With the cost of groceries soring at the moment, there’s never been a better time than now to focus on how you can shop for groceries to produce healthy meals on a budget.
While it might seem obvious, planning your meals and writing out a list is so important when it comes to budgeting and focusing on healthy choices. Many grocery stores now offer online shopping options, where you can place your order online, and get your groceries delivered to your house, or pick them up directly at your car boot.
Both of these methods help with meal planning, but also aid in physically distancing from others during the cold and flu season. If you want to go into the grocery store to do your shopping, you can look for specials, and you can also find prices online before you go.
Firstly, it’s important to focus on getting all of the nutrients that you need when you plan your meals. Choosing healthy foods doesn’t always mean being expensive. For example, you might want to have banana and blueberry smoothies for breakfast. Usually, frozen blueberries are far more affordable than fresh blueberries, and they last much longer.
Also, buying foods in bulk when they’re on special helps to save money. If bananas are on sale, why not buy a big bunch of them, and freeze them into portions after you’ve peeled them. If you’re planning to freeze fruits and vegetables, freeze them when they’re at their best quality. Ensure that you wash and dry them thoroughly, and let as much air out of the bag before you seal it. And finally, label your bags with dates. Nothing lasts forever!
Another reason that we love the freezer is that you can freeze leftovers and avoid wasting food. There’s no need to try and adjust recipes to suit one person if you live alone. Still, cook the recipe according to the ingredients and the number of serves recommended. Then freeze what you don’t eat, and save it to enjoy another day.
With modern technology, you can find an abundance of healthy recipes online. In addition to this, most supermarkets provide magazines with some healthy recipes for you to choose from. They also advertise these recipes online and give you a breakdown of nutrition and current costs.
Nutrition Australia and Dietitians Australia offer many healthy recipes to choose from and nutrition advice too. Once you’ve browsed their recipes, and found the one’s that you’d like to cook, why not jump online and work out if those meals fall under your budget. If they’re more expensive than you’re able to afford, then look at swapping some of the ingredients.
Swapping ingredients to create meals on a budget will save you a lot of money sometimes. For example, you’ve decided to cook an Italian bolognese, and the recipe states that you need 400g of baby Roma tomatoes – Canned baby Roma tomatoes are about $4.30 per kg. Fresh baby Roma tomatoes are approximately $25.00 per kg. This is a massive difference, and a huge saving if you’re able to use the canned tomatoes.
Also, a recipe might specify that you need to use iceberg lettuce. Iceberg is so expensive at the moment. As an alternative, you might choose a cheaper option such as cos lettuce. Or a recipe might state that you need to add prawns. Usually, you can swap your proteins. If prawns are too expensive, why not swap them for chicken breast as a more affordable option?
Grocery stores also offer catalogs online and in-store, that include weekly specials. If you’re meal planning on a budget, have a browse through the specials before you plan your meals. Eggs might be on sale, or fresh beans might be a bargain that week. You might be able to buy a large packet of wholegrain cereal instead of the regular size, at the same cost. Whatever it is, planning ahead will definitely save you money and allow you to make swaps to fit into your budget, and still be healthy.
When you’re budgeting and want to eat healthily, there are some important steps to follow. Firstly, healthy eating starts with choosing a variety of healthy foods, as per the Australian Dietary Guidelines.
Shop sparingly when it comes to discretionary foods. These include alcohol, salty foods, saturated fats, and foods high in sugar. Usually, packaged and heavily processed foods will have a higher fat and salt content. Avoid stocking your cupboard with fried foods, cakes, and biscuits.
Furthermore, reduce the amount of lean meats that you add to your cooking. Meat can be really expensive. You can still add meat, but bulk up your meals with grains, legumes, and vegetables. This will make your budget go further, add vitamins and minerals to your meals, and often reduce the calories of the meal too.
Choosing healthy meals on a budget takes effort, but with time and practice, it will become second nature. Remember, when you’re planning your meals for the week, balance is the key. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a meal out, or a coffee and cake one morning with friends. It is all about balance.
Work hard at reducing discretionary foods in your day-to-day meals. Opt for low-fat options, low salt options, and sugar-free options. Fill your pantry and fridge up with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy. And remember to drink plenty of water. always opt for water as your drink of choice, and avoid sodas and sugary juice.
You can find further nutrition support here, and some great healthy recipes below:
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