Healthy Eating without exceeding your budget – Tuesday 4th Feb 2014.
with Ellen Roche Dietitian
For recipes mentioned, see the recipe section of our blog.
Did you know….
16% of average household weekly spend is on purchasing food (CSO 2012)= €130
The Consumer association if Ireland revealed that grocery process increased by an average of 12% between 2011 and 2013.
Many people are discontinuing their private health insurance and cutting back on the frequency of visits to see their family doctor. When finances are limited and such cuts are made, it’s even more important to get the basics right when it comes to making daily food choices.
Here are some tips for healthier options when the purse strings are tight….
Choose own brand cereals which are higher in fibre and low in sugar e.g. weetabix, museli, fruit n fibre and branflakes. These complex carbohydrates are just as nutritious as the standard brands. Bulk buy: larger packs.
Porridge oats are extremely economical typical 1kg bag costs € 1.50 – 2 and should provide 30 servings = 6 cents per bowl!
Wholegrain toast – smaller size loaves are the same price, standard size loaves of bread are only 20-30 cents more expensive for than the same brand of white loaf.
Meat & Fish
Many people think that you have to be eating the best of steak or chicken breasts to be healthy. This is incorrect.
Compare chicken leg top and bottom part of leg (dark) meat to breast (lighter colour) meat..
Calories: Light = 106 calories per 100g raw meat, dark = 109calories
Total fat: Light = 1.1% dark = 2.8% (dark is still a low fat meat)
Saturated fat: Light = 0.3% dark = 0.8% (not a significant difference)
IMPORTANT to remove skin or fat surrounding the meat!
Buy meat on special offer in the supermarket or local butchers… sometimes has a short use by date, but excellent value. Meat or fish close to use by date could be cooked before expiry and eaten even the following day or alternatively frozen.
Processed meat / fish e.g. kievs, fish fingers, chicken goujons, battered and breaded fish….. Look at the label… note the first ingredienst often meat or fish, but a maximum of 55% of the total weight ie aprox half of the fish finger is fish, but the remainder is essentially white flour, fat and often flavourings such as salt. It may appear that you are eating a reasonable amount of a protein food, but essentially the protein component is only half of what you see on the plate.
I recommend trying to buy the plain chicken, fish etc and just serve smaller portions – a standard portion of cooked meat is aprox the palm of your hand or 2-3oz.
Make own burgers; steak mince is sometimes on offer, alternatively use regular mince and grill burgers to allow most of the fat to drain out. 1 lb of mince (450g) should make 4 burgers…Home made burgers will be more filling, tasty and nutritious as they contain more protein and less fat or salt.
Most people in Ireland do not consume the recommended 1-2 portions of oily type fish each week.
Tinned salmon contains a little less omega 3 healthy fats than fresh fish. Choose tinned fish in brine rather than oil. Smoked kippers and fresh mackerel are very inexpensive to buy fresh from the fish counter.
Watch out for special offers on whole fish e.g. whole salmon often for €10 = 10 servings. Cut into salmon steaks and the remainder freeze well.
Tinned tuna is excellent for dinner with pasta and veg.
Soups & Sauces
Home made is more economical and healthier as they contain less salt and without artificial flavours, colourings etc
Make your own using discounted veg or veg close to its use by date
Use home made veg soup instead of a gravy or white sauce.
Soup mixes are a great way of bumping up the protein and fibre content of a soup – contain pearl barley, lentils etc
Make home made pasta sauces: tin tomatoes, onion, garlic and fresh herbs from the garden or puree herb tubes.
Home made curry sauce rather than jars or packets of sauce: need curry paste, some tumeric, onion, garlic, ginger, coconut milk, tinned tomatoes and natural yogurt. Larger batches freeze very well.
Tumeric has been shown to inhibit the expression of a specific gene that’s believed to lead to the development and progression of breast cancer.
Soya sauce is great for wok style or stir fry dishes instead of buying the packet pouches of sauces; add fresh ginger or lemongrass for enhancing the flavour (these last for ages in the fridge).
Healthy eating on a budget should not be dull and boring! By adding some herbs or spices, it can really lift the taste, texture and overall flavour
Oils & Spreads
Rapeseed oil can be the same price or even less expensive than sunflower or olive oil.
Rapeseed oil contains 10 times more poly-unsaturated fat (omega 3 than olive oil), therefore excellent for keeping the blood thin, preventing blood clots, heart disease, good for those with irregular heart beat and exerts an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
Rapeseed also naturally contains a small amount of plant sterols, which help to lower cholesterol.
Invest in a non stick pan… will help you use less oil.
Choose own brand spreads with olive or rapeseed oil in the top few ingredients.
Fruit & Vegetables
Frozen veg are just as nutritious as fresh veg.
Buy fresh fruit such as raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrants direct from fruit farms during the summer and freeze then use all year round. 1 lb punnets of frozen berries usually retails at 2 euro per punnet. Nice with yogurt or included in a home-made dessert.
Large UK study involving younger women – It found that consuming berry type fruit three times per week reduced the chances of young women getting a heart attack by a whopping 32%.
Vegetables in season: carrots and kale are currently in season. Savoy cabbage and leeks are coming into season in Feb.
If buying tinned fruit, buy the version which is tinned in its own or natural juice rather than syrup
Community Garden Schemes
Check if there are any community garden schemes locally or try grow your own veg at home. http://www.giyinternational.org/giy_groups
Same Price Equivalents
Healthier options are often the same price e.g.
low fat / full fat milk,
light / regular mayo
reduced fat / regular cheese
no added sugar, diet or lite yogurts
no added sugar cordials
sugar free fizzy drinks
Be careful with some low fat products e.g. yogurts and biscuits – the fat is often removed but additional sugar is used to substitute for taste and the overall calorie content might be the exact same or marginally different.
Invest in a second fridge freezer if you have the room, especially for larger families; useful for delaying spoilage of fruit, veg. potatoes and for buying foods in bulk or foods on special offer to home freeze.