My feature ‘Countdown to summer’ has been running for a few weeks now; covering everything from how to indulge healthy, how to create a fitness mindset, and how to generally eat healthier.
My entire Health & Well-Being category, also includes interviews from fitness influencers (anyone interested in supplements – check out Bruce’s interview), recipes, and a host of articles on plant-based diets, smoothie making, and tips.
This week is all about supermarket shopping. The food I recommend purchasing, and how to cut down on overspending. As we know – healthy food can be costly. In regards to your budget, take what you will from this article; I have tried to include a variety of options to accommodate everyone.
Fruit and veg
Of course, a healthy shopping list has to include fruit and veg. The general guideline is to eat a wide variety of colours, with an emphasis on dark, leafy veg.
How to save:
- Stock up on frozen. I like to buy a mix of frozen fruit. These can be warmed up on the stove – either on their own, or with vanilla extract, cinnamon, coconut, etc to make a sauce. Other ways they can be used: dessert fruit recipes, a substitute for ice in smoothies or water, in a smoothie bowl, or to simply defrost and eat. Frozen veg can be also be handy. Let’s say a recipe you want to make, calls for a handful of cauliflower. Rather than buying a whole fresh one, buy a bag of frozen.
- Go back to the basics – have a rough plan. Overbuying will lead to overspending and gone off produce – how off-putting is it, when you see old fruit and veg in your fridge! If you like tomatoes or spinach in your salad, look for another recipe that requires these ingredients. Ask yourself how can you use up something. Oranges for example, can make an amazing substitute for refined sugar, in chocolate cake.
- Break down the categories. Choose one option for dark, leafy veg, another for citrus fruit. Don’t stock up on similar options, unless you are confident they will not be wasted.
- I always keep tins of chopped tomatoes. You can mix in vegetable stock and herbs, to make sauces. Much healthier than buying packet made.
Carbs/lunch & dinner
If you find yourself eating too much bread, potato and pasta (not that should ever ban these), switching to black beans, lentils, quinoa etc, can be a fantastic option. Packed full of protein and nutrition, legumes are very filling – as is quinoa, and can easily be replaced, in most meals.
Sweet potatoes are fantastic on a bed of salad. Slice them into wedges, cover in olive oil and herbs (I love paprika and Italian seasoning), and cook for around 23 minutes.
How to save:
- Again, as always – have a plan. Sweet potatoes in particular, can easily sit in the cupboard for weeks on end.
- For one-off options, look for tinned versions. I like keeping a couple of green lentils in the cupboard. They go perfectly with curry.
- Check the different aisles. Sometimes lentils for example, can be much cheaper in other aisles where you may not expect to find them. Some places keep them with the rice and pasta, the health section, and even the world food aisle.
- Sometimes it helps, just to stock up on a range all in one go. Then you can divide noodles and beans for one week, pasta and quinoa for another.
There is a myth – people place animal produce, as a key source of protein. There are many plants high in protein; legumes which I mentioned. We do not actually need as much protein as we believe we do.
How to save:
- For fish eaters, switch to frozen. Most places have deals going on routinely, in the frozen fish aisle. Wild Alaskan salmon and cod, are two great options.
- Meat will always be expensive compared to other ingredients. The best thing I could recommend, is to divide your meat into weekly options. Chicken for lunch one week, turkey for the next etc.
- I had to mention tofu. What you can do, is slice the tofu into pieces, cover one half with a type of sauce/flavour, and the other half in another. You can divide them into two separate dishes.
I generally live dairy-free. I found dairy to be a huge trigger for my acne. For anyone that loves almond milk – try oat. It is much sweeter (they both contain the same amount of sugar), and when poured on my cereal, I do not require honey or syrup. As a treat, I buy dairy-free ice-cream – I now prefer this to regular, and choc-shot – a dairy free chocolate sauce.
How to save:
- Make your own yoghurt pots at home. I like to take a pot and fill it with oats, add milk, (if you eat dairy) layer yoghurt on top, followed by frozen fruit. Set in the fridge overnight and you either have a dessert pot to come home too, or a breakfast pot to wake up too.
Not enough people, who can eat these, choose to eat them. Whilst I can’t offer tips on saving with them, I select one option of nuts, and one option of seeds weekly. Pumpkin seeds raw or toasted, can be topped on anything as an extra source of protein. Cashews/hazelnuts/almonds, can make the perfect base for a vegan dessert. You do not even need a high-powered blender – the old-fashioned, rolling-pin method with a tea towel, can work well.
Other food options
- Apple cider vinegar. A couple of tablespoons in lemon and water, helps with your digestion. It can drizzled (use a tsp) onto salads and meals. As a salad vinaigrette – mix with olive oil, honey and mustard.
- Coconut flakes/desiccated coconut. Brings a really nice flavour and topping for smoothies and desserts.
- How can I not mention oats!
- Cocoa powder in replacement of hot chocolate. Longer lasting with no refined sugar – one tablespoon mixed with milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon and nutmeg. Desiccated coconut sprinkled on top.
- Coconut milk – for curries, icing and desserts.
- Apple sauce – Surprisingly mixes with sweet potato, and a tsp can transform a smoothie.
- Olives – look for the large tins and not the small plastic packets. The tins last much longer and you get far more for your money.
- Dried seaweed – a small packet can last for ages. A big source of omega-3. Let the seaweed sit in water for a few minutes, then top onto any meal.
- Dark chocolate – The higher percentage of cocoa – the healthier. I like to melt two squares in the microwave, and I find it helps to completely cut my chocolate craving. Rather than eating a whole bar or two.
Extra money-saving tips
- You don’t need to go to health food stores to be healthy. Farmers markets can sometimes be cheaper than the supermarkets, and usually sell very similar items, as health stores.
- Where possible, look at the larger sizes. Usually, you can receive more for your money.
- Try to make what you can at home.
- Cook large batches to store in the fridge. Let’s say my lunch carb for the week in quinoa, I will make a large bowlful in the fridge, and serve differently each day.
- Plan – go to your supermarket with at least a rough idea. It really helps in sticking with a budget and not going overboard.
These tips are quite simple, yet when put into practice, make a substantial difference. After reading, is there any tips you will take on board and do you have any that I have not mentioned?