One of the most asked questions I receive is "how can I shop healthy on budget?" and whilst the common perception is that eating healthy is expensive, it actually doesn't have to cost you a fortune!
To help take the pressure off next time you shop, I have put together my top tips to make it that little bit easier.
The Golden Tip - Don't Shop Hungry
If you are to remember anything, this is the one golden tip to live by! You are more likely to shop for what you need when you are satisfied than when your stomach is grumbling away and the cravings start to hit you. This is the pinnacle difference of going in with the intention to buy washing powder and coming home with the snack aisle.
I highly suggest making a list of only what you need, and challenge yourself to follow the "get in, get out" method. It may take some time to get used to, but you will soon become a seasoned pro!
Navigating the store + Shelf Psychology
Most of the big chain supermarkets have similar store layouts making it easy for the average shopper to find what they need. Whole foods tend to be positioned around the outside, including where the cooler produce and baked goods live. The outer borders of the store is where you will find your perishable, preservative-free foods.
The rule of "avoid the aisles" is great in theory, but not practical as most of us. If you do need to wheel your trolley down an aisle or two, the one tip to remember is to choose the products with the least ingredients as possible. If you start skimming through the ingredients list and see those 26-30 letter words pop up, and wonder whether they are some ancient language lost long ago, its time to put it down and step away... honestly your body will thank you for it!
Did you know that brands will invest big money to have their product positioned at eye level on the shelf. It's the oldest trick in the book and isn't only subject to supermarket shelves. Don't believe me? Pay attention next time you are out shopping, and let me know in the comments below what you found.
Top brands will pay to have their product positioned at eye level that are targeted at adults to purchase, and guess what, products they want targeted to children will be positioned lower down at their eye level... queue the nagging in 3... 2... 1!
When deciding on which product to go with, be sure to check above and below the eye level shelf for similar and often cheaper alternatives.
Buy in Season
There are a few reasons to this, one being that your gut flora relies on variety to keep your gut happy and healthy. Providing the same food sources all the time can create imbalances in the flora populations. Not to mention that buying seasonally usually means you are supporting your local produce and farmers.
Shopping at local markets is another way to ensure you are shopping seasonally. Markets are often cheaper if you buy in bulk, and produce can easily be frozen for use later.
Use the whole plant + have zero waste
Education is key here. What I am talking about for example is that instead of throwing away the stems of your broccoli, you can cut them up and cook them too. The broccoli stem is packed with nutrients and is safe to eat.
How about scooping out the seeds of your pumpkin and oven-roasting them for snacking on or adding to a homemade granola.
We throw away so much cut off 'waste" of our veggies because it’s not common knowledge of how they can be used in cooking. So if you catch yourself throwing away a lot of waste, find ways to safely incorporate it into your recipes and research ways it can be used.
Now for the parts of the fruits and veggies you can't use, I dare you to get creative with how you use them, instead of contributing to landfill.
We have all had that bag of potatoes we forgot about that started growing cave-dwelling eyes, the long-forgotten orange that has started growing it's own eco-system of mould up the back of the fridge, or that baseball of an avocado seed that you wondered “surely this size of a seed can grow a tree right?!” Yes… you can get nifty with your left-over fruit and veg.
Piercing an avocado seed with three toothpicks in the sides and placing over a cup of water has seen avo seeds start to sprout and be ready for planting. That mouldy orange can be contributed to a compost bin. Potatoes planted with the 'eyes' facing up will yield some crops in the near future. A google search will provide you with plenty of ideas and in turn save you some cash-ola!
Shop in Bulk + Meal Prep
So you are thinking "ugh - here we go"... Let me stop you right there!
I am not talking about gym-junkie Joe punching out 28 chicken and rice meals because he is on a 'shredding' week. Hear me out for a second...
Buying in bulk is a great way to save money and ensures you only buy what you need. It also means you can make more, freeze it and have it ready when you get home without having to think about cooking a whole meal. On average we make over 35,000 decisions a day! Taking some of these decisions away gives us a chance to relax and unwind or spend and invest more time elsewhere if needed.
An extra handy tip is to find recipes that use similar main ingredients (like mince for a protein source) and go from there. Collate the ingredients for each recipe and see where you can buy in bulk to save.
Allocate a time to bulk shop and prepare your meals for the week. Put some music on or watch your favourite show on tv - don't make it a chore - enjoy it!
The most important thing to remember is healthy doesn't have to be hard. It’s just a matter of swapping this for that in most cases and making healthier choices over time. Nothing happens overnight - so enjoy the journey!