It is no secret that healthy eating is important, but it can be tough to do on a budget. A lot of the time when we are in the supermarket, we see foods that are marketed as healthy but have a high price tag on them which can put us off healthy eating or even trying to start a healthy diet.
Some say the reason for healthy foods being so high priced may be because of how they are stored and delivered. Websites such as thecoldwire.com have said that high costs could be due to many factors –
- The different seasons of the fruits
- Climate changes
- The regions – where they come from
- Price of fertilizer and transportation
- Storage costs
These are just a handful of reasons why, but it depends on the country and the access they have to fresh produce and other healthy products and nutritious foods.
Sourcing your foods for a healthy diet
Eating healthy does not have to be expensive. In fact, there are plenty of affordable foods that are good for you that you can add to your meals or make a healthy snack out of. A balanced diet is always important, but it can be hard to eat healthier when there are a lot of foods out there that taste good due to their high sugar and fat content.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are not all expensive, buying them frozen and during specific seasons can actually reduce the price, if you buy out of season then they will cost more. You can also opt for fresh fruit too if they are reasonably priced so your food bill does not rack up. Look at the price difference between frozen fruits and fresh fruits to see which would be less costly.
Lean protein is another cheap and healthy option if you go to the right places. Getting cuts from a butcher may be a little expensive, but they do put deals on every now and then so it’s worth having a look. Not only this, but you can be guaranteed that they are fresher and not pumped full of different ingredients to bulk it up, like you might find elsewhere. Otherwise, you may end up eating produce that’s not even 100% meat, so it’s worth spending that little bit extra for good quality meat.
You may also want to see about buying frozen fish as well, it will keep for longer and you get a good amount of protein in them as you would chicken without the saturated fat.
Grains and Dairy
Whole grains and naturally low-fat dairy products are also all excellent choices for people who still need the vitamins from these foods but do not want to go for the full-fat options which can cause weight gain over time.
Bear in mind that there are products that say ‘low fat/ reduced fat’, on them, these are not natural low-fat products like certain yogurts and milks, but have had the fat taken from them and sweeteners and flavours like chocolate, banana, etc., have been put in to improve the flavour, so you may find that you are not actually helping your body to be healthy or lose weight (if that is your goal).
It is important to avoid processed foods and sugary drinks. These foods are high in calories and unhealthy saturated fat, and they can wreak havoc on your health and wellbeing. Instead of creating nutritious meals with these foods, they are hindering your healthy eating habits.
Just taking a look at the NHS website can show how processed foods are detrimental to our health, with salt, sugar, and other additives being put in to add flavour as well as extend their shelf life so they can be kept for longer. People tend to eat more of these products as they are moreish, so they go over their recommended daily intake without even realising.
What happens when you do not eat healthily
When you do not eat healthily, you put yourself at risk for a variety of health problems. A poor diet can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, chronic diseases, and a host of other problems. It can also impact your mental health, causing anxiety and depression.
Poor nutrition is unfortunately pretty normal these days with a lot of processed foods being made available at reduced prices. It is easier to get fast packaged foods or microwave meals than it is to make food from scratch. With busy lives people want to go for the quick and easy, however, the quick and easy can result in poor health and further issues down the line putting a strain on health services.
The impact of poor diet on health and wellbeing
So what can you do to make sure you are eating healthy on a budget? Here are a few tips:
Cook meals at home whenever possible, and pack snacks for when you are out and about. It can be easy to just grab a chocolate bar or a packet of crisps before going to work or drop into a corner shop for a sandwich from the fridge at lunch. But if you plan ahead on the weekend you can save yourself time during the week and not reach for something unhealthy.
Creating a meal plan with healthy ingredients like a veggie cottage pie with kidney beans and leftover vegetables is a great way to get your five a day. It’ll help with putting away the stir fries and saving your money.
There are plenty of healthy recipes available online that you can work from, plus if you cook or make in bulk for the week and have them in the fridge ready to take, you are already one step ahead, and you are not reaching for your wallet to get something that could cause that afternoon sugar crash.
If you love chips, you may want to swap the chip shop for some homemade potato wedges that you can do with a lot less salt and a dash of olive oil. You could make some overnight oats instead of your normal bowl of cereal so you are preparing ahead of time and swapping out the sugar-loaded cereal with low-sugar oats.
There are swaps for your favourite foods out there, you just need to make healthy food choices to not only save money but take care of your health too.
Choose affordable ingredients:
Try to buy local produce whenever possible, and look for discounts at your local grocery store. Your local store will have offers from time to time, so it is worth looking out for them. Supermarkets can also have deals at certain times of the month or for the seasons, so check out when those typically happen and plan around those times. Affordable ingredients can include –
- Tinned baked beans, butter beans, and lentils
- Frozen vegetables and fruits, e.g. frozen peas and frozen berries
- Tinned fish/oily fish (some tinned foods have good nutritional value)
- Brown rice
- Celery sticks
- Cottage cheese
- Tinned fruit and dried fruit (these may be a little high in sugar, depending, so use sparingly)
These are just a few food options that may be a good idea to put on your shopping list for your weekly/monthly food shop. They are full of nutrients and low in saturated fats, and you can build on them to create different dishes.
Growing your own
On a side note, you may want to think about growing your own fruits and vegetables and other ingredients in your garden or community garden, even inside your home so you have them on hand. It will help with saving money and it promotes good nutrition for your family, so they can see that you care about food quality, heart health, and calorie control.
There are lots of ways to prepare healthy meals without spending a lot of money. Get creative in the kitchen! Do not hold back, and try foods you may not have before, you could find something that you previously shunned. There are probably many foods out there that you could enjoy which are the healthier choice and taste great.
Being creative does not mean spending a lot of money, you can make great dishes by using cheaper foods, and bulking them out with vegetables and rice/lentils, which will make them highly nutritious and full of fiber without breaking the bank.
Eating healthy food does not have to be difficult or expensive. With a little planning and creativity, you can easily make it work on a budget. Your health and wellbeing will thank you for it!
Taking an interest in the food you eat is always important, and if you have a family you want to show them that food can be enjoyed without the sugar and salt.