Are you one of those people who believe eating healthily is costly, both on money as well as time?
A nutritious whole-foods diet is the way you want to be eating to meet all your nutrient requirements, as well as maintaining healthy weight and digestive function. But let’s face it, eating this way does take time as you need to shop, prepare, and cook, and it also appears to cost more compared to packaged processed foods!
It need not be this way though, eating a diet high in healthy fats and protein mean you will probably end up eating less, inevitably leading to a reduction in both your weekly grocery bill and your waistline. There’s a lot to be learnt from various cultures around the world who eat economically by eating seasonally and preparing it simply… so here are a few hacks to harness these habits in order to eat lighter, cheaper, and faster.
Buy Produce in Season
Sure you can buy Nectarines if you really want to in July, however they’ve been imported from the USA and cost about $15 a kilo. This may seem like an obvious example, but many people have the perception buying fruit and veg is expensive, the truth is if they are in season they will be in abundance and therefore the major Supermarkets will often have them on special or at a low price in order to move the produce!
Meal prepping is literally a game-changer and not just the domain of the ‘gym junkie’! With your kitchen full of seasonal produce, making some meals to have ready on hand during the busy week will be a life saver, making the temptation for ordering in or resorting to highly processed ready-made meals from the supermarket virtually non-existent.
The ideas for meals you can make ahead are literally endless, but some great ones to start with to get into the swing of things include roasting a Chook or leg of Lamb to be used throughout the week for both lunch and dinners. As is making a Casserole or Bolognese to serve with a couple of different sides for those nights you come home from work and need to get dinner on the table.
Using the Cheaper Cuts
There are so many different cuts of red meat, chicken, and various types of fish that are far less expensive than their prime counterparts – and often contain more nutrition!
The cheaper cuts of Beef, Lamb and Pork such as beef/lamb shanks, blade/chuck/round steak, and the darker leg meat of Pork all lend themselves to long, slow cooking which breaks down the highly nutritious collagenous material that would otherwise make them tough if cooked quickly. Although these cuts don’t lend themselves to 15 minute meals on a Wednesday night, they are perfect to be stewed and braised on the weekend and packed into the freezer for the week ahead.
Most Chef’s would say the best parts of the bird are the darker more flavoursome wings, thighs and drumsticks. They are also higher in minerals and vitamins due to this and can be cooked both slowly and fast due the versatility they have in various recipes. And of course, they are MUCH cheaper than the ever-popular white breast meat.
Yes Salmon and Barramundi are an amazing source of nutrients and essential fatty acids, but they can be expensive - although there are plenty of recipes that can really make use of a smaller amount… think fish curries, fish cakes, fish pies etc. The smaller fish continually get overlooked and yet contain just as much nutrition, are easy to cook, are incredibly delicious and very inexpensive – you wouldn’t find the Spanish or Italians turning up their nose at Sardines and Mackerel.
Shop at Farmers Markets
The benefits of shopping for your groceries at Farmer’s Markets are monumental! You’re getting the freshest produce possible – much of which is organic, at sometimes cheaper or at least matched prices, you’re supporting your local farmers and local economy so you’re using your dollar to support a good cause as well as your health.
Most countries in Europe do not really have major Supermarkets like we do, people get their produce at markets that are sometimes open every day! Food is cheaper, tastier, and riper as there’s no need for transportation to areas kilometres away.
Avoid Food Waste
The amount of food waste occurring in this country is staggering, with an estimated $3800 worth of groceries per household contributing to the over 5 million tonnes of landfill each year. If we are buying food and not eating it, its no wonder a healthy diet seems to cost more than processed foods.
Nose to tail eating is currently trending but is by no means a new phenomenon, in fact many of our parents and grandparents will remember using the whole animal to make many dishes to sustain the family for the whole week ahead. It’s true the eating of organ meats has definitely seen a decline in recent decades, so although delicious if cooked properly, if you still find offal unappealing, saving bones for making incredibly nutritious bone broth can make your meat go further and nourish your family at the same time.
And when fruit and veg begin to look a little sad having laid too long in the crisper, don’t give into the temptation of throwing them away:
- Throw any veg into a pot with left over or fresh bones to add even more nutrient value to your bone broth or any soup or stew you’re making.
- Make a Frittata with all the left over veg/cheese/proteins that are still good for eating.
- Fruit can be simply peeled and roasted with vanilla and honey, or cut up and frozen for fruit smoothies, you will forget they were ever at the end of their days.