If you’re anything like me, you’re probably sick to the back teeth of hearing about soaring energy prices, rising inflation, interest rates, and of course, the old faithful ‘cost of living crisis’ as the media love to put it.
Times are hard for us all, and with a long winter ahead, it’s important to budget and plan whenever possible. Just because food costs are rising however, this is no excuse for not eating healthier, in fact, it’s more reason to.
Now, as a parent, I understand just how important it is to ensure my kids eat well, and eat healthy produce. I also know how expensive it can be to feed us all. Don’t worry, though, because eating healthier for less is possible, and I’ll show you how.
My kids eat healthier for £5 a day, and here are my tips to help you ensure that yours do too.
Buy frozen vegetables
There’s this weird preconception we have in this country, that frozen vegetables are unhealthy and are no way near as nutritious as fresh vegetables. That isn’t the case at all. Frozen vegetables are frozen right away after being harvested, meaning that they retain more of their nutrients.
By the time you buy a pack of fresh vegetables, they could have been sitting on the supermarket shelves for days, gradually deteriorating and losing nutrients. This is why I like buying frozen vegetables.
Frozen vegetables are much cheaper to buy than fresh, and they’re nearly always prepped as well so they’re ready to use. I always grab a few large bags of frozen mixed vegetables and can use them to make a wide range of healthy, nutritious, and tasty meals for my family.
Grab plenty of tinned produce
Tinned produce has been an absolute life saver for me on more than one occasion.
Tins of food such as vegetables, potatoes, baked beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, and more besides, are all great when used creatively and for anybody looking for tips on eating healthier for less, they’re ideal.
Whenever I’m food shopping I’ll always stock up on plenty of tins of food. They’re cheap, they last months, and they can be used to make a number of quick and easy meals. I’ve made a vegetable chilli before, using nothing but tins of food and a few spices and it tasted amazing, and came out at around £2 per portion.
Buy in bulk
It doesn’t matter whether you’re buying pasta, rice, potatoes, or your meat, always try to buy your staple ingredients in bulk, if you know for certain that you and your family are going to eat them.
My kids for example, absolutely love pasta bakes, and as carbs are life, I’m partial to a pasta bake myself. That means in this household we get through a lot of pasta, which is why I always buy pasta in bulk. Instead of buying 2 or 3 small 500g bags of dried pasta, I’ll instead pick up a 5kg bulk bag of pasta, which works out much cheaper.
Like most households we also eat a lot of chicken, so I’ll go to my local butchers and pick up a 5kg tray of chicken breast, portion it up in freezer bags when I get home, and freeze it. The chicken lasts several weeks and works out much cheaper than buying it in 400g packs. I also save money on travel because I don’t need to make as many trips to the supermarket.
Embrace the ‘wonky’ produce
For anybody looking at eating healthier for less, I can’t stress enough just how useful the bags of ‘wonky’ produce in supermarkets has been for me.
Wonky fruit and veg, as it is known, is basically produce which has grown slightly misshapen. Rather than having perfectly formed carrots for example, they might be bumpy and shaped oddly. In the past, this produce would have been wasted because they looked ‘ugly’ whereas now, it can be purchased for less. Supermarkets and other retailers offer great discounts on this produce because it doesn’t look perfect, making it great for people on budgets.
I always buy wonky fruit and veg bags, and sometimes boxes, and am always impressed. The produce tastes just as good, it’s nice and nutritious, and in all honesty, it’s usually not even that ‘wonky’ or misshapen anyways, and once it’s all chopped up, nobody notices anyway.
The blender is your friend
As a parent, I know the struggle of getting children to eat vegetables. Don’t get me wrong, my kids have their favourite vegetables to eat but they’re still pretty picky. This is why I tend to blend a lot of veggies and ‘hide’ them in their meals.
When making my pasta bakes for example, instead of using sauces out of a jar, I’ll make my own. I simply fry off an onion with a clove of garlic, add carrots and celery, a vegetable stock cube, a tsp of sugar, a tin of plum tomatoes, and some dried mixed herbs, and cook until soft. Next, I’ll blend it all up, and I’ll be left with a tasty pasta sauce loaded full of hidden vegetables.
I’ll also make a lot of vegetable soups, and will honesty throw in all kinds of veggies and then blend them up, and my kids love them.
If your soups and sauces are meat-free like mine are, they’re also very cheap to make. Sometimes if I can be bothered, I’ll double up on the ingredients and will make a big batch of sauce and freeze it. per portion, a simple pasta sauce works out at less than £2, which is great value for money.
Use cheaper oily fish
Oily fish is full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are hugely important for growing and developing children. The problem is that oily fish like mackerel and salmon, can be expensive. Whenever I see these foods on offer, I’ll buy them and freeze them, but most of the time I look for cheaper alternatives.
Anybody looking for tips on eating healthier for less, I can strongly recommend you choose cheaper species of oily fish. I use sardines as my kids love them, they’re full of healthy fats and proteins, and they’re much cheaper than other oily fish species.
While I sometimes buy fresh sardines if I can find them, the tinned sardines in a tomato sauce are just as good, and are very affordable.