Despite what many people think, eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. Sure, I’d love to fill my weekly grocery basket with chia seeds, raw cacao, mangoes and coconuts (the list could go on), but I’ve realised you can get by on some pretty affordable and easily accessible staples. And if you get creative with them using herbs and spices, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that eating healthy can be fun without stretching your wallet.
The foods below offer good carbs, healthy fats, protein, as well as plenty of vitamins and minerals, without needing to buy into the hype of food labelling because, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, they’re all wholefoods – foods as close to their natural state as possible.
So here’s the budget foods you’ll always find in my shopping trolley. What I love most about them is that they’re pretty versatile, can be adapted to any meal and you don’t have to search far and wide to find them. They’re just everyday, wholesome, nutrient-rich foods.
It’s low in kJs, high in vitamin C and beta-carotene and is super-tasty and satisfying. I love roasting pumpkin with some olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika and adding it to salads. Or serving it as a side with other roast veggies and some protein.
Not only do I love to use oats in my yummy strawberry and chia bircher muesli and chocolate porridge, but I also use them as a substitute for breadcrumbs or flour when making veggie fritters or burgers patties. Oats are also a great addition in smoothies and crumbles. Nutritionally, oats are a great source of fibre to keep you regular and B vitamins for a healthy nervous system.
Garlic has been shown to have antiviral and antibacterial properties to help fight infection and has even been linked to preventing certain cancers. I love that it makes everything taste instantly taste better. Garlic is great in pestos, stir-fries, sautéed veggies, omelettes, frittatas, fritters and pizzas.
Since I’ve found out you can eat zucchini raw, I’ve been making zucchini pasta (just use a veggie peeler and peel it vertically into long strips and then slice finely so it resembles noodles), putting it into a basic Vietnamese papaya salad and using them to bulk up a salad. I also love to stir-fry them or have them in a quinoa salad with roasted veggies. Zucchinis are also low in kJs but really filling.
It’s hard to beat eggs when you’re looking for the ultimate budget superfood. They can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My favourite way to have them is in an omelette or frittata because you can pretty much put any veggies you’ve got at the back of your fridge, mixed with some garlic and onion, and it’ll taste amazing.
Eggs are also a nutritional powerhouse offering protein, B vitamins, vitamins A and D, zinc and iron. But make sure you keep the yolks: they contain the vitamin A, which is good for skin, B vitamins for energy which supports brain health, muscles and is necessary for a healthy pregnancy, as well as saturated fat for hormone production and the body’s absorption of vitamins and minerals. Eggs also contain choline which helps you produce chemicals called neurotransmitters that boosts brain function and recall.
Frozen berries retain their nutrients just as much as their fresh counterparts but last much longer. I love to put them in my papaya berry boats or mix them in bircher muesli. As a treat, I put frozen berries in natural yoghurt with some nuts, cinnamon and honey. Deliciousness!
Mixed greens (baby spinach, rocket, lettuce)
Not only are they low in kJs and a great base for salads, mixed greens can be a combined with chunks of chicken, tuna or salmon to make a highly nutritious main dish. Mixed greens are perfect as a side for most meals and great as a substitute for grains.
Forget tinned tuna, sardines are lower in mercury and are also a great source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are crucial for boosting brain function and heart health. Plus, sardines also high in protein and a surprisingly good source of calcium.
Happy grocery shopping!