It is generally thought that eating healthy means spending more, and when money is limited, eating well is simply not an option. Terms such as organic, free-range and locally sourced send alarm bells ringing. When living in a big city like Barcelona, life isn’t always cheap and takeaways, ready meals and processed foods often seem like the easiest options. Whilst eating healthy on a budget may seem like a challenge, it is definitely possible so long as you are resourceful. I have come up with some great ideas to help you eat good food easily and affordably – I hope they help!
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Whilst the idea of writing shopping lists and weekly meal plans doesn’t sound like much fun – a little bit of preparation goes a long way when it comes to saving money. Doing a daily food shop can be pretty costly (and wasteful) and planning ahead means you can make ingredients go so much further, as well as reducing your food bill.
Don’t waste anything
Cooking in big batches and reusing ingredients are vital when trying to be thrifty. When it comes to fresh food, we are so quick to waste ingredients. Instead of throwing away good food you don’t know how to use up, why not cook up meals in large quantities such as nourishing curries, hearty stews and satisfying soups which you can enjoy throughout the week. Although you’re compromising slightly on variety, you can enjoy tasty and healthy meals without breaking the bank. Coming home after a long day to a wholesome meal that simply needs warming up is an additional bonus. Another great way to prevent waste is by freezing leftovers; which can be great on those days you just don’t feel like cooking.
A top tip is to visit your local shops and market to see what’s in season, as seasonal produce is usually a lot cheaper than imported products. In Barcelona, we’re blessed to have so many great food markets around, where you can buy lots of excellent quality fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and meat for very good prices.
Less meat, more veg
Don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest cutting out meat all together! But instead of eating cheap and processed meats, opt for less meat but better quality to make your money go further. Once again, visit your local butchers and markets (they aren’t in short supply in Barcelona) to get the best deals. Plus, with vegetarian food becoming more popular, it’s easy to find recipes for delicious veggie dishes that don’t cost an arm and a leg. Using beans (e.g. kidney beans and chickpeas) and whole grains (e.g. brown rice, cous cous) can be great because they don’t cost a lot but are filled with so many nutrients that make us feel great.
Keeping it simple
Healthy food doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated, focussing on simple meals using a few ingredients is fine and can be equally delicious. Centring your cooking around beans, lentils, grains, tinned tomatoes and vegetables (fresh or frozen) will leave you feeling satisfied and healthier without breaking the bank. Buying cheap staple ingredients such as garlic, herbs and spices will be sure to add an explosion of flavour to your meals, so there’s no need to worry about eating bland and boring food.
Finally, just do your best and don’t beat yourself up if you can’t always choose the healthiest option: even a small change to your eating habits can make a huge difference.