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17 Top Tips For Healthy Eating on a Budget

Whilst many of us strive to eat healthy, there is also a misconception that eating healthy is expensive and that processed and convenience foods are a better option if you have many mouths to feed or if you are on a tight budget. 

Here nutritionist Laurann O’Reilly, owner of Nutrition By Laurann provides us with some top tips for eating healthy on a budget. 

1. Meal Planning – Meal planning is not only great for the purse strings, but having our meals and snacks pre-prepared for the week makes both our work and home lives flow seamlessly. It also helps to avoid the temptation of take away and convenience foods. 

Tip: You can download your free meal planner guide and sample 7 day meal plan here: https://nutritionbylaurann.ie/your-meal-planning-guide/

2. Composing Your Meals & Food Portion Sizes: 

Remember to include 1) a healthy protein source (the size of the palm of your hand or ¼ of your plate), 2) a healthy carbohydrate source, preferably brown/wholegrain (the size of your fist or ¼ of your plate), 3) 2 vegetable portions (the size of 2 fists or ½ of your plate) and 4) healthy fat sources such as extra virgin olive oil, rapeseed/nut oils, avocado, nuts and seeds. 

- Include Healthy Snack Options: 

  • Mixed nuts & seeds 
  • Chopped celery/carrot/pepper/cucumber 
  • Reduced fat hummus
  • Whole Fruit
  • Apple slices 
  • Dried fruit
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Low fat yogurt 
  • Olives 
  • Rice cakes/corn cakes 

3. Write Your List & Stick To It – Once you’ve decided your meals and snacks for the week, make a list of your ingredients and their quantities. This ensures that you only purchase what you need. Tip: before writing your list be sure to check your fridge and cupboards as you may already have some of the ingredients that you need. 

4. Shop Around – Where time allows, it can be sometimes helpful to shop around as different supermarkets and stores have different offers on at different times. One of the benefits of shopping in store is that you can personally choose the freshest produce. 

5. Buy in Bulk – It can often be cheaper to buy in bulk than single products individually, in other words economies of scale. For example, a large pack of vegetables over individual, this can then be cooked, frozen and eaten later. 

6. Avoid The Impulse Buys – There are often numerous offers as we stroll through our supermarket isles, this is where your list comes in. Tip: Ask yourself is it on your list? and do you really need it?

7. Online Grocery Shopping – Online shopping became even more popular during lockdown however it has the additional advantages of convenience as well as online deals and discounts that wouldn’t be available in store, it’s definitely worth the research. 

8.Look Out For Healthy Meal Deals – Many supermarkets now have meal deals which include all the components of your meal such as your meat + vegetable mix + noodles. These are most obvious around traditions and celebrations such as mother’s/father’s day, Easter and Christmas but are available all year round.

9. Don’t Go Shopping When Hungry – This one is a given, we can often make poor food choices when we’re hungry and when shopping it’s often hard to see the wood from the leaves. Tip: Why not have one of your pre-prepared snacks listed above, to avoid hunger from clouding your judgement. 

10. Use Your Supermarket Club Cards – Don’t underestimate the power of the club card from which you can get discounts, deals and vouchers. Tip: Why not download the ‘Stocard’ app on your phone within which you can store all of your discount cards and take the weight out of your wallet. 

11. Batch Cooking – Once you’ve purchased your meal ingredients, set aside a couple of hours to batch cook a couple of nutritious meals, soups and sandwich fillings. Tip: 1) Line two baking trays with foil 2) on one lay out your chicken/turkey fillets and on the other you can lay out some salmon darnes 3) season them with herbs and spices and cover, 4) bake for 25-30 minutes at 180Celcius 4) meanwhile boil your vegetables and potatoes/wholegrain rice/wholegrain pasta, 5) divide your meals into your storage boxes and allow to cool, 6) place in the fridge if they are to be consumed within 3 days, otherwise place in the freezer and remove the night before as needed. 

12. Load Up On The Veggies – Vegetables are not only reasonably priced but packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and can be enjoyed cooked as part of your main dishes or raw in salads or as snacks such as listed above. 

13. Invest in Tupperware Boxes – When meal prepping, good tupperware containers are a great investment. Tip: It’s important to avoid cheaper plastic food storage boxes as they may contain a component called BPA, which when exposed to heat (even sunlight) can release into our foods (the same goes for water bottles). Look for food storage boxes which have the BPA free stamp on them, I prefer the Sistema food storage boxes which are available to purchase online and in most larger supermarkets. 

14. Don’t Fear The Reduced To Clear – Often at the end of the day the supermarket will mark down food products which are close to their expiry date. Whilst many of these are perishable and need to be used that day or the day after, others can be frozen and used later. For those on a budget you can get real bargains here. 

15. Use Your Leftovers – Not only does this avoid waste but it’s a great way of getting additional mileage out of your meals. Tip: Why not use your leftover meat and vegetable to make up a delicious soup or as use sandwich fillings.

16. Use Your Freezer – Never underestimate the power of your freezer in terms of healthy eating on a budget and extending the lifespan of your foods. As mentioned above you can 1) buy in bulk and store for when needed (remember economies of scale) 2) freeze your batch cooked meals and defrost the night before, 2) you can store reduced to clear freezable foods and 3) you can freeze your bread and toast it when needed

17. Grow Your Own – Why not try grow a little vegetable or herb garden. Whilst some foods require a little bit of effort to grow, others can be easily grown at home such as onions, radish and lettuce. It can feel extremely rewarding growing and having access to your own produce whilst also being a fun activity for all the family. Tip: Why not check out this article on the easiest and trouble free vegetables for beginners to grow https://www.quickcrop.ie/blog/2016/02/top-ten-trouble-free-vegetable-crops-for-beginners/

Healthy Budget Recipe 

One Pot Lemon Chicken Potato Bake

Ingredients

  • 2 Garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 Teaspoons of Ground ginger
  • ½ Teaspoon of Chilli powder (optional)
  • 2 Teaspoons of Dried Thyme 
  • 2 Teaspoons of Dried Oregano 
  • 300ml of Chicken stock
  • 4 Tablespoons of Lemon juice
  • 4 Tablespoons of Orange juice
  • 500g of Baby potatoes 
  • 1 Large white onion, finely diced
  • 8 Small chicken thigh cutlets (skin on), trimmed
  • 1 Teaspoons of Sweet paprika
  • 1 Small orange, sliced
  • 1 Lemon, sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon of Extra virgin olive oil
  • 100g green beans, trimmed 

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 200C/180C fan assistant
  • Combine garlic, ginger, chilli powder (if using), thyme, oregano, stock, and lemon and orange juice in a jug
  • Sprinkle onion over the base of a 25cm roasting pan and top with chicken
  • Arrange potatoes in between chicken pieces
  • Pour stock mixture over chicken and potatoes and sprinkle with the paprika
  • Top with orange and lemon slices, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper
  • Bake for 50 minutes, basting with stock mixture during cooking
  • At the 30 minute point, add the beans, stir and bake for the remaining 20 minutes or until chicken and potatoes are golden and cooked through
  • Serve sprinkled with extra thyme and oregano

About the Author 

A farmer’s daughter from Tipperary, Laurann has always had an appreciation for food, nutrition and health promotion.

Laurann has an honours BSc. Degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Nottingham and a Masters in Public Health Nutrition from University College Dublin. She is also an Associate Nutritionist with the Nutrition Society London.

With a passion for nutrition and experience working in Ireland and the UK,  Laurann uses her knowledge and skills to help people achieve optimum health and assists in the prevention and treatment of nutritional related problems through means of nutritional consultation, personalised diet plans, health promotion and education.

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Laurann has an Honours BSc. Degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Nottingham, a Masters in Public Health Nutrition from University College Dublin, is an Associate Nutritionist with the Nutrition Society London, a professional member of the Celiac Society Ireland, is registered with the Institute of Public Health Ireland and fully insured.

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