Following the superfood trends and trying to stay on top of your health can be an expensive endeavour. It isn’t surprising that Australia’s 2018 Health Report found less than 1 in 10 Australians are eating enough vegetables, when pre-packaged foods are so much cheaper to buy. However, you don’t actually need to follow the latest health food fad to eat healthy and nourish your body. In fact, Lyndi Cohen, accredited practising dietitian and SunRice health and wellness ambassador says that it’s a myth that healthy food has to be expensive.
“Despite being a super affordable staple for a balanced diet, there’s a common misconception that carbohydrates are bad for you,” says Lyndi. “However, research continues to show that carbohydrates are not fattening or bad for you. In fact, people who include wholegrains in their diet tend to weigh less than people who avoid them.”
Here are Lyndi’s recommendations for 10 family-friendly cheap and healthy foods that won’t break the bank, and some tips on what you should look out for at the supermarket.
Lyndi’s Grocery shopping tips
- Skip the expensive powders and supplements and fill your kitchen with simple and affordable health foods.
- Buy from the imperfect picks or wonky produce sections to get big savings on your grocery bill.
- Meat is often the biggest contributor to grocery bills. Eating less meat and adding more whole grains to your diet is a simple way to save money and eat well.
- If you find a good discount on meat, buy twice as much as freeze half for when meat is more expensive.
Brown rice // Cost per serve: $0.27
- Brown rice is an incredibly healthy, versatile and cheap wholegrain to include into your diet daily.
- Brown rice is naturally gluten-free, a good source of fibre and nutrients. Brown rice is also naturally low in fat and sodium and has no added sugar.
- Add a cup of cooked brown rice to your meals for a nutritious serve of carbohydrates.
- Buy in bulk to get the most value for money.
Tinned tomatoes // Cost per serve: $0.40
- This pantry staple is an underestimated superfood. Tomatoes are a good source of fibre and vitamin C, key for your immunity, skin and eye health.
- Tomatoes contain high quantities of lycopene, an antioxidant that may boost heart health and wellbeing.
- Lycopene is actually the pigment that makes tomatoes and other foods red. Look for bright red tomatoes.
- It’s easy to add a tin or two of crushed tomatoes to your main meals. This trick will help you get more mileage from your meat and add plenty of nutrition – without the price tag.
- As tomatoes are seasonal, tinned tomatoes are far cheaper than fresh and nutritionally – they are similar.
Lentils // Cost per serve: $0.40
- Meat is often the highest cost ingredient in your shopping trolley. Add a tin or two of lentils to your bolognaise or shepherds pie and you’ll stretch your meat – and budget – further. Lentils are also a great source of fibre, helping to fill you up and keeping you satisfied for longer.
- While it’s cheapest to buy dried beans, even tinned options are very affordable.
Frozen berries // Cost per serve: $1.00
- Fresh berries are 2.5 x more expensive than frozen varieties.
- Berries are snap frozen meaning they return almost all of their nutritional value.
- Berries are an excellent source of antioxidants and contain fibre.
- Add frozen berries to your smoothies, stir through yoghurt or cook into a saucepan with chia seeds for a healthy homemade jam.
Frozen carrot, peas and corn // Cost per serve: $0.23
- All vegetables are good for you. Frozen vegetables are almost just as healthy as fresh.
- This healthy convenience food is a simple way to add nutrition to plenty of meals. It’s a wonderful ingredient to add to shepherds pie or a homemade fried rice.
- Dietitians often encourage you to eat the rainbow because different coloured foods give you different nutrients. In this tri-coloured mix of vegetables, you can add a variety of nutrients to add to your meals without much hassle at all.
Plain Greek yoghurt // Cost per serve: $0.39
- Plain Greek yoghurt is the best food source of probiotics. Probiotics are live, good bacteria that can help support a healthy gut.
- You don’t need to spend big money on supplements to get the health benefits of probiotics.
- Yoghurt is also a fantastic source of calcium which is important for healthy bones.
- Enjoy yoghurt as a snack with some frozen berries, as an ingredient in smoothies or for breakfast with some rolled oats and seeds.
Plain rolled oats // Cost per serve: $0.15
- Rolled oats is an affordable health food staple in my pantry.
- Plain rolled oats are naturally low in fat, sodium and sugar. Rolled oats are an excellent source of fibre.
- Oats is also incredibly versatile and can be made into healthy muesli bars or enjoyed for breakfast as hot porridge or bircher muesli.
Eggs // Cost per serve: $0.70 (for free range)
- While protein powders have become trendy, eggs are naturally high in protein and cost far less per serve.
- Eggs also have a longer shelf life than other fresh food so they’re also very convenient.
- Ignore outdated nutrition advice to only have egg white omelets. The majority of the nutrients in an egg are found in the yolk.
- Get the best value for your money by using the whole egg.
- Boil eggs a head of a busy week and enjoy one or two as a high protein and affordable snack.
Seeds // Cost per serve: $0.26
- A kilogram of sunflower or pumpkin seeds is half the price of a kilogram of almonds and other nuts.
- Swapping seeds for nuts works for many recipes.
- Sunflower seeds are also a good source of vitamin E, which helps support healthy skin.
- Like nuts, seeds contain plenty of heart-healthy fats and plenty of fibre to help support a healthy gut.
- Add seeds on top your salad or toast for a nutrition boost, include a serve on top of oats or in your smoothie. Make an affordable trail mix with your favourite dried fruit and a mix of seeds like sunflower, pumpkin and linseeds.
Sardines // Cost per serve: $0.65
- Salmon is well recognised as a health food thanks to it’s high quantity of healthy fats – however it can be too expensive for many.
- Sardines are another type of oily fish that are much more affordable than salmon. Tinned sardines are 1/3 the price of tinned salmon.
- Sardines are a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein. Sardines are also an excellent source of selenium and b12.
Note: Lyndi used Woolworths Online to find the cost per serve for each ingredient
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