It’s been a long time coming, but in the third part of my ‘surviving the diet’ blog series, I’m going to tackle diets on a budget. Healthy eating is notoriously expensive, so how can we make do when money is tight? Here are a few things I learnt, mainly while cutting my teeth dieting at uni.
Having a list of your weekly meals, or even just knowing what you’ll be having tomorrow is a great way to stave off food waste, and therefore save money. I absolutely hate wasting food – part of me dies inside every time I have to – and planning has helped me to combat this.
2. But be flexible
So this one seems like a complete contradiction of the first, but let me explain. You may have thought you’d be having leeks with your salmon, but if leeks are expensive, and asparagus is on offer, opt for the latter. You might, of course, come across a splendid find in the reduced section too. As long as it’s not sabotaging your goals, go for it!
3. Try a grocers
Grocers can be expensive for some things – in particular, I’ve found they don’t offer the same bargain packets of peppers and things that supermarkets do. But also they can be great as most things are offered loose, and when things are in season, they’re generally a steal. I wanted a single tomato – something that my local supermarket didn’t offer, so I visited the grocers instead. No food waste, and I got what I wanted for literally pennies.
4. Buy frozen
Frozen options are also a great choice. Frozen fish is generally much cheaper, and particularly if you’re going to add breadcrumbs, spices or a sauce, then you’re really not compromising in taste. Frozen fruit is fab for banging in porridge – no need to defrost, grab and a handful and bung it in straight from the freezer.
5. Cook in bulk
Buying in bulk often saves you money, so why not cook in bulk too? Particularly at uni, when I cooked mainly for myself, I found freezing a meal a great way to make sure I was eating healthily without breaking the bank. Or, you could keep it in the fridge, and cook two meals at the beginning of the week, alternating them each night.
6. Soups, soups, soups
It’s no secret I love my soup maker. But even if you don’t have one, making a soup is a great way to mop up leftovers in a healthy, nutritious way. There’s nothing more satisfying than making something out of nothing, and honestly with a stock cube and a few veggies, you really can do that. You know exactly what’s going in too – shop bought soups are often loaded with salt, sugar and other things we should be careful of.
7. Go meat free
I’m guilty of this myself, but we often base a meal around the meat. So for one night a week, why not try going meat free? The Meat Free Monday initiative could really help.