Food & Drink

Nutrition: Eat well on a budget

Only put things on your menu plan that you and your family like to eat
Only put things on your menu plan that you and your family like to eat Only put things on your menu plan that you and your family like to eat

HEALTHY eating does not (and should not) have to be expensive. We can all make little changes to our planning, shopping and cooking habits to help us eat well on a budget. As we all try to tighten our belts and make our hard earned cash go a little further, here are some ideas to help you eat well for less.

GET PLANNING

Do you shop on the hop, or are you well organised and know what you eating from day to day?

Planning ahead is better for your wallet and your health. I encourage my clients to plan for three or four days, rather than whole week, as most of us have no idea what we will be doing next Saturday, never mind what we will have to eat next Friday night.

Planning for a few days is a lot more manageable that a weekly menu plan, and it tends to generate a lot less food waste too.

When you are doing your menu planning, sit in the kitchen, so you know what foods you already have, and you don’t end up buying another can of tinned tomatoes.

Use ingredients you already have to plan your meals. For example, if you have some chickpeas, a bag of rice and a tin of coconut milk, all you need are some vegetables and curry paste to make a really good curry that can be stretched to dinner for a couple days.

Keep it realistic. Only put things on your menu plan that you and your family like to eat. If you want to make things a little bit healthier, add some extra vegetables to your recipes, choose wholemeal pasta instead of the white stuff and add some extra fruit to your shopping list.

I know it sounds obvious, but use your menu plan to make your shopping list. You can do this in the notes page on your phone, on a supermarket app, or on the back of an envelope - and whatever suits you best, just remember to take it with your when you go shopping...

SHOPPING

When you hit the shops, be a savvy shopper and look at the price per 100g, litre or 100ml. That way you are comparing like for like and might bag a bargain, rather than looking at the unit price. There can be a big difference in price and sometimes the better value option is not the cheapest one.

Choose unprocessed foods as they are usually a lot cheaper. For example, a block of cheese, not grated cheese; oats, not cereal; olive oil, not fry light.

Don’t forget to head to the frozen section to stock up on some fruit and vegetables. It's just as good for you as the fresh stuff, but a whole lot cheaper and less wasteful.

Don't be tempted by special offers, unless you really need the thing and it’s on your shopping list.

Use your supermarket loyalty card and keep your supermarket vouchers on your phone, or if you have the paper vouchers, keep them in your shopping bags and don’t forget to take them with you.

COOKING

You’ve gone to all that effort of planning and shopping, so don’t waste the valuable food you have bought. Use every last bit of it. It is estimated that at the average household in Northern Ireland could save £700 a year by reducing our food waste.

Get into the habit of batch cooking. Cook once, eat (at least) twice. A portion for tonight, leftovers tomorrow and one or two portions in the freezer for another day.

Us your air fryer, slow cooker and microwave to save on ever-increasing fuel costs.

Bulk out all recipes with pulses and vegetables - better for you and better for your budget.

For more useful tips, check out lovefoodhatewaste.com