Post-Christmas the budget can be tight. Often when we enter back into a ‘saving’ mindset when the new year rolls around, we think that means sacrificing on things like good, healthy fresh produce. However, with an open mind, a little organisation and motivation, that doesn’t have to be the case.
Fitness expert and nutritionist Sophie Guidolin, creator of fitness and nutrition app The Bod and soon to be mum of five has seen parents fall victim to this myth one too many times.
“You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars each week on groceries to live a healthy, balanced life,” she says. “Whatever your budget is, it is possible to shop and live healthy.”
Here are Sophie’s achievable tips for how you can maintain a healthy diet for you and your family, all year round and whilst not breaking the bank.
Plan your meals and prepare a shopping list
Planning out your meals for each week, as well as any snacks, will massively reduce your grocery spend. Having a clear idea of what you will be eating throughout the week, and going to the supermarket with a prepared shopping list of only the ingredients you need, will mean you won’t be tempted to just chuck in unnecessary items to your trolley. Another bonus is that you can prepare your meals ahead, meaning less time in the kitchen fretting over what to cook!
I like to use a weekly calendar to write down all my meals for the week ahead and then I keep it somewhere I can easily refer back to, like on the fridge. It means I can also pencil in any events I have that week, or if I’m having guests over, then I know I’ll need more or less food.
Use leftovers for lunches
Don’t spend money on pre-made lunches. Reuse meals that you are cooking the night before for leftovers the next day while making a base for meals ahead. Savoury mince is one of my favourites because it can be turned into so many different options, such as for tacos, risotto, nachos, spaghetti bolognese, etc. If you’re planning your meals out for the entire family, think about using meals that are easy to place in the lunch box the next day to save on time when it comes to school lunches.
Buy less! This sounds simple but we often buy more food than we need, and then a lot just gets wasted. Food waste is one of the biggest expenses and SO much of the food we throw out is perfectly edible. Freeze food so it doesn’t go off, and use up leftovers. Try making soup from leftover veggies or chuck any fruit you have leftover into a blender to make a smoothie!
Eat less meat
Meat can be a hefty chunk of our grocery budget so why not try going meat free once or twice a week. If you’re worried about losing out on protein, fear not! Protein can be found in a number of meat alternatives, such as lentils, chickpeas, tofu, seeds, legumes, and grains.
Substitute with frozen
Frozen fruit or vegetables can be just as good as the fresh stuff, and sometimes half the price. Still packed with the minerals and vitamins that we need, they’re great for just grabbing what you need, when you need it. No more wastage if it doesn’t get used. I love chucking frozen fruit into my breakfast smoothies.
Buy specials in bulk
By buying in bulk on special items, you’ll never pay full price. It takes a bit of organisation, and a bit of money upfront, but in the long run you’ll save time and money by stocking up. I know we love oat milk – it is often half price, so when it is, I buy two to three weeks’ worth until next sale. I do this with certain things like oat milk, rice, tinned goods. I also buy meat in bulk and freeze it.
Avoid pre-made meals and cook from scratch
Cooking your own meals is not only healthier (because you know exactly what is going into your food), but it can save you a ton of money, too. Use what’s in your cupboards! If you’re struggling on recipe ideas, My Everyday Thermo is filled with easy, healthy and delicious recipes for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner.
Only buy fruits and vegetables in season
Vegetables and fruit are cheaper when they’re in season so plan your meals around this factor.
Struggling with recipe ideas? Try some of Sophie’s FREE recipes!