When you think of healthy meals, one of the first things that comes to mind may be the cost of fresh and quality ingredients – especially in the current cost of living crisis, where some food staples have skyrocketed in price. According to recent research from Which, almost half of consumers are finding it harder to eat healthier with current inflation figures.
However, don’t let yourself rely on cheap, unhealthy meals just because loading up on carbs is easy or buying processed foods seems less expensive! The Northern Bootcamp team have compiled our ideas and recipes for healthy eating on a budget:
Tips for buying and cooking nutritious meals without breaking the bank
Soup it up!
Soup can be made from just about anything, and is a cost-effective and hearty choice for a winter meal. Blending leftover ingredients for soups also reduces your food waste and lets you get imaginative with new recipes!
Top tip: choose soup recipes that include thickening agents like lentils, potatoes, or pulses rather than creams.
Beans pulses and lentils are fantastic – and they are great for those on a budget – but they do not contain all of the amino acids that we need to look after our muscles. A simple and quick option is to add a “complete protein” that does. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, add in some baked tofu as croutons or if you eat meat, include chunks of chicken to ensure that you are taking in all of the amino acids.
Try batch cooking
If you think about it, doubling a recipe takes just minutes! Having ready-made, healthy meal options in the freezer ready to warm up any night of the week is a great way to manage your meal planning, and it can help spread the cost (and hassle) of cooking throughout your week.
Top tip: store your healthy ready meals flat in freezer bags to preserve space in your freezer.
Recipe spotlight: One of our favourite recipes from the Bootcamp Kitchen cookbook to make in bulk and freeze is our Tuna Butterbean Stew. The hearty meal that is also high in protein and inexpensive includes peppers, garlic, tomatoes, beans, spinach, tuna, and plenty of flavour!
Replace fizzy drinks or juices with water
Have you ever calculated how much money you are spending on sugary juices, flavoured drinks, or other beverages? Switching to water will help you hydrate while avoiding consuming excess sugars or extra calories. Plus, drinking enough water throughout the day can help suppress false cravings for food: often, when you feel hungry, it may be because your body needs hydration.
Remember that a good source of protein and fibre is legumes. Plan your meals to include kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, and other canned beans that are affordable yet good for you.
Recipe spotlight: Try the Chickpea Patties from Bootcamp Kitchen – they are satisfying, tasty, and include mostly ingredients from your cupboard!
Opt for frozen or tinned
Remember that frozen fruits, vegetables, fish, and meats can be just as healthy as the more costly fresh options at the supermarket. Plus, buying frozen means it’s less likely to go off, helping prevent you from wasting money on food that’s gone off.
Top tip: make sure when purchasing tinned or frozen items that there is no added sugar or salt, and that they are preserved in natural juice or water.
All of the ingredients in our Tuna Butterbean Stew can be purchased from the canned or frozen section!
Some other ideas for conserving resources are:
- heat vegetables in the microwave rather than turning on the oven or hob, which saves energy
- shop online to reduce the chance of impulse buys and save on fuel costs
- buy seasonal fruit and veg from local greengrocers rather than buying fresh from the supermarket, or check your supermarket’s ‘wonky’ section for discounts on fresh ingredients
What other ideas do you have for maintaining a healthy diet on a budget? Let us know on Facebook or Instagram!