Increased energy and vitality, a slimmer waist-line, decreased stress levels, there are numerous benefits to taking a cold, hard look at you and your family’s diet and making tweaks and changes that have a positive impact. However, undeniably one deterrent is cost – because banishing processed foods in favour of fresh produce can hit your pocket hard. Still – there are smart ways to eat a nutrient-dense diet WITHOUT forking out mega-bucks.
Here are some things to consider:
1) Make everything you can from scratch
Consuming processed food is a healthy-eating no-no – AND it usually works out cheaper to make meals from scratch. You don’t have to be the world’s best cook, but there is lots of help available online and on numerous free-of-charge apps
2) Veg out
Sweet potatoes are a great example of affordable healthy eating; they’re filling and release energy slowly. An extra portion of leafy greens at meal-times will fill you up – making you less likely to need to snack later in the evening.
3) Use your freezer
Make a big batch of hearty casserole and stick portions in the freezer for days when you don’t have time to cook. Cut down on food waste too by freezing any leftovers. And if you have a few things that are about to go off – make something (including sauces and soups) and freeze for another time.
4) Make the most of offers and deals
Keep your eyes peeled for great-value offers and deals; some mums swear they never buy a full-priced item! And there's always great value own brand healthy foods in the shops - like porridge, tins of tuna, and chicken fillets. You just have to buy smart.
5) Learn to love porridge!
You can quickly make a whole batch for the family in the mornings – even when you’re running out the door – and porridge is a lot more affordable than sugary cereals. It’s also a great winter-warming snack for the kids when they come in from school.
6) Cut down on meat
In Ireland, many people are in the habit of eating meat with every meal – but, of course, this isn’t necessary nor is it particularly healthy either. Have meat-free days and consider more affordable meat alternatives such as lentils, various types of beans, chickpeas, and tofu.
7) No more granola bars!
Swap to nuts and dried fruits in lieu of forking out for pricey cereal or granola bars. Pop a selection of raisins and mixed nuts into mini lunch boxes too rather than buying pre-packed, individual portions – which works out more expensive.
8) Plan your meals
Take some time at the beginning of the week to work out what your family will be eating and when – and then shop for what you need.
9) It’s OK to splurge (occasionally)
Your family’s health and wellbeing is a priority – and being fit and eating healthily should reduce the amount of times you need to visit the doctor. Fewer take-aways, treats, and snacks all lead to big savings too – so it’s OK to splurge occasionally on a more expensive healthy treat.
10) Don’t forget to move
Exercise will really boost any wellness programme – and something the whole family can get involved in is walking. Better still, it’s totally free. Make an effort to leave the car behind more often, and make the most of the weekends to wrap up warm and head outdoors for some fresh air.