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6 tips for eating healthy on a budget
Posted 5 March 2019
With so many options these days, from organic and biodynamic fruits and veggies, to a staggering amount of trendy health foods, it can be hard to eat healthy and stick to a budget.
But it doesn’t have to be. We spoke to Themis Chryssidis, dietitian and managing director of Adelaide’s renowned Sprout Cooking School and Health Studio, about some tips and tricks on how to keep your budget in check and your health happy at the same time.
1. Eat at home more
Whether it’s the media, people around us or simply lack of knowledge or habit, we’re often prone to assuming that eating healthy means breaking the bank. Themis says this is certainly not the case, particularly if you make a conscious decision to eat at home more often. He says skipping your regular take-away is not only more cost-effective, but it’s also healthier for you, more often than not.
“If you add up your grocery bill for a week for three meals per day plus snacks for a family of four, it will, without question, be more affordable than eating out,” he says. With added bonuses like leftovers and knowing what’s on your plate, Themis says cooking at home is a great way to keep healthy and watch your pennies.
“You know what ingredients have gone into your food and can make a decision as to how much you should eat. This is an important part of food and nutrition education.”
It’s a common misconception that frozen fruits and veggies carry less nutritional value than their fresh friends, but Themis says this is not the case. Stock your freezer with some frozen fruits and veggies (they’re super cheap too) and pre-make freezer friendly meals – you’ll love your past-self when you discover that veggie stir-fry in the freezer.
Themis also suggests buying things in bulk when you see them on special. That way, you’re grabbing a bargain that you can simply enjoy later.
3. Eat more vegetables
Many of us don’t realise that veggies are one of the cheapest ingredients at the supermarket. This doesn’t mean you have to be vegetarian or vegan, but simply eating less meat, or incorporating some meat free days can really help keep the budget down.
“Make veggies the majority of your meal and the meat component no more than 25% of your plate. Your meal will be easier and a lot cheaper!”
4. Shop seasonal
Buying seasonal foods can also be a great way to keep your costs down. It also makes for an ever-changing, interesting diet. Bonus!
“When produce is in season, it’s local, readily available, good quality, high in nutrition and more affordable.”
5. Plan, plan, plan!
It’s no secret, and you’ve probably heard it before, but planning your meals is a great way to keep track of your spending and keep your grocery bill as low as possible. It also makes for a more organised week, and less chance of that mid-week take-away because your fridge is empty.
“The average Australian household wastes over $1,000 per year on food,” Themis says. “By planning your meals, you make healthier choices, you don’t engage in last minute spontaneous takeaway purchases, you create a more varied and balanced plan because you are considering your intake more holistically and you can be realistic about what you will cook on certain days of the week.”
6. Don't diet, keep it simple
Themis also says that being healthy doesn’t have to mean a structured diet with expensive health foods and specialty smoothies. Keep it simple with a moderate diet every day.
“So many people think that eating a healthy diet is nothing but green smoothies, low carb and vegan, but eating healthy should not be a diet, or a way of eating for a specific period of time,” he says. “Healthy eating is about enjoying a wide varied diet, making healthy decisions most of the time, enjoying food with friends and family and ultimately needs to be sustainable.”
To kick-start your healthy habits at home, Themis has provided a few simple suggestions that are cheap, easy and totally delicious.
- Tuna toast – tin tuna + tin corn + diced capsicum + cherry tomatoes + avocado + cream cheese + olive oil + lemon juice on whole grain toast
- Homemade baked beans – tin tomatoes + garlic + chilli + smoked paprika + carrot + celery + tin cannellini beans on whole grain toast
- Vietnamese chicken salad – poached chicken breast in stock + shredded green apple, carrot, wombok + lots of mint, coriander and bean sprouts + Asian dressing (brown sugar, fish/soy sauce, lime juice) + peanuts