Eating healthily needn’t be expensive. Age-net finds out how to eat well for less.
It’s impossible to avoid all the health scares with obesity documentaries and adverts everywhere, telling you that you should be eating healthy. You know that, but one glance at the supermarket shelf and you soon realise that eating healthy isn’t exactly suited to your budget.The good news is that is possible for people of all income levels to enjoy healthy eating with low fat foods, and it only takes a bit of forward planning.
A few food storage containers, some freezer bags, and some timely weekly shopping trips and you can be well on your way to shaving over a grand annually off your shopping bill.
Ten steps you can implement right away to lower your shopping bill
Do a weekly shop and stop stocking up monthly
Monthly shopping is all great for those working on a budget. It’s also the most risky thing you can do if you need to or even plan to stick to that budget plan.
The part that catches you out with a monthly shop is that you stock up with all the best intentions, and then you get bored sticking to the plan. Next thing you know, you’re reaching for the phone to order in, or taking an extra trip to the supermarket for something quick to eat, without the hassle of cooking it.
When you do your shopping weekly, you only have 7 varieties of foods to buy. A different meal for each day of the week. Variety is the key to sticking to a healthy eating plan. It’s even more worthwhile if all those foods are low in fat, and healthy foods, which will cost you less when you use the tips outlined here.
Stock up on food storage containers
If you can freeze it then you should freeze it, using either a freezer bag or a food storage container. The more containers you have, the more meals you’ll be able to freeze, and the more variety you can stock in your freezer.
Freezer bags are excellent for space saving and stocking more, but there will be some meals you make that aren’t suitable for the bags. Soups, casseroles and other liquid foods will need a container.
Don’t forget to label your bags and containers too, along with the date you stored them.
For those of you who live as a couple and not a family household, the one thing you’ll likely waste the most is bread. When you buy your bread, take out what you need, and freeze the rest. However many slice of bread you would normally go through in a day, put that amount into separate freezer bags. Then just take them out as you need them. Leaving them out overnight so they’re defrosted for the morning.
You’ll find you could double the life span of your bread, and possibly even longer.
Cook more at once
Whatever you make for the tea one evening, cook more of it so you can use it for a light lunch another day. It will be a smaller portion, but that’s the whole idea. To balance your diet, and that includes eating the right portions.
While everyone else at work tucks into their tuna sandwiches, covered in high fat mayonnaise, you can be eating a boiled egg salad with fresh tomatoes, vegetables, and low calorie mayo.
The most underrated food there is on the market is the frozen vegetables. These are picked fresh, washed, pre-chopped, and frozen to seal in the nutrients.
You are not getting any added nutrition by buying fresh vegetables.
What you are doing is paying more unnecessarily. Buy them frozen and take out what you need when you need it. They’ll last longer and you’ll still get all the nutrition you would have if you bought the produce fresh.
Buying locally sourced produce is great for environmental reasons, but when it comes to eating healthy on a budget, it’s all about taking care of your own pocket before lining anyone else’s.
Don’t judge based on the cover!
You know the saying about never to judge a book by its cover? That applies to foods too.
There’s a lot to be said for supermarket own brand labels. If you haven’t tried the own brand labels yet, then do yourself a favour and give them a try. They aren’t as poor quality as some would have you believe.
The most common excuse for them not being used is that they aren’t the same quality, or the taste is different from what you’re used to. If it’s beans or similar canned foods consisting of tomato sauce… try adding some extra. If it’s things like new potatoes, drip some margarine over them. For sauces that aren’t quite as thick, mix some butter through it.
Just one simple tweak to a supermarket own brand label can totally transform the taste and the texture of the food.
It can be quality without compromise. In most cases of brand labelled foods, they are similar to clothing. You pay for the label and the label doesn’t always represent quality!
If you wear George clothing, you’re wearing the Asda own brand label. Nothing wrong with that and neither is buying the green and white labels of food they have.
Every supermarket has a growing line of their own brand labels, so whatever food you prefer; try them.
If you’re not yet convinced, then consider the study done by moneysupermarket.com. That revealed that the average family household with a weekly shopping bill of £100 could save on average £1750 per year, just by switching brands. That’s the equivalent of 17 weeks you don’t need to spend on shopping. If you understand percentages more, you can chop a whopping 30% off your shopping bill.
Slow cook your meat
For meat eaters, the most valuable appliance will be the slow cooker. With it, you can buy thinner cuts of meat, without sacrificing the quality of taste.
By slow cooking thin cuts of meat, you are able to break down the fibres and lock in the taste.
Go easy on the portions and manage them carefully
When you’re making your meals, why not put the extras you cook into storage containers.
Chances are there will be someone in your house who just loves those second helpings. Take away the need for greed and store the extras for another day, rather than for a second helping when it’s not needed.
A day of meal preparation goes a long way
Think of the amount of times you order in takeaway. Maybe it’s because you feel like something different, or maybe you’re just fed up with the same old.
If you’re shopping weekly and mixing your recipes up, storing more in your freezer containers, you’ll soon have a variety of dishes stocked up in your freezer.
Chicken curry, lasagne, bolognaise, soup, casseroles etc.
The more variety you have, the less tempted you will be to order takeaway, which are usually lower in quality nutrients anyway.
Take a day just for preparing and cooking a meal each week, and you’ll soon find your freezer will have a variety of dishes to choose from. Variety is the key ingredient you need to eat healthily consistently. Without it, you will be fed up with any diet plan, and fall off the bandwagon.
Shop by weight and not by price
Could this be a secret the supermarkets use to rake in huge profits?
They know consumers want to buy in bulk. Frozen vegetables, whole chickens, and pre-packaged steaks. The total price means nothing if the weight isn’t taken into account.
Price per kg is where to do your cost comparison and not with the shelf price.
It doesn’t take a genius to work that £2/kg is less than £3.95/kg. Both products could be priced the same, but the overall quantity/weight of the produce is less or more. Not everything that’s pre-packed is the same weight, and there can be a big price difference between them.
Sometimes, you are cheaper to buy two half chickens, than you are buying a whole chicken.
Time your shopping for record breaking discounts not to be found elsewhere
Every supermarket has markdowns at certain times of the day. If the one you shop at is 24-hours, it will be trickier to find out just what the best time is to grab a bargain.
Nearly all perishable foods, such as breads, vegetables, and ready-made sandwiches are marked down in price. Same with other foods that are about to hit their best by date.
Not the use by, but the best by.
Supermarkets do not sell products past the best by date, but that does not mean you cannot use them.
The date for you is the use by.
Take advantage of the date difference and find out what time your local supermarket regularly marks down prices in the reduced to clear section.
It is in the evening, so head in from around 7pm, check the shelves and if there’s not much there, check the following week a little bit later.
Do that until you find the sweet spot and you will find remarkable savings. A loaf of bread can be as cheap as 10p. Snap them up and freeze them.
One last thing you will want to remember is to never shop on an empty stomach. You’ll be disgusted with the junk food when you start unpacking when you get back home.
It’s a proven fact that you will impulse buy high fat foods, and snacks when you’re shopping hungry. They’re convenient and to your mind it means you go home, stick in the microwave and be eating in under 5 minutes, or in the car or bus if it’s a bag of crisps or something.
Convenience is great, but not at the cost of healthy eating.
No matter what your budget is, with the right approach to your shopping, and cooking techniques combined with good storage, you can save a fortune and eat healthily too.