You may be saving for a trip to Europe, a new car, house, or just need to pay your rent on time. Whatever the reason, your weekly grocery bill can be an opportunity to save cash for the all-important wish list. The good news is, you can save money and eat healthy! The truth is, eating healthy is easy, affordable, and enjoyable if you stick to these 4 tips.
1. BE ORGANISED
Firstly, have a weekly food plan. It doesn’t have to be complicated - it just means twice a week you set aside time to go grocery shopping, and do a little food prep for the week. I like to do this on Sundays and Wednesdays because 3-4 days is a good shelf life time for produce, meat and dairy. You may prefer doing this on Saturdays and Tuesdays. Whatever works for you, the aim is to give yourself a couple of windows to go to the grocery store and stock the kitchen with affordable and nutritious food.
2. UTILISE YOUR KITCHEN APPLIANCES
News flash - people invent appliances for a reason - they make life easy! So, my number one kitchen aid is the freezer. Why - because I don’t want to cook every night. Sunday, I can make a slow cooked lamb shoulder with roast vegetables, divide into single portions, and freeze. Wednesday, I can prepare a batch of mini frittatas for lunches and freeze in single portions. The only thing to do after a long day at work/uni is take your portion out the night before, add a big handful of spinach, or prepare a side of vegetables, and that’s it - nutritious, good food ready to go!
Spending $50 on groceries, and turning them into 6 or even 8 frozen meals at your disposal over the next 4 weeks instead of 4 days means you’re saving money, time, and drastically reducing food wastage. So, clean out your freezers and get cracking! It’s worth it - $$$!
Number 2 on my electrical appliance love list is the slow cooker - purchased from Kmart for $39! So many combinations, so many meals! Throw in any meat you like, veggies, legumes, some flavourings and stock, turn the pot on low, come home 8 hours later, and dinner is done, and lunch the next day! A slow cooker is going to help you save time - and we all know time is money. You’ll save money on cheaper cuts of meat which go hand in hand with slow cooking. Fill up your slow cooker with legumes, vegetables, and make soup, stews, dahls, curries, as meat alternatives.
3. FILL UP ON CHEAP BUT GOOD FOOD
The best way to make sure your eating healthy is to think of your plate like the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating graph below. You’re not going to tick all the boxes with every meal, but that’s okay! For example, during lunch and dinner your plate might include mostly grains and vegetables with some protein and a serving of good fats. During brekkie, you may focus on getting in your servings of dairy and fruits. I love the saying ‘everything in moderation’ because it really does paint a good picture of what healthy eating looks like.
How to do this on a budget? Simple, when your picking your grains, vegetables, meats, dairy and fruits you just have to work around the cheaper ones. Like lentils, they are so affordable, so filling and they are amazing in soups, salads and stews. If you’re not comfortable cooking with them, do a little recipe searching and find some recipes that you think you may like. If you’re following a recipe and it has something a bit pricey, like goats’ cheese, just do a simple swap and use feta instead - it’s about half the price! Another example when following recipes and tailoring them to meet your budget needs is changing the cut of meat. If the recipe uses scotch fillet steak, try a cheaper cut like rump or porterhouse instead – just give the fat a little trim! Buying cheaper fruit and vegetables is all about buying local and in season which is what I cover next.
4. PURCHASE IN SEASON
This is a big one guys. I’m a big believer in buying in season. If it’s in season in Australia, you’re supporting Australian farmers by buying their produce instead of imports. As a result, transport costs are lower, the price of the produce is lower, and that means less emissions being pumped into the atmosphere due to transportation. In August, Australian supermarkets are selling peaches for approximately $14/kg, which reflects the international cost of transportation!
So, purchasing in season is not just a great way to save your dollars, it also makes you responsible consumer, working towards a sustainable Australia. Tick, tick, tick. On that note, don’t forget to take your own bags to the supermarket!
So, these are all the tips and tricks you need to eat healthy on a budget. But remember, food is about family, friends and having fun so keep things cheap but cheerful. And, whether your budget baking or conservatively cooking, there’s always the exception to the rule, and room to splurge!