Cheap food usually conjures up images of greasy fast food; Big-Macs, hot-dogs from street stands and pepperoni pizza oozing oil. In a city congested with Key Foods and boutique health food stores; where $6 Kale chips and artisan chocolate at $4.95 a bar are the norm, it can be difficult to find a middle ground. Yet it is possible. Here are some tips to maintain a healthy eating plan whilst not creating a dent in your wallet the size of a small labradoodle:
According to a survey by the National Health and Nutrition Examination most Americans cite convenience as the main reason they turn to fast food. Coming home from work tired, hungry, ready to collapse in front of the TV, the next step is usually to reach for the phone and order in.
Plan your meals and do your shopping for the week on the weekend. Make a menu for two weeks at a time and then recycle it next month.
Prepare your salads for the week on Sunday evening. Wash lettuce, chop vegetables and keep in separate, air-tight containers in the fridge. The night before simply place the vegetables in a container, sprinkle on a fresh dressing and you’re good to go.
Download an app where you can store your menu and recipes for the week. (Yumprint is great app that lets you save recipe clippings from all over the web into organised categories, and plan your weekly menu and shopping list based on them.)
Usually, if you see it on the shelf in chip or cereal format, it is cheaper for you to make on your own. Kale chips, Terra chips and granola are all quick and easy to prepare. You can easily make them for less than $2 instead of paying $4.99 a bag. To make kale chips simply sprinkle with olive oil and place in the dehydrator or oven. The same with sweet potato or carrot chips; Cut into thin slices, sprinkle with olive oil, s&p and place in the oven. These healthy snacks are great for daytime nibbles at the desk or nighttime gnawing in front of the TV.
Instead of doing a run for the corner store during your break, prepare snack boxes on Sunday that you can use for the week. Some snack ideas: Mini carrots, humus, cherry tomatoes, nuts, greek yogurt (stick to the plain yogurt and add your own fruit and cinnamon for a healthy alternative). You can put it in mason jars for added cuteness.
Buy In Bulk
Nuts are a great snack. They are filling and full of healthy fats and nutrients. But they are not cheap. Buy them raw in bulk and roast them yourself to save money.
Keep It Simple
It’s not complicated: hearty grains or vegetables with a protein. That’s all you need to know. This should be your guide for dinner and lunch. Make a pot of brown rice and use it as a side for dinner, and a main for lunch the next day. You can do the same with tofu and grilled chicken or fish. Prepare them as your main for dinner and add an extra piece to use in a salad for lunch the next day.
A lot of people prepare a healthy salad or sandwich and then ruin its nutritional value by drowning it in oily or fatty dressings. Cut the mayo. Period. Don't use $3 bottled dressings from the grocer that are full of hydrogenated fats and preservatives. Use simple, fresh ingredients to bring out the natural flavor of the vegetables and keep its nutrients intact. Lemon juice, olive oil, s&p, fresh basil, wholegrain mustard are some basic ingredients to use. Skip the mayo and use humus or tahini to make it a thicker, creamer dressing. It tastes great and has the added benefit of extra protein. Humus lasts a while in the fridge which is always an added bonus. Mix this with a bit of lemon juice and olive oil and you won't break the bank.