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Cheap Food to Buy When Broke
Wondering how to eat healthy on a budget?
Is that even possible?
As a family of fours, most grocery shopping visits for us seem like I end up with an empty wallet. And it gets even worse when you want to search for healthy products in the shopping aisle – which are most often expensive.
With two kids under 3, there’s diapers and other baby essentials that hike our shopping price.
My best answer to this is to shop smart.
Budget. Smart Buys. Limit your spend. Choose alternatives, and a huge list of shopping hacks every parent needs to follow.
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Cheap Healthy Food
Here are smart ideas for you to buy cheap healthy produce without breaking your budget. 10 tricks to keep in mind before you shop.
1. Never stock up
I know you often hear, its best to stock up. But when I say never stock up, what I really mean is don’t buy things assuming you might need it. You most likely won’t use it and it could go off the expiry date before you do. Buy only what you need, and can go without.
2. Long shelf life
These are foods you can stock up. For example potatoes, canned or tinned food, lentils and cereal are some healthy foods that last longer. If you find them on sale, go ahead and buy them in bulk.
3. Use Cashback
Can’t recommend this enough. There are many cashback sites that you can use for your shopping. You are putting money back into your wallet and can use this money for your next purchase. The most popular cashback sites in the market are Ebates and TopCashback
4. Buy in-season
In-season produce is cheaper and of good quality. Berries are the perfect summer fruit. Likewise, stone fruit like plums and peaches are also priced less in summer. Enjoy as much as you can!
Green foods are best in winter – kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts are all in abundance during winter.
5. Earn from Receipts
ReceiptPal is a free app available for iPhone and Android users, where you scan your receipt via the app and earn gift cards that you can use for your next shopping.
6. Meal Prep to reduce stress
Not only does this save you time, but also saves you money. Because you have planned your meals for the week, you limit the ingredients you buy. Try PlateJoy free for 10 days and see how well meal planning works for your family. They only cost $8 a month and help busy parents cook healthy meals for their picky eaters.
7. Avoid pre-cuts
Buying a whole chicken is always cheaper as compared to cut chicken. Same with cut pumpkin or any other fruit and veg. Try and avoid this as much as possible.
8. No packaged meals
Pre-packed meals like a rice and chicken tikka masala or a tasty noodle and stir might sound nice. But putting this together on your own would cost half as much. Packed meals are also an unhealthy option as most of the ingredients used are not fresh produce.
9. Leftovers (Little Hack)
If you have odd ingredients left over and not sure what to make from it, use Supercook. This free to use website lets you put in the names of the ingredients and it will show you the recipe to use with those ingredients. Saves us brainstorming what to cook!
10. Buy marked down
Most grocery stores mark down produce either late in the evening or early the next morning. Visit your usual supermarket and once you know when they mark down their products – buy them! But keep in mind that you use it before they go off.
These are veggies that grow underground, like carrot, sweet potato, turnip, parsnips, and beets. These vegetables can keep longer, and you can decide which ones suit your family better when buying.
Meal ideas- Mash potato, roast root veggies, potato salad, sweet potato fries, baked potato, leek and potato soup, gratin, potato curry. You can also make a stew or a pot pie which can be
These stay good for months. I prefer buying the dried lentils instead of the tinned ones. If you soak them in water for a couple of hours they tend to cook quicker. They are protein dense and are quite filling. Perfect for hungry kids in the house.
Meal ideas- Lentil soup, Lentil stew with your favorite veg or a lentil curry that go well with rice.
Again another powerhouse of protein, this is an all-rounder. You can easily create a breakfast, lunch or dinner recipe with it.
Meal ideas- Poached eggs, pancakes or fried eggs for breakfast. Egg fried rice,
You can go without this if you are feeling like having a vegetarian week. But if you do buy your choice of meat, make sure you only buy how much you will use. I sometimes overdo this and we end up having more meat than we need, and I am not a big fan of freezing meat to use later. Have a meal plan if it helps and adjust your quantity accordingly.
Meal ideas- From roast, grills, curries or burgers.
Oats again, have a long expiry when stored in a cool dry place. They make an excellent breakfast and are handy to have if you want to make some oatmeal muffins or oat biscuits for tea.
Meal ideas- Breakfast porridge, overnight oats, pancakes or even oat bars which make a healthy snack on the go.
This is a staple for us at every meal. We consume it in the form of rice or bread, so we buy this in bulk. This also reduces our food bill because smaller packaging costs a lot more than when we buy in bulk.
Meal ideas- Steamed brown rice with your favorite meat or veg, wholegrain pasta salad. If you love garlic (the way I do:) you can boil your rice with a couple of cloves and add a little butter to the cooked rice. This is a great side for your roast veggies or meat.
You can either choose canned beans or the dried ones. I find the dried variety cost a lot lesser than tinned beans, but you can buy whichever is more convenient for you.
Meal ideas- Beans and rice, chili, black bean soup, bean salad, veggie bean burger.
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This can save you in times of crisis. If we are in a hurry or come home after a long day at work, the last thing is to work in the kitchen – again. Refined flour is not the healthiest. We make a lot of flatbreads at home, like naan bread or roti which we do with wholewheat flour. Other healthy flour options are almond flour and coconut flour.
Meal ideas- Naan pizza, wholewheat wraps.
Snack & Dessert
One fruit that is available all year and available in almost any country. They are the healthiest and easiest fruit on the go and good for bouts of sugar cravings or hunger pangs. Keep in mind that if its summer, you need to make sure you are not buying them too ripe as they can go off real quick. But don’t worry if you have a couple of overripe bananas – you can just freeze and blend to make a “
I like to buy plain yogurt instead of the flavored ones because you can play around with the flavors. You can add a fruit or honey which are great natural sweeteners. Top it with some roasted nuts or granola for some added crunch and energy boost. They make a great snack and a lot better than any sugar-filled dessert.
A pack of popcorn kernels can stay for months. Just add some butter and toss the kernels on the stove top to make some homemade popcorn for the family. A fun crunchy snack that tastes even better when its warm and not out of a store bought pack.
Bag of nuts (your choice)
When its 3 pm every day, my mind is ready for a snack. It’s like something I don’t have control over -ha! The best option (instead of a bag of crisps) is a DIY trail mix. You can get super creative and throw in whatever you can get your hands on. Dried cranberries, raisins, apricots, figs, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecan nuts or even date fruit. And if you are confused on how to decide, look what’s on sale and buy them.
Mix them up together and put them in zip-lock pouches. I keep a few of the bags in the car, at home
There you go. It might sound like simple ingredients, but they are a better option to expensive takeaways or pre-packed meals in the supermarket.
It can be hard to swap your routine habits. But give it a try for a week or so and once you see the amount you save, it will motivate you to stick with a budget-friendly grocery list.