Something a little different today! You might remember that I'm a third year college student, and this summer I'm sticking around in the city while doing an unpaid internship. Both of these mean I'm not exactly loaded right now, and my food money needs to go a long way. People often talk about eating healthy being expensive, but I've found a few tricks to making it work and I thought I'd share! So here are my ways to eat healthy when your budget is pretty small.
- Buy frozen. The trick with this is to buy frozen ingredients - frozen ready-meals are usually not that healthy for you, but stock up on frozen vegetables, fruit, meat and fish. I can usually get 6 frozen chicken breasts for the price of two fresh ones at my local supermarket. Frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh - some people even argue that they have more nutrients, since they're locked in straight away when the veg gets frozen, rather than fresh vegetables ageing and losing nutrients in transport. Frozen berries and fruit can be great in smoothies and also mean you don't need ice! Fish can often be cooked straight from frozen too, saving you time.
- Use your freezer. Buying a half-loaf of bread can be almost as expensive as a full loaf. If you won't use a whole loaf before it expires, but don't want to shell out more for individual portions, buy a loaf and stick half in the freezer. Same goes for all bread products and lots of other things too. You can even make up little Tupperware containers of whole meals if you like and freeze them!
- Eat mix-and-match meals, like stir-fry, big salads, or quinoa/veggie bowls, so you don't need specific ingredients and can use up whatever you have left. If your recipe calls for some very specific vegetables, fruit, spices or protein choices, you'll back yourself into a corner. Allow for flexibility!
- Get produce at fresh food markets. If you live in Dublin I'm sure you know Moore Street, but every city has something similar. Street traders selling fruit will usually be a lot cheaper than a grocery store, and they often have minimal packaging too - extra bonus!
- Pick and choose your fruit and veg. Instead of trying to buy lots of different fruits or vegetables each week, choose one or two of each that you'll eat that week. You can always switch it up the next week, and you won't eat all those different kinds anyway.
- Get creative with fancier items. If you want to eat chia seeds, but can't afford one of those big bags of them (why do chia seeds always come in such huge, expensive bags?) then there are other cheaper ways to incorporate them, like chia seed bars, or bread made with chia seeds - if you're in Ireland, Brennans have a new bread made with chia seeds that's pretty inexpensive.
- Use reward cards! Even if you don't shop somewhere often, reward card points can add up - I don't spend a lot of money in Holland & Barrett by any means and yet I currently have a €3 voucher sitting in my reward card account. Any food shops that offer reward cards, pick one up - it's free to get one, it's free to swipe it when you buy something, and you just might get a nice little reward!