Eat­ing healthy for lit­tle

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By RHI­AN­NON McCON­NELL

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.

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