Frugal healthy eating
You can eat healthily without breaking the bank
YOU ARE NOT ALONE if you think healthy eating comes with a hefty price tag. Many Australians believe that healthy foods cost more than packaged, convenient, or fast food. However, this is not necessarily the case. Healthy eating on a budget really comes down to being savvy and planning ahead. This is especially the case when on the road.
Try these cost-saving ideas to help you make healthier food choices without breaking the bank.
1. AVOID THE HYPE
Foods that are promoted as being a ‘superfood’ tend to cost more and may be overrated. For example, a protein ball costs around $3 per ball compared to about $1.21 for grain crackers with a small can of tuna. Tuna and crackers are not only cheaper but they have just as much, if not more, protein and make for a great travel snack!
Other options could include a small handful of unsalted nuts for around 40 cents or a hard-boiled egg for 50 cents – this even allows for it being a free-range, jumbo egg.
Don’t buy into the hype, you are often paying more for packaging or convenience.
Sometimes paying a little more upfront can help save you more in the long run. For example, if you invest in a cooler or esky you can purchase food when it’s on sale and take it with you. This will reduce the need to stop for fast food, which can end up costing you a lot more – and we are not just talking about money but, over time, your health.
Having a cooler bag for the car also means you can buy in bulk. This is especially true for meat products. Buy lean cuts of quality meat when they are on special and freeze until later in the week or month when you may need it.
3. FRESH IS BEST!
Fresh food is packed with nutrition and lower in added salt, sugar, or fat. Not only this, but it can also end up cheaper.
The Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) highlighted the difference between some commonly eaten fresh versus processed food. For example:
• A serve of raw chicken is 100g (raw weight)
• Raw whole chicken = 66 cents per 100g
• BBQ chicken = 80 cents per 100g
• Pre-made chicken kebabs = $1.70 per 100g.
Although buying a whole raw chook might seem more expensive at first glance, once you work out the cost per 100g, you will see you get the most serves and more bang for your buck from the fresh raw chook.
Fresh lean meats, poultry, fish, dairy, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables are great choices. If you find that you are throwing out vegetables regularly, and technically throwing away dollars, try frozen varieties. They are snap frozen after harvest and still hold a lot of nutrition. They can be a healthy, longer lasting option.
Don’t just consider what you are eating but also what you are drinking. Tap water is readily available, cheap, kilojoule free, and the best option. Try to carry a reusable drink bottle with you when on the road that you can refill along the way.
Before purchasing your food, consider where you will purchase it from. You can often find value for money at farmers’ markets, grocers, butchers, and fish markets.
Your local supermarket may also have specials. Scope out their catalogue ahead of time to identify deals and when you are scaling the supermarket shelves do not forget to look on the high and low shelves as they can hold some of the cheaper items.
Be careful of foods you don’t need or want, especially ‘two for one’ deals – often it’s still cheaper if you only buy one of the items. Discretionary or ‘junk’ foods make up about a third of the average Australian adult’s intake. Reducing your intake of junk foods will save money as well as benefit your health and waist circumference.
Finally, when it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables, buy in season to save dollars (see the table below for some ideas).
These cost saving ideas can help you eat healthily on a regular basis. Eating healthy can also help reduce your risk of many health problems, including type 2 diabetes, or if you already have diabetes, can help you to manage it well and reduce your risk of complications – ultimately saving you money on medical bills.
For more help with shopping head to diabetesshop.com and purchase a copy of the Healthy Shopping Guide ($7.50).
“Reducing your intake of junk foods will save money as well as benefit your health.”