Eating well on a budget

In a normal year, the extra spending of the festive season and new year naturally have us thinking of ways we can save money in the future.  But add the financial impacts of the pandemic and the need to reduce our spending in 2021 is very real for many of us.

To help us save money and still eat well, our dietitian, Angela, provides some helpful tips to take into the new year.

TIP 1: Make the most of legumes

Legumes include things like baked beans, red beans, kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas and lentils.

Love the legume and save money.

They are high in fibre, which makes them perfect for our gut health and feeding the good gut bugs.  Legumes are also an excellent source of protein, being higher in protein than most other plant foods. 

They are versatile enough to be added to anything from a bolognaise, soup or pie, to a salad or a curry.  Alternatively, you could use them as the base for a vegetarian dish, being perfect for those trying to eat less meat.

Don’t forget humble baked beans, which can be a nutritious snack or teamed with toast a great breakfast or light meal. 

If using canned legumes, make sure you rinse under the tap using a colander or sieve.  This will help reduce the effects of the gas produced by them. 

TIP 2: Make your freezer your friend

Your freezer is a great way to preserve foods and limit food waste.

Vegetables

There are many options of for budget-friendly frozen vegetables.

Frozen vegetables are as nutritious the fresh variety.  You can buy in bulk or you can now get vegetables in individual serves as steam bags, which are perfect if cooking for one or two.  

Fruit

Frozen berries are perfect for smoothies or baking, and good to have on hand - particularly when fresh berries are out of season.  This can help limit food waste. The same goes for bananas - if your bananas are going a bit past their best, just peel

Berries can be quite costly when fresh, but frozen berries are a great option.

them and freeze.  They can then be used for baking wonderful treats like muffins and banana bread.

Other things to freeze

You can create your own breadcrumbs for fish, nuggets and schnitzels by simply blitzing old bread in the food processor.  Then, simply pop in zip lock bags in the freezer and use when needed.

And of course, for any dish that you make that can be frozen, make extra and freeze in individual or family portions.  Then if you have a night where you don’t feel like cooking, or have no time, this can help save you from turning to takeaway or food delivery.

 

TIP 3: Buy in bulk

One of the easiest ways to make our food budget go further is to buy in bulk, particularly our meat.

Bulk buys of meat, poultry and seafood let you portion to your needs and save.

You can buy larger packs of mince, sausages, steak and chops and then freeze in portions to suit your family and regular meals.

And if you are confident with breaking down a chicken, you could also buy the whole chicken rather than buying fillets.  This also allows you to use the bones in making a stock.

If you live near a meat and produce market, or enjoy the adventure, you can also get some good deals on fish and poultry, as well as meats.  You can buy a whole fish, like salmon with its good fats, cheaper than fillets and ask the fishmonger to fillet it for you.  And bonus, they will give you the head and bones for stock as well.

TIP 4: In season and on special

With fresh fruit and vegetables, it is always important to look for produce that is in season.  Eating foods that are in season also helps us to increase the variety in our diet across the year.

Fruit and vegetables in season are a great way to save money and vary our food intake though the year.

Also most supermarket chains are selling imperfect fruit and vegetables (e.g The Odd Bunch at Woolworths) at reduced prices.  They are perfectly fine nutritionally and can help save that bit extra in your shopping budget.

Of course, every little bit we can save helps, so good luck your budget-smart shopping.

Connect Health and Community dietitians are available for consults via telehealth and phone, as well as in-person appointments.  If you would like to see a dietitian, call us on 03) 9575 5333 to discuss your needs. 

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