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Have a tight budget? That means meal planning and grocery shopping can be a challenge. Not only that it can be difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle whilst tightening your (money) belt.
Over time we have collected some great habits So, we decided to round up the best titbits of advice.
Buy in Season
When fruit and vegetable are in season they will be abundant. That means that supply outgrows demand which in turn means cheaper prices. This will go against a lot of advice, where you are told to plan and stick to it. Instead, head to your supermarket/ local market and see what is on sale.
If you want to plan, find out what is in season in your area here. Now you might return home from the market with two – three bags of eggplant or peppers. This where you need to put your thinking cap on. You need to get creative or you will never want to eat an eggplant or peppers again. How about grilled eggplant and chickpea curry...or eggplant parmigiana or...smoky eggplant and walnut dip!
You May Need to Compromise
You might like granny smith apples but love red delicious. But what if Granny Smith is .99lb compared to 5.99lb for Red Delicious this week? Well, go for granny smith you will never look back on life and remember the week you had to eat your second favourite type of apples!
The same goes for meat. If you're at the supermarket and see a reduced-price cut go for it. You might discover or create a new family favourite. Find bacon on sale? Either throw that in the freezer for bacon and egg breakfasts or use a preserving method. You could try making bacon jerky, this is a winner with everyone in the family and it will last for months!
Buy in Bulk
If you see a good deal grab it. You can always bring it home portion it and throw it in the freezer. Make sure you always write on the container what it is and the date you froze it. You will never know when that 500 gms of mince will come in handy!
Also, keep an eye out for grains and beans on special. These always keep well in the cupboard and can be a great go-to rather than spending $40 on pizza!
Frozen Vegetables Are Your Friend
Not only are these a time saver, you never have to worry about them going bad. Keep a mix of corn, peas, beans, broccoli and cauliflower in the freezer. It will ensure you always have an easy side dish on hand.
They are dead simple to prepare (step 1: stick in the microwave. step 2: season. Step 3: eat!)
Try seasoning the vegetables with chili oil or just some dried Mediterranean herbs!
Stretch Homemade Meals
Use inexpensive and healthy staples to increase the bulk of your meals and make them last longer. For instance, consider adding a bit of brown rice to a pilaf or more broth to a soup.
You can use starchy food to increase the size of your healthy meals as well as last longer.
If you make a chili try roasting some potatoes and topping the potatoes with the chili. Or you can try adding legumes to your curry.
Rather than throwing away leftover use them for another healthy meal. See some ideas below;
Roast chicken for dinner? Use the bones to make a chicken broth for a healthy stew or soup.
Leftover rice from your curry? Try using it to make burritos for left the next day. In a wrap throw the rice, canned beans, grated cheese and any veggies you have in the fridge and your good to go. Try doing this straight after dinner while you still have everything handy.
Is your bread going stale? You have two options, one is to put it in the freezer. You will get at least another week out of it (as long as you toast it!) or top the bread with olive oil and seasoning (Italian herbs are best) heat it in the oven. You can enjoy a crunchy snack now or put it in an airtight container and use it for croutons
Leftover milk? If you have milk going off in a few days try your hand at making cheese. Making your own ricotta or mozzarella not only saves a lot of money but can be really satisfying not to mention delicious!! All you need is a cheesecloth, milk and some vinegar. There is no need to buy a cheesecloth, you most likely have something in your home you can use!
Try to Eat Vegetarian 2-3 Times a Week
Poultry, beef and seafood have become the centre of our plates. We are used to building our meal around this type of protein. However, they are pricey items and can easily be replaced.
Try using other low-cost protein items such as eggs, beans or soy a few times a week. You could try a roast pumpkin, sweet potato and eggplant lasagne or maybe homemade gnocchi with pumpkin seed pesto and cherry tomatoes.
Store Food Correctly
Food waste is a huge problem around the world. In the US alone, over 70 billion pounds of food is wasted due to not being stored properly. Do you know where to store your milk in the fridge? Did you know the warm part of your fridge is the door, so that is the last place you want to be storing your eggs! Find out the optimal places to keep your food here
Nothing can be more annoying than the prospect of making a yummy meal, to then only realise that a few of ingredients are already spoilt!
The Bottom Line
As you can see a healthy diet doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive. There is ample nutrient dense affordable food you can purchase without breaking your budget. In fact, you will it cheaper to buy healthy food rather than eating out or processed junk food, trust me, give it a try!