28 September 2023 at 16:05
The healthy wallet diet
Eating healthily can seem hard when food prices are rising and you are on a tight budget. Last week we looked at how it was possible to get your 5-a-day for less than £5 per week – now we turn our attention to adding in some more healthy foods, to complete the diet in the most cost-effective way possible without compromising on health!
So what makes up a healthy diet?
The basic nutrients are protein, carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. Fibre is also included within the carbs category. By consuming a minimum of 5-a-day fruit and veg we will already have a good contribution towards fibre, vitamins and minerals. So, what else do we need?
Good quality proteins – high quality proteins include eggs, meat, fish, soy and quinoa. Vegetarian proteins like rice and pulses can be eaten together to provide the body with all the amino acids it needs. Dairy is also a good source, for those who are able to eat it.
Good quality fats – these can be found in raw nuts and seeds, avocado, fish, and oils like olive and flaxseed. Good quality fats can be one of the more expensive elements of your diet but don’t overlook them – they help regulate hormones, brain function and cardiovascular health.
Complex carbohydrates – these include wholegrain rice, wholemeal bread, barley and oats. Pulses like chickpeas and lentils are also good. Too many refined carbohydrates (cakes, biscuits and white bread, rice and pasta) can cause issues with energy and blood sugar balance, and are also stripped of valuable minerals and fibre - so try to choose less processed versions where possible.
Fibre – found in fruit and vegetables, pulses, wholegrains, nuts and seeds. Fibre is vital for good digestion and bowel health, as well as to prevent weight gain, keep blood sugar stable and cholesterol low. There is no fibre in animal products, and most meat eaters do not eat anywhere near the recommended 30g daily.
Vitamins and minerals – eating a varied diet is the best way to ensure you get a good range of vitamins and minerals. Cooking from fresh or eating minimally processed foods helps maximise vitamin and mineral consumption.
So how to get all this on a budget?
We have written before about cooking in bulk and avoiding food waste – this is especially relevant to fresh foods with a short shelf life. Check out this article for even more tips. Buying longer lasting foods in bulk can also be cost effective – check the ‘world food’ aisles of supermarkets as they often have larger sized bags of grains, nuts, pulses and spices – these usually work out cheaper per 100g
Let’s take a look at some big savings you can make, with healthy food swaps:
Healthy swaps = Healthy savings!
Supermarket own brand cornflakes – Aldi - 15p per 100g
Grower’s harvest rolled oats – Tesco - 9p per 100g
Half an ‘essentials’ cheese and onion quiche – Asda - £1.00p
3 Scrambled free range eggs (36p) plus 50g leaf and carrot salad (17p) – Asda – 53p
Breaded chicken breast (pack of 4) – Tesco – 71p per 100g
Freshly frozen chicken breast (1kg pack) – Tesco - 55p per 100g
Birds Eye Omega 3 fish fingers – Asda – £1.07 per 100g
Mackerel fillets in olive oil – Asda - £1.00 per 100g
Saving: 6% (plus the added bonus of olive oil!)
Tinned lentils – Morrisons – 44p per 100g cooked weight
Dried lentils – Morrisons – 19p per 100g cooked weight
1kg bag Asda brown basmati rice – 32p per 100g
5kg bag Laila brown basmati rice – Morrisons – 23p per 100g
So you see, healthy eating doesn’t have to cost more! If you plan ahead and shop wisely there are plenty of great deals to be had. If you are interested in learning more about the best foods to choose for a healthy diet, why not check out our flexible Diet & Nutrition programmes?