Healthy eating on a shoestring budget

Healthy groceriesBest to check the price list before placing your drink order at organic supermarket and cafe About Life in Sydney’s Rozelle, Cammeray and Bondi.

The health haven is selling a $16.90 smoothie. The Rainbow Super-Smoothie is described as a “Wholefoods smoothie – amazing for your health” made of coconut water with cacao, raspberries, raw vegan protein, coconut oil, chia seeds, LSA, aloe vera, maqui, acai wild gubinge, raw camu camu and raw organic AFA blue green algae.

For that price, you’d expect gold in it. But eating right doesn’t have to drain your bank account.

Preparing your own meals is a good start, says Dietitians’ Association of Australia spokeswoman Georgie Rist. “There are some companies trying to maximise on the recent superfood craze,” she says. “Although these options may in fact be nutritious, you can often make it yourself for a fraction of the cost. Including more home-cooked meals and taking a nutritious lunch to work are easy ways to eat better on a healthier budget.”

Keep in mind that nutritious food is often cheaper to buy at a supermarket than junk or “convenience” foods, especially when you take into account that GST does is not charged on fresh fruit and vegetables.

Here are seven ways to eat well for health and your hip pocket.

1. Make a plan

“Preparation is key to healthy eating and achieving your goals. Plan meals in advance, so that you don’t resort to convenience foods and only buy the food you need,” advises accredited dietitian Georgie Rist.

2. Choose produce not packages

The cheapest, most nutrient-dense foods live in the fresh produce aisle. When you shift away from highly processed carbohydrates and sugar-filled foods towards vegetables and protein, your appetite will naturally diminish. “If you would really like to have a high-kilojoule food, buy the smallest amount that will satisfy you, the best quality you can afford and eat it slowly, savouring it with all your senses,” recommends EatforHealth.gov.au.

3. Eat in season

Find out what’s in season and live off that. The trick to buying posh produce like strawberries and asparagus at a reasonable price is to get them during their local growing season. Shop your local farmers market for seasonal savings.

4. Become a mindful shopper

Try making grocery shopping an experience, not a chore. Think of yourself as hunting and gathering the foods that are going to nourish your families’ minds and bodies. Seek out the bulk aisle for nuts, seeds and specialty items like quinoa on the cheap, and check out the frozen section for vegetables and fruits, particularly berries.

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