Popular opinion would have you believe that it costs less to eat unhealthy, fast, processed foods than it does to eat healthily. This is a common misconception perpetuated by fast food giants and lazy people looking for an excuse not to put the effort into their health.
In actual fact, eating healthily can be significantly cheaper than eating rubbish. A good lifestyle is not just about having a great checking account – remember that you won’t be able to enjoy your hard earned savings if you’re run down and unhealthy.
Here are a few tips on how to maximise the health benefits and minimise the cost of what you eat.
Make small changes to your diet and wallet
Minor changes can be made to what you feed yourself and your family with no effect on the price you pay:
- Swap white rice for brown rice and white bread for multigrain.
- Ditch soft drinks and fruit juice altogether, they are overpriced and incredibly bad for your health. Water is free (kind of), so drink up!
- Swap from full cream milk to light milk– light milk has the most foliate and is best for you.
- Swap butter for margarine or an olive oil spread.
Even though meat is expensive, that’s no excuse to buy horribly processed muck instead of real, fresh meat. I suggest a quick google search as to what goes into processed meat products – this will put you off for good.
Instead of sacrificing quality, sacrifice quantity and buy less of a high quality meat product. Make up for the shortfall in calories with veggies and carbs. You should be eating three serves of red meat a week, but note that a serve is only a little more than a palm sized piece. And no, a Coles sausage does not count as a serve of red meat.
You should also be eating two serves of oily fish a week even though it’s frustrating that dieticians harp on about the benefits of oily fish when two salmon steaks can cost more than $20. The fix? Get your oily fish from a tin. Canned salmon or sardines have the same nutritional value as fresh fish and go great in salads, omelettes or bakes.
Be clever with your grocery shopping
Try to be wise about what you buy. Buy fruit and veggies that are in season so you get a lower price and keep a stock of inexpensive staples like bread, rice and canned goods. Buying in bulk is another way to save, especially with products that freeze easily like bread and meat.
When you’re cooking, buy basic supermarket brands, like Home Brand, where you can. Items like pepper, flour, milk, honey, dried fruit and brown rice are all essentially the same whether you buy the cheapest or the most expensive. Beware of some supermarket brand products however as they can be highly processed.
Cooking in bulk and freezing leftovers is another great idea since you minimise waste and thus save money – just make sure what you’re cooking is nutritious in the first place.
Final tips to eat and save healthily
Get educated! The greater your understanding of nutrition, the better choices you can make.
Follow the general rule that you should buy the best quality, freshest and most organic food that your budget allows.
Lastly remember that children have different dietary requirements to adults and you should consider this when deciding what to feed them.