Healthy eating on a budget isn’t always easy. Organic food – not to mention your quinoa and chia seeds – doesn’t come cheap. For me, January has always been about getting that balance between comfort and a return to normality after Christmas. Somehow, without going on a diet (I hate diets), the NLM and I have managed to lose a few pounds each. This has simply been down to eating well, exercising, drinking more water and cutting out the mid-week wine. More on that another time. What I wanted to write about today was the tricky subject of eating well as a family without breaking the bank.
This year I’m working with Organix again and, luckily for me (and you) they have some really useful tips to share on the subject of healthy eating on a budget.
As ever, the key to our cost cutting in the food department is planning. As dull as meal planning is, it really does save cash in the long run, plus you get far less waste. We have a little blackboard on the side of the fridge which I use to plan our weekly menu. It means I avoid that last minute stress of wondering what to cook for tea. (In usual circumstances this wouldn’t be stressful, but add a hangry toddler and a tired six year old to the mix and it’s a whole different story.)
Of course this doesn’t always go to plan (see my latest Day In The Life vlog embedded at the bottom of this post for a prime example of a meal planning fail) but, generally, if you’ve got an idea of what you’re going to cook on any given week then you always have something to fall back on.
Another thing that helps to save the cash is to bulk cook and freeze. Unfortunately, the NLM is MASSIVELY fussy when it comes to leftovers. In fact, he calls leftovers “second hand food” and point-blank refuses to eat them. Chicken risotto cooked with leftover chicken from the Sunday roast? Defrosted lasagne saved from last week’s Saturday night? Ham pie cooked with leftover roast gammon? No, no and no. He won’t even entertain the idea. It’s a weird psychological thing and, after more than eight years together, I’ve come to accept it’s something I can’t change.
However, me and the girls are always up for a bit of leftovers action. I tend to save leftover roast meat and use it to cook a pasta bake for the girls, or use it in a salad for lunch. I also keep my eye out for deals on things like vegetables and often bulk buy meat from our local butcher in order to get a discount. I’ll then cook up a soup and freeze half of it, or deliberately make double portions to freeze the leftovers ready to eat later in the month.
Another big tip that has made a huge difference to how much we spend on food is to reassess our portion sizes. I’ve always erred on the larger portion side, dishing the kids up portions that they were never realistically going to eat. Dishing up smaller portions at meal times means the girls are not only more likely to clear their plate, but it also means we get less waste. Any leftovers are saved for lunch the following day, which is another budget win.
Check out my latest DITL vlog to see some meal planning in action – along with a really easy, healthy and cheap recipe for homemade chicken nuggets, which the kids can get involved in too.
Have you got any healthy eating on a budget tips to share?
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I’ll be working with Organix throughout 2017 sharing more healthy family eating tips and mum hacks. Head over to my Work With Me page to find out how I work with brands.