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Planning to do ‘the big shop’ this weekend? Here are some tips on how to make healthy food choices on a budget.
Our expert dietitian Sarah Noone shares her top tips on how to make healthy food choices while doing the weekly grocery shop, without breaking the bank.
Shop the Seasons
Just as you would dress for the seasons, it is a good idea to eat for the seasons too. Sarah’s advice is to look out for seasonal fruit and vegetables, like strawberries in the summer or root vegetables (parsnips beetroot or swede) in the winter. Seasonal vegetables tend to be widely available and cost less.
“When it comes to seasonal fruit and veg, as well as saving money, an extra bonus is that produce tastes much better when it’s in season,” Sarah stated.
“When it comes to seasonal fruit and veg, as well as saving money, an extra bonus is that produce tastes much better when it’s in season,”
Reach for the freezer
Sarah said that frozen vegetables and fruit are great for adding straight to meals as they last longer but share the same health benefits as their fresh counterparts. Frozen fruit and vegetables also tend to be cheaper, are much quicker to prepare and because you only use what you need, nothing is wasted. “You can add frozen fruit (after defrosting thoroughly) into yogurt or breakfast cereal in the mornings and frozen veg can be added to soups, curries, casseroles or stir frys etc,” Sarah suggested.
Choose store brands
According to Sarah,when it comes to choosing luxury or basic brands it’s important not to judge a book by its cover. “We all know it is what’s in the product that counts,” she said. “When comparing products, I always go straight to the ingredients list, as this tells you exactly what you are eating,” she added.
Check out our recent article on understanding food labels for a simple guide to the best way to compare products. “Remember items like fresh/ frozen fruit and veg, pasta, rice, oats will always be the same whether you go for the luxury or basic brand,” Sarah advised.
“Don’t underestimate the humble shopping list, based on a meal plan for the week,"
Be supermarket savvy
Check websites for special offers, don’t go shopping hungry and beware of multi-buys. While it may be tempting to snap up a bargain by opting for multi-buys or buy one get one free offers, Sarah advised, “they are not a great deal if you end up with loads of food you can’t eat before it goes off, so think before you grab that ‘two for one’ offer.”
She said that being more aware of product placement was another cost-cutting strategy. “Usually less costly items are placed higher and lower on shelves, while luxury brands are are placed at eye level,” Sarah explained.
Make a little go a long way
Meat is one of the most expensive food items in your shopping basket, so learning to make a little stretch a long way is a good way to save money.
Sarah suggested adding or swapping meat for pulses (beans, lentils and peas) along with vegetables in your meat- based dishes.
“Not only will this provide you with lots of fibre, vitamins, minerals and protein, but your food will also go further, saving you money too,” she said.
Write a shopping list and stick to it
Finally, Sarah said it was a good idea to write a shopping list and stick to it.
“Don’t underestimate the humble shopping list, based on a meal plan for the week. This ensures you have everything you need and helps you avoid temptation in the supermarket.”
For more information on making healthy food choices check out our handy food shopping card.
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