Eating Healthy Is Too Expensive!

I’m a big advocate for healthy eating but it is just as important for me to do it the smart way! That is why I always try to do my own research and avoid blindly following fads and chasing ingredients I can’t even pronounce. I hope to help and encourage you to keep at it even if you find yourself in situations where finances are a bit tight! Or you simply want to start eating healthier but are deterred by the misconception that eating healthy is too expensive! It’s only as expensive or as affordable as you make it!

Eating healthy is too expensive

 

1. Buy Herbs in Pots

Ok, I admit it, I used to buy those little bunches of basil on weekly basis. I simply didn’t think a pot of basil would survive in my London apartment. Wrong! A couple of years ago I bought my first pot of basil and I never looked back! It even survived the dark days of British rainy autumn/winter which only encouraged me to buy more pots of herbs. My herb family currently consists of mint, parsley, coriander and even aloe vera but that’s another story. I use mint mostly for my infused lemon and/or lime water and fresh mint tea. The coriander I like to chop abundantly into my tomato, mango, pineapple salsas/dips. Fresh parsley gets the most use in my homemade falafels or hummus and basil, well basil goes with everything even with strawberry salad if you ask me. 

Just to compare, a bunch of basil leaves costs around 79p and will have to be used up within days whereas a pot of basil costs from 99p and will last you for a very long time and by very long time I mean years, it just keeps growing and growing!

 

2. Tinned vs Fresh Tomatoes

Did you know that tinned tomatoes are picked at the peak of their ripeness and the heat process used in preservation actually encourages more lycopene (the potential cancer fighter) release.  In one of the episodes of ‘Food Unwrapped’ (Channel 4 series, UK) the scientist compared the concentration of lycopene in fresh and tinned tomatoes and guess what, tinned tomatoes came on top!

Stock up on tinned tomatoes and use them to make soups, pasta sauces, bean and vegetable bakes, all for a fraction of the price of fresh tomatoes.  Not only will you save yourself a significant amount of money, tinned tomatoes don’t go off within days so you can buy in bulks and save even more. (by “fresh” I’m referring to “fresh” store bought tomatoes not homegrown). If you are concerned about the packaging you can now buy tomatoes in glass jars, BPA-free cans, or in aseptic boxes.  

3. Buy Frozen 

eating healthy is too expensive

Berries

Frozen berries cost half the price of fresh berries. I always opt for frozen winter or summer berries all throughout the winter and use them in pancakes, baked fruit pies, cooked or baked porridge, I also add them to oatmeal, make crumbles, even jams and obviously you can add them to your green or fruity smoothies. 

Vegetables

Did you know that frozen vegetables are pretty much always packaged no longer than 2 hours after harvesting! This means they retain most of their nutrients and in fact are likely to be fresher than fresh store bought vegetables! Moreover they do not go off if you don’t manage to consume them in time! Plus they are significantly cheaper than buying fresh. Yet again, you’ll save money and you will also get more nutrients. This applies to some varieties more than others:

Did you know that frozen PEAS will maintain their sweetness (natural sugars) much longer then fresh peas? The natural sugars in fresh peas will soon turn to starch hence loose the sweet taste! Frozen peas are the way to go!

Imagine how many of fresh SPINACH leaves would you have to eat to get the equal amount of 1 cup of frozen spinach. Eating frozen spinach thus proves to be more nutritious simply because you are able to consume more. Study Popeye if in doubt (he didn’t waste time with leaves!) Frozen spinach gets the thumbs up!

Frozen PEPPERS are also significantly cheaper, last pretty much forever and are so handy to cook with! On the other hand,  frozen BROCCOLI is not something I’d recommend as I find the consistency way too watery and chewy.  Keep your freezer stocked up with array of fresh vegetables such as peas, spinach, peppers, mixed or farmhouse veg and you can make nutritious meals at an affordable price. 

On the note of frozen food, I do NOT recommend buying frozen CHIPS/FRIES or roasted vegetables as they are covered in oil and have other ingredients added to them. Chips/fries are usually coated in batter which generally also contains milk and that’s even the oven chips variety. Buying big bag of fresh potatoes (the bigger the more you’ll save) is the only way!

4. Last One Gets the Goodies

Instead of setting your alarm early to go to the market to buy your produce, try going near closing time if you want to save yourself some money and still eat fresh produce. The sellers will want to get rid of all their fresh stock and offer great discounts just before closing time. I remember once they “forced” me to buy three bags of pears for £1 because they simply didn’t want to take the stock back with them. I had a few pear MONO-MEALS that week! You won’t always get what you want, but you will pretty much always end up with bargains on fresh produce. And if you do it often enough, you can stock up your freezer and make smoothies, nicecreams, or bake fruity cakes without having to spend too much money on fruit! This also applies to supermarkets, go before closing time there will most probably be bags of ripe fruit and veg reduced to very low prices.eating healthy is too expensive

5. Shop Online

You’d be surprised how much you can save doing your food shopping online. It is a much more conscious way of picking and choosing items instead of throwing random ingredients into your basket! How many times did you go shopping and forgot to buy number of items, yet returned with plenty of unplanned or even unnecessary ones. If you shop online you see exactly what’s in your basket! You can also have your cook books open to make sure no ingredient is forgotten.

This is also a great option for those who don’t drive as it gives you the opportunity to buy in bulk which always works out cheaper (specifically items such as such big bags of potatoes, tins, rice, flours, water). On top of that, there are always special discounts and offers for online customers. If you have shopaholic tendencies and it is becoming a problem for you than give grocery shopping online a chance. Plan your list, type it in, pay and put your credit card away!

6. Forget ‘Superfoods’

If you are trying to save money or your budget is tight yet you want to eat healthy, then please forget about the so called ‘superfoods’. You do NOT need goji berries, acai bowls, maca powder, quinoa, chia or maple syrup in order to lead healthy lifestyle or follow a varied healthy diet! If you can afford them, please go ahead by all means. All I’m trying to say is that if you find these items expensive don’t let it put you off from eating healthy. You can happily meet all your nutritional needs just by eating wholesome (local-depending on where you live) fruits, vegetables, starches, grains and legumes.

For example, the potato is considered a nutritionally complete food, costs next to nothing and guarantees to fill you up! Brown rice will double in size when cooked, is nutritious and affordable; oats, beetroot, green leafy vegetables, lemons, chickpeas, lentils, apples, just to name a few are all generally affordable and widely available SUPERFOODS which will also keep you satiated and healthy!

7.Widen Your Horizons

All “superfoods” lead to ‘Wholefoods’…You do not need to shop at ‘Wholefoods’ (or ‘Holland&Barrett’, in the UK) in order to follow a healthy diet!  Instead, try shopping at your local Indian, Sri-Lankan, Turkish, Chinese, Polish, African shops and see what goodies you can find for a much cheaper price than the ones in Wholefoods! I started exploring these shops when my budget was tight during my University years. Fast forward a few years and I still go to Indian shops to stock up on spices (you can’t get better deals or choice anywhere else), I also get my Gram flour and rice there, tins and olives from Turkish or Greek shops, Polish shops are great for pickles and sauerkraut and African or West Indian shops always offer deals on plantains and cornmeal.  This way you can keep the cost down, eat wholesome foods as well as experiment with new cuisines to keep your healthy eating interesting and varied! Naturally, all this depends on where you live.

8. Cook from Scratch!

This goes without saying! If you prepare all your meals instead of buying half-prepared or ready made meals you will save money and what’s more, you will become a lot healthier because you’ll know exactly what you’re eating! This would actually be my number one advice! It may initially cost a bit if you do not have any ingredients in your cupboard, but once you stock up on few herbs, spices, staples such as oats, rice and potatoes, tins, flours, frozen fruit and veg, you will start saving money! 

 

 All in all you can save money without compromising healthy eating! What are your cost conscious tips?

 

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6 Comments

  • These are great tips! Your posts are always so informative!! I love 3 and 5 and do those regularly. I need to work on #1 and #4, I’m terrible about remembering to go to the farmers market 😀 lol

  • pj says:

    Hello Natalie,
    Thank you glad you found it informative it’s kind of long, yes no1 is quite new to me but those plants really do grow as long as you remember to water them and then they just keep on giving, especially mint! Mint always takes over the whole windowsill uncontrollable! I must have saved so much money on herbs I love it!
    Petra xxx

  • Caitlin says:

    Petra! Love this list. Super helpful. I’m looking into buying some fresh herb pots myself. I do realize I spend too much money buying the bundle of herbs and I love using herbs in my cooking. Totally agree with you on number 6 & 7. I like to shop at a local Asian Supermarket. Such cool produce and cheaper too! Frozen veg are a life saver. Sometimes I will cut up potatoes and blanche them, then freeze so i always have potatoes on hand. I agree that they are sort of like a perfect food. So many nutrients, minerals etc. You could live off those. Anyways great post!
    – Caitlin (caitlinjapa 🙂 )

    • pj says:

      Hello Caitlin, thank you so much for your comment. Those herbs can really add up. I used to buy those small bundles too but once I got a pot of basil I never looked back. It just keeps on giving I love it. Mint is a bit too wild for me though 🙂 Good idea to freeze potatoes I’ve never tried that, thanks for the tip. I also really like the tips you posted on your IG! Frozen fruit and veg are great especially because they last forever! Thank you! xxx

  • Carla says:

    Awesome ideas Petra I have a storage cupboard in my garage where I stock up every time I find something I use often on sale. I even bought a massive box of apples once that lasted weeks (my son Orlando would mono meal apples all day every day if we let him!).

    • pj says:

      Thanks Carla, yes big storage cupboard sounds great! I just did my late market visit the other day and got a bag of blackberries for less than half price, I’ve been making blackberry chia jam and blackberry cakes for such an affordable price those little berries are usually quite expensive. So these ideas truly work. Glad you agree! xxx

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