One of the major misconceptions we face on a regular basis is that “healthy food is expensive”. Now if you choose organic everything or very expensive ingredients, then it will be more expensive. It’s about how clever we can be with our choices. In most cases, eating a balanced healthy diet is no more expensive than unhealthy foods. You should not be put into a position where you have you make that kind of choice about your health. We are going to show you how you can make really good choices, save money and be healthy all at the same time!

Good Carb vs. Bad Carb

Again, we hear so much about carbohydrates on a daily basis and often left confused by what is “good” or right for our health. There is a world of difference between refined sugar, doughnuts, biscuits, sweets, white rice, bread and starchy vegetables, whole grains and fruit. Yet both are often thrown into the same category! The latter are very good for our health, nutrient rich and have loads of fibre. The first group are very bad for our health, have zero nutrients and little or no fibre.

When building most meals, we like to include a carbohydrate. Cheap sources of quality carbohydrate include potatoes, butternut squash, whole grain rice, porridge, noodles and whole grain pasta. You can also find wholegrain couscous which is so quick and easy to prepare. So, you can start to build your meal with a good carbohydrate and then add vegetables and a good protein source.

Healthy Protein

Let’s us get something clear before we start talking about protein – I’m not exclusively talking about meat, fish and eggs here! Many vegetables are rich in protein, many grains also contain protein and beans, and lentils are very high in protein. The healthiest sources are those that come with fibre and nutrients. Legumes (legumes are beans, peas and lentils) are a good choice as they contain protein, carbohydrate, fibre and vitamins and minerals. They also happen to be really cheap and keep you fuller for longer. They include peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, white beans, green, yellow and split lentils and many more. Not all need to be soaked and some cook very quickly or can be bought very cheaply in cans. It’s a move on from the good old beans in a can we were brought up with -these have a lot of added sugar and salt, so be careful! We can make our own homemade beans if we want. This month Jeeny -the head chef from My Nutrition will show you one of our most famous recipes with beans. Don’t worry about eating loads of protein from meat. We are getting adequate protein from many foods we might not even know contain protein. Even lettuce is high in protein!

Smart Fruit & Vegetables

We see that many supermarkets offer really good value nowadays on different vegetables. If we also stick to seasonal vegetables, they can be much cheaper than exotic ones that have to be shipped in. If you do find veg which are very cheap, you can always buy lots, clean them, chop them, portion them into freezer bags and freeze them. This is a really economical way to take advantage of special offers. Vegetables are really great for bulking out a meal, adding nutritional value and taste. They are really versatile as well. You can chop vegetables and add them to stir fry, omelettes or make soup from them. Another way to add vegetables in a really quick, easy and cheap manner is to buy frozen! In many cases, frozen vegetables retain their vitamin and mineral content very well. Finding cheap fruit is getting easier all the time. Fruit are an ideal snack before you work out or just after as you go home. Another great way to add vitamins, minerals, fibre and all the other good phytonutrients to have you bouncing around the place. If you happen to come across lots of bruised bananas, then you can really take advantage. Buy loads, chop them up and freeze them. Frozen bananas are fantastic for smoothies or healthy ice cream. Another way to use ripened bananas is to bake with them. The natural sugars add great sweetness and who doesn’t love banana bread!

Food Planning

If we are dealing with Conor McGregor, Irish Rugby players, busy mums or bodybuilders, the common thread is their success is -food planning. In order for any of these to be successful, they must plan out their meals and snacks on a daily and weekly basis. You can keep this simple or go into a lot of detail. Finding recipes which really work, are easy to prepare and don’t cost a fortune is key. Build up your pantry as well. Start by planning your breakfast, lunch and dinner for 5 days and then build on that. It’s all about getting into a good routine. We should be able to help you here as well.

Shop Smart

If you plan out your meals, then your supermarket shopping should be easy. Stick to what’s on the list and only allow yourself one or two items that are not! If we don’t do this, then it’s easy to go off trick and just buy random stuff which might not tie-in with a weekly plan. Look for bargains and things which are on sale. If you wait to near closing time, many fresher items are then placed on sale.

Take Home Messages

  • Plan your meals and shopping list
  • Cook big portions and freeze
  • Look for items on sale and in season
  • Chop and freeze if you find bargains
  • Include lots of fruit & Vegetables
  • Learn how to make soups & stir-fry’s
  • Don’t shop when you’re hungry

Keep an eye out for delicious recipes by Jeeny Maltese that won’t break your budget and should leave lots of financial leg room for other important social activities and essentials.