With food prices going through the roof, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to balance the weekly food bill, whilst maintaining a healthy diet.
With nutrition being the cornerstone to health and wellness, it’s one area where we need to find ways of keeping costs in check, without missing out on essential nutrients.
Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares five great ideas for eating on a budget, whilst keeping body, mind, and pocket happy!
Batch-cook for the week
Cooking in bulk is a great way of saving money and it means you’ll always have meals available, rather than having to eat expensive takeaways or grabbing something on the run.
Meals such as lentil spaghetti bolognaise is high in protein – very filling for a hungry family and can easily be batch cooked and then frozen. Many dishes, especially curries and stews, often taste better after freezing.
Maximise your nutrients
Pasta and rice are often meal staples and can really bulk out other ingredients. However, it’s all about getting as much bang for your buck when it comes to nutrients, therefore ensuring the pasta and rice are delivering on all fronts.
It’s important, therefore, to choose ‘brown’ rather than ‘white’ because you’re going to get so many more nutrients. Importantly whole grain or brown rice and pasta retain their B-vitamins which are essential for energy production. Whole grain foods are also rich in much needed minerals such as magnesium which will help us through stressful times. If the family resist the brown varieties, try going half and half by mixing it with white rice or pasta initially.
Get seasonal and go for roots
Eating foods in season should be cheaper and produce bought in farmers’ markets tend to be better value. During the winter months, root vegetables such as swede, turnips, potatoes, leeks, parsnips, and butternut squash are all available, are energy dense and great for feeding a family cheaply.
How about a butternut squash curry using plenty of filling root vegetables? Potatoes always work well in curries and if you add some chickpeas, as an idea, you’ll also be getting that all-important protein.
Buy dried versions rather than tinned
Beans and lentils are great sources of protein which can be purchased ‘dry’ and in bulk and are incredibly cost effective. Not only are they great sources of protein, but beans and lentils are high in fibre so keep the digestive tract in good working order.
Many people do have issues with beans and their digestion! This is because we often lack sufficient amylase enzyme, which helps break down starches. The more you eat these kinds of foods, the greater the body’s natural production.
Dried beans and lentils just need to be soaked before cooking but by avoiding the tinned varieties, you’ll generally avoid unwanted sugars, salt, and preservatives whilst also saving money.
Look for ‘ugly’ fruit and veg
Many supermarkets have ranges of ‘ugly’ or ‘wonky’ fruits and vegetables. However, these less attractive specimens are no less nutritious and are considerably cheaper. People often reduce the amount of fresh produce they buy during tough times, but hopefully this will help to stretch the budget further.
And don’t forget frozen fruits and vegetables which can often be purchased in large bags and are cheaper portion for portion.
What’s on the menu?
Eggs are still a very cost-effective and versatile food which are high in protein. They make one of the best starts to the day.
Many of us love fish fingers so why don’t you make your own using a cheap white fish such as pollock and some homemade breadcrumbs (just bread, eggs and seasoning). You’ll also be avoiding any preservatives and E numbers in the frozen varieties.
We know that pasta is cost-effective for feeding the family, so why not make a tuna pasta bake and add some fresh or frozen broccoli and peas? And don’t forget to use brown pasta too! This is a great meal providing your macronutrients and many micronutrients too.
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