Healthier choices don't have to mean heavier bank balances - sometimes it's as easy as simply writing a shopping list...
If hefty price tags and confusing mantras have thus far discouraged you from adopting healthier habits, you’ve come to the right place. More than anything here at GTG we believe eating a happy, healthy diet doesn’t have to cost a fortune or be overly complicated. All it takes is a sprinkle of savvy shopping, a dash of preparation and a glug of good spirit.
So, enabling you to have your (low-fat) cake and eat it, here are five top tips on how to whittle down your waistline while widening your wallet.
It sounds simple but a lot can be said for having a little structure when planning a healthy week ahead. By organising a clear evening menu plan for the week it’s much easier to identify exactly what ingredients need to be bought - this not only helps you keep to a tighter, more streamlined budget but also prevents you from veering off and buying excess (and often unhealthy) items when perusing the aisles.
The practical prepping doesn’t have to end with dinners. Countless nutritionists and fitness experts, including The Body Coach Joe Wicks , promote the benefits of spending an hour or two on a sunday night cooking up lunches for the following week. It may seem like a lot effort, but believe us, it’s a tried and tested measure of ensuring you stay on a healthy eating regime - not to mention an arm and a leg cheaper than eating out everyday. When in doubt, simply remember that “failing to plan is planning to fail”.
2. Practical pulses
Pulses, sometimes referred to as a ‘grain legumes’, are a super cheap (1 pack of lentils is £1.50), low-fat source of protein, are jam-packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals and even count towards one of your five a day. Typically an edible seed in a pod, they include all types of beans, lentils and peas and can make great wholesome food substitutions.
In particular, their filling and often comforting consistency make them an ideal switch for carbohydrates such as pasta or potatoes. Their high protein content also means they can be a healthy choice for meat-eaters. Add pulses such as kidney beans or quinoa to soups, casseroles and meat sauces to add extra texture and flavour - this in turn means you can use less meat, which makes the dish lower in fat and even cheaper.
3. Freezer friends
While a punnet of fresh berries or a bag of fresh salad can make a delicious and nutritious addition to any snack or meal, they often come with a pretty hefty price tag and an extremely short shelf life. So, to make sure your getting in all the goodness while still getting a bang for your buck why not try investing in some bags of frozen fruit and veg - this way you always have a bag of greens or berries on hand that you can simply toss in at the end of a stir-fry dish or into your morning breakfast smoothie. Not to mention if the fruit and veg is frozen when fresh, it can often contain greater levels of nutrients than fresher options. Super cheap and lasting for months - what’s not to love?
4. Spice up your life
Another great option that allows you to cut down on calories while also streamlining your spending is to introduce a range of condiments into your cooking. Aim to keep a selection of dried herbs, spices, curry powder, marinades, vinegars, tomato and soy sauces, along with stock cubes in your cupboard and add them to dishes instead of salt - not only will they help to enhance the flavour, colour and vitality of your meals, but a lot of these items also contain powerful health benefits and will help cut down on the excess sodium, fat and cholesterol of regular dishes. In particular, spices such as turmeric, cayenne pepper and ginger have been proven to contain powerful anti-oxidants as well as also having antibacterial, antiviral and heart-health properties.
5. Tools of the trade
While investing in cooking utensils may come with an initial (sometimes painful) price tag, it’s a one-off purchase and use of these little gadgets can be hugely helpful in helping you whip up your favourite cheap and healthy dishes time and time again. Here’s my top three recommendations:
Hand blender, £18.99
The cheaper alternative to a full-sized mixer, hand blenders are an invaluable kitchen item that help you to create everything from soups and smoothies to curry pastes and dips. Simply shove your ingredients in a bowl, blend et voilà! Three days work of butternut squash soup in an instant. Buy online here .
Hemsley & Hemsley Spiralizer, £29.95
Turning your favourite seasonal vegetables into spirals in just a few minutes, this recently released spiralizer by fashionable foodie sisters, the Hemsley’s, is a great tool. Useful for packing meals full of nutrient rich vegetables, spiralized veggies can be enjoyed raw and served crunchy, or softened as they are tossed through a hot sauce or marinated in a dressing. In particular, we love substituting in courgette for a cheap and cheerful take on spaghetti bolognese. Buy online here .
Ideal for cooking vegetables without adding oil, steamers also help to retain more of the nutrients and antioxidants than boiling or frying does - it can also be used to steam fish too. Simply place veg inside, boil water underneath and crisp, al dente vegetables are ready within minutes. Buy online here .