Eating well on a budget

I mentioned briefly in my resolutions and wishes blog post that I wanted to be more mindful this year about what exactly was in my food and try to eat better generally. This has, occasionally, proved to be a challenge but I wanted to share with you my advice on how to eat well without breaking the bank.

1) Make your own food

This might seem incredibly obvious, but given the number of students at my drama school who complain constantly about lack of funds whilst simultaneously keeping Starbucks and Pret in business it obviously isn’t! Of course I don’t deny myself occasional treats and you shouldn’t either but definitely try to get out of the habit of buying your food every day.  If there’s one treat you can’t resist, try making it yourself at home! There are so many recipes on line to help you do this and it’ll be far healthier and cheaper for you.

2)Plan your meals

I will freely admit that I struggle with this! However it’s so important as it stops you buying food on impulse, which saves you money in the long run.As you know what you’re going to be eating in advance, this can also help you to balance your diet.

3) Cook batch meals and eat leftovers

I am a big fan of making a large meal like chilli or curry and then saving leftovers. This means I always have something to grab and take into drama school for lunch and is cheaper and tastier than just buying a sandwich from Tesco! If I want to save some of the meals for longer, I will also freeze them so I can enjoy them further in the future.

4) Cook with pulses and beans

Some of my favourite pulses and beans to cook with are butter beans, cannellini beans, black beans, chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans. They are tasty, filling, great for bulking up meals and are a great source of fiber, protein, iron, calcium, zinc, and B vitamins. Whats’s not to like!

5) Buy frozen and dried fruits, vegetables and pulses

I like to buy frozen berries to use in smoothies and baking as it’s much cheaper to source them this way in the Winter and it doesn’t run the risk of them going off. I generally buy my vegetable fresh but frozen vegetables are just as good for you as the freezing process leaves the vegetables in a relatively nutrient-dense state. I also buy dried chickpeas as they are cheaper, you just have to remember to soak them overnight before you use them.

6) Time your shopping

My local supermarket is a  Tesco and I’ve started strategically shopping when I know items will be marked down. I’m also able to do this with the Tesco metro I pass on the way home from drama school, and this has enabled me to secure some absolute bargains. My best purchases so far have been punnets of plums that were reduced to 6p and punnets of peaches that were reduced to 17p! Work out when your local shop does the same (normally towards the end of the day) and see what bargains you can find.

7) Avoid animal products

This might seem like a slightly weird point, but bear with me! Meat, fish, eggs and dairy can be very expensive and whilst it’s completely your choice whether or not to eat them it can quite often be cheaper not to. I’d often heard people complain that veggie/vegan food was very expensive but I realise now, having explored more of it, that it’s only expensive if you’re buying expensive fake meats. As I mentioned above, protein sources like lentils and beans are amongst the cheapest food types so they are a really cost effective way to get protein into your diet if you’re trying to save money. I don’t eat dairy, and I have been cutting down the amount of other animals products I consume and I have definitely seen a change in not only my health but also the cost of my shopping.

8) Don’t be afraid to buy own brand

There are many things that I don’t mind buying own brand, including but not limited to; almond milk, soya milk, bagels, oats and nuts. On some of these items you can make huge savings whilst the food tastes exactly the same.

9) Try online shopping

Some of the supermarkets have great discounts if you are shopping online, particularly for the first time. It’s also worth comparing prices in shops to those online as sometimes you can get amazing savings with online purchases if you buy in bulk compared to what you would get in store. I’m also a big fan of the website approved foods which sells shorted dated food (approaching or just past its sell by date but still safe to eat), as you can get bargains from it whilst reducing the amount of food wastage. A win-win situation for both your wallet and the environment!

There’s nothing really ground breaking in this list, but hopefully some of these tips will prove helpful to you! Feel free to comment below if you feel like I’ve left any important tips off!

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