Increased economic pressure coupled with our heightened awareness of the importance of a good diet for good health, meal preparation can be a headache for those charged with the task! Finding the time and financial resources to always prepare delicious, nutritious meals, is not easy.
Here are some best buys for cost and nutrition to help you eating healthy on a budget.
• Find a supermarket near you that’s consistently cheaper and buy most of your food there. Buy vegetables and fruit from a greengrocer if you find that the latter is less expensive than the supermarket.
• Compare the price of items per 100g or per 100ml. Use a pocket calculator to do the calculations.
• Buying house brands generally costs less. This holds true in most cases, but there are some exceptions.
• Buy products that have been less processed, for example a bunch of carrots will cost less than fresh carrots that have been cleaned and packed into a plastic packet or frozen.
• Choose less refined foods. Refining makes a product more expensive and the process strips it of fibre, vitamins and minerals. For example, standard brown bread is often cheaper than white bread, and generally much cheaper than special breads and rolls.
• Don’t cut down on fruit and vegetable intake. These are “protective foods” that guard against disease. Rather save money by buying more vegetables (fruit is generally more expensive). Fresh fruit and vegetables are also cheaper than canned or frozen ones.
• Fresh produce – always buy fruits and vegetables in season. Look for large bags of frozen vegetables. They may be bargains and you can cook just the amount you need, close the bag tightly, and put the rest back in the freezer.
• Make your own snacks – purchase mixed nuts, dried fruit and lean biltong in bulk then portion out into little Tupperware containers or zip lock packets. The smaller portions also help with controlling over munching!
• Use a shopping list instead of spontaneous unprepared shopping. Also have a snack before you hit the aisles. If you are hungry, everything in the store looks and smells so good that you could blow your grocery budget on prepared foods or in the snack aisle.
• Cook with legumes as they stretch meat dishes and provide so much goodness….not convinced…look out for delicious recipe ideas from the recipe book range called ‘Eating for Sustained Energy’ by G Steenkamp and L Delport.
• Make a personal collection of quick and easy recipes. Look for recipes with short preparation times and that use ingredients that you usually have available.
• A bit of planning can go a long way to helping you save time and money, such as the following:
Freeze meals so that you have easy to grab meals for those very rushed evenings.
Roasting vegetables in larger quantities and keeping them chilled for a few days makes for quick reheating and adding to meals, or for instant use in salads.
When cooking meat such as chicken or savoury mince make more than is needed, freeze in smaller portions, the size of the palm of your hand. Ready-cooked meat can be added to cooked sweet potato, tinned chickpeas, piled on top of seed loaf toast or into a mini pita pocket with lots of salad vegetables.