Bella (UK)

The thrifty way to SLIMDOWN

Most of us are feeling a budget squeeze, so we’ve put together a round-up for you on how to shape up while saving money


According to the Office of National Statistics, our food and drink prices have risen overall by almost seven per cent in recent months, with some items increasing by as much as ten-15 per cent. Worryingly, new research by yfood shows a third of us are buying cheap products at the expense of our nutritiona­l needs. The good news is, there are ways to decrease your food and exercise bills while you increase your health and weight loss! Here are 15 top ways you can do this.

1 Plan your meals ahead of time

“It’s easy to mindlessly do a food shop, throwing in items we think we need. This can rack up money and calories. So, go shopping with a plan,” says Josie Porter, Doctify reviewed dietitian at The Dietitian Method ( She recommends you plan most of your meals for the week ahead, with surplus for lunches. This will help prevent food waste and save money.

2 Balance your portion sizes

“Try not to cook more than you need. Not only will it help you save money, but it can stop you from over-eating,” recommends Sarah Coe, Nutrition Scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation. Check out the foundation’s practical portion size guide at

3 Get more greens in your system

The National Diet and Nutrition Survey shows we Brits are only eating four portions of fruit and veg a day – but at least five are recommende­d. The nutritiona­l experts at Discover Great Veg suggest adding kale or spinach to smoothies, soups, stir-fries or curries, as a cost-effective way to boost your veggie intake. They’ve created fabulous inexpensiv­e recipes, like spinach potato cakes with tuna (£1.09 per serving) and pork & kale meatballs with spaghetti (£1.39 per serving). Visit Discovergr­ our-recipes to find out more.

4 Buy more frozen and canned fruit and veg

“These tend to be cheaper and can be stored for longer. Choose those without added sugar and salt. If you want to buy fresh fruit and veg, those sold loose can be much cheaper than the pre-packaged alternativ­es, and you can always freeze anything you’re not going to use before it goes to waste,” says Sarah.

5 Question your snacking habits

“Snacks can lead to extra calories being consumed and more money being spent on food,” says Josie. She recommends you ask yourself if you really need a snack – is it true hunger or just a habit? If your stomach is rumbling, try inexpensiv­e snacks like boiled eggs and carrot sticks. If your snack urge is a response to emotions, like boredom or a low mood, try to divert your attention by listening to music or a podcast, or even better, by exercising.

6 Enjoy inexpensiv­e superfoods

The nutritiona­l experts at yfood (a nutritiona­lly complete food range, recommend including canned beans, oats, lentils, sweet potatoes and broccoli in your diet as they are inexpensiv­e, nutrition packed and can keep you feeling energised for longer.

7 Eat more plantbased meals

According to Yougov, many families are struggling to pay

their food bills, with over a third of Brits cutting out meat to help with costs. Quorn, a meat-free mycoprotei­n, have put together delicious recipes for under a fiver, like Quorn Spag Bol (£3.70/four) and Quorn Cottage Pie (£3.21/ four). Go to cheap-vegetarian-family-recipes.

8 Do batch cooking

“Batch cooking at the weekends is a great way to save money. I love to make a mixed bean chilli with canned pulses and tomatoes and celery, carrots and mushrooms. It’s versatile so can go in burritos, be eaten as a soup or with a jacket potato,” says Sophie Medlin, Consultant Dietitian and Director of City Dietitians (Citydietit­

9 Have more ‘fakeaways’

“Takeaways are typically an expensive choice and can also rack up calories. Try searching online for a recipe of your favourite takeaway instead,” says Josie. You can adjust the recipe to help reduce calories and increase nutrients, like adding extra veggies on to a homemade pizza or switch out frying for baking.

10 Buy brand values

“Check out supermarke­t value brands as these are usually great value for money and nutritiona­lly there is often little difference to the standard/branded versions of some foods,” says Sarah. For example, Morrisons Savers Cottage Cheese is 75p, 300g versus Langley Farm Cottage Cheese, £1.49, 250g.

11 Go for wholegrain­s

“Stock up on wholegrain­s and higher fibre foods like oats, wholemeal bread, brown rice or rye crispbread­s, which can help us feel fuller. Wholegrain­s are great to base your healthier meals on and, if stored properly, foods like pasta and rice can last a long time so can be bought in bulk to save money,” recommends Sarah.

12 Eat seasonally

“Enjoy more seasonal fruit and vegetables. These are in abundance at that time and so are cheaper in the supermarke­t. Eating seasonally also means you vary your diet more through the year, helping the microbes in your gut to be happier,” says Sophie.

13 Free body and mind exercises

Nuffield Health say, on average, we only tend to do 40 minutes of exercise a week, instead of the recommende­d 75. But don’t panic – to reach this target just do an extra five minutes a day. Choose something free and easy like walking or gardening. This is great for your mental wellbeing, too, which is why they’ve teamed up with Judy Murray MBE to launch their Find Time For Your Mind campaign, to encourage people to #Find5 a day (Nuffieldhe­ healthiern­ation).

14 Do online classes

It’s not just the cost of gym fees, (the average is £40 a month), but the price of travel to get there and back that can be prohibitiv­e. So, check out exercise classes available online. We like Fiit’s new Only Plans. For just £7.99 a month you’ll get access to 30+ training plans (

15 Free workouts while cleaning

Lynsey Crombie, This Morning’s cleaning expert (@lynsey_ queenofcle­an) and author of The 15-Minute Clean (Welbeck, £14.99) has teamed up with a personal trainer to create a get-fit-while-cleaning workout. Here are her top tips: Add lunges while you vacuum and switch hands to use different muscles; when reaching up to clean windows and kitchen cabinets stand on your tiptoes to engage and tone your calf muscles; clean your floors on your hands and knees to burn more calories than using a mop; when putting away laundry split it into piles so you go up and down the stairs a few times rather than once; strap on ankle and arm weights when doing a deep cleaning session; add in squats when picking up toys; set your timer for five to ten minutes and clean in one room as fast as you can to get your heart rate up; have a cleaning playlist to dance as you clean for more calorie burning.

NB. If you are pregnant, breast feeding or have a medical condition please seek profession­al advice before changing your diet or exercise routine.

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