Question: Eating Well On A Budget

I recently graduated and have begun cooking and eating for one on a basic salary. As a college student, my eating plan was 'subsidised' generously by my parents-pescatarian and gluten-free-and I din't have to think twice about buying and eating what I ate. Now, I am struggling, as some of these foods are viewed as 'luxury items' in the food aisles. How do I still eat well, for my body and my health, without breaking bank every time I visit the store? Thank you.

Answer

Healthy eating starts at home, and needn’t be the expense you think it is. Here’s how to eat healthily on a budget:

Stock your kitchen right
Stocking your kitchen with healthy food need not be a huge expense. Get your fresh goods weekly from a fresh fruit and veg supermarket like food lovers market. These are far cheaper than spar, woolies and pick n pay. Then, go tin crazy! Chickpeas, lentils, beans, tomatoes, onions and sweetcorn are excellent to throw into stews and curries or munch on toast, are affordable and last for ages! Popcorn seeds, frozen veggies, potatoes, wholegrain cereals like All Bran and eggs are also affordable and long lasting additions to your kitchen cupboards.

Make your one-pot dishes pack a nutritional punch
Soups
Make your own soups so you can pack them full of superfoods. Throwing in legumes like beans, lentils, seeds and chickpeas on top of your regular veggies provides will up your intake of valuable fibre and protein, whilst keeping you fuller for longer. Small red kidney beans in particular provide more antioxidants than blueberries, making it a great immunity-booster for winter. Another great bacteria fighter is garlic, so throw it into the mix together with fresh herbs for added flavour.

Curries, stews, pastas, one-pot dishes
Start by skipping the oil – you won’t miss it! Onions can be softened even more effectively in water, and fat from meaty dishes means there is no excuse to add more. Keep your meat cuts as lean as possible, trimming off all visible fat beforehand.

Skip creamy sauces and make tomato-based varieties. You won’t miss the extra calories, and the antioxidants in tomatoes become more potent when slow cooked. When cooking with iron-rich foods like chickpeas or red meat, incorporate vegetables high in vitamin C, like red peppers. They work together to help our bodies absorb iron better.

One-pot dishes are excellent ways of increasing your veggie quota, so be sure to throw in plenty of carrots, green beans and peas. Sweet potato and butternut add a delicious sweetness to your dish.

When it comes to serving, watch your starch
Opt for wild rice over white, and blend other vegetables into your mash to lower the calories. Sweet potato, gem squash and even blended cauliflower work particularly well.

Resist the temptation of takeaways
When it comes to take-aways or ready-made meals, you are paying for convenience, not quality. Doubling up home-made recipes and freezing them gives you healthy meals lazy days. Stews, soups and bolognaises all freeze well, so pack them into portions for easy-eating.

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