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On the cheap: Healthy Eating part 2

Posted Mar 29 2012 10:09am

Last week I gave you Healthy Eating part 1 , and now I have even more tips for you! I seem to have picked up a lot of these things when I’ve been on my big budget challenges and just generally trying to save money. As I said last week a lot of people think its extremely expensive to eat healthily but as long as you shop smart there’s no reason why it has to be.

I honestly believe that healthy eating begins with what you put in your trolley. If you don’t buy crap your not going to eat crap!

Look in the reduced sections

I always check out the reduced sections to see what’s on offer. The ASDA near where I work always has some great things in their fruit and veg reduced section, most of the stuff still has a good few day’s left in them as well. I’ve also started checking out the reduced bin at my green grocers which has lots of bags of older or bruised fruit and veggies in bags for 50p or 20p. These are fab for using in smoothies, juices or soups. You can also often pick up some good deals on reduced organic meat and fish which you can then freeze. Some supermarkets only reduce things after a certain time, so it might be worth shopping later at night if your looking for bargains.

Use keep fresh bags

stay fresh

Lakeland and probably other shops as well, sell green ‘ keep fresh’ bags . These are bags that you can store your fruit and veggies in the fridge and they stay fresher for longer. I’ve been using these successfully for a few months and they are handy if you can only shop for fresh stuff once or twice a week. They work very well with greens and fresh herbs. I rinse out and reuse the bags a couple of times too.

Eat seasonally


I’m such a big fan of eating as seasonally as possible, I tend to feel so much more in tune everything that way. It is a bit difficult when so much produce is air freighted in, but generally when you are buying seasonally you are getting the cheapest stuff. I would love to buy more locally but often what is on offer is the stuff that has been shipped in and I think you need to weight up the pro’s and con’s for yourself on that one.

Look for cheap swaps

Some recipes can require expensive ingredients but many of these can be swapped for something cheaper and still taste great. For example:

  • Kale, usually £1 for a 200g bag where I shop can be swapped for spring greens, usually £1 or less for a 500g bag
  • Raisins tend to be cheaper than dates
  • Peanut butter cheaper than almond butter
  • Sunflower seeds cheaper than a lot of other nuts but can be used in a similar way depending on the recipe (they make a great ‘nut’ milk instead of almonds)

Think outside the box and you can still make more expensive recipes on a leaner budget.

Meal Plan, but be flexible

I’ve blogged before about how much I love meal planning. I find it the best way to cut down on food waste and be generally organised as well as ensuring I’m getting the nutrients I need. More recently though, I have been trying to take a more flexible approach to meal planning which allows me to take advantage of buying that last minute reduced fruit or on offer packet of veggies. Most meals can be tweeked if you need to change up the veggies last minute and fruit can often be changed with something else depending on the recipe. I find that this allows me to have the benefits of meal planning but still be able to take advantage of the last minute deals that help you save money.

Do it yourself

P1110174 (2)

Doing it yourself when it comes to certain things can save you a fortune! I’ll admit I have some expensive tastes when it comes to things like nut butters, snack bars, raw crackers, salad dressings etc. However most of these can be made at home if you have a food processor. Even my cheap £30 model can make amazing raw nut butters like the ‘rawtella’ pictured above for a fraction of the price you would pay in the shops or online. This also extends to things like making your own baked goods and soups – almost always cheaper with the added benefit that you know exactly what’s in them, no nasty preservatives!

Eat less meat

I’m not just saying this cause I’m a veggie but good quality meat is pricey! Even before I became veggie I was cutting down on my meat because it was so expensive. What I’ve found with some of James meals is that I now replace the meat with Quorn. You can also try experimenting with cheaper cuts of meat or using beans or tofu instead of meat in some of your meals. Try frozen edamame in a stir fry instead of chicken for example. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing if you don’t want it to be.

Buy in bulk


Going back to a tip from part 1, when you know what your grocery staples are it makes it easier to know when its worth buying in bulk. When I see something like my favourite non dairy milks on offer I always buy a few cartons because I know that they will get used up. I always buy the huge 3kg bags of pasta because James eats a ton of the stuff. It really does help you save, as well as cutting down how much you have to purchase on a more regular basis.

Use discounts effectively


As well as supermarket discount and points schemes, a lot of online health food retailers have discount codes knocking about (see my sponsor section to the right for just a few!). It is well worth using these strategically. I’ll try and hold off buying ‘health foods’ for a while and then place a big Goodness Direct order so I can get the discount off and get £35 of goods for £25. I also save all of my loyalty card points during the year to spend on a big Christmas shop!

Whole foods first

Finally, I think the most important thing to remember when it comes to healthy eating on the cheap is not to get too hung up on special ‘health foods’. Yes they are fun to experiment with and can give you that extra sparkle but whole foods are where its at! You are far better spending money on good quality whole foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes and good quality diary, fish and meat (if you eat them) than spending a fortune on special health foods. Get the foundations right with an every day whole foods diet first and then, if you can afford it, try out the special health foods like protein powders, super food powders etc.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these healthy eating on the cheap posts! Part 1 can be found here along with On the cheap: Exercise and On the cheap: Beauty .

What are your healthy eating on the cheap top tips?

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