Eating for convenience is the death-knell for people having to reach deep into their pockets to afford high grocery and food bills in the cost of living crisis, believes wellbeing adviser and counsellor Frances Young.
Young has been promoting and supporting people to eat healthily for 30 years, and said her biggest advice to anyone wanting to eat nutritiously without breaking the bank is to invest time in planning and cooking meals.
“People often talk about being time poor, but your health, wellbeing and living within your means and your budget are worth having the time to make those decisions.”
She recommends sitting down once or twice a week to plan out meals that are loaded with veggies, rich in fibre and keep you fuller for longer, and she provided three easy ways to help do so.
* Seven healthy food hacks for busy people
* How you can eat more sustainably
* Kai with Soul: Think wise and shop smartly
Throw away the peeler
Keeping the skins on your potatoes, kūmara and all starchy vegetables when preparing meals is a hassle-free way to introduce more nutrients to your meal, and it saves you time preparing and cleaning up.
“You get more fibre in your diet by keeping the skins on, are fuller for longer, satisfied for longer, and then you don’t get the hunger spikes,” Young said.
Keeping the skins on vegetables means they take longer to digest, unlike eating heavily processed “ready to eat” foods, which often leave you feeling hungry again after a short amount of time.
Swap fresh for frozen
Young’s easiest tip to cutting dinner costs is to use frozen veggies, which are often significantly cheaper than buying fresh and are still jam-packed with all the goodness.
“Frozen are just as good and there’s less waste,” she said. “They’re already prepared, and they’ve often got better nutritional value than fresh as they were picked and frozen within an hour of being in the field.”
Green beans, for example, are notably cheaper frozen than fresh. The Pams frozen range costs just $0.39 per 100 grams, more than a 75% saving over Pams fresh green beans that cost $1.80 per 100 grams.
“These changes add up, and could equal out to affording your [car] rego,” Young said.
Make breakfast your biggest meal of the day
According to the old wives’ tale, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and is often the cheapest, Young said.
“The principle of good eating habits for a healthy body and a healthy bank balance [is] make your breakfast the biggest meal of the day.”
She said with options such as whole grain porridge, fruit and yoghurt, or baked beans on wholemeal toast, breakfast is “easily the cheapest meal of the day”, and having it will minimise snacking later on.
Recipe to try: Carrot and Red Lentil Dhal
1 tsp of oil
1 tsp of wholegrain mustard
½ tsp ground cumin
2 large grated carrots
500ml of vegetable stock
¼ cup split washed red lentils
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp curry powder
Pepper to taste
Heat oil in a saucepan on medium heat
Add wholegrain mustard and cumin and stir
Add carrot and cook for 10 minutes allowing carrot to soften and stir regularly
Add stock and lentils. Simmer for 30 minutes
Stir in peanut butter, curry powder and pepper
Simmer for 5 minutes then serve
Garnish with yoghurt and coriander or mint
* Young will give a cooking demonstration focused on cheap eats at the Vegan Expo at Haere-Roa (University of Canterbury) on Sunday. Tickets $5 for adults from veganexpo.co.nz, 16 and under free.