Here are 5 tips to help you stick to your budget without compromising your nutrition:
1. Create a meal plan and grocery list
In order to prevent buying food that does not get eaten, it is important to plan your grocery list and meals. Set aside some time over the weekend to think about what meals you would like during the week and then compile a grocery list with all the items you will need for these meals.
When you plan ahead you are more likely to eat nutritious, home-cooked meals and less likely to spend money on convenience meals and take outs. Eating home-cooked meals is also less expensive than eating restaurant meals. Often more than one person can eat from a home-cooked meal for the same price as one meal from a restaurant.
Don't forget to take your grocery list with you when you go to the grocery store as this way you can stick to your list and not spend money on items that you do not need.
2. Consider the season
Fruits and vegetables that are in season are not only more affordable, but last longer too! Think about the time of year when you are grocery shopping and fill your cart with produce that is in season. For example, during summer in the UK fruits such as berries, melon and stone fruits are in season. During winter, apples and pears come into season.
3. Buy canned and frozen produce
Canned and frozen produce is often more affordable than fresh alternatives and can be stored for a longer period of time. Most canned and frozen items are just as nutritious as the fresh produce, especially frozen vegetables which preserve nutrients very well because they are frozen straight after being harvested. Try to include items such as frozen mixed vegetables, canned beans and canned salmon or tuna into your grocery cart.
4. Swap meat for other forms of protein
Using other forms of protein such as eggs, tofu, chickpeas and dairy can reduce your total grocery bill. Try to include one day a week where you do not eat meat. Alternatively you can supplement your meat dishes with a plant based protein, for example when making a bolognese, use half mince and half lentils to make the dish more affordable. Some cuts of meat are also less expensive, like ground beef instead of steak.
5. Buy in bulk
Certain foods are more affordable to buy in less processed, bulk forms. For example, a whole butternut pumpkin is cheaper to buy than a pre-packaged, cut up butternut. Usually you can also get more servings out of foods that you buy in the whole form. Other examples of this are a block of cheese compared to grated, packaged cheese and whole fruits like pineapple or pawpaw instead of sliced, packaged versions.
It can also help to prepare some of your meals in bulk at the beginning of the week and use your leftovers for lunches. This is not only convenient but reduces the chances of eating out at lunch time when you do not have time to cook.
Lastly, try not to go to the grocery store when you are hungry. This can lead to impulse purchases of less healthy, expensive snacks and convenient meals.