Wednesday, 27 April 2011


I popped into my local health food (Spitalfield Organics) on my way home to pick up a few supplies - nut butter, various nuts and seeds, gluten free noodles, nori sheets etc. - and had a bit of a shock when it added up to £40 at the till!

This kind of expenditure is a far cry from my student days shopping at costcutters on campus! And reminded me how expensive healthy eating can be.

Infact nowadays it is more expensive to eat unhealthily on a diet of ready meals and processed foods, than it is to eat a healthy diet of fresh foods, fruit and veg and wholegrains. However despite todays expenditure, I have infact over the years picked up a few tips and tricks to keep down my food bill:

Grow your own - definitely the cheapest way to get your fruit and veg and it doesn't need a lot of space - just room for a couple of grow bags to get you started with some tomatoes. This does however require some effort (I sadly haven't inherited my mum's green fingers) and isn't recommended if you live next to a busy road or in a polluted area. Even if you can't grow your own, buying fruit and vegetables that are in season is usually cheaper than buying those that have been shipped half way round the world.

Make your own - buying ready made food, especially in the city, is a sure fire way to burn through your cash. Instead make up a packed lunch - I like to make up random salads or use up dinner leftovers, but if you're short on time then make a healthy sandwich. Our canteen also charge a small fortune for breakfast cereals so it's definitely woth bringing in your own box of cereal or muesli.
For snacks it's again worth preparing your own, crudites and hummus, shoyu sesame seeds, salt and pepper cashew nuts and muesli bars are all easy to make at home. Make up a couple of batches of snacks for the week on a Sunday to save mid-week hassle.
If you're feeding a family it is also probably worth investing in a bread maker - not only will you save money but you'll also be able to make delicious homemade bread according to your tastes.

Freeze - Rather than throwing away fruit and veg that's reached it's best before date make use of your freezer to save these for later. Cut up ripe mango and banana and freeze in portions to use in fruit smoothies, stew apples, pears and other orchard fruit to make into fruit puddings and steam and then freeze vegetables to add to casseroles and stir fries. Leftover fresh herbs can also be frozen to add flavour to stews and casseroles.

Freeze leftover bread for toast, or if it's just gone stale make into bread crumbs in a food processor and freeze for instant bread crumbs when a recipe requires them.

Go veggie - meat and fish, particularly organic, are one of the more expensive food items, so save yourself some money by having a few vegetarian meals a week. Stock up on tinned pulses and tofu and use in salads and casseroles instead of meat. And for something quick make a healthy veggie sarnie with hummous, grated carrot, spinach, a squeeze of lemon and some fresh ground pepper.

Don't eat mindlessly - eating when you're bored rather than hungry isn't just bad for the waistline but it is also bad for the wallet. Pre-prepared snack foods are usually less good value than full size meals, and the cost soon adds up.

Quit the caffeine - the price of a coffee in Starbucks could get you a sandwich somewhere else, so quit the caffeine and switch to much cheaper, and better for you, herbal teas.

NITC will be escaping the London royal wedding extravaganza in favour of some fresh air in the countryside and will be back on Monday evening. Have a good weekend.

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