There’s no doubt about it — nourishing our bodies with good food makes us feel like the healthiest and happiest versions of ourselves. While we all know this, sometimes things get in the way of our healthy eating efforts. Whether it’s a packed social calendar, an undying love of sugary foods or just life itself — sh*t happens and it’s totally okay.
One of the biggest reasons people give up on eating healthy is that it can be pretty dang expensive. And when you’re trying to save for a holiday, new laptop or whatever else your heart desires, it can be pretty hard to justify making elaborate, gourmet feasts.
But the thing is — eating healthy and saving money don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, when done right, it can actually be much cheaper than living on McDonald’s chicken nuggets (not to mention a million times better for you.) Oh, and we don’t mean eating lettuce and tuna for every meal, either! With these 7 simple hacks, you can eat like a health-conscious queen on a shoestring budget.
1. Plan it out
Often, people spend way too much on healthy eating because they don’t have a plan. So, because you haven’t prepped your lunches for the week you end up buying takeaway salads daily — which can add up very quickly! Weekends are a great opportunity to plan out your meals for the week ahead. Then, you can use that to create a shopping list of what you’ll need. This will stop you from buying unnecessary items in the grocery store too.
2. Cook in bulk
While it’s always cheaper to cook at home than eat out, it can sometimes end up costing almost as much if you’re doing single meals. Or, the leftover ingredients end up sitting in your fridge until they go off! For this reason, it’s a good idea to cook in bulk — so you can eat one meal fresh and freeze the rest for later.
3. Shop seasonal
Not only is seasonal produce more fresh and sustainable, it’s also more cost-effective! Rather than deciding what you want to cook and buying the ingredients you need (no matter how expensive they are) it’s worth first finding out what’s in season and planning your meals around that. Then, head to your local farmer’s market to buy them for as cheap as possible! You can use Seasonal Food Guide to find out what’s in season and locate your closest farmer’s market.
4. Frequent the frozen aisle
No, we’re not going to suggest you stock up on frozen meals or fish fingers in the interest of saving money. But buying frozen veggies, fruit and even fish can be a great way to cut down your grocery bill. Not only are they cheaper and last for longer (so they won’t go off before you get around to eating them), they’re sometimes even more nutritious than fresh produce! This is because they’re frozen right after they’re picked (at their nutritional peak), while fresh produce takes longer to hit the grocery aisles.
5. Get ugly
When it comes to fruit and veggies, it’s what’s on the inside that matters. So, whether it’s perfectly shaped or slightly irregular, it’s still going to taste the same and be equally good for you. Thanks to services like Harris Farm’s Imperfect Picks or Woolworths’ The Odd Bunch, you can buy weird and wonky produce for a fraction of the price. You’ll also be doing your bit for the environment by helping to reduce food waste, too!
6. Utilise your slow cooker
When it comes to cutting your food costs, slow cookers are a seriously underrated gadget. Not only do they make it super easy to cook in bulk (you just throw in your ingredients and you’re good to go!), they’re a great way to save money on meat. This is because cheaper cuts of meat (think skirt steak, lamb shanks and pork shoulder) tend to be tougher and therefore, work better in the slow cooker! Need some inspiration? You can check out some of your favourite slow cooker recipes here and here.
7. Check out the unit price
One of the biggest mistakes people make while grocery shopping is ignoring the unit prices of items. This is printed smaller on supermarket labels and is the cost of the item relative to a certain unit of measurement (usually per kg or 100 grams). You can use it to compare the price to similar products from other brands. So, while that small bag of almond meal may seem cheaper at first glance, the larger packet may actually be the cheaper option per 100 grams!