Can your budget afford better nutrition?
We need to be cost-conscious, to budget everywhere in our lives and it’s not enough to say “you need to spend more on your food now or pay with poor health later.” Affording better nutrition can feel like a catch-22, so let’s get uncaught and debunk one of my favorite myths: Better Nutrition must be expensive.
Here are some tips to help you get started saving and getting better nutrition on a budget for the true win, win:
Your time is money,
And that there are days where there is no extra time. I am not suggesting scratch cook everything but I am suggesting you don’t pay someone else to assemble your food, most days. We have more control over quantity, quality and nutrient balance when we assemble our food at home so stock canned organic lentils, hummus or soup which is as easy as rinse and puree in blender with some spices and oil. Once a week you can also take chickpea flour (or make it from dried chickpeas) and water, blend it and keep it in a mason jar with a shaker cup ball (to quickly re-whisk it) and you can have tortillas or “socca” pancakes in a minute for any delicious pit stop.
Chill out, it’s cheaper
The freezer is one of the greatest health-enabler, budget saving places in your home as you can buy in bulk to save, even bargain shop online these days to see who has the best prices, and once or twice a month load up on frozen organic vegetables, quality sources of protein (animal or vegetable) like burgers (turkey, wild salmon, buffalo, grass fed beef, rice, quinoa, sunflower), organic nuts and seeds, and organic fruits. Frozen food is as fresh, if not fresher than the stuff in other parts of the store and you don’t have to deal with a short shelf life.
Time-saving, health-gaining, budget making cooking tips.
- Use spices when you cook or marinade versus bottled sauces. Spices go along way – usually we need just a pinch – and deliver health and flavor benefits on par or far exceeding what’s in a bottle.
- Defrost on your way out the door – as you make or grab breakfast, grab a bag of veggies or a piece of fish from the freezer and put it in a bowl in the fridge. They will be defrosted and ready to go when you get home. If you don’t end up eating it you can always cook it 2-3 days later.
- Overcook – not the food, but the quantity. Make all the chicken sausages or veggies burgers at once. That way you have some for breakfast the next day as well as the ones that went into your soup or to add to a salad or a weekend egg scramble or even a DIY pasta sauce. Make several portions of grains and beans at one time. If you taking the time to cook, cooking more (quantity) doesn’t add any extra time and will save you time later.
Shop better. Shop online.
- These days, shopping online may include a delivery fee but when you look at your time saved, your gas money, as well as the prices, it can often be an overall budget win, especially for your staples.
- Your favorite brands often offer coupons full of discounts and even free products for following them on social media or via their e-newsletters.
Yeah, this one is pretty straight forward. As we clarify and start to eat proper portions an awesome thing happens as we have more for later. I love leftovers. I recreate them into something else most of the time to avoid being uninspired by having the same thing twice in a row and leftovers save time and money, even if you have something new and your leftover becomes a nutrition pit stop for another family member or you swop with a work colleague.
Get mad skills.
- Menu planning: Menu planning doesn’t kill creativity – only a boring menu tastes boring! Map out your favorite meals to help you stay on budget and enjoy better nutrition-better be delicious wins!
- Cooking: Watch tv shows or attend classes from non-profits who teach cooking skills on a budget (they may include a meal as your “lesson”). You don’t need to master all, learn how to prepare a few dishes so they taste great and thus they become a guarantee of a great nutrition pit stop, which is also a time and budget saver.
Reality check, life happens.
It’s more than OK to order take out or get better nutrition delivered. It’s great to enjoy someone else doing all the work. And it’s OK to skip all of what I am about to say, unless it happens more than once a week.
a. So you love Beef and Broccoli – love the flavor and love the broccoli again and again by adding a bag or two of frozen (defrosted) broccoli to the container when you bring it home and heat it up and mix it in with the sauce at that moment as they almost always give you too much sauce.
b. Its pizza night – order a plain large pizza (ideally from somewhere that uses better quality ingredients) and let everyone top theirs at home with their favorite toppings (which can be all the leftovers from your week)
c. Rice it up – How many containers of rice came with your meal? You can all enjoy rice during the week from that one order.
- Rice for breakfast with cinnamon, some chopped nuts and seeds or a soft boiled egg, maybe even some unsweetened coconut milk. Sautee rice with frozen (defrosted) vegetables in some oil or bone broth or vegetable stock and spices and have with a leftover wild salmon patty you enjoyed earlier in the week.
Choose the ugly stuff.
Ugly fruit and vegetables in the produce section are just as tasty and nutritionally worthy once they get inside your body. They often cost less too. Pick them and blend them or bake them and you are bound to feel oh so pretty when you save money and enjoy delicious nutritious food.