On a budget? Not to worry – follow our 8 tips for ‘smart’ and healthy shopping!

Have you set yourself a goal for 2020 to eat healthier? Step one will be creating more home-cooked meals, using plenty of fresh vegetables, lean proteins and wholegrains. And, whilst you will probably save money overall by purchasing less takeaway, your grocery bills may increase – and this can seem overwhelming!

The good news is, if you learn to shop ‘smart’, you can support your weight loss goals and your bank balance at the same time – it’s a win win!

We’ve listed 8 ‘smart’ shopping tips to help get you started:

1. Select recipes with fewer ingredients
If you’re just starting to cook more at home, we suggest using recipes with fewer ingredients, to reduce your costs (and the degree of difficulty/time). Or, consider what ingredients you already have in your fridge and pantry, and select recipes to compliment this – minimizing wastage.

2. Shop seasonally
Fruits and veggies in season will be cheaper to purchase, so opt for recipes that feature seasonal produce. For example, summer vegetables include tomatoes, celery, capsicum and asparagus, and fruits include berries, stone fruits, melons, figs and mangoes. If you select a recipe with non-seasonal ingredients, can you make a substitution?

Also, make sure you check out your local farmer’s markets, and larger fresh food markets. Some greengrocers will have daily specials on seasonal fruits and vegetables.

3. Buy home brands where you can
Sure – for certain products (i.e. breads, crackers and cereals), there may be key nutritional differences between the ‘big brands’ and the supermarket home brands. However, for wholefood products such as rolled oats, natural yoghurt, frozen berries and nuts – there is little or no difference. So why not save yourselves a dollar (or two)!

4. Choose recipes using mince
Mince is usually the cheapest way to buy meat and chicken, gram for gram. Mince-based recipes are usually great for cooking in bulk and freezing too, reducing the number of times you need to cook in a week. You know what that means – more time to hit the gym, play with the kids, or anything else on your ‘to do’ list!

5. Incorporate plant-based meals
Including vegan or vegetarian meals in your menu plan will definitely save you some hard-earned cash. And – studies have shown that transitioning towards a more ‘plant-based’ diet carries many health benefits, including reduced risk of certain cancers and metabolic diseases. We suggest looking for plant-based meals that include at least 15-20g of protein per serve, so that you feel full after eating.

6. Make your own
If you devour yoghurt like we do, you’d recognize how expensive this habit can be! Specifically, 1kg of Greek yoghurt can set you back at least $5-7. If you have time on your hands, you can make your own yoghurt for less than $2 per kilogram, using milk and a starter culture.

Same goes for dips, sauces, dressings, soups, falafel balls etc. Not only will you save money, your homemade versions may be healthier!

7. Keep your eye out on specials
This is an obvious one, and applies to all ingredients – from vegetables through to meats. With regards to meats on special, don’t be turned off if the impending use-by date. If you don’t plan on using this product until later in the week, stick it straight in the freezer straight away and defrost on the day you wish to cook it. When you freeze raw meats, the use-by date no longer applies – in fact, you can extend their ‘life’ for up to 6 months!

8. Don’t feel pressured to buy organic
Organic products are always more expensive – that is, unless they are on special. And, whilst organic products may be more environmentally-friendly (note – this is not always the case!), the jury is out as to whether there are any nutrition or health benefits for the extra dollars you spend. If you are on a budget, consider whether it’s worth spending the extra on buying organic. If you still prefer to buy organic, perhaps you can select some organic products and not others (i.e. meats but not vegetables), or make cost savings elsewhere using out tips above.