Eating healthy does not necessarily burn a hole in your wallet
Eating within your means or your budget is never easy with all the trendy new fad foods hitting the retail market all the time. And there is the constant new health advice being dished out or peddled to consumers. A new health bar or snack, or some miracle herbal preparation consisting of exotic fruits, fancy legumes and organic vegetables. We all have had some grocery shopping experience at some point in our lives. Purchasing your listed groceries is one thing; cooking them is quite another. The real cooking challenge ends with the wet market and begins in your home kitchen. A whole new feat now awaits to be conquered, i.e. how to make the most of what you bought to make it last longer, taste good and with minimal wastage. Aside from grocery shopping, bulk buying and purchasing items on sale, there are other simple methods to cook simple meals, all while abiding by or sticking to a pre-planned budget. Cooking affordable meals is really much easier than you think or believe. Cooking a healthy meal does necessarily mean skimping or downsizing on the flavour factor. Healthy foods can still taste surprisingly good if you know or recognise the right ingredients to incorporate in your cooking.
When you stop by the produce department at your local supermarket, be sure you pick up some ‘bulking’ veggies. Not those veggies that will bulk you up, but instead bulk up your meals and your appetite. Veggie foods such as broccoli, potatoes, onions, carrots and spinach are relatively inexpensive. While these veggies might seem obvious or straight-forwardly simple, they are quite filling and satisfying. Other foods in the produce section are of course good for you, but in terms of “affordability per serving”, none really compares to them. These foods are also some of the most nutrient-rich in nature and can help lower blood sugar, thus, prevent you from getting hungrier quicker. At veggie-theme or vegetarian-based restaurants, they often have a special section on the menu whereby you may choose any two veggies listed. As a matter of fact, veggies are supposed to be a much healthier alternative, in addition to filling up the tummy with generous amounts of healthy green fibre. Another approach would be cooking meals with a protein source to spruce up the inconspicuous veggie flavour. A cup of sauteed kale in some water with dried herbs, black pepper, and a touch of sea salt with a baked or roasted sweet potato makes for a wonderful or fabulous vegetable cuisine. This goes to prove that affordable meals need not be all mundane and bland tasting. It all depends on how creative you are with cooking and serving up vegetable dishes or meals.
Indulge, be creative with your pantry
Your kitchen pantry is another ideal place to keep snacks and spices, so it comes as little surprise if it actually helps you eat healthier and cheaper. Whilst canned foods often receive excessive negative feedback or response, the reality is that, for those with budget-conscious and busy-schedule lifestyles, they are truly life-savers indeed. Instead of mixing canned food together, try buying generic brands whenever convenient or possible. Artichokes, pumpkin, soups, tomatoes, corn, green beans, chickpeas, and other vegan delights make great canned food companions to keep in your pantry. You certainly cannot eat out for such a paltry sum of money. Also find out how best to utilise canned goods and exploit its less-than-appetising content. Soups and chillis just require a quick reheat on the stove with some seasonings for a fast tasty little snack or a simple side dish or meal on the go. Always learn to love the kitchen pantry for creative and affordable meals.
Alternate or vary your protein options
Getting tired of eating lentils all week just to add cheap source of protein to your diet? Not to worry, you can always rotate your protein options. Some lentils, such as hemp seeds merely cost cents per serving. There are also black beans, which are highly affordable and rich in protein. You may even consider using frozen peas, a powerhouse protein source that saves pennies per serving. And if you enjoy eating grains, you can add a small quantity to your current meals to make them more filling. Brown rice, quinoa, wild rice and oats are all fantastic choices.
Exercise wisdom with your food portions
Although it can be quite tempting to prepare yourself big meals or oversized portions, always try to avoid if you can and simply make proper serving sizes. We often throw away excess food that we either overcook or have no intention to finish eating. If you would like to cook in bulk or batches to save time through the week, make a commitment to eat those leftovers, or freeze them so you know they will not go bad; all they need is a quick reheat and you can eat them as if they have just been cooked or freshly prepared. After all, waste not and want not!
Prioritise your groceries consumption
Vegetables have always been considered as perishables, that is, they have a short shelf-life or expiry date. If you purchase quick-to expire veggies such as fresh broccoli and kale, use those first before you use frozen spinach or other veggies. Leafy greens and non-root vegetables often spoil or rot faster compared to root veggies do which tend to last for months. Do not let a good vegetable go to waste in the fridge because you just forgot to use it; a blatant disrespect for good food! Keep lunches simple with vegetarian ideas that are budget-friendly, including bananas, apples, carrots, etc. Do not forget beans too as they are a terrific source of cheap protein that will keep or last a long time in the fridge. – HFM