Many people who ask about My $50 Weekly Shop ask if it is healthy.
And after I had a nutritionist look at the ingredients, it got the ‘Not Bad’ tick – which I was happy about. But there are always more and more ways to make anything you cook or prepare healthier in so many ways!
So today I thought I’d show you a variety of ways on how to eat healthy on a tight grocery budget!
Make Too Much Dinner
It goes without saying that homemade food is almost always healthier than the shop bought varieties, and you know exactly what is in there. Cooking too much ensures that you have leftovers which can be either frozen and saved for another evening when you don’t feel like cooking – or – it can be ‘re-branded’ as a different meal.
For instance. A delicious beef casserole can be served the next day wrapped in pastry, or in tacos, or simply re-heated and served on toast for a simple breakfast that could also be a lunch or really easy dinner. So whenever you are cooking dinner, think about how you can stretch that one meal – further!
For Staples – Only Buy Generic
Generic – oh how I love thee…. You see, MOST are made in the same factory, from the same ingredients, just a plainer wrapper. And seriously, if you care that much about a wrapper, invest in some good sealed containers instead – no one need know.
For items you constantly use like flour, sugar, oats, milk, bread – why not buy generic and save yourself heaps!
Have a Good Stock of Staple Foods
Every simple time you go grocery shopping, make sure you add a little to your store of staple foods. Staple foods are the foods you use day in, day out. Things like tinned tomatoes, spaghetti noodles, rice, flour etc. Here is a simple list of the foods most families use on a regular basis!
Do You Really Need To Eat THAT Much?
With food these days being so plentiful and available, we are over-eating and getting FAT!!!! Yep, 60% of all Australian adults are now obese or overweight. Scary stuff. The thing is, when eating on a budget, you only need to eat the amount your body needs to function properly and get all the good stuff, without the bad stuff.
So eating on a budget and frugally, will actually be good for your health!
Make sure you read serving sizes on the side on packets (especially cereals, the serving sizes are incredible small!).
Freeze School Lunches on Sunday Night
Ever gone shopping on the weekend and bought fresh bread and ham, only to have that bread go stale and mouldy in the hot Australian weather, or the ham go manky at the back of the fridge because you forgot about it? It happens to all of us!
By taking 20 minutes on a Sunday night to make the week’s school lunches, wrapping them and freezing them, you not only save an enormous amount of time on school mornings (which are totally stressful) – but you also are ensuring the bread doesn’t go stale, and that ham is all used up.
Plus you can freeze nearly all kinds of sandwich fillings, except for salad.
The key to having it taste great is to buy the freshest ingredients you possibly can, and making them up then and there, wrapping well, and freezing where they don’t get squashed.
Fresh ham and vegetables muffins are also a great, healthy and cheap school lunch staple that can be made ahead and frozen.
The freezer is your friend!
Stop Buying Sugary Drinks and Biscuits for School
Seriously kids can drink WATER at school. It won’t kill them. In fact.. they will be better off for it. And those little packets of biscuits that come in a huge pack of 10 – don’t do it! If you MUST pack biscuits for school lunches, buy the big pack and dispense them into small ziplock bags yourself!
Same with yoghurt – yoghurt freezes well too – a good sized container will last two school kids all week – so grab out some little containers, dispense it out and freeze – and just pop in the school lunch box the next day!
Mince and Lentils Mix Together – No One Will Know
I simply adore lentils, I’ve been putting them in my spaghetti bolognaise for the last few years. Nobody in my family has complained. Not only are they seriously good for you, they add a bit of a nutty crunch, which when mixed with mince – no once notices. So it is like a meat-extended!
If you aren’t ready to make a big leap with lentils, start small, add a tablespoon to whatever you are cooking for dinner, and see if they notice.. work your way up from there!
Rolled Oats Aren’t Just for Breakfast
Porridge is of course, delicious in Winter. It is pretty hard to stomach in 40 degree heat for breakfast. But you should be buying it all year around – because it is brilliant. Use them for crumbs on chicken or steak instead of breadcrumbs. Add them to a smoothie to get all that goodness in there (and makes the smoothie a lot more filling!). Any fruit that is starting to go soft in your fruit bowl can be turned into a fruit crumble, just chop up the fruit and put it in the bottom of a cake tin, add some rolled oats and a bit of brown sugar on top – maybe dob with a bit of butter and whack in the oven for 20 minutes! Delicious!
Rolled Oats are also great for thickening stews and casseroles, can be processed and added to meatballs instead of eggs as a binding agent, and can even be a flour substitute.
Plus – if you have a little one with eczema – or sensitive skin, run a warm bath and add a cup of rolled oats – it is very soothing on the skin.
Only Buy Cheap Fruit and Vegetables
Why cheap? It means they are plentiful – and plentiful means they are in season – and at their very best! So buy up big on cheap fruit and vegetables and try and use some of them in every meal you make!
Try Shopping at Ethnic Supermarkets
There are so many different ways of cooking basic ingredients. Take rice.. it can be so versatile. But have a look at different ethnic supermarkets and ask them how they do it. The spices and pastes they have are truly amazing. So Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Ethopian, Lebanese – OMG they are all so wonderful.
And they really know how to cook delicious meals on the cheap. So don’t be shy to try new ways to enjoy cheap ingredients. Basic doesn’t mean boring!
I live with a ‘Meat and three vege’ man but I make meat-free recipes for my family – and they have no idea there isn’t any meat in there! Great substitutes for mince are re-fried beans. Lasagne is a perfect dish to make to hide the fact there is no meat in a dish.
Not only that, if you have ever visited a good vegetarian restaurant, you will know just how good vegetarian food really is. Okay so it does take a bit of preparation and planning – but it is so delicious and good for you. Grab out some of those old recipe books and give one a crack!