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Healthy Eating on a budget

Eating well is so important to me, even more so since I became a mum as I want my children growing up eating real food and to grow up understand that quick and easy doesn’t have to mean ready made.

I’m not saying there isn’t a place for convenience food, I’d be lying if I said I have never bought something that I could shove in the oven on a busy or stressful day, but is something that shouldn’t be relied on for every day of the week.

I’m always recommending cooking from scratch to clients, it doesn’t have to be time consuming, or complicated before you panic that I think you should spend hours in the kitchen. Most of the meals I make are ‘from prep to table in 30 minutes’ style, or meals that I could eat one handed if I have a child sat on my lap.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to cost you the earth too. Yes, there are absolutely some foods that I will spend more on, and I’ll save that for another blog… but these are my top tips for eating well on a budget…

1. Plan your meals

Plan your food for the week ahead; this means that when you do your shopping you only buy what you need. Not only does this save on budget but is also means that you will be less tempted to buy a takeaway as you “have nothing in”…..therefore saving your waistline too!

I still love cooking from a recipe book; I’d actually love to write my own one day (a girl can dream!) and I still use them every single week… Just not daily anymore. Making a recipe has become a treat now and when I’m choosing what to make I will make sure that I can use up any left over ingredients for another meal, particularly if they can’t be frozen (see point 5). Alternatively, I will double up ingredients when making a recipe (if it calls for only half a bag of vegetables) so that I can have a ready made meal for the next day (or I’ll freeze for a later date if possible).

2. Add in some vegetarian or vegan meals

Beans and pulses are so much cheaper to buy than meat (and a lot better for you unless you are buying good quality meat). There are 1000’s of great plant based recipes out there and over the coming weeks I will be adding some of my favourites to the website. Even if you aim to have 1 or 2 plant based meals a day you should notice your bank balance increasing and it is also much better for the planet.

3. Shopping wisely

Places like amazon often sell things like brown rice, quinoa, nuts, seeds, pastas and plant based milks in bulk at a fraction of the price of your local supermarket. It means working out storage space but having a few cupboard staples readily available can be really helpful for throwing a meal together on a busy evening too.

Shopping locally at a farmer’s market can also save a lot of money, the food is often fresher and tastes much better. Buying fruits and vegetables that are in season can work out cheaper too.

4. Make your own snacks

Shop bought snacks can be really expensive. You can make your own energy balls for roughly 50p per ball vs the average cost of £2.00 per shop bought energy or protein ball. You can make a huge batch of hummus for around £1.00 that will keep well for 3-4 days in the fridge, use this on rice cakes or with vegetable sticks for a really cheap, but protein rich snack. Roasted chickpeas are delicious and are very inexpensive to make. They make a great alternative to nuts or crisps and can be flavoured simply with sea salt, chilli powder, even cocoa powder and cinnamon for a sweet snack.

5. Keep waste to a minimum

If you have spare veggies left over at the end of the week, rather than throw them out roast them all to use in salads, which will make them keep an extra day or two or make up a soup and freeze it. This way you have an extra meal readily made for you in the freezer for when you are time poor.

You could also blanch the veggies and freeze them in freezer bags/ pots ready to make smoothies. (Blanching the vegetables/ fruit before freezing them helps retain as many nutrients as possible). Simply wash and chop the vegetables and add to a pot of boiling water. Let the veg cook for a minute or two (no more than this) then remove the veg and place into a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Add to a freezer bag or pot and you have a ready made batch of smoothie ingredients for a quick and easy breakfast/ snack.

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