One of the biggest challenges I hear from people when they switch to eating a healthier diet is that it’s so much more expensive then what they normally buy. It can feel like a dramatic increase on your food bill, especially for those who aren’t just feeding themselves, but their families too. When you move to more of a whole food diet, consisting of good quality meat and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables it can feel more expensive. And whilst yes, your food bill may go up a little bit at first, I always like to think of it as a long-term investment in your health.
When you are healthier, your body functions better, you are less likely to get sick and you are happier person for it. To me it’s worth the little extra money you need to spend to get healthy. If money is one of those challenges you face, there are some things you can do that will help save on your food costs.
Shop in season – Get to know what fruits and vegetables are in season. Then when you shop try to base your meals around those ingredients. You definitely don’t want to be buying fresh berries in the middle of winter, as you will be paying double. Remember there are lots of fruit and vegetables that can be frozen too. So if something is on special and in season, buy it in bulk and then freeze it for later use.
Reduce your meat intake – If you are a meat eater, like me, this can make up a huge portion of your weekly food budget. By reducing the amount of meat in your meals you can reduce your costs. I’m certainly not suggesting becoming a full vegetarian (as I couldn’t do that myself) but you could try and start introducing a few meat free meals a week. If the thought of that does not go down well you can halve the amount of meat you have in each meal, making a cut of meat last twice as long.
Prepare your weekly meal plan – Every week decide what meals you will be cooking and what key ingredients you can use. Have a look at what’s in season or on offer and create your meals around that. Take your shopping list to the supermarket and be strict with yourself to stick to it. Also don’t go in hungry as that is when we tend overspend and also make some unhealthy choices of foods. If you don’t use up all the ingredients for one meal, see how you can turn them into other deliciously healthy meals for the next few days. Also don’t be afraid of eating leftovers. Make double at night and then you have something for lunch or dinner the next day. Making it far less likely to purchase lunch at work or those takeaways when you aren’t in the mood for cooking.
Store your fresh vegetables properly and organise your fridge – It’s so easy to forget what is in the fridge and sometimes some of the vegetables you buy ends up going off before you use it, simply because it’s stored in the back of the fridge and gets forgotten. Store the food with the shortest ‘best-before’ date towards the front so you know what ingredients you should be cooking with at the beginning of the week before it goes off. Find out the best ways to store your fresh vegetables, as there are plenty of tips and tricks for keeping those ingredients fresher for longer.
Move away from packets and pre-cut food – It can be very tempting to go for the quick and simple pre-cut fruit and vegetables, but these are often far more expensive, just because they have been cut up for you already. Buy the whole fresh vegetables and then pre-cut them yourself. If they are freezable items then buy them in bulk when on special, pre-cut them yourself and store in the freezer for later use.
Buy your fruit and vegetables from a market – As most supermarkets insist on fruit and vegetables that look good, are pre-washed and are often bagged or pre-packed you actually pay more for your fruit and vegetables than you do when buying them from a local market or greengrocers. If you are able to get to a market or greengrocers a couple of times a week you can save yourself a decent amount of money and help local businesses.
Think of your long term health – Yes, it can be hard to see your food bill go up but think of long term benefits you are giving yourself in your new healthy lifestyle. Eating cheap, pre-packed foods that contain all sorts of additives is not a healthy way to eat. This is why I say eating healthier is probably some of the best medical help you can give to yourself and your family in the long run.
I hope you enjoyed some of these tips. If anyone has anything they do to save money, I would love to hear them.
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