When your budget is super tight, it’s difficult to leave the grocery store with more than five “healthy” items of food. But did you know that it’s actually possible to create cheap and delicious dishes? For your money-saving pleasure, we’ve compiled five smart tips to help you select the right foods to suit your budget so that you can still eat an abundance of healthy, flavoursome food.
1. Frozen produce can be better than their fresh counterparts
Frozen produce is often cheaper than fresh fruit and veg and often contains just as much (or even more) nutrients. This is because frozen produce is often frozen very soon after it is harvested and so the nutrients are locked inside. Fresh produce however, often requires more processing which adds to its cost and sits on the shelf waiting to be bought for up to weeks. Within this timeframe, the produce will have lost many of its nutritional benefits.
2. Cook with whole beans and grains
Whole beans and grains can be purchased cheaply dried or canned and can be used to bulk up meals, to add more nutrients and flavour or they can be simply be a meal by themselves. High in fibre, whole beans and grains will also keep you fuller for longer.
Leftovers are wonderful. You can reheat leftovers for lunch at work or school and ditch the expensive meals from restaurants or the cafeteria. If you’re not a fan of eating the same meal twice in a row, get those creative juices flowing and repurpose your leftovers, adding more ingredients and different flavours.
4. Shop at international markets
Check out your local Asian or European grocer. You’ll find a few bargains and some new and interesting ingredients to expand your culinary repertoire. Asian grocers often stock a greater variety of noodles that are much cheaper than those found at the supermarket.
5. Shop at the farmer’s market closer to its closing time
Farmer’s markets are full of fresh, nutritious and local produce. Towards the end of the market, farmers are willing to get rid of their produce and will happily sell it to you for a fraction of the original price or even give it to you for free! For extra points, buy in bulk and freeze for later use.
Two Recipes So Tasty You Wouldn’t Guess They Were Cheap
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 small yellow onions, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled, minced
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp tumeric
- ½ tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 cups red lentils, uncooked
- 1 can coconut milk
- 3 cups water
- Cilantro for topping
- In a large pot over medium-high heat melt the coconut oil. Add the onions and ginger and cook until fragrant and the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the spices and toast for about 30 seconds until fragrant before stirring in the coconut milk, lentils and water.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn the heat to low. All to simmer for 35-45 minutes until the lentils are soft and the mixture has thickened.
- Remove from the heat and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro. Serve over rice, quinoa, naan or enjoy on its own!
- 2 1/2 - 3 pound chicken thighs(about 5-6)
- 2 teaspoon creole or cajun spice
- 2 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme or oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon bouillon powder (you may replace with salt)
- Combine all the spices and mix thoroughly. Wash and dry the chicken thighs.
- Massage spice mix into chicken thighs and shake off the excess. Let them marinade in the fridge overnight (uncovered) or proceed to baking.
- Before baking, preheat the oven to 475 degrees Farenheit.
- Bake at 475 degrees Farenheit for the first 20 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 400 degrees until the thighs are cooked all the way through, the juices are clear and the skin is crispy – about 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and enjoy!