Written by accredited dietitian Themis Chryssidis
From Sprout Cooking School & Health Studio
Food purchases often make up a large part of our spending, but tightening your budget doesn’t have to mean healthy eating goes out the window. In fact, Themis Chryssidis, dietitian and managing director of Sprout Cooking School and Health Studio says there are many ways that a healthy diet and saving money go hand in hand.
To make use of seasonal, inexpensive, nutritious produce, Themis recommends the following tips:
While it’s great to show support for local food retailers, Themis says we should be careful not to start living beyond our means.
“If you add up your grocery bill for a week, it will, without question, be more affordable than having someone else cook for you,” Themis says. Plus, there are the added bonuses of leftovers and knowing what’s on your plate.
“When we cook our own meals we are more likely to put an emphasis on vegetables and lean meats, and we can keep sugar and salt to a minimum,” Themis says.
If you want to avoid excessive spending and extra trips to the supermarket (and who doesn’t), then meal planning is a must.
“The average Australian household throws away almost $4,000 worth of groceries that have deteriorated each year ,” Themis says. “By planning your meals you can keep better track of what is in the fridge, you can make healthier choices and you don’t engage in last minute spontaneous, expensive takeaway purchases.”
Be sure to plan all your meals including snacks. Often, it’s the 3pm pick-me-up that can let us down!
When it comes time to do the weekly shop, have a look first at the ingredients you already have on hand.
“If you want to seriously cut down on food spending and waste then make a point of using up perishable ingredients before you go to the shops for more food,” Themis says. “These are more likely to be your fruits and vegetables, so by doing this you’ll find that you are also eating a healthier diet.”
Keeping frozen fruit and veggies in the freezer is another great way to save on your grocery bill and keep up your nutrition. They have the same nutritional value as fresh (sometimes more!) and can be more affordable.
Buying seasonal foods is a great way to keep your costs down. It also makes for an ever-changing, interesting diet.
“When produce is in season, it’s local, readily available, good quality, high in nutrition and more affordable,” Themis says. “Buy these foods in bulk when you see them on special and put them into the freezer to enjoy later.”
Takeaway meals are often the result of feeling time poor or tired. Having a “Cook once, eat twice” mentality means you’re more likely to have something in the fridge or freezer ready to go for those days when you can’t be bothered.
For example, if you make a Bolognese sauce to go with pasta, make extra that can also be used to stuff vegetables or serve on top of a baked potato. Anything left over from dinner is also a great answer to the question of what to have for lunch the next day.
Themis says healthy eating shouldn’t be complicated or costly.
“So many people think that eating a healthy diet is nothing but green smoothies, low carb and vegan, but healthy eating needs to be something you can maintain long-term,” Themis says. “We should all aim to enjoy a varied diet, making healthy decisions most of the time, enjoying food with friends and family and developing habits which are sustainable – and that includes keeping the cost of our weekly shop down to something that is affordable.”