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:
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 180∞Celcius 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
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There are many nutrients, vitamins and minerals required for maintaining our health but Vitamin D really is an allrounder as it’s required for many body processes and has huge benefits in both the prevention and treatment of illness.
Here nutritionist Laurann O’Reilly and owner of Nutrition by Laurann, explains everything you need to know about Vitamin D.
Here Laurann O’Reilly, owner of Nutrition by Laurann explains everything you need to know about menopause, nutrition strategies to support and balance you as well as easing some of those menopause symptoms.
Nutrition Strategies For Menopause
There comes a time in women’s lives where we go through what many of us call ‘the change’. For some it can be a seamless transition but for others not so much so.
Here I bring you through everything you need to know about menopause as well as nutrition strategies to support and balance you as well as easing some of those symptoms.
The Stages of Menopause
This is the transition to menopause and may begin several years before menopause itself. This is where the ovaries gradually begin to make less oestrogen until the point where the ovaries stop releasing eggs
Perimenopause can last approximately 4 years but this may vary for each woman.
The drop in oestrogen speeds up during the last couple of years of this stage and perimenopause generally ends when a woman has gone 12 months without having their period.
Note: There are lots of reasons that one may lose their period such as changes in weight, stress and medications, however if you are concerned, please contact your GP
Symptoms of Perimenopause include
- Hot flushes
- Tender/sore breasts
- Irregular Periods
- Mood Swings
- Trouble Sleeping
This is the end of our menstrual and reproductive cycle and usually occurs between the ages of 40-48, with the average age being 51 years.
This generally lasts about 4 years but may be shorter or longer for each woman.
Symptoms of Menopause
- Hot flushes
- Tender/sore breasts
- Irregular Periods
- Mood Swings
- Trouble Sleeping
- Joint & Muscle Aches & Pains
Once you have transitioned post menopause, the hot flushes and symptoms usually ease.
The Importance of Nutrition During All Menopause Stages
As oestrogen plays an important role in regulating calcium absorption in our bodies it’s really important to manage our bone health through our diet through foods rich in calcium and vitamin D.
Check out my blog post on ‘How to Protect Your Bone Health Through Nutrition & Lifestyle Strategies’ here
1) Calcium: Plays an important role for maintaining our bone health and preventing broken bones, osteopenia (pre-osteoporosis) and osteoporosis throughout our lives.
How much Calcium Do We Need?
Women aged 19-64 years = 800 mg per day
Dietary Sources of Calcium
200ml Skimmed Milk = 44mg
200ml Full Fat Milk = 240mg
200ml Goats Milk = 200mg
Calcium Enriched Soya Milk = 188mg
30g Cheddar Cheese = 221.4mg
30g Feta Cheese = 28.8mg
1 Pot Glenisk Full Fat Bio Natural Yogurt = 189mg
1 Pot Glenisk Low Fat Bio Vanilla Yogurt = 153mg
120g Salmon = 18mg
80g Broccoli = 37.6mg
30g Almonds = 12mg
30g Brazil Nuts = 51mg
30g Hazelnuts = 12mg
1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds = 95mg
2) Vitamin D: Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium, maintaining healthy respiratory and immune systems and for reducing your risk of fracturing bones.
How Much Vitamin D do We Need?
Women Aged 19-49 years = 10-20µ/400-800 IU per day
Women Aged 50+ years = 20-30µ/800-1000 IU per day
Sources of Vitamin D – Sunshine
Most of us are aware that our bodies produce Vitamin D through the exposure of our skin to the sun. However, there are many factors which can affect this such as our Irish weather, clothing, sun cream, wearing make-up as well as a lack of opportunity for sun exposure, with many of us working, studying or being indoors due to lack of mobility or illness.
Dietary Sources of Vitamin D: Oily fish (such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel), lean red meat, liver, egg yolks and fortified foods (such fortified milks or spreads and breakfast cereals). It’s also been recommended that we take a Vitamin D supplement all year round, here are the requirements.
Recommended Vitamin D Supplement
Pharma Nord Vitamin D Pearls 1520IU
*For a 15% Discount on any Pharma Nord supplements enter this code at the online checkout: LAURANN15
3) High Quality Protein Sources: Protein makes up approximately 50% of our bone volume, as our bones constantly need to be repaired, good quality protein provides the building blocks needed to support this.
Dietary Sources of Protein
Animal Based: Lean meat, poultry, fish, dairy (such as milk, yogurt and cheeses) and eggs
Plant Based: Hemp, peas, beans, lentils and protein porridges
Recommended Protein Boost
If you want to add a little plant-based protein boost to your diet I like the
- Nua Naturals Hemp Protein Powder: https://www.nuanaturals.com/product/hemp-protein/
- Nua Naturals Rice Protein Powder: https://www.nuanaturals.com/product/organic-rice-protein-berry-250g/
- Nua Naturals Pea Protein Powder: https://www.nuanaturals.com/product/pea-protein-natural-250g/
*For a 15% Discount on any Nua Naturals products enter this code at the online checkout: LAURANN15
4) Phytoestrogen Foods: Phytoestrogens or dietary oestrogens are naturally occurring compounds found in plants. Many of these plants are already part of a person’s diet.
Studies suggest that phytoestrogens imitate oestrogen because their chemical structure is very similar to that of oestrogen from the body. However, phytoestrogens do not bind to oestrogen receptors as firmly as oestrogen produced by the body, so their effects are thought to be weaker.
Phytoestrogens may be beneficial for women looking to rebalance their hormones as they approach menopause.
Dietary Phytoestrogen Sources
Food Based Sources: Soya products (highest), flaxseeds, sesame seeds, garlic, celery, carrots, potatoes, rice, wheat and sweet potatoes
A.Vogel Menopause Support:
Note: A.Vogel Menopause Support is a herbal food supplement for all stages of the menopause. It contains a group of substances known as isoflavones obtained from fermented soy, known to have phyto-oestrogenic activity in the body. Made from soya beans and also contains magnesium and hibsicus. This product may be used with HRT and provides nutritional support throughout Menopause.
Foods To Include or Reduce During Menopause
1.Reduce Sugar: Research has found that consuming foods high in sugar can increase the frequency of hot flushes
2.Reduce Alcohol: Studies have found that alcohol can result in a higher amount of hot flushes
3.Reduce Salt: High amounts of salt have been found to reduce bone density in post-menopausal women. Aim for minimum of 4g/teaspoon per day, however this occurs naturally in foods without adding additional salt, it may be worth seasoning with pepper, herbs and spices instead.
4.Include Healthy Fats: Healthy fats are required for the absorption of Vitamin D and research has found the healthy fats help to reduce the frequency of hot flushes and the severity of night sweats. These include oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, flaxseed, chia seeds and extra virgin olive oil
5.Include Caffeine: Caffeine below 400mg (so that’s 4 shots of coffee), has been shown to decrease hot flushes.
Note: If you are taking any medications or have a sensitivity to caffeine please consult with your GP or pharmacist first.
Supplements For Managing Your Menopause Symptoms
- Sage: This is a herbal remedy which helps to easy hot flushes and night sweats, my favourite brand for this is A.Vogel Menoforce.
A.Vogel Menoforce (Sage Supplement)
- Evening Primrose Oil: Is known for gently balancing hormones and may be helpful for hot flushes, I like the Solgar Evening Primrose Oil 1300mg
Solgar Evening Primrose Oil
- Panex Ginseng: Has been show to help with symptoms such as mood and sleep disturbances, I like the MyVegan Panex Ginseng
MyVegan Panex Ginseng
Note: Please consult with your GP or pharmacist before taking any Ginseng products to ensure that it’s suitable for you.
Please feel free to contact me here if you have any questions or would like to book a nutrition consultation.
Laurann O’Reilly - Nutritionist
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.