Daily we hear a number of advertisements recommending ways to lose weight, promotion of products that will help, diets that are proven, superfoods we should consume, and in some cases, the advertising is rightful in their claims as some of these can be quite good and have proven long term results. But, not always are we in a financial position to buy or purchase these products on a regular basis. There are however, ways to utilize your budget to improve your diet without having to spend huge amounts of money every week, that will assist with weight loss and improved health.
Firstly it is important to become aware of what foods you generally should and shouldn’t be purchasing. This can take a bit of time and education to learn what is typically healthy and what isn’t and I particularly love educating people in this area. A good rule of thumb is to look for foods in their natural state or as close to as possible. So base your food around fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meats, wholegrains, healthy fats and some dairy.
There are various ways you can modify your shopping to reduce costs over time and still have a healthy pantry.
Firstly, when possible, buy in bulk. Yes, at the time it may cost more, but the overall cost will be cheaper. Have a look at the price per weight on the shelf label and compare which is the better value. However, don’t substitute price for quality. For example you would be best to buy a bigger bag of brown rice over bigger white rice or a smaller brown rice. This way you get better nutrition and overall will cost you less than buying the smaller bag more regularly at a higher price.
Another great idea is to stock up on products when they are on special or in season. This is particularly brilliant if the goods can be frozen. Lean meats, vegetables and fruits can be frozen if necessary and used at a later time.
If you have fussy children or even just cooking for yourself and find the vegetables often don’t last in the fridge before you use them, choose frozen mixed vegetables. Research has indicated that frozen vegetables still contain their nutrition. Sometimes this can be cheaper than buying the individual items and having to waste what isn’t used.
When you go shopping, shop from a list and stick to it. It is easy to be swayed by tempting foods while you are shopping (particularly if you are hungry – try to go shopping when you are feeling satisfied). Avoid the aisle you don’t need to walk through, for example the soft drink, chips and lolly aisle. Generally purchase the bulk of your goods from the perimeter of the supermarket.
Costs overall can be reduced by making meals from scratch, particularly if you follow the recommendations above. Generally pre made meals, cakes, biscuits and similar items are marked up significantly from the cost price. So if you have time, cook your own foods using quality ingredients. Not only will they taste better, be more nutritious, you will also know exactly what you are eating.
If you have the time and space, a great idea is to grow some of your own produce. This can be a little as having a few vegetable and herbs in a pot. If you have greater space, then a vegetable patch is a great idea. This way you have fresh vegetables on hand that also haven’t been sprayed with pesticides, herbicides or other chemical agents.
Whenever possible drink water from home, as this is cheaper than buying drinks. If you want a bit of flavour, try a little lemon or lime juice. This is better for you and cheaper than flavoured drinks. Another option is tea, with green tea being particularly good for boosting metabolism.
It is nice to go out for lunch or dinner occasionally, but this can be a huge expense, so keep this for special occasions and generally avoid take out. Not only is take out less nutritious, it is rather expensive for the lack of quality food you get in many cases.
Some suggestions for quality foods that aren’t overpriced included oats, lentils, beans, seasonal fruits and vegetables, frozen vegetables, rice, eggs, whole grain pasta, wholegrain bread, greek yoghurt and mixed nuts.
Improving your health and losing weight doesn’t have to be an exorbitant expense. By making better choices and moving more it can be managed with dedication and perseverance.