Ever wondered how you can eat healthily on a budget? It’s a lot easier than you may think. There’s a common misconception that healthy eating = expensive, but that’s not necessarily the case.
As mums, we often play the role of household project manager, chauffeur, and even accountant! It’s a tough job at times, but someone’s got to do it! Luckily, you don’t have to figure it all out alone!
Here’s how you can enjoy more delicious, healthy meals without overspending each month…
How much does the typical family budget for groceries, and how do you compare?
The average Australian family spends around $150 per week on groceries. The exact amount depends on where in Australia you live, how many children you have, and so on. But this figure should give you an idea about where you might sit, compared to the rest of the country.
It’s also useful to look at the average amount spent on restaurants and takeout, which sits at $44 per week for each Australian household. This means the average food budget for a typical Australian family is around $194/week.
Whatever your food budget (whether it’s more or less than the typical Australian family), there’s usually a way to cut back at least a little. And you can do it without resorting to cheap, processed foods. In fact, homemade, healthy meals are often more budget-friendly than takeout food. Here’s how…
How to save money on meals
1. Plan ahead
When you’ve got a plan, you can stick to your budget a lot more easily. You can choose healthy meals that include budget-friendly ingredients, and you can make sure you’re always ready with something to eat before you’re hungry. This means you’re less likely to need to resort to takeout. You can download our favourite meal planning tools here, including our weekly planner and our grocery list planner.
2. Make a list
Part of planning your healthy meals will include making a list. Once you’ve planned out your menu, you’ll need to list out the ingredients you need to make each recipe. Then you can cross-check this list against what’s already in your cupboard, fridge, and freezer so you don’t double-up or waste something you’ve already got.
3. Don’t shop when you’re hungry
Shopping when you’re hungry is dangerous for your budget… and your health. If you shop hungry, you’ll be much more likely to grab quick processed foods and give in to cravings. So make sure you eat a proper healthy meal before you head to the shops or pack a healthy snack so you never shop hungry again.
4. Shop at farmers markets and discount stores
Sometimes the best place to get good, healthy food on a budget is your local farmers’ markets or roadside stall. Not only is the food fresher and straight from the farm, but it’s also often cheaper because there’s no middleman. But you don’t have to head to the countryside or markets to get affordable ingredients to cook with. Even just switching your shopping from Coles and Woolworths to Aldi can mean you save lots each week.
5. Buy in season
Ever noticed that in one week, strawberries are $1 a punnet, then a month later, they’re $5? It’s all about the seasons. If you pick fresh ingredients that are in season, you’ll keep your costs down… and you’ll create healthier meals because all the ingredients you use are fresh and local.
6. Don’t over-buy
Do you ever find yourself buying too much food (or too much of the wrong food) and then you have to throw a lot of it out? You’re not the only one… in fact, one survey shows that 43 per cent of Australians do this regularly! So stick to your list, make sure you don’t over-buy, and you’ll find you waste less and your budget stretches further.
7. Buy in bulk
This might seem to contradict the previous tip, but it’s still a valid way to save money on your shop. If you regularly use a lot of one ingredient, why not buy it in bulk? For example, if you plan to eat a lot of brown rice next month, grab it in the 1kg bag instead of the 500g bag so it works out cheaper, overall.
Also if you plan to have multiple healthy meals that include the same meat like chicken or mince you can buy in bulk, portion it, and freeze it.
8. Reduce processed foods
When you plan healthy meals for your family, you’ll automatically reduce the amount of expense and limit your intake of unhealthy processed foods. That’s a budget win and a health win!
9. Serve smaller portions
When you start to be more mindful of what you eat, you’ll stop overloading your plate (and your family members’ plates). This means you won’t need to spend as much on ingredients and you won’t end up with as much waste at the end of each meal.
10. Make bulk and freeze
If you buy your ingredients in bulk, why not cook in bulk too, then freeze the extra meals? Not only will you save money on your ingredients, but you’ll save time (which is just as precious, right?).
11. Enjoy the leftovers
Even if your healthy meals aren’t all freezer-friendly, you can still pop them in the fridge overnight and give them another go the next day. Eating leftovers can save you a lot of time and money. According to one study, you could save an average of $150/week just by doing leftovers instead of eating out once a week.
This article was republished with permission from The Healthy Mummy.