is expensive, but it doesn’t have to be the case.
Healthy eating requires the right balance of foods from the different food groups.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines tell us that the emphasis of our diet should be on fruit and vegetables, with small amounts of lean meats and low fat dairy foods, plus the right balance of healthy fats.
Keep this in mind when writing your shopping list and filling your trolley – too often the balance of food choices is upside down!
Eat well and save
While many people worry that eating more fruits and vegetables and choosing lower fat food products will actually increase their food bill, you may be surprised when you actually compare prices.
Take a closer look at our weekly meal plan. This healthy eating plant provides a lower fat, high fibre menu that actually saves you money while providing more nutritious choices.
In fact, the healthy menu plan could save you up to $15.00 a day when you choose healthy, nutritious meals over expensive and nutritionally deficient fast food options.
Shopping at green grocers over the big chain supermarket may also keep the money in your pocket.
Not only is the fruit and vegies fresh and healthy, but by buying at the green grocers you can be sure that you are buying directly from the local markets.
Another important point to consider is the use of a daily multivitamin and multimineral supplement.
For as little as 30 cents a day, a multi supplement like Eagle Pharmaceuticals Tresos B can provide you with all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need.
Daily supplementation can help prevent sickness and deficiency, and fills in the gaps in your diet that you might otherwise lack.
Top 10 budget shopping tips
While some healthier food choices may be more expensive than the regular product (e.g. low fat vs. full fat milk), with some careful planning you can actually eat well and save money. Try these top ten budget shopping tips:
- Plan ahead: Write a weekly menu plan – this helps you stay within your food budget, plan healthy choices and helps to limit impulse buying. Make sure that your menu plan covers all meals and snacks and includes a variety or healthy food choices.
- Use a shopping list: Use the menu plan to write a shopping list and stick to it! Shopping lists can help save time and money when shopping.
- Think fresh: Processed and convenience meals are generally more costly than fresh foods. Look for simple meals that can be prepared from fresh ingredients.
- Go generic: Generic or no name brands are usually cheaper than their brand name counterparts. Often the quality is equivalent also.
- Look for specials: Most large supermarket chains have regular specials – look for these and buy non-perishable items in bulk where you can. Don’t be fooled by brightly coloured tags on some products; these may be special promotions rather than being cheaper products.
- Shop in season: There is no doubt that fruit and vegetables purchased in season are cheaper than those out of season. You may find that buying local products also keeps prices down by reducing transport costs.
- Bulk buying: Compare the price per 100g – for example a product may be $2.00 for 400g and $4.00 for 1kg, this works out to be 50c/100g if you buy the small product or 40c/100g for the larger serve size. It’s therefore better to buy this product in bulk if you can store the leftovers in the fridge, pantry or freezer. Taking a calculator to the supermarket will help!
- A well stocked pantry: Stock your food cupboard and fridge with ingredients that are quick to prepare and easy to cook.
- Pack lunch: Taking your own lunch is much cheaper than buying it everyday. Try leftovers or throw together a quick sandwich before you leave for the day.
- Watch the takeaways: Cooking is usually a cheaper and healthier option than buying takeaway food or dining out. You can also watch the amount of fat, salt and sugar used in cooking when you prepare your own meals.
- Drink water, its free!
Remember that we’ve been living too long under the fast food delusion — that mass produced food, cheaply made and distributed, is acceptable and a right.
It’s neither — and the health benefits of proper eating should not be a luxury that only the wealthy should enjoy.
A dollar a day is a pretty small price, in the long term, to avoid the escalating drain on our health and our collective care system.
I will leave you with a quote that someone once told me:
You think kale is expensive? Try heart disease and Type II diabetes.