I asked my fantastically helpful group of friends for ways in which I could improve this blog, and one of the ideas was a post on how to afford eating well, which was a fantastic point to make.
Let me begin by saying when I began eating the way I do, I was a student on a budget of £30 a week for everything. That’s food, fun, transport e.t.c. I spent about £15-20 a week on food, and I was eating a balanced, plant based, healthy diet. I was incorporating all of the points that I have listed below.
Nowadays I’m extremely privileged to be working a job that allows me to not have to live so very frugally. I spend between £30-40 a week on food, depending on whether I have to stock up on things like coconut oil, peanut butter, cashews e.t.c. But bear in mind that my experience living and eating healthily is a highly privileged one. I am able-bodied, I am white, a young female, financially able in a 1st world country, with access to local organic farms, farmers markets, wholefood stores, fruit and vegetable stores, the internet and education. I am very aware that all of these things shape my experiences and actions. Being able to eat this way means I am privileged because I have easy access to these places, time, information and money. I try to be aware of my privilege as I understand the harmful effects that privilege has on others. For people having to work multiple jobs with no time or with no easy access to local markets, fruit and vegetable stores or with an extremely low income, eating healthily is much, much more difficult. With the privileges I have, it is an option.
I make huge cutbacks in my groceries bill by doing the following things:
- Eat seasonally. Seasonal vegetables are cheaper! If you live in the UK, check this seasonal vegetable calendar. Better, print it off and keep it in your kitchen. That way, you can base your shopping lists on seasonal produce.
- Locate a fruit and vegetable store that is close by if you can. I head down there once a week with a 60L backpack ready to be filled with fruit and veg for the week! My weekly grocery bill at the local fruit and veg store normally comes to £13. That’s just under £2 a day.
- Stop buying expensive drinks. I’m talking coca cola, expensive coffees, smoothies or juices. One of those costs more a day than your daily grocery bill of fruit and vegetables. Instead, invest in a glass jar or bottle (to put your smoothies in), or a good quality flask to carry your tea and coffee in, which you have frugally premade.
- Ditch the tinned beans. Instead, opt for uncooked beans and legumes. I know this takes a bit more effort – you have to soak them overnight and then cook them the next day. But listen to this: instead of paying 60-80p per tin of chickpeas, for example, buying 1kg of chickpeas for £1.50 gives you AT LEAST 7 meals full to the brim of chickpeas, which costs 20p per meal instead of 60-80p. That’s a third of the price. Possibly even a quarter of the price.
Here’s a handy chart for cooking beans and legumes from scratch.
- Stock up on beans, grains, tinned tomatoes and legumes and eat like a vegetarian! Think about it: 1 tin of tomatoes (60p), 100g cooked chickpeas (20p, depending on whether you bought uncooked chickpeas or not), 1 onion, 1 carrot, 2 cloves of garlic and some spicing = tasty and healthy chana masala, all for about £1-1.20, which could last you for 3-4 days if you’re eating alone.
- Buy in bulk. I buy my staples like oats, lentils, chickpeas, black beans, cacao and cashews in bulk from Realfoods. Their website is fantastic because you can easily locate organic foods and the amount that you want, from 20g to 5kg. For example, you could buy 1kg of red split lentils for £2.49 which is super cheap and will last you forever.
- Eat before you go food shopping. This may sound obvious, but the amount of times I’ve overspent on food because I’m hungry, low on blood sugar and unable to think straight. Eat before you shop!!!
- Stock up on bananas. ALWAYS HAVE ONE IN YOUR BAG FOR A SNACK. Not only are bananas really good for you – high in potassium and tryptophan, they keep your blood sugars stable in between meals and will stop you from being tempted to buy quick food, which all adds up.
If any of you have other hints and tips for frugal healthy living, please comment below!