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Healthy Eating on a Budget

Rebecca Tucker

19 Jan 2015

With all of the Christmas shopping and socialising over for another year, January is often a month to cut back on our spending. It’s also a good time to start afresh and many decide to kick start their healthy eating plans this month. So here are a few tips to help you combine the two!

1. Include Protein At Every Meal And Snack Protein keeps energy levels stable and is essential for the body’s growth and repair. Protein is found in meat and poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, lentils, beans, pulses (like chickpeas), quinoa, nuts and seeds. Protein should make up a quarter of your meal (about the size of a clenched fist). Many people do not have protein-based breakfasts. How can you change yours?

Money-saving Tip: the cheapest sources of protein are vegetarian sources, like beans and lentils. Consider going meat-free one or two days a week. Eggs sold as ‘mixed sizes’ are cheaper than buying all M or L.

2. Eat Plenty Of Fibre That means lots of vegetables – likely more than you are currently eating. The recommendation is 5 portions of vegetables and 2 portions of fruit (ideally low sugar fruit like berries, apples, pears, plums) a day. Fibre keeps energy levels constant, balances your hormones, fills you up, keeps you regular and those fruit and veg contain many immune-boosting plant chemicals. Aim to eat a rainbow of colours over the course of the week.

Money-saving Tip: Greengrocers are often the cheapest places to buy your veg. Also consider basing meals around special supermarket deals (example Aldi’s Super 6), and don’t rule out the basics and essentials ranges of veg. Don’t rule out frozen veg either. It’s cheap, often frozen soon after picking so it’s very fresh, and offers the ultimate convenience, ensuring less waste.

3. Choose Healthy Fats Eating fat doesn’t make you gain fat, but some are healthier than others. The body loves omega 3 fats, which boost mood and support the stress response, and reduce inflammation. They are found in oily fish (salmon, trout, halibut, cod, mackerel, sardines), flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds and walnuts. Other healthy sources of fat are avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds.

Money-saving Tip: Frozen fish is a far cheaper option than refrigerated. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s inferior. Often supermarket ‘fishmonger’ counter fish has been frozen.

4. Think Carefully About Starchy ‘Carbs’ A heavy reliance on white pasta, bread, rice and potatoes, can unbalance your blood sugar levels, making you crave more food and store more fat. Swap to healthier wholegrain alternatives; brown rice, wholemeal pasta and bread, and sweet potatoes, and ensure this element takes up no more than a quarter of your meal.

Top Tip: Many people bulk up meals with starch, especially on a budget. Your body will love you for bulking meals up with inexpensive non-starchy veg instead.

Rebecca Tucker is a Registered Nutritional Therapist practising at The Natural Healthcare Centre in Burton. For more information visit

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