From organic produce to fancy superfood supplements, leading a healthy lifestyle can seem intimidatingly expensive and time-consuming to many of us – especially if you follow certain food bloggers on social media.
It’s something that personal trainer Joe Wicks has spoken out about. The Body Coach, who says he was born into a working-class family, said it’s more convenient to live a healthy lifestyle in some parts of the country than others, because of the types of food on offer.
“I don’t think it is just overeating, I think [the] economic situation does have a big impact,” he told the PA news agency.
Commenting that low-income families struggle the most, he said: “It is difficult for some families with a lot of children who want to eat healthy, and they live on a street where it is all fast food and cheap family meals.”
Some healthy food products can certainly be expensive, but there are also ways to save money at the supermarket and still eat nutritionally-balanced meals that will leave you feeling full and energised. Here are a few nutritionist-backed tips.
Maximise on pulses
Pulses such as beans, lentils and peas are a cheap, low-fat source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. They also count as part of your government-recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables.
“You’d be surprised at how affordable and how far beans and pulses can stretch,” says nutritionist Jenna Hope, who believes they are a great dietary source of protein, B-vitamins and fibre.
“To get more for your money, try buying the dried varieties,” she advises.
Utilise frozen fruit and vegetables
Your five-a-day don’t have to come from expensive organic veg shops with fresh, loose produce.
“Frozen fruits and vegetables are often just as nutritious as fresh, so they’re a good alternative when thinking about cheap dinner ideas,” says Rob Hobson, nutritionist at Healthspan.
“Frozen fruits can be added to healthy breakfast smoothies and puddings, while vegetables such as peas, cauliflower and sweetcorn can be added to many different dishes, including soups and stews.”
Eat canned fish
Can’t afford fresh salmon from the fishmonger? “Canned fish is a great cheap way to get your omega-3 fix,” says Hope. Omega-3 is a fatty acid that plays a key role in brain functioning, and gut and bone health in the body.
“Try opting for canned salmon and mackerel rather than the fresh varieties,” she adds, as these can often work out several pounds cheaper.
Hobson believes that the best way to manage your food budget is to map out what you’re going to eat across the week – that way, you won’t be tempted to rely on oven chips when you’re stuck for inspiration.
“Think about how you can use leftovers the next day and turn them into another interesting dish too,” Hobson adds.
“For example, a pot of chilli can be used as a lunch filling to make Mexican wraps. Simply add sour cream, grated cheese and a little avocado to make a delicious midday snack.”
Utilise the whole vegetable in cooking
Root-to-stem eating encourages you to use every edible part of plant, including the leaves, skin, seeds and stalks.
“For example, you could use cauliflower leaves and carrot tops in soup, roast the seeds of a butternut squash with salt and oil for snacking, and use vegetable peel to make homemade stock,” says Hope.
According to Hope, the less you throw away, the further your weekly shop will go – and not only is it great for the environment, but it will save you money in the long run too.