Food

Healthy eating on a budget

Contrary to what some people would have you believe, you can eat well on a budget.

For me, a healthy diet is filled with:

  • wholegrains
  • at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day
  • protein from a variety of sources (pulses, meat, eggs, cheese, milk)
  • a modest amount of fat

Buying junk foods and pre-prepared foods will eat in to your budget, and won’t provide as much nutrition for your money.

If you are unsure about what a healthy diet looks like for you, check the dietary advice on your health provider’s website or speak to a medical professional.

Wholegrains

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Wholegrains are the unrefined grains that contain the bran, germ and endosperm, and are packed full of vitamins, minerals, protein and fibre. My favourite wholegrains are:

  • Oats
  • Brown rice
  • Wholewheat pasta
  • Brown bread

We can use these as the base for our meals, along with potatoes – another delicious and nutritious carbohydrate.

Fruit and Vegetables

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Slash your spend on fruits and vegetables by eating seasonably. Not only is it good for your wallet, but it is better for the planet – flying strawberries around the world in December is more expensive than a quick lorry ride to the shop in June, and will produce far fewer emissions. To check what is in season, I use this site.

Protein

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Contrary to what some gym nuts would have to believe, you don’t need to start your day with a 6-egg white omelette, lunch on 2 chicken breasts and eat a 16oz steak for dinner, washing it all down with several protein shakes. Women need about 46g a day, and men about 56 (source). Also, protein does not have to come from animal sources.Pulses are packed with protein, and by eating them in combination with grains you can get all of the amino acids. Cheap sources of protein include:

  • Eggs
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Dairy products

And remember, for even more savings, buy your pulses dried rather than tinned.

Fat

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Many vitamins and minerals are fat soluble, so a modest amount of fat is important. I like to snack on a small handful of nuts, or dip apple slices in to peanut butter. Mixing up a little oil with some vinegar and mustard or herbs makes a delicious dressing to add to salads.

Serving sizes

Watching your serving sizes can help you keep your diet healthy and balanced as well as save you some cash. Try weighing out the suggested serving size rather than just eyeballing it, and you might be surprised that your portion size is very different to the recommended serving size.

What are you tips for eating healthily on a budget?

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