Healthy eating on a shoestring budget

MELISSA SHEDDEN
Last updated 11:57 12/11/2013

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Best to check the price list before placing your order at any organic supermarket or cafe.

Health foods are selling for big bucks - think $16 for a smoothie - and while they often include of-the-moment superfoods and supplements, for that price, you'd expect gold in it.

But eating right doesn't have to drain your bank account.

Preparing your own meals is a good start, says Dietitian spokeswoman Georgie Rist.

"There are some companies trying to maximise on the recent superfood craze," she says.

"Although these options may in fact be nutritious, you can often make it yourself for a fraction of the cost. Including more home-cooked meals and taking a nutritious lunch to work are easy ways to eat better on a healthier budget."

Here are seven ways to eat well for health and your hip pocket.

1. Make a plan

"Preparation is key to healthy eating and achieving your goals. Plan meals in advance, so that you don't resort to convenience foods and only buy the food you need," advises accredited dietitian Georgie Rist.

2. Choose produce not packages

The cheapest, most nutrient-dense foods live in the fresh produce aisle. When you shift away from highly processed carbohydrates and sugar-filled foods towards vegetables and protein, your appetite will naturally diminish.

"If you would really like to have a high-kilojoule food, buy the smallest amount that will satisfy you, the best quality you can afford and eat it slowly, savouring it with all your senses."

3. Eat in season

Find out what's in season and live off that. The trick to buying posh produce like strawberries and asparagus at a reasonable price is to get them during their local growing season. Shop your local farmers market for seasonal savings.

4. Become a mindful shopper

Try making grocery shopping an experience, not a chore. Think of yourself as hunting and gathering the foods that are going to nourish your families' minds and bodies. Seek out the bulk aisle for nuts, seeds and specialty items like quinoa on the cheap, and check out the frozen section for vegetables and fruits, particularly berries.

5. Turn your freezer into a takeaway

Cooking meals in large batches and freezing the leftovers for later can save you a lot of time and money.

"Instead of buying fast food or eating out, it's more cost effective, time-saving and healthy to pull something out of the freezer and heat it up," says Rist.

6. Shop the ads

Perusing the junk mail and telly ads isn't just for extreme bargain shoppers. Be flexible with your weekly menu and your budget will stretch that bit further.

7. Drink more water

Often those hunger pangs are actually a sign of thirst. Health-obsessed celebrities and medical experts alike recommend drinking two litres a day. Buy a bottle or jug that size, fill it up in the morning and work your way through it.

For individual advice about your diet and healthy eating plans contact an accredited practising dietitian.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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