Clean Eating on a Budget
Real food doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s just that in comparison, it’s easy to eat badly for very, very little money. Healthy eating (eating unprocessed food) on a budget involves some organisation and planning, but it is well within the reach of everyone, no matter how busy or tired you are.
Money is tight for us because I work part-time, with an irregular income, and our childcare costs are outrageous! As well as running a business, I have two children aged 5 and 3 and an ill family relative to help look after, so I am pretty busy. But on the whole, I can find the time to feed us on cheap, home-cooked food the majority of the time. Not 100% of the time, I’m not Mary Poppins, but most of the time.
I promise you that I’m not super-woman and I’m definitely not perfect, but I am organised!
In order to eat clean on a budget, I make a meal plan each week, with a corresponding shopping list. Before I do this, I carry out an inventory or stock check of what I have in my fridge, freezer and kitchen cupboards. The meal plans help me to not waste food because I used to be terrible for forgetting to use ingredients and then having to throw them away when they went off in the back of the fridge.
My husband is slowly getting used to us having meat-free days, on these days we’ll have vegetable chilli or curry, or lentil Bolognese. I am also experimenting with cheaper cuts of meat. Slow roasted turkey legs that can be shredded off the bone into a home-made gravy, and beef brisket braised in paprika and red peppers, are both good examples of super cheap meals that are very easy to prepare. For lunches I live off soups during the week and these generally work out at about 40p a portion. You can make thick, filling soup with any cheap veg, lentils and home-made stock or water if needs be. You can also bulk out soups with tinned beans or leftover chicken, or simply serve with a slice of granary bread.
All of our food comes from supermarkets and although I buy the best quality that I can afford, I simply can’t stretch our budget to buy organic meat at the moment. I buy food that’s on offer and I am flexible with my meal plans accordingly.
Clean eating on a budget can certainly be done, and the planning is easier as you get into the swing of it. I would urge you to give it a go. And remember that clean eating doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach. You could start by having one clean, healthy meal a day and trying to make a few better food choices for your other meals.
Some effort is always better than no effort.
Published by Sonia Nicholas, Founder of The Green Apple Club