Promoting Healthy Eating on a Budget
Eating healthy on a limited budget comes down to planning and some savvy shopping. Below are some ideas to support your clients.
Create a meal plan and including seasonal vegetables and legumes
A simple first step can be getting your clients to create a meal plan. The plan should focus on seasonal fruits and vegetables. Seasonal foods are fresher, easier to find and usually more affordable. Include some meat-free dishes in their meal plan. Legumes are an excellent healthy alternative, offering affordability, versatility, and a good source of protein and fibre. For example, brown lentils and kidney beans pair well with red meat, while butter beans and chickpeas complement chicken and pork.
Pantry, fridge, and freezer check: minimising food waste and saving money
Have your clients check their pantry, fridge, and freezer. This can provide meal inspiration and helps them avoid buying ingredients that they already have, thereby reducing food waste. It is estimated Australian households spend between $2,000–$2,500 per year on food they throw out. A waste reducing tip is to turn vegetables past their prime into a nutritious soup. Boiling or roasting the vegetables, adding water or stock, herbs and seasonings, and then blending them into a delicious and inexpensive soup.
Create a shopping list
Another simple planning tip is creating a shopping list. A shopping list is a great way to avoid impulse buys of foods not needed or wanted. Encourage your clients to create lists using online catalogues to find specials and compare prices. Being prepared with a shopping list can also minimise the need for additional trips to the shops for forgotten items.
Maximising fresh herb usage: storage tips and herb-infused cubes
Fresh herbs are great for enhancing flavours in meals, but they can be expensive and disappointing if they wilt or brown before use. When stored correctly in water or the fridge, fresh herbs can last two to three weeks. If they start to wilt clients can preserve them by chopping up the herbs (including the stalks), mix them with a small amount of oil and water, and freeze the mixture in ice cube trays. These herb-infused cubes can be easily popped out and used whenever needed. Alternatively, suggest the idea of growing their own herbs, even in a sunny windowsill there is enough space to get started.
Frozen and canned options: budget-friendly alternatives to fresh produce
While fresh fruits and vegetables are nutritionally ideal, frozen and canned (preferably with no added salt) options are good alternatives. They can be more budget-friendly, readily available out of season, and have a longer shelf life. Irregularly shaped fruits and vegetables are another affordable option, as many stores sell imperfect produce at reduced prices. These quirky items offer the same taste and nutrition as their standard counterparts, often with added visual humour. For example, Woolworth’s “Odd Bunch” and Coles’ “I’m Perfect” range.
Bulk purchases for savings
Bulk purchases of meat, fish, or poultry are a good way to save money. However, they require repackaging into meal-sized portions, sufficient freezer space, and consumption within a 6-to-12-week period. Not all clients will find the effort involved worth the savings, so they may find it more practical to purchase the exact quantity they need, when they need it.
Time-saving vs. Cost: prepping fruits and vegetables at home
Convenience comes at a price. Pre-cut fruit and prepped vegetables can be great time-saver, but they are typically more expensive. Opting for the non-prepped versions and instead wash, cut, and prepare them at home will save them money.
Informed choices: comparing non-branded and branded products
Develop marketing resistance by substituting non-branded for branded items. In Australia non-branded products are produced under the same quality standards as the branded products and on many products, the only difference is the price. If they are unsure recommend that they look at the ingredients and nutritional panels on the back of the non-branded products and compare them with the branded products.
Smart shopping strategies: timing and discounts
Your clients can also potentially save by shopping at specific times as some stores discount food close to their sell-by date. While it may require a little research on their part, it can be a valuable strategy. However, discount shopping is only worthwhile if the food can be stored and doesn’t go to waste.
Incorporating some of these tips we hope will allow your clients to stretch their budget to ensure they continue to consume healthy and delicious meals.