One of the greatest excuses used when it comes to healthy eating is “it costs too much.”
There’s a widespread pre-conceived idea that shopping for nutritious and healthy food is a costly affair.
Yes, a packet of crisps or biscuits may seem cheaper from the outset, but shopping for healthy food on a budget is easier than you think.
Using a few simple shopping hacks, we will show you how to improve your diet without spending any extra money…
Get Planning – Write a Shopping List
A big part of shopping wisely is about being organised.
The number one way to organise your shop is to plan your meals ahead and write a complete shopping list (or use a phone app).
We’re all guilty of going to the supermarket and reaching for that tempting, shiny-packaged junk food, so being prepared and doing a bit of forward thinking will help you avoid those tempting killer treats.
Learn Your Supermarket’s Layout
If you have a favourite supermarket that you always use, learn its layout.
This way, when you have your shopping list at hand, you’ll be able to head exactly to the aisles you need and avoid temptations that lay elsewhere.
Another great tip nutritionists offer regarding the psychology of supermarket layouts is to not automatically reach for the middle shelf, as this is where the most expensive brands are usually placed.
These days, we’re lucky enough to live in a world where competition is rife. Most large supermarkets offer a decent selection, so instead of grabbing the first item you see, look up and down the supermarket shelves and compare prices.
You’ll soon learn that the supermarket’s home brand is just as good as the rest and if you don’t believe us, have a bit of fun with the family by setting up a blind tasting experiment.
Make the Most of Sales and Special Offers
Each week supermarket’s offer some great deals.
Before writing your shopping list, check out what’s on offer in your preferred supermarket and find some delicious recipes match those ingredients.
This keeps your diet varied and interesting as well as helping you save those pennies!
Seasonal Shopping to Eat Healthier Meals
One of the best ways to get cheaper produce is to buy it seasonally.
To do this you need to plan your meals around foods that are in season.
For example, tomatoes will always be cheaper (and juicier) in summer and squash in winter.
As well as varying your diet, keeping mealtime interesting and saving you money, seasonal foods are always going to be that much more fresh and flavoursome.
Go Canned and Frozen
If you’re really craving fresh produce that’s out of season or just too expensive, there’s always the option of buying canned or frozen vegetables.
There’s a huge stigma surrounding such goods, but they do offer a good alternative to fresh items that you just can’t afford.
To reduce sodium levels when using canned vegetables, give them a quick rinse under cold water and you’re good to go.
Do be careful when buying canned fruits however; while they may be more tempting, especially in the colder months, they often have a lot of added sugar.
Make sure you check out the nutritional labels of all packaged produce first!
A simple rule of thumb is: the fewer ingredients, the better!
Refrigerate and Freeze Fruits
Fruit is always going to be a healthier option than other more common sweet snacks, but it can be expensive, especially if it’s imported.
Look for fruit that’s already ripened on the shelf – perhaps with only a day or two of shelf life left and pop it in the freezer for another time.
This is a great little shopping trick that will save you money and keep your meals nutritious; especially if you’re only going to be adding them to your favourite healthy smoothies later.
Most fruits freeze surprisingly well, even bananas and pineapples.
Buy Meat in Bulk
Meat is generally cheaper when bought in bulk.
Look for low-fat cuts of meat, full of protein and other nutrients, such as chicken and turkey, then stock up!
This way you’ll be able to prep meat for a variety meals, freeze/store meals and use any off-cuts for snacks.
Buying in bulk, freezing and preparing meals will help you to save time and money.
Enjoy a Few Meatless Meals
Meat is generally the most costly part of a nutritious meal but you don’t have to consume meat every day to obtain the nutrition you need.
If you’re an Instagram user and follow a few high-profile nutritionists online, you’ll often see them using the hashtags #meatlessmeals or #meatlessmondays.
There are plenty of delicious non-meat alternatives that offer the same amount of nutrients and proteins as meat, such as lentils, beans, eggs and nuts.
Adding more of these foods to your weekly diet will prove to be more cost-effective, while still boasting a good nutritional value.
If you really can’t forgo meat, try using less by bulking out your meals with chopped vegetables or pulses.
Add More Grains and Pulses
Grains and pulses are super cheap.
Dried lentils, peas and beans are packed with healthy proteins and fibre; they’re also a fabulous way of filling up.
They’re a vegetarian’s/vegan’s best friend when it comes to getting all the healthy nutrients you need whilst following a macro-based diet.
Need other ideas? See what vegan heavyweight champion Andre Groce suggested when we got chance to interview him…
Cut Down On Food Wastage
Finally, another way of saving more money in the long run is by finding ways of reducing any waste.
After you’ve finished your shop, make sure you plan to use up your more perishable items first. This includes things such as seafood (that’s not frozen), berries and salad greens.
Another great way to save is to make the most of your leftovers – there’s nothing wrong with taking your healthy leftovers to work or consuming them the next evening.
For all the busy parents and professionals out there, this will also save you a considerable amount of time.
The truth of the matter is that eating healthy doesn’t necessarily have to equate to an expensive supermarket shop week-in week-out.
Follow some of the above tips on how to shop wisely and you’ll quickly learn that making nutritious meals that the entire family will enjoy doesn’t have to be a chore nor does it have to break the bank.
Don’t ask why healthy food is so expensive. Ask why junk food is so cheap