I often get asked about what’s the healthiest to eat, and what does it mean to eat in moderation and in balance. Those questions arise from all the confusion around what “healthy eating” is considered nowadays. In my books, trying to eat as many foods made from whole ingredients, and homemade most of the time, makes for a healthy diet. Even if you are making an indulgent meal, it’s much more nourishing made at home than purchased.

So let me make it easy for you – here’s my top 5 tips to eat well without breaking the bank with a dose of planning and a dash of strategy.

All Clear(ance)!

It all starts in the grocery store. The next time you’re in your local grocery store, don’t forget to check out the clearance section which will have produce that is looking a little past their prime or bruised.

 

  • These products are still perfect to be used in stir frys, stews, roasts, and baked dishes where the wrinkles and bruises won’t be noticed verses if you were to eat them
  • They may not make the cut to be sold with the rest of the produce and are therefore sold for a discount
  • These little treasure chests of produce are usually found in the back of the store or at the end of aisles, so be sure to find and take advantage of them.

Home Sweet Home

Cooking at home is one of the most impactful ways you can cut down on how much you are spending on food, if well planned and intended. (You can always make anything blow up your budget *ahem* whole foods *ahem*). Although eating out is convenient and often enjoyable, it can put a dent in your wallet if it becomes a daily habit. There are plenty of healthy and quick meals that don’t need to take you the whole day.

By cooking at home you can:

  • Make large batches and freeze them for convenient meals in the future 
  • Control what goes into your food to get only what you love and enjoy
  • Be creative and experiment with different ingredients and flavours
  • Have food readily available when hunger strikes (or even before, if you’re trying to avoiding the HANGRY status on busy days).
  • For inspiration, check out all the different recipes on this blog such as the avocado and chicken alfredo zoodles (how delish does that sound!).  

Time for a Makeover

When you’ve finished your amazing home-cooked meal, don’t throw out the leftovers! Save money by transforming the leftovers from last night’s dinner into a whole new meal. With a little bit of pizzazz, last night’s casserole can be made into a wholesome, Instagram-worthy stew (see my freebie booklet at the end).

 

  • Think strategically – Think about dishes with similar/complementing ingredients or flavours and have at it!
  • When it comes to leftovers, the first meal/feature component is what you build the rest of your meals aroundif you start with a beef tomato sauce, you can make dishes like shepherd’s pie, spaghetti, sloppy joes, etc… but if you start with soup, there’s not much you can make with the leftovers. 
  • There are no bad ideas when it comes to revamping past meals so experiment and cook to your heart’s content

Nameless and Bulky!

Buy in bulk to increase the unit-per-dollar value and get more for your money! Lots of lentils, brown rice and beans can be bought in large quantities and with proper storage in glass jars or large plastic Tupperware (BPA free), these nutrient-dense items can last you months. Some items like nuts and seeds might be better stored in the fridge so they don’t spoil.

By buying generic/store-brand products:

  • You can get the same product at a cheaper price than the brand-name version
  • Buy just what you want and reduce waste
  • Mix and match so you can try new items every time

So why spend more when you can spend less, am I right?!

Tis’ the Season

Growing up, my family always ate local & seasonal foods back home in Lebanon. When I moved to Vancouver, it was very odd to me to be able to get whatever I want all year round – what a luxury! There are multiple benefits for eating seasonally.

 

  • By catering your meals according to the time of year and purchasing produce that is in season where you live, you not only get meals that are cheaper but also have a deeper flavour and more nutrients per bite!
  • When produce is in season and local, they are in their peak freshness and ripeness and do not lose as much of their nutritious goodness as they are shipped from halfway across the world.
  • You can even take this one step further and grow your own fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs. You will be able to have produce that is at its peak ripeness and nutritional value without breaking the bank as you cut out commercial labour, processing, and shipping.

To help you get started, I want to share with you one of my favorite recipe booklets. It’s all about using one base recipe in 3 different ways. It’s meant to stir your creativity as well – the possibilities are really endless! Enter your email below to get the recipe booklet of 12 recipes, AND it’s complete with the grocery list!

Blog Contributors

This blog was written with the help of UBC nutrition and dietetic students, Gilbert and Celine.

References:

nutriFoodie Blog: 9 Tips for Easy Grocery Shopping (accessed September 19th, 2018)
Available from: https://nutrifoodie.ca/2018/08/22/9-tips-for-easy-grocery-shopping/

Choose My Plate: Eating on a Budget– The 3 P’s (accessed September 20th, 2018)
Available from: https://choosemyplate-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/budget/PlanPurchasePrepare.pdf

Healthline Blog: 19 Clever Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget (accessed September 22nd, 2018)
Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/19-ways-to-eat-healthy-on-a-budget#section20