It’s a topic I’ve discussed before – but one which I am really interested in – how much is it possible to eat a healthy diet when also saving money?
I suppose it does depend on your definition of ‘healthy’ and definition of ‘budget’. I do believe it’s possible to eat well and healthily for less than what most people spend. There’s no reason to live on ready meals and processed food, because cooking from scratch can be lots cheaper.
For me, the most important thing in a healthy diet is to eat plenty of fruit and veg. It’s the number one thing I’d never let my budget stop me from doing. Even if you can’t afford fresh blueberries and sprouted seeds, you can get your five a day – a banana at breakfast, tinned fruit as a snack, carrot sticks with your lunch and peas and cabbage with your dinner are all really cheap and just as good for you.
But obviously eating fruit and veg isn’t the be all and end all of a healthy diet. I’m not a dietician or a doctor and I think that everyone needs to make their own mind up about what constitutes a healthy diet, but I think we can all agree that most people in the UK eat too much. Cutting portions sizes could help you lose weight and save money – suddenly your pack of pasta does six instead of five portions, a pack of mince makes extra pasta sauce for the freezer and that’s another dinner sorted.
Cutting down on processed snacks like crisps, biscuits and chocolate is also a good way to save money and you don’t need me to tell you that they aren’t doing you any good. Plus, if you drink fizzy drinks you could save a fortune by switching to tap water – healthy and free.
Talking about other aspects of diet gets tricky. Should you cut down on meat, carbs or both? Is dairy bad for you? Wheat? Or is it OK as long as you’re eating whole grains?
I try not to get too complicated with this and my general rule is that I’m happy to eat it as long as it’s homemade and not processed. I don’t eat too much meat (and this saves me money), but that’s more down to personal preference than anything else. I do try to make sure there’s a decent source of protein with each meal now, but that’s often beans and lentils, which are cheap, or nuts, which you only use in small quantities anyway.
Carbs like pasta, bread and rice are the cheapest way to fill up, much cheaper than meat and veg, which is one reason that eating better can cost more – it’s not very healthy to fill up on lots of carbs. By cutting down on waste, mealplanning and dropping brands, you can have extra money leftover to allocate to good quality meat and fish and fresh veg. If the pennies are really tight, think about using pulses and cheap veg like onions and carrots to bulk out meals instead of too many carbs.
So what do you do to make sure you’re eating healthily without breaking the bank? Leave any suggestions in the comments!