When it comes to food we pay for convenience – whether it’s with our wallets or our waistlines. Ready meals and take aways tend to be much more expensive than if we bought all the raw ingredients and made the dish ourselves. Or you get cheap fast foods (99p burger anyone?) which are loaded with fat, salt and sugar. If you want to save money and eat healthy, the more often you make your own meals, the better.
Now that doesn’t mean you need hours every evening or the skills of a TV chef. Cooking for yourself can be as simple as making a sandwich rather than buying one. The idea is to start small and work your way up to making more meals from scratch. For example, you could go from a take away lamb curry to a chicken curry made at home with a jar sauce and some added vegetables. As you get more comfortable in the kitchen, this could become a fully homemade curry with chicken, vegetables and a sauce made from scratch.
It’s far easier to eat healthy when you make your own food. You can add more fruits, vegetables and lean protein, while controlling how much fat, sugar and salt you add. For example, shop bought sandwiches tend to be on white bread, low in protein, and heavy on the fat, whether that’s cheese or mayonnaise. A better option is to make your own sandwich on wholemeal bread, with extra protein (chicken, tuna, etc.), some vegetables (slices of tomato, lettuce, grated carrot, etc.) and sauces such as mustard or chutney (rather than just slathering on the mayonnaise). You can then serve it with a side of carrot sticks and an apple for extra nutrition.
If you are not used to doing much meal prep, start slowly. Maybe commit to cooking 2 or 3 days a week at first, then 4 or 5 days a week once you are in the habit. As discussed in yesterday’s post, you need to be realistic about when you will feel like cooking. The more meals you make yourself the better, but only if you actually make those meals! Make sure you always have the makings of a few easy meals for when time is tight and you are too tired to cook. This could be a stir fry with pre-cut frozen vegetables, frozen prawns, a jar of sauce and a package of microwaveable rice. Yes, it’s more expensive than buying whole vegetables and preparing them yourself. But it’s much cheaper than getting a take away because you are too tired to face chopping all those vegetables yourself.
So take a look at your usual eating habits and see if there are any meals which you could make yourself rather than buying. Remember, time spent in the kitchen is money saved!
For some healthy recipes which are also easy on the budget, click here!