Healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s 100% possible to cook nutritious, delicious meals on a budget! Follow these 9 top tips if you want to please your bank account, body and taste buds.
1. Batch cooking, baby
There’s nothing not to love about batch cooking. As well as saving you a few extra pounds, batch cooking means that you’ll have more time relaxing and less washing up to do! All your meals for the week sorted… Imagine that?
Try setting aside a day - like Sunday - for cooking. Choose two or three recipes for the week and cook extra portions. Store in tupperware in the freezer and defrost when you’re ready to eat it.
Another way to do it is by cooking extra portions for dinner. Leftovers can be eaten for lunch the next day, and any additional leftovers can be stored in the freezer for another time. Eventually, you’ll have a freezer full of delicious homemade meals ready for those days when you just can’t be bothered to cook.
Pulses include beans, lentils, chickpeas and peas. Not only are they some of the cheapest foods you’ll get, but they’re also low in calories and fat and packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals. Oh, and they also count towards your 5 a day. It’s a win-win!
You can incorporate pulses into your meals to replace some of the meat. For example, substitute some minced beef with kidney beans in your chilli con carne or some chicken with chickpeas in your curry. Or, if you’re like me and love a good plant-based curry, go full out with a delicious lentil or chickpea curry.
3. Freeze leftover bread
Bread is one of the most wasted household foods. Can you believe it? For a bread-lover like myself, I can’t say I’ve experienced this in my household!
Reduce waste by freezing your bread, preferably when it’s at its most fresh. If it’s pre-sliced, it’s easy to take it straight from the freezer to your toaster too.
4. Get intimate with your kitchen
Okay, not too intimate! But, in all seriousness, get to know your kitchen. As well as saving money by using up what you already have, it also means that less food is wasted by going past its use-by date (because we all need to do our bit for the planet!).
Look through your cupboards, fridge and freezer to see what’s there. You may find that you have enough ingredients to make a meal. Get creative; it’s your time to shine.
You can also plan your week’s meals around what you already have. Make sure you check use-by dates so that you can use the ingredients before they go off.
5. Try cheaper brands or supermarkets
As Compare The Market’s meerkat says… Simples! You can easily save money by opting for cheaper brands than you normally do, or by doing your weekly shop at a different supermarket. Sometimes the difference between cheap and premium ranges is minimal. The difference you can save by simply changing supermarkets is huge too. Why not try the cheaper options out and decide for yourself? Let your taste buds be the expert.
6. Oats, oats, and more oats
If you love oats then you’ll be over the moon with this tip. Unlike sugary cereals which tend to be pricey and bad for your health, you can buy a big packet of nutritious oats for cheap and it’ll last you for ages.
Oats are rich in antioxidants, high in fibre, can improve your blood sugar control and may even help you lose weight. Plus, you can add whatever toppings you wish and switch it up regularly so you’ll never get bored!
7. Get v-edgy
Meat and fish tend to be the most expensive items on a shopping list. Why not add some more veggies into your meals to make your dishes go further? For example, if you’re making a casserole, add more veg and less meat.
Alternatively, you could cook a few vegetarian meals during the week. Make it fun by participating in meat-free Monday with thousands of others!
8. Look up cheap recipes
Cheap doesn’t mean less delicious. When planning your meals for the week, look for recipes that are more affordable (hint: they’ll likely be veggie or contain pulses and grains).
9. Cook from scratch
It’s easy to part with your money if you buy takeaways and ready meals. You can save a lot just by cutting back and cooking your meals from scratch. Also, you get to control exactly what goes into the meal so it’s often much healthier too.
Save money with our meal plans
If you're keen on saving a bit of money on your weekly shop, why not try one of our low-cost meal plans? We've put together some of our favourite budget-friendly recipes so that you don't have to do any of the work! Our most popular meal plans are Under £2 a Portion, £30 Weekly Shop for 2 and £45 Weekly Shop for 4. Simply find them under 'Meal Plans' in the app.