Eating healthy for little
Te Rito Gardens Kenepuru.
Cannon’s Creek Community Pantry, Mungavin Ave.
Te Maara @ Cornwall, Cornwall Cres. Burgers and chips are cheaper than healthy food – right?
Wrong. A Porirua couple have proved it is possible to eat nutritious food on a tight budget.
James Michael and Leanne Myers ate on less than $50 a week last year, but did not resort to cheap, unhealthy food.
The couple were unemployed and lived off the grid on a 17-acre property in Waikanae.
‘‘We’ve been in the negative. It was really tough times,’’ Myers said.
‘‘We went from having OK money to just having none. We got really grateful for what we had.’’
Now they run a composting business, Takecare, but they still eat healthy on a budget.
Michael said they managed to eat healthy by creating their own vegetable and herb garden, volunteering at a community garden and being resourceful.
‘‘Healthy food makes you feel good and that’s the key,’’ he said
‘‘If we feel good, our mind is going to work better, our emotions are going to be more relaxed, there is going to be less conflict in our lives and we will have more opportunities.
‘‘Being off the grid got us really connected to living with nature. We discovered we didn’t need much.’’
Their experience inspired them to help other people.
The Titahi Bay couple are starting Free Food for the People to teach others how eating healthy does not have to be expensive.
‘‘We are wanting to create a space for people to come and have a really nice meal for free,’’ Michael said.
‘‘People can get inspired for what they can do themselves.’’
Michael said volunteering at a local community garden was a great way to eat well on a small budget.
Among the couple’s favourite easy-togrow vegetables are kale, watercress and rocket.
‘‘You don’t have to do too much and they will just grow and provide your fam- ily with good food,’’ Michael said.
Myers said an easy place for people to start was by planting a few herbs.
‘‘It takes a little bit of care and nature will provide you with a lot in return,’’ she said. ‘‘We really learnt that.’’
She said another benefit to growing your own or using a community garden was that the food was organic.
The biggest challenge for healthy eating was feeding Michael’s 12-year-old son.
One cheap and healthy meal the whole family agreed on was nachos. Myers said all it took was a can of tomatoes, beans and a few herbs on top of corn chips.
School lunches were another challenge. The average lunch is made up of chips, a sandwich, roll-ups or other sweet treats.
But Myers said it was possible to put together a quick and healthy lunch on a budget. The family got creative by using rice crackers, fruit, corn chips, homemade pies and avocado dip.
Myers said herbs and spices were the key to transforming a boring meal into a delicious one.
Good for you: James Michael and Leanne Myers eat healthy and cheaply.