Health makeover on a tight budget
Having a wholesome, well stocked pantry and fridge is one of the easiest ways to ensure your health stays on track. Eating healthily, however, can come with a hefty price tag – particularly when you throw the latest ‘superfoods‘ into the mix.
But it doesn’t need to be this way. Here are some simple tips that can help you makeover your kitchen without blowing the budget.
1. Game plan
Having a shopping game plan is key. Going to the shops and wandering mindlessly through the food aisles is time that could be better spent making magic in the kitchen.
Write a basic meal plan for the week, check what you already have in the fridge and pantry, and write a list of what you need to buy fresh from the shops.
Sticking to the plan means you will only buy healthy ingredients and it minimises the risk of impulse purchases.
2. Shop seasonal
Using ingredients that are in season is more economical because the products aren’t sourced from abroad. You will also be supporting local industry and the food is more nutritious because it isn’t covered in additional chemicals to see it through the shipping process.
Seasonal fruits and veggies to get your mitts on this winter include apples, bananas, grapefruit, mandarins, lemons, oranges, broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, fennel, mushrooms, silverbeet, kale and spinach.
3. Prep by portion
Purchasing items in bulk, such as larger cuts of meat, may feel unnecessary and expensive at the time, but it will definitely save you money in the long run. You can divide the meat into portions and store it in the freezer until required.
Alternatively, you can cook up a big batch of nourishing stew or soup on a Sunday, portion it into containers and simply pull them out of the freezer in the coming weeks. It’s a no brainer for saving your health, your time and your dollars.
4. Get stocked
A well stocked wholefoods fridge and pantry is the path to a healthy diet. If good foods are on hand there is less of an excuse to reach for unhealthy ones and it means there are lots of ingredients to get creative with your meals. When you see dry goods on sale (quinoa, rice, buckwheat, lentils etc), try to grab extra to keep in store.
5. Prioritise plants
Plants (vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds) are the top of the food chain, so make them a priority on your shopping list. Not only are they a rich source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre, carbohydrates, amino acids and fats, they’re also incredibly economical. For every meal, aim to fill three quarters of your plate with vegetables and one quarter with protein.
Now getting stocked can admittedly be a little overwhelming for a number of reasons. ‘Am I buying the right brand’; ‘is this meant to be THIS expensive’; ‘will I use this much’, and so it goes. So try to stock things up in increments instead of all at once. Below are three nourishing lists to help get your wholefoods kitchen started. The key to using these is to make sure you have some of each ingredient in supply in the kitchen all the time. This ensures that you have good nutrition on hand always, and with that comes creativity and fun. Good health begins in the kitchen after all!
1. Basic health boost ($50)
Try to eliminate the old processed and packaged goods that do not serve your health and set yourself up with these fridge, freezer and pantry basics.
- Eggs: great source of protein
- Milk: dairy or non-dairy can be super for calcium, protein and carbohydrates
- Yoghurt: delicious easy fermented food for the gut
- Mince: quick to whip into recipes for a mid-week meal
- Frozen peas and spinach: perfect freezer back up vegetables when fresh are scarce in the fridge
- Tinned tomatoes: throw into a quick soup, stew or old favourite protein charged bolognese, great source of antioxidants and vitamin C
- Oats: nourishing energy for morning porridge, and easy on digestion
- Quinoa: protein rich pseudo grain for sweet and savoury dishes
- Beans: great source of vegetarian protein and carbohydrates
- Olive oil: rich in essential fats to reduce inflammation and support a healthy heart
- Balsamic: great for dressings, marinades and to up the bitter ante in the diet
2. Supercharge ($100)
Build on your boost basics with the supercharged kitchen. These ingredients will up your nutrition and cooking game.
- Sauerkraut: fermented vegetables are a wonderful source of probiotics
- Frozen berries: antioxidant-rich for smoothies, snacks and breakfast
- Chicken: both breast and thigh make for rich protein options in meals
- Mustard: quick accompaniment to boost flavour in meals without the additives in many condiments
- Almonds: beautiful source of essential fatty acids and plant based amino acids
- Ghee: stable fat made from milks solids, great for frying, curries and baking
- Raw cacao: delicious nourishing alternative to cocoa which is typically full of sugar
- Tahini: sesame seed paste is great to spread on toast with banana and cinnamon, in dressings, raw treats and more
- Coconut oil: a diverse pantry staple that can be used in both cooking and topically on the skin, well-known for it’s anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties
3. Total kitchen makeover ($150)
You’re nearing masterchef health status now. With these ingredients you’ll be whipping up budget friendly and flavoursome dishes in minutes.
- Goat cheese: deeply-flavoured cheese with a lower lactose content than standard cow’s milk
- Medjool dates: nature’s caramel, a great little sweet snack and can be used in sweet cooking too – baked cakes, raw treats and smoothies
- Miso: a fermented food to nourish the gut and warm the body, use in broths, soups, dressings and marinades
- Almond milk: a delicious dairy-free alternative to regular milk. Can also be purchased in tetra packs for longer shelf life in the pantry
- Wild caught salmon / tuna: beautiful to enrich the diet with Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids and a wonderful back up for a quick meal when fresh fish isn’t on hand
- Apple cider vinegar: digestive and immune tonic which works well in dips, pesto, dressings and marinades to tenderise proteins
- Rice malt syrup: an alternative sweetener for refined sugars, great for baking, stewing, raw treats and more
- Coconut: use shredded as your staple in the pantry to pop into porridge, granola, muesli, baked goods, raw treats, salads and curries
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