“It’s too expensive to eat healthy. It takes too much time to eat healthy”.
If you stopped 100 people in the street and asked them the definition of healthy eating, chances are not many would suggest cheeseburgers, pizza, takeaway food and fried food products.
However, with obesity levels rapidly increasing- 62% of adults in the UK classed as overweight or obese- we need to stop and think about the reasons behind these frightening statistics.
According to recent studies, the price gap between healthy and unhealthy food is broadening.
Food products marketed as ‘healthy’ are estimated to cost up to three times more than unhealthy or unlabelled products.
When talking about ‘healthy’ products we are not referring to branded labels, super-foods or the latest health craze product. We are simply making a comparison between fruit, vegetables and shop-bought ‘junk.
Adopting a healthier way of eating can appear significantly more expensive than grabbing a ready-meal or fast food chain meal, however, being educated about how to shop, cook and eat healthy can reduce the price of healthy food, reduce your waistline and increase your overall health and well-being.
Additionally, can we really put a price tag on our health?
Many people will mindlessly purchase a new clothing item for £30 and only wear it once or go for a meal out and spend at least £30.
However, shopping smart could cost just £30 for an entire week of healthy food. Which would you prefer, a new item of clothing each week or buying fresh nutritious food each week that will result in a slimmer, healthier and happier you.
Top tips for eating healthy on a budget:
- Frozen fruit:
Fresh fruit is expensive and has a short shelf life meaning you need to consume it within a few days of purchase. However, frozen berries cost a lot less and can be stored in the freezer for months meaning you aren’t throwing them out. Nutritionally, frozen fruit contains all the same vitamins and minerals as fresh fruit as they are frozen straight after being picked.
2. Frozen vegetables:
Just as frozen fruit is inexpensive and non-perishable, frozen veg is an instant money saver. Buying packs of frozen veg means you always have veg on hand to throw into each meal and reach your 5-A Day.
We all know that eating your bowl of porridge in the morning has many health benefits. However, many people buy sachets of instant porridge which can cost around £2 per 10 portions compared to buying a 1 KG bag of porridge at less than £1 and dividing it into at least 20 portions.
4. Fresh fish:
Fresh fish is often expensive and knowing that fish contains essential nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids means we are caught between spending money and having good nutrition. Swap your fresh fish for tinned versions such as salmon and tuna. They are much less expensive but still contain those vital nutrients.
5. Try wonky vegetables
It is thought that around 40% of vegetables go to waste because supermarkets have strict ‘aesthetic’ regulations. Some supermarkets now sell ‘wonky’ fruit and veg for a reduced price. These products are still fresh, flavoursome and nutritionally dense, they just might look a bit… well wonky.
6. Shop around:
Some supermarkets are much cheaper than others. They may not be your local however if you are working with a tight budget, it may be worth the extra travel to save money each week. Compare prices on mysupermarket.com to find the cheapest supplier.
7. Prepare your own salad:
When asked what their idea of a healthy lunch is, most people will think salad. You can buy ready-made salads from the supermarket however this will cost around £2-3 per box. Making your own salad with spinach, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, tinned tuna, cucumber or whatever you like, will cost much less per portion and will likely be a lot bigger and more filling.
8. Bulk up your meals with pulses:
Beans and lentils are low in calories and saturated fat whilst containing high levels of fibre and vitamins. At around 30 pence per tin of kidney beans, they are a very cheap way to bulk up meals such as chilli con carne, fajitas or spaghetti bolognese.
9. Shop at the right time:
An hour before the store is scheduled to close is when items that are due to go out of date are heavily reduced. The shop needs to sell them otherwise they will go to waste. Look for the yellow reduced stickers to bag yourself a bargain. Even if you don’t need dinner for that evening, buy the reduced products and freeze for a later date.
10. Plan a week’s worth of meals:
On a Sunday evening write out a meal plan for the entire week and head to the shops equipped with a list of the exact items you need. Try not to deviate from this list by getting drawn in by special offers (they are most commonly unhealthy)
Heading to the shops every day to buy dinner for that night is more expensive than doing multiple days worth in one go. Make it part of your weekly schedule to head to the shops and buy in everything you need for that week.