Updated: Oct 29, 2020
Sometimes you need to get a bit creative with what’s available right now. Your grandparents were probably experts at this. An ability to create from nothing is an amazing skill to have at any time. And when we’re ‘back to normal’, you’ll save a fortune. Obviously, when I say ‘nothing’ this is not entirely true. Sadly, we are not magical Harry Potter beings. However, there are some surprisingly cheap, easy and tasty meals that come from the store cupboard/ leftovers. You might be a person who is used to using up leftovers or you might not be. Either way, our current circumstances mean that it will be helpful to get good at this. Today I want to share some of my favourite resources, tips and recipes to help you:
HEALTHY EATING ON A BUDGET:
1. Include protein at every meal and snack
Protein keeps energy levels stable. It is also essential for the body’s growth and repair, as well as for healthy skin and nails. Protein is found in meat and poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, beans, pulses (like chickpeas and lentils), quinoa, nuts and seeds. Protein should make up a quarter of your meal (about the size of a clenched fist).
Vegetarian protein sources, like beans and lentils, are the most economical. Consider going meat-free one or two days a week. You can also stock up on eggs for a relatively inexpensive protein fix. Eggs sold as “mixed” sizes are cheaper than the regular all “large”, or “jumbo” varieties.
2. Eat plenty of fiber
This means eating lots of vegetables. The recommendation is five (5) portions of vegetables and two (2) portions of fruit (ideally low-sugar fruit like berries, apples, pears, plums) a day. Fibre keeps energy levels constant, balances your hormones, fills you up, and keeps you regular.
Fruit and veg are bursting with beneficial plant chemicals that fight inflammation and disease. Different colours tend to represent different plant chemicals so eat a rainbow of colours over the course of the week to get the broadest benefit.
3. Choose healthy fats
Eating fat doesn’t make you gain body fat. The body loves omega-3 fats, which are healthier than others. The body loves omega-3 fats, which are known to boost mood, support the stress response, and reduce inflammation. Omega-3s are found in oily fish (salmon, trout, halibut, cod, mackerel, sardines), flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts. Other healthy sources of fat include avocados, cold-pressed virgin olive and coconut oil, and raw nuts and seeds.
Frozen fish is a far cheaper option than refrigerated. Aim for wild-caught fish, avoid farmed fish.
4. Beware of ‘starchy’ carbs
Don't rely heavily on pasta, bread, rice and potatoes but these (especially when eaten without protein) can spike blood sugar levels, which causes your body to store fat.
Instead, swap to wholefood alternatives – wholemeal pasta and bread, and sweet potatoes – and keep these to no more than a quarter of your plate.
Many people bulk up meals with starch, especially when eating on a budget. Your body will love you for bulking meals up with seasonal veg instead. Some veg can be used to replace traditional starchy carbs – think cauliflower and broccoli rice, butternut squash waffles or courgetti (zucchini noodles).