Eat healthy for less

None of us need reminding that food is expensive. We may want to pay less for food – but we don’t want to take risks with our family’s health.

After all, you are what you eat – and staying healthy starts with healthy food.

Eating healthy can drastically reduce your chances of developing killer illnesses like heart disease and cancer, help you keep your weight under control, and even help you improve your mental state and physical performance.

The good news is that not only that you can eat healthier, you can do it while cutting back on the cost.

What is healthy eating?

Most people in the UK consume too many calories, eat too much saturated fat, sugar and salt, and not enough fruit, vegetables, oily fish or fibre. Processed food is part of the problem. The more processing food goes through, the more nutrition is removed.

Of course, some processed food can be cheap – but eating large amounts is linked to obesity and other diseases.

The NHS has produced the Eatwell Guide, It provides a basic guide to healthy eating, and suggests a balanced diet:

5 a day

You should try to eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day They can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced, and it is easier than it sounds to do. A glass of fruit juice with your breakfast, a banana instead of a biscuit with your midmorning coffee, lettuce and tomato in your lunchtime sandwich and an apple after it, and you have reached five even before your main meal in the evening – when you can take your pick of carrots, broccoli, cabbage and more. Find out more about what counts towards your 5 A Day.

Save on fruit and veg by: shopping in street markets – or buying the ‘imperfect’ fruit and veg some supermarkets are brining in to reduce food waste.

Have high fibre foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta.

Starchy foods should make up just over a third of everything you eat – they help you feel full, and prevent cravings for sugary snacks, Choose wholegrain or wholemeal such as brown rice, wholewheat pasta, and brown, wholemeal or higher fibre white bread. They have more fibre, and usually more vitamins and minerals, than processed white varieties.

To save on these important basic foods, buy in bulk. Asian shops can be good for rice and look at bulk buy specialsts.

Enjoy meat if you want – but look at** **alternatives.

Meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc and B vitamins. It’s also one of the main sources of vitamin B12. But too much red meat and fat can be unhealthy. Bacon, ham and sausages are all processed – and should probably be avoided. You need protein – but milk and dairy foods, such as cheese and yoghurt, can provide it and cost less. Find some recipes with less meat here.

Eggs and fish are also good sources of protein and contain many vitamins and minerals. Oily fish is particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Aim to eat at least 2 portions a week.

Want to save even more? Replace meat with beans, peas and lentils. They are low in fat and high in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals, and cost much less. There are some delicious recipes based on pulses here.

Use unsaturated oils and spreads.

Saturated fats are found in animal foods, such as fatty meat and dairy products. They’re also found in coconut products and palm oil. Unsaturated fats are found in plant foods, such as olive and vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, as well as oily fish.

Cutting down on foods that contain a lot of saturated fat and replacing them with foods with more unsaturated fat can improve your cholesterol levels.

Look at the special offers on vegetable spreads and olive oil for cooking in your local discount supermarket.

The whole thing

Try to eat food that is as fresh as possible (although frozen food can be okay) and with as little processing as possible. You will have to take a little more time to cook it – but not only will it taste delicious - it should all cost much less to buy.

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