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Eat Great on a Budget

Whoever said eating well should cost the earth clearly didn't know what they were talking about. I am a shopping ninja, always looking for a bargain and good value when buying food. I am constantly looking for the special discounts and stocking up on cupboard essentials when they are on sale. Trust me, you DO NOT need to spend a fortune in order to eat great - you just need to know what you are looking for.

Regular home cooked, freshly prepared food are much better for you than multiple take-aways or readymade meals every week. It is also considerably cheaper. The key to enjoying home cooked meals is planning. You’ve probably heard the saying ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’. Without a weekly food plan, it will be pure luck if you end up with the right foods in the fridge or cupboard. And, without planning your time, you won’t always prioritise breakfast or make a healthy lunch ahead of time. I’m a firm believer that you do not have to spend a fortune to eat well. Ready to start?

  1. Fix a budget for your shopping: Be honest with yourself about your spending and shopping habits. This starts with looking into how much you are spending on take-out coffee, croissants and other breakfasts; lunchtime salads, soups and sandwiches; snacks and other food treats; and ready-meals, take-aways or meals out. Commit to a certain budget each month and don't be tempted to buy foods just because they are on 2-for-1 offer.

  2. Meal Plan: Choose a time when you know you will be free every week to plan your meals – breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Ideally, plan midweek for the following week. Put a reminder alarm on your phone. If this planning job doesn’t get done, you will have no choice but to shop on a day-today basis, which is much more expensive (especially if your willpower is low because you are rushed, hungry, or tired in the grocery store).

  3. Do a kitchen cupboard audit: Once you have a meal plan, turn it into a shopping list. Also create a master list of what you already have in your freezer, fridge and cupboards. Then, cross anything you already have off your shopping list. This simple exercise saves a lot of time and money (and prevents food wastage).

  4. Shop your meal plan: As an experiment, spend at least one week only allowing yourself to buy what is on your shopping list. No extras! The planning and shopping discipline may take a little time to get used to, but it is worth persevering. Off-list shopping and impulse buys are the biggest enemy for anyone wanting to stick to a budget.

  5. Be creative with cupboard ingredients: People often throw large amounts of food away, because they’re not sure what to do with leftovers. Make a commitment to use yours and watch how much money you save. There are many online resources to help you find easy recipe suggestions for pretty much anything you may have lurking in the fridge. The following are some resources to assist with creative leftover ideas for the coming weeks for you.

    • Economy Gastronomy by Allegra McEvedy & Paul Merrett

    • Save with Jamie by Jamie Oliver

    • Eat, Shop, Save by Dale Pinnock

    • Eat Well for Less (various different books) by Greg Wallace & Chris Bavin

Feel free to leave your comments below on this article. You can also book a FREE 20 minute health review call with Aine to see how she can help by clicking

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