I had a conversation with a friend this weekend about eating cleaner and budgeting for it. It was a great conversation and she made some great and very valid points (thanks Kelly!), especially at this time of year when just after Christmas we've all eaten and drank more than the norm! We may have spent much more than usual and we're a bit skint but want to eat well and get to the gym - all extra costs. I'm going to try to address the points made around food costs here.
High cost does not always equal high value!!!
Eating healthily need not cost the earth! I promise!
You don't need to eat free range farm fed chicken - you can get a chicken from Tesco that will feed a family of four for £3
You don't need tenderstem broccoli - you can buy a basic head of broccoli for 45p
Be smart about shopping, is it cheaper to buy big bigger and smart price or value items for the fundamentals where the difference in quality is going to be negligible, if any different at all? Oats for example - Tesco value basic oats 1K 75p versus Scotts porridge oats £2.00. Oats are oats people!! I don't want to pay for the box and the branding...what's inside the box or bag is the same.
Also, if it's cheaper to buy in bulk then do so, it will work out cheaper in the longer term.
It's a fallacy that good clean food costs more! I'm basing the below on the products I have shopped for at Tesco and prices shown are from Tesco online website at the time of writing. Here are some really good examples which I eat regularly.
Some of the staples I buy every week
Whole chickens at £3 or bake in the bag for £4
head of broccoli x 2@ 45p each 90p
cauliflower - 95p
Rosedene Farm at Tesco blueberries 125g £1.19
Tesco value basic frozen summer berries 1K £3.00
1 Cal Coconut oil spray 190ml £250
Mixed peppers (3) .93p
Cucumber portion .24p
Iceberg lettuce .45p
Tesco mix sized free range eggs 15 pack £2.00 (the value eggs are even cheaper.. eggs are easy protein and are a major staple.. scrambled, boiled, omelette, protein pancakes, desserts with sweetener.. the list goes on)
Tinned tomoatoes 400g can .31p (loads of variations but cheapest value can of chopped toms is .31p)
Fresh fish, for example salmon from the fish counter - salmon £2.00 a fillet, or pre-packed even cheaper. It doesn't have to be salmon either, loads of options and always offers on.
Meal 1 - oats with protein, berries and water £1.46, without protein, but with berries and with milk £1.21
Tesco value oats - 75p per kg - one 50g portion 38p
Water or 200ml skimmed milk 45p
Berries (frozen or fresh will do) 100g Tesco value frozen summer berries 38p
I use 30g of flavoured protein in my oats and make them with water. You can pick up a bag of protein in tesco currently (they're always on offer somewhere!) for £20 per Kg or so. This breakfast with the addition of buying a bag of whey protein from for example - Tesco at £21 for 900g, is going to work out at 70p extra per portion for the protein. I use a low carb protein so have a look online if you're going to go down this route for low carb protein. You'll pay between £20 and £30 for a bag that will last you a while. It's a good investment, but not essential. Milk and berries is also fine. You can take these to work dry and add water or milk to make a cold museli style breakfast or heat them in a microwave for hot oats.
Protein oats - calories 233 C25g, P18g, F2g
Oats without protein but with skimmed milk and berries calories 242 C34g, P11g, F1g
Contrast this with Costa porridge oats pot at £1.85 or £2.10 with toppings - calories are 294 calories (plus 75 for the honey topping).
Meal 2 - tuna salad (you could maybe get two lunches out of this, it would make one for me!) £2.16
1 tin tuna (based on a pack of 4 tins in spring water at £2.85) .71p
Whole head iceberg lettuce .45p
Cucumber portion .24p
Tesco healthy living balsamic dressing based on 10 portions in a bottle at .99 a bottle .10p
Red pepper .50p
Half an onion .16p
Boiled egg based on 15 pack for £2.00 - .13p
The calories and macros on this breakfast come out at 282 calories, C19g, P37g, F6g
Contrast that with a boots sandwich or a Pret Tuna salad and you'll be saving calories for sure, and money. Average Sandwich is about £2 and has way more cals, fat and carbs. Pret Tuna Nicoise salad has over 400 calories with the dressing and is almost double the price of this salad.
Meal 3 - Chicken dinner - meal for 4 people. £5.09 £1.27 per person.
1 whole chicken £3
Bag of 4 jacket potatoes 65p
Head of pre-packed broccoli 45p
Whole Cauliflower 95p
Roasting the chicken in the oven with a couple of sprays of coconut oil on top and some salt and pepper - a breast or leg, a medium jacket potato, and 150g of each steamed veg the cals on this meal come out at: 434 macros C45g, P54g, F5g. If you wanted to moisten the baked potato you could add a spray or two of 1 cal coconut oil (this is good i've tried it), if you wanted to reduce the amount of carbohydrate you could reduce the amount by having only half a jacket potato. Also bear in mind breast meat is lower in calories and fat that a chicken leg. The above calories and macros are related to the meat with the skin off.
Contrast this with a Tesco Indian or Chinese takeaway bag for only 2 people which is £7.50. And a bottle of wine perhaps at £5. If you order in then it's more expensive still!
Meal 4 - fruit and yogurt (my go to snack - winter warmer) £1 for a healthy and nutritious snack
200g frozen berries .75p based on the 1Kg bag shown in the header
100g 0% fat greek yogurt .25p - 4 pots for a quid
I heat my berries for 3 mins in the microwave and add the yogurt. 130 calories and macros C17g, P9g, F0g
Contrast that with a mars bar (60p) and a packet of Walkers cheese and onion (55p) = £1.15.....the calories and macros are doubled in the bag of crisps alone. You can choose any fruit and you can get most fruit frozen too.
There really is lots of good clean food available that doesn't cost the earth. I am a single mum with 3 hungry and growing mouths to feed, usually 6 at the weekend, I buy basic stuff all the time and use my bank of sea salt (godsend!), spices and other well chosen condiments to make good, healthy and tasty dinners that don't cost the earth.
Feel free to comment if you want to see more of these tips, meal ideas and examples and I'll add any info you find relevant or helpful in this food section!
Happy shopping Flexy followers! :-D
All prices are taken at the time of writing from Tesco online Groceries website and calories and macros from listings on My Fitness Pal and Tesco product nutrition labels.