Cheap and Healthy Meal Ideas
These days, sugar packed, ultra processed and confectionery items are often the most affordable options and good quality, good for you, whole foods can come with a price tag. However, eating healthy can be done on a budget, with a few considerations when you pop to the supermarket and our cheap and healthy meal ideas below.
Tips for the supermarket
Stick to your shopping list
If you’re committing yourself to a healthy lifestyle, we encourage you to avoid snacking and alcohol for the first few weeks. By removing these from your shopping list, you’ll naturally be lowering your weekly supermarket shop – it’s often these things that are the most expensive and add to your trolley, without noticing!
Not only this, by cooking fresh, whole foods at home, you’ll be saving on your weekly (or more than weekly) takeaway.
A few ingredients to bulk buy
On The Fast 800 Online Programme, our members receive weekly meal plans and shopping lists on all available diet plans. The following ingredients appear very frequently on our shopping lists; although it may appear as you’re spending more money initially, buying bigger quantities often saves in the long run as the cost per 100g, rather than per product, is far cheaper.
They also have a great shelf life, meaning you won’t need to worry about them going out of date.
- Olive Oil (larger bottles can be a similar price for double the quantity).
- Nuts and seeds (make sure to look at the price per kg, rather than the price of each bag – packaging can be very deceiving).
- Hard cheese, like parmesan, can last for up to 6 weeks. Always look at the back of the supermarket shelf as you’re likely to find the same products with a longer best before date.
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Herbs and spices
When it comes to herbs and spices, it may be a higher upfront cost however, they last for a very long time. When you do run out of your most loved spice, consider buying top up bags and using a funnel to top up the reusable jar you first purchased them in. You may even be able to find much larger bags (if you have the storage space) in bulk buy stores.
If you have a little extra time each week, shop around and try different supermarkets to get the best value for your money.
The most expensive doesn’t always mean the best quality
It’s often the case that supermarket own brands are just as nutritious and sometimes have less sugar than the premium branded options. Always check the ingredients list and opt for the ones with the most amount of ingredients you recognise, with the least amounts of processed ingredients or additives that you’ve probably never heard of. A good rule to stick by is to aim for products with ingredients you would be happy to have in your own cupboards.
Shop in season
While our nutritionist-developed meal plans are structured, if produce isn’t available where you live, or is out of season, you can change this to suit you and your location. As a global community, we encourage our members to eat seasonal vegetables, even if it means changing their recipes a little.
Get a loyalty card
Although they initially take a little time to set up, supermarket loyalty cards can save you a lot of money. Some supermarkets reduce the cost of their products by simply scanning the card and others offer vouchers from points reward systems. There’s no harm in having multiple cards for different shops (so long as there isn’t an added cost for owning one).
Frozen fruit and vegetables can be a much cheaper option which also reduces food waste. It’s also a good idea to check the reduced section for cheaper meats and freeze them immediately. Not only is it money-saving, but it’s also often better for the environment as supermarkets often throw these items away.
Be careful with multi-buy offers
While they can be great, multi-buy offers can also be a way to encourage shoppers to spend double their budget for a product that’s not often needed, or may even have a short shelf life leading to food waste. If you do see a multibuy offer that you think may save money, check what the original price is first before buying to make sure you’re getting a good saving, along with the sell-by date. If you’re shopping for tinned foods, with a longer shelf life, it may be worth taking advantage of the multi-buy deals, provided you have the space to store them.
Finally, don’t go to the supermarket on an empty stomach – we all know that’s a recipe for quick grabs of “special” offers!
Cheap and healthy meal ideas
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