How to eat well on a budget
Ben, the automotive industry charity, share their top 10 tips to help you eat healthily, whatever your budget.
Why eating healthy is important
There is a strong link between nutrition (what we eat) and our health & wellbeing. Eating a balanced diet is important as it plays a big part in looking after our overall health, giving us the best chance of staying well, feeling good and being at our best.
Lots of people are concerned about the rising cost of their weekly food shop, and are looking at ways they might be able to save money, while still eating well. Ben has together some tips to help:
1. Firstly, set a budget
A good place to start is to understand how much money you have coming in and going out each week, including food, bills & rent/mortgage. This way you can work out how much you can realistically afford to spend on your weekly food shop. You can use Ben’s budgeting tool to help.
2. Plan your weekly shop
Plan your meals for the week, remember to use up ingredients you already have in the fridge, freezer and cupboards. You’ll then be able to write a shopping list of exactly what you need for the week, which will also help to reduce waste. Plus you’ll be less tempted to splash out on a takeaway.
3. Cook from scratch
By cooking and preparing your own meals you can save a lot of money. It’s generally cheaper than buying a ready meal or takeaway, and you have control over what goes in to your meals, so is usually a lot healthier. Check out these cheap and healthy recipes on the BBC Good Food website.
4. Batch cook
We all lead busy lives which means it’s not always possible to cook from scratch every night. When you can, it’s a good idea to cook extra – that way you can either enjoy the leftovers for lunch, or have some quick easy meals in your freezer for future dinners.
5. Try different brands
It’s easy to always buy the same brands we are used to, but trying cheaper brands and supermarket own brands can make a big difference price-wise, but not always taste-wise. Give cheaper options a try and let your taste buds (and wallet) be the judge.
6. Eat more veg
Vegetables are typically less expensive than meat and fish. Try adding in more vegetables to your meals to make them go further. Or even try going veggie for a couple of nights a week. It will help keep costs down while being good for the environment too.
7. Try different cuts
When you are buying meat, consider buying cheaper cuts. Choosing a cheaper cut of meat, such as braising steak, shin or shoulder, does not mean missing out on a tasty meal. These cuts may require longer cooking times, but slow cooking can help give a great taste at a lower cost.
8. Try new recipes
We all need a bit of inspiration for dinner ideas sometimes, and the good news is cheap does not have to mean less tasty. There are lots of websites that offer ideas for recipes on a budget and how to use leftover ingredients.
9. Shop online
Shopping online for your food is great to fit around your busy lifestyle. It also helps you keep track of your spend as you add/remove food to your basket. Plus, by not having to go into a shop, you’re also less likely to be tempted by offers and items you don’t really need.
10. Cut down on luxuries
Try to prioritise healthier food items, for example, fruit over biscuits and cakes. Sweet treats are nice to have, but they can be expensive and aren’t going to help you feel your best, as they can be high in sugar and fat.
By making some of these small changes, you will soon start to reap the benefits and your monthly savings on food will soon start adding up.
How Ben can help
Ben is the charity dedicated to supporting the people of the automotive industry, providing support for life for them and their family dependents. They work with people to improve their lives by enhancing their health and wellbeing through its free and confidential online self-help, helpline and support services.
If you’re struggling to make ends meet, Ben can help. They can help you to maximise benefits, explore grants available and get you back on track with your finances. Visit ben.org.uk, chat with them online here or call their helpline on 08081 311 333.