We all know the importance of a well-balanced diet. As well as providing us with energy to get us through the day, the food we eat contains essential nutrients and vitamins for growth and repair that keep us strong and healthy.
That said, it can be all too easy to reach for the cheap and easy ready meals after a long slog at work. While they may taste good, processed foods are nowhere near as nutrient dense as whole foods and fresh fruit and veg.
This Men’s Health Week, we’ve teamed up with Musclefood and men’s health charity, Orchid, to raise awareness around healthy eating and an active lifestyle. As part of this, we’re championing the different ways you can eat healthy on a budget. Being healthy on a budget doesn’t have to be boring – here are 29 ways you can eat well for less. Plus, find out how you can raise extra donations for Orchid every time you shop at Musclefood this week.
1. Meal prep using a weekly plan
We all know the saying failing to prepare is preparing to fail, and this rings true when it comes to eating too. Planning your meals for the week ahead means you can vary what you’re eating, allows for portion control, and reduces the chance of settling for an unhealthy alternative when you’re too exhausted to cook. Even after a long day, it can be a comfort knowing there’s a healthy meal ready and waiting for you when you get in, giving you one less thing to worry about.
2. Buy whole foods
Relying on whole foods is a great place to start if you’re trying to maintain a healthy diet. Processed foods are often laden with added fat, salt and preservatives. Ditch these in favour of whole foods jam-packed with fibre and vitamins like fruit, veg, legumes and fresh meat to enjoy a ton of benefits like protection from disease. Simple swaps include whole potatoes instead of instant mash, apples instead of apple juice, and a lean pork steak instead of fatty sausages.
3. Go frozen
Fresh is best right? Wrong! Recent studies have shown frozen veg has just as much nutritional value as its fresh counterpart – not to mention the fact they’re probably cheaper too. Given that frozen veg keeps for up to three months, going frozen is a step in the right direction to getting your five a day. Stock up on your favourite frozen veggies and they’ll be ready to eat whenever you need them.
4. Cook at home as much as possible
We love eating out as much as anyone, but there’s a reason why your favourite dishes taste so good. In fact, experts believe that restaurant meals contain even more calories than fast food meals – yikes! We should be eating around 600 calories for lunch and dinner, which is a whole lot easier when cooking at home using fresh, whole ingredients.
5. Do one food shop per week
Stocking up on ingredients to last the week is a thrifty way to ensure you eat well throughout the week. Rather than doing three or four smaller shops where you’re more likely to be tempted by treats, go once – perhaps on a Sunday – with a list of ingredients to tide you over for the week.
6. Don’t go food shopping on an empty stomach
Eating before you go is a surefire way to dash straight past the treat aisles without a second thought. Shopping when hungry means you’re more likely to spend on snacks and treats you don’t need, so make sure you’re belly’s full before you start filling your trolley with food you don’t really want or need.
7. Take advantage when there’s a good offer
Notice the word ‘good’ – don’t be tempted by any yellow sticker or reduced sign – not all offers are as good as they seem. Plus, it’s only really recommended to stock up on non-perishable items while they’re on offer unless you have a lot of freezer space. Nobody wants to get their hands on tons of cheap food for it to end up in the bin… money well wasted!
8. Find out your supermarket’s reducing time
Otherwise known as happy hour. There comes a point in the day where your local supermarket will begin marking down prices in a bid to get read of food that’s going out of date. The sooner you find out what time this is, the better! That way, you can be prepared and ready to pounce on the best discounts.
9. Use discount codes where possible
Using online voucher codes are a fantastic way to slash the cost of your food shop. Many big supermarkets like Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco have introductory offers for new customers which are an easy way to save up to £20 on your overall bill. Check out our grocery deals to save on your next shop.
10. Write a list and stick to it
This one’s important. Having a list to hand means you’re less likely to veer off plan and spend money on food you don’t need. Don’t forget to check your cupboards before you leave so you don’t double up on things you already have back at home.
11. Eat more whole veg – not pre-cut or canned
Filling up on veg at mealtimes is a great way to bring the cost of your weekly food shop down. Make veg the biggest portion on your plate at dinner and lunch to consume fewer calories but feel just as full. Plus, cooking from scratch means you can include veggies in just about anything. Be adventurous!
12. Stick to recommended portion sizes
Ever ended up making a pasta dish and cooking enough to feed the five thousand? It can be all too easy to add a bit more of this and a handful more of that when cooking, but the recommended portion sizes are on hand to keep us eating the right amount of the right foods. Plus, by eating the right amount your ingredients will stretch further, saving you money too.
13. Check the price per unit
Don’t be tempted by eye-catching packaging and reduced stickers. The easiest way to get the best deal is to check the price per weight unit. Packet A of rice is cheaper but smaller. Packet B may be a tiny bit more expensive, but it’s almost twice the size, meaning a smaller price per 100g. Mind blown.
14. Batch cook
Cooking something delicious? Make enough for leftovers! Whether it’s a one-pan chicken bake or your all-time favourite homemade casserole, make enough for the week so you don’t have to fuss over what to make, which may lead to you choosing something convenient and processed. Not only will you save money buying bigger packs of ingredients, but you’ll also save on the washing up too!
15. Be wary of two for [price] offers
You’re not saving anything if you’re spending more on something you don’t need. A lot of the time, these kinds of deals only actually save you 10p for buying two rather than one. If protein bars are £1 each or two for £1.90, you’re only saving 5p per bar and spending an extra 90p if you only needed one to start with.
16. Take advantage of your freezer
Keep easy things like leftovers, reduced steals, and food about to go off in the freezer for when you don’t want to cook. Not only does it save you splurging money and calories on a takeaway, but it reduces food waste too – perfect!
17. Sign up for loyalty cards
Tesco’s ClubCard or the Nectar Card are fantastic ways of building up points and redeeming them for discounts on your next shop. Swipe your card every time you shop and reap the benefits. Plus, you may get tailored discounts based on your popular buys.
18. Stick to water
Not only are fizzy drinks and sugary juices good at hiking up our food bill, but they’re also not so great for our health either. Cut them out of your weekly shop and you certainly won’t regret it. Stick to water, which has zero calories, endless health benefits and doesn’t cost a penny. If you’re craving a sweet drink, why not make a home-made smoothie with your favourite fruit?
19. Consider every day or supermarket own brands
Supermarket brands are, more often than not, more identical to their branded counterparts than you might think. Things like oats, baked beans, eggs and spices can be bought from the cheapest brand without compromising on flavour or quality.
20. Resist the treats at checkout
You’d have to be superhuman to walk through the shelves of chocolate, treats and snacks placed conveniently by the checkouts without a second thought. Unhealthy impulse buying is a real problem, but holding your own and pushing past them can reduce your food bill and your waistline.
21. Use peelings and bones to make stock
Forget forking out for expensive stock pots and ready-made cubes. You may have all the ingredients you need to make delicious, healthy stock in your kitchen already. Collect your veg peelings and animal bones and keep them in the freezer. This recipe uses kitchen scraps to make veggie stock, freezable and ready to use whenever. Not only are you saving money, but you’re reducing waste too.
22. Try cheaper alternatives to your favourite takeaways
A lot of the time, you can create your favourite takeaway dishes from the comfort of your own home. They’re healthier, cheaper and probably just as tasty. We rounded up seven of our favourite cook-at-home recipes that Domino’s, Nando’s and fish and chips fans will love. Save your cash, and fill up on fiil that’ll leave you feeling better for longer.
23. Grow your own veg if you can
Put your outdoor area to good use no matter how big or small it is. Growing your own fruit and veg is a fantastically fun way to increase your intake and cut the costs of your supermarket shop. There are tons of easy options for beginners, including bell peppers, cabbage, cucumbers and tomatoes.
24. Buy a whole chicken instead of fillets
Buying a whole chicken instead of breasts, fillets or thighs is a thrifty way to get much more delicious meat for your money. Starting from around £5, a whole chicken is easy to cook and can provide meat for two people’s lunches for an entire week. Pig out, and keep the bones for delicious chicken stock.
25. Price check your food shop
If only you could compare prices of four supermarkets to find out which is the cheapest. At mySupermarket, you can do just that. Do your online shop as normal and they’ll let you know when you can swap items for cheaper alternatives, saving you around 30% every time!
26. Get a wonky veg box
Morrison’s wonky vegetable box is a novel way of reducing food waste and helping us eat more veg. Packed with not-so-pretty- veg that didn’t make it to the shelves, the box includes staples like carrots and onions as well as seasonal produce. For just £3.50, we think it’s a brilliantly affordable way to increase your veg consumption.
27. Don’t always pay extra for organic
Is organic food really worth the extra price? A lot of the time, yes. But not always. Nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert shares her list of foods it’s not worth paying more for the organic variety. The list includes sweetcorn, avocados, onions, cabbage and asparagus.
28. Check expiry dates and go for ones with longer life
On your next trip to the supermarket, don’t just pick the first packet on the shelf. Have a rifle and see if you can find any with longer use by dates. They may be at the bottom of the pile or behind the first few rows. Being tactical definitely pays off – after all, how annoying is it when your food goes off two days after buying it?
29. Shop online for exclusive online-only discounts
A lot of big supermarkets including Ocado, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose have lots of online-only exclusive discounts to help you save even more money every shop. Shop online with your favourite supermarket to see what exclusive discounts you can get your hands on. Who knows how much cheaper it’ll be than shopping in-store?
Raise extra donations for Orchid this Men’s Health Week 2019
Kick start your healthy lifestyle with a plan from Musclefood. Better yet, why not save some extra cash on your meals and snacks with a Musclefood offer? Get £10 off and free delivery every week on the Do the Unthinkable plan. Pick your tasty low-calorie, high protein choices for the entire week and join in with the home workout programme to get your fitness levels in check.
Every time you use one an offer to save money, you’ll earn an extra donation for men’s cancer charity, Orchid. This amazing charity promotes men’s health awareness all year round, with an extensive range of support and resources for people affected by cancer. Find out more about how the donation works and start your journey to better health today.