How to keep healthy on a budget

Our stomachs will often choose the easy route when it comes to getting what they want – but, as most of us know, the easy way is normally the more expensive way. Don't let your hunger dictate what you eat.

To be honest, a lot of eating more healthily is down to time, not money. It is possible to eat healthily without opening your wallet wider. So here are some great tips and tricks To make your money go further and to help make you healthier in the process.

Buy more veg – less meat

I am not saying you have to suddenly uphaul your diet into a vegetarian one because that is not the case at all. But the truth is meat does cost more than vegetables and fruit, so to stretch your money further you should cut down your meat portions. Instead of having half of your meal consisting of meat, make it only a quarter and fill the rest with tons of vegetables. Or try more non-meat meals.

I love to just make a one-pot recipe where I pile in loads of vegetables and then odd bits of meat, which I flavour with lots of herbs and spices. You almost don't notice how many vegetables you are eating because they are all in one pot. Fill your plate with vegetables and treat meat as the side dish

Also, if you want to cut the shopping bill down even more, buy frozen vegetables. They are still healthy but won’t go off after sitting in your fridge for a week.

Cook, don’t microwave

It can be really tempting just to buy a bunch of microwaveable meals and not have to think about cooking. But for that one microwavable meal, you could buy all of the ingredients and feed a family and still have leftovers!

Also personally, I find that cooking stops me overeating. Because I am putting in the thought and effort to making a meal I become focused on just that one meal. Clearly this may not be true for everyone, but building up your cooking skills is always something you should try your hand at. You just might find that you love cooking more than you thought.

Prep your meal

Prepping your meals on a Sunday afternoon can really set you up for the week ahead, but, also, save you money. By simply prepping your meals for work you will stop yourself from running to the nearest supermarket and getting a sandwich at lunchtime. This will save you a huge amount of money as those convenience lunches at the supermarket are quite overpriced when you think about it. It is normally around £2.50 for a cheese and ham sandwich, when for around £4 you could buy those ingredients and have them for over a week.

Fill your diet with good grains and beans

I have already spoken about lowering your meat intake for a cheaper shopping list, but you need some source of protein and personally I think beans are the best. Try replacing the meat you use, with a nice three bean mix and you will be amazed how good and filling they are. Also, try swapping your white rice and pasta for brown and wholemeal versions.

Water is free

This is a very obvious and probably quite boring point, but tap water is free so drinking more of it will cut down your shopping list total. However, I do understand that it can be bland. So try adding different fruits into your water and possibly get a filter if you don't want to drink tap water.

A great tip is to freeze the fruit you want to use and then place it in a water bottle. This keeps your water cool for longer and slowly releases different flavour into the water throughout the day.

Buy in bulk

If you’re on a budget you may think that you can only buy the cheapest things, but really what you should be doing is buying your essentials in bulk. It may seem expensive at the time but, in hindsight, it will save you money in the long run. It’s best to do this with items you can freeze or with canned goods like beans, chickpeas and fruit. Not only will you save money on fuel going to the supermarket but also you will save money overall.

Shop at the right places and at the right time

My last tip is to choose your timing correctly. What I mean by this is make the effort to go later to the supermarket or to a farmers’ market, just before they are closing. These are the times that most fresh produce is reduced. Then when you get home you can simply freeze your fresh food and use it later.

Also, if you are wanting to experiment with more exotic foods then I would recommend not going to the supermarket for those specialised ingredients. Instead, look for the local continental food store that does have them. They will often be cheaper in price because they are bought in bulk. For example, if you fancy a Japanese ramen dish, find your nearest Asian supermarket. The price of all the special Asian ingredients you will need will be significantly cheaper than if you went to the supermarket and bought them.

You don't have to follow all of these tips, but you can play around with changing small things here and there and see what a difference it makes.