This is a topic that I get asked about all the time, so I thought it would be helpful to just write a few ideas down on how to eat well when you're on a budget. I know a lot of people think that healthy eating is really expensive, but a lot of it is a mindset thing that we just need to break out of. Of course, maybe buying a bunch of vegetables is going to be more expensive than buying a frozen, value pizza, but the in the long term, the few extra euros/pounds/dollars are definitely worth it. You see quotes that say "Your health is your greatest wealth" or "Illness is more expensive than wellness" and they have a very good point. When I buy my food, I always try to think of it as an investment, in to my health, therefore my future, my potential, my wellbeing. When you value your body, you will value what you put in it.
Anyway here are a few things that help me:
1.SHOP SMART: I get a lot of my ingredients from different places. It may not be the most convenient thing, but I know where I go to buy different things, because I know where to get the best deal. I buy all of my coconut products from Asian supermarkets, they always have the best coconut milk for the best price and it's 100% coconut and water, no added nasty bits. I compare the different health food stores and buy my products where they are better priced. Sometimes it means going out of my way... sometimes it means going really, REALLY out of my way, but if you're thinking about budget this can really make a difference.
For the Berliners: I buy my Chia seeds, Goji Berries and Quinoa from a little mexican shop buy Frankfurter Allee, Voigtstr.39. It's the best! The Turkish Markets at Gesundbrunnen are by far the best value for things like fresh herbs, beans and lentils. And there are lots of little asian supermarkets for coconut milk, rice noodles and coconut oil.
2. FARMERS MARKETS: This is great when you're on a budget but I also just really enjoy this was of shopping. You can just buy what you will need, hopefully reducing any waste, as well as supporting local growers and businesses. I have an old guy who I buy some dried fruits from on a Thursday and it's a great deal! Of course you have markets that are more expensive than others but just shop around and see what works best for you. I buy all of my dried herbs, salts and spices in big amounts for little money at the markets.
3. GO SEASONAL: Seasonal fruits and veggies are always cheaper, so it sounds simple but embrace this! Go with what is easily available and you'd be amazed at what you can save.
4. BUY ONLINE: I'm a big fan of this one... it just makes life a little easier, but have a look on amazon and other online stores to make sure you're getting the best possible deal.
5. BULK COOK: This is a great money and time saver! I love to make a big soup, stew or curry and have it throughout the week. My husband will take it to work, I'll have it in the evenings after a class and it's just there ready to go. I know it may not be the most exciting thing to eat the same meal 4 times in one week but if you make sure it's really delicious, I'm sure you'll get through it.
6. THE DIRTY DOZEN: I know the organic thing can be tricky for a lot of people. We try and go with 'THE CLEAN FIFTEEN' and 'THE DIRTY DOZEN' these are lists of foods that are highly impacted by pesticides, and those which aren't. This is a good way of deciding what to go for when shopping for organic produce. These lists are updated every year so it's a good way of knowing what to buy.
7. COLLECT OVER TIME: You don't have to go out and buy every superfood that is on the market right now! My powders and boosters last months as you only need a little bit, so although they are initially expensive they are so worth it. Just go one at time, if you want to... but you can get all the goodness that your body needs from well selected foods.
8. KEEP IT REAL: There are lots of "Gluten Free" products or even "Vegan Burgers" and all these other options that you can have when you start to make these dietary decisions, but these are all really pricey and normally full of preservatives and other weird things, personally I will never trust a vegan sausage. There are lots of amazing recipes out there so that you can make your own burgers, dips and sauces at home but stick to whole foods that you can pronounce and that you recognise as real food.
It is possible to eat really well on a budget. Oats, lentils, beans, seasonal vegetables are some of the cheapest things from the supermarkets and you can do so much with them!
But the most important thing to change is our mindset towards it! Your body is worth valuing, so even if you are a student or in a transitional time in your life, place value on the importance of what you fuel your body with!