So you finally decided to clean up your diet. You effectively resist the take-aways, bravely walk past the sweets aisle and find yourself in front of the health food section. As you go through your shopping list, though, you think to yourself: “Gosh! Healthy food is expensive!” Before you know it, you’re pushing out a trolley filled with one-minute meals and cheap chips.
Like every other industry, the wellness industry has a dark side – and many companies seem to overcharge for food that is labelled ‘healthy’, ‘organic’ or ‘free from additives’. Although it can be expensive to follow a very specialised diet, it doesn’t have to be.
Here are a few food hacks to stay on track with your health and your budget.
1. Ignore the fancy labels
The first mistake most people make when thinking of a healthy lifestyle is that health food is some ‘special breed’. Many people have this belief that kale, quinoa and organic spelt bought from the health shop is better than spinach, carrots and tomatoes bought from the grocer. It’s simply not true. Keep it simple! Focus on buying unprocessed food, include tons of vegetables and stay away from sugar.
Some just-as-healthy, but more affordable swaps:
2. Buy local and in season
When you walk into your local supermarket, don’t head for the healthy food aisle; just head for the seasonal fruit and vegetable section. Seasonal food is picked when it is ready to be picked and grown when it’s supposed to be grown. This means it has a lot more nutritional value than imported fruit and veg. Storing imported food is also expensive, which means you’ll pay 3 – 4 times more for a mango out-of-season, than in-season!
3. Buy frozen
The frozen food section is a treasure trove of nutritional goodness. When berries are picked and frozen, the process locks in their nutritional value, so nothing gets lost in transit. In fact, buying frozen food is often healthier than buying fresh, since some of the nutritional value is already lost by the time those vegetables reach your supermarket.
4. Plan your meals
We all know cooking for yourself, and cooking in bulk, is better than buying processed food. If you plan your meals, you can think about what foods are in season and create meals that you can eat over a few days. This way, you take control of what you eat and save by buying bulk.
5. Buy bulk
Certain staples are best bought in bulk, such as oats, beans, potatoes and rice. These also work well to beef up your meals.
6. Turn scraps into soups
Don’t throw out those bones, the welting spinach leaves or the tomatoes that are turning too ripe. Instead, turn them into broth! Celebrities are paying a small fortune for collagen supplements to keep their skin youthful. You don’t have to – all you need to do is cook those leftover bones and add some vegetables for flavour, to make your own homemade tasty bone broth.