How to eat healthily without breaking the bank

I am sat in the car on holiday and in true British fashion, it’s raining cats and dogs……..My son is asleep in the back so I am taking advantage of a bit of r and r…….I have just read the British Heart Foundation reported over 1/3 of people in the UK can’t afford to eat healthily. In my mind this is no surprise at all – I have had a good rant at supermarket BOGOF offers before (one of my early posts called the real cost of BOGOF’s) but this is not the only reason for eating to much cheap, processed stuff.

Now I must make a statement here, that being on holiday relieves me of any responsibility to eat healthily. I very much enjoyed my cornish pasty, fish and chips and clotted cream fudge at the seaside (not quite all in one go!) thank you 😉

So here is my list of suggestions on how to eat more healthy and not break the bank :

1. Don’t be a food snob. I admit I was…..but I’ve been converted!  Aldi and Lidl offer great quality food at very cheap prices. The fruit and veg especially! If I had been shopping at these stores since they arrived in the UK I probably would have saved enough money to go on a luxury holiday by now! I really cannot taste the difference between the expensive brands and the ‘I’ve never heard of that make before’ brand so wish I had moved camps ages ago. The fruit and veg look no different, you just have to chop them up yourself 😉

2. Pick your moment to go shopping. Get your pick of the reduced section (meat,  fish,  fruit n veg – don’t go near the ready meals!) by going shopping an hour or so before they close, especially before a bank holiday, the shops have to get rid of it so practically give it away 🙂

3. Plan your meals for the week and then write a shopping list. That way you are less tempted to throw whatever looks tempting into your trolley and just buy what you need. Plus you can ensure you eat a range of foods over the week so get your quota of fish, lean meat, rice, pasta, potatoes and different vegetables etc.

4. Don’t ever go shopping when you are hungry. This is a BIG MISTAKE!  You lose all sense of rationale and you’ll only end up with junk. Trust me I know!

5. Give yourself rules when the cupboards get low. My husband and I take it in turns to rustle up dinner when we are getting towards the end of the week. We are not allowed to buy anything to supplement or accompany our meal. This suits our competitive natures and we have had alot of fun. I think only once (when my husband cooked) it was inedible so don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

6. Invest in a breadmaker. I bought one last October and without a doubt it is the best gadget I have ever bought! We use ours at least every other day and I am pretty sure we’ve got our money back already. A 750g loaf only costs about 40p to make and what’s even better, you can show off you made it yourself, people will be so impressed! You also know exactly what’s in it – you can control the salt and there will be far fewer additives and the smell as it bakes!………and you just can’t beat the taste of warm, fresh-out-of-the-‘oven’ bread mmmmm 🙂

7. Cook with more veggies! Protein, especially meat is expensive so bulk out your meals with nutritious vegetables that will make your dinner tasty and satisfying and your meals will go further.

8. Batch cook. When you are making a meal,  particularly if it’s a one pot wonder,  double the quantities, portion it up and stick it in the freezer. That way you’ll always have a fall back plan so you’re less likely to get that takeaway menu out the kitchen drawer. It also helps if everyone in the family eats the same thing.

9. Don’t automatically throw away your leftovers. Think how you can reuse them and make a new dinner – see tip 5! Soup is always a winner. Just chuck it in the pot and play soup roulette 😉 It also really makes a difference if you watch the portion sizes so you don’t have to waste food unnecessarily.

10. Take a packed lunch to work. I know this can be a tricky one. Who has time to make their lunch in the morning. Well I don’t either so I do it the night before……or I ask my husband very, very nicely and I am lucky enough that he will make mine. I take leftovers or homemade bread / sandwiches with some soup roulette. I bet if you added up how much you spent on bought lunches per week,  per month and per year you would be shocked!

11. One of the main reasons why people eat a lot of processed food (apart from the low cost) is that we simply don’t make the time to cook and now we seem to have forgotten how to cook. My last suggestion is ask someone you know who is a good cook to help you out or teach yourself! A good way is to get a bunch of friends together and cook together. Why not have a simple cooking night when you can make a main course and dessert each. You can set the rules so it’s healthy and support each other in healthy eating. You’ll be on ‘Come Dine With Me’ in no time!

That’s it for me now but I’d be really interested to see what ideas you have!  Comments on a postcard please 🙂

This is an interesting article How to eat healthily on ÂŁ1 a day which shows you CAN eat cheaply so it’s worth a read if you need some inspiration!

Top Tip No.3 for a healthy gut: cut down fat and processed food

Cut down on fat and processed meat

The problem with high fat, processed foods is that they cause havoc with our digestion and are very harmful towards our health in terms of cardiovascular disease and cancers.  Lean meat can certainly form part of a healthy meal / diet but too much red meat, fatty foods and processed meats particularly can increase our risk of developing bowel cancer.

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We have all over eaten at some point; I am a sucker for that piece of cheesecake that is calling to me ‘eat me!….eat me!..’ even though I know I will struggle to find room for it;  you must know that ‘ready to burst’ feeling when we need to lie down (or you are desperately trying to release the belt on your trousers without anyone noticing) and those unpleasant sensations are probably worse when you have had a particularly large, rich and fatty meal.   High-fat foods take longer to digest so will stay in our stomach for a longer; a nice oily take-away curry will probably remain in your stomach for up to 6hrs!  During this time, your stomach continues to release hydrochloric acid (needed for digestion of protein) which can bubble up into the oesophagus and cause heartburn or contribute to stomach (and duodenal) ulcers.

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Fatty or greasy foods like processed meats (pies, sausages, and pasties), crisps, cakes, biscuits and rich desserts can all make symptoms worse.

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Overconsumption of processed meats has been linked to various cancers of the digestive system (particularly stomach cancer and bowel cancer) and high fat foods also exacerbate IBS symptoms.

It is recommended in the UK that we eat no more than 70g/day of red or processed meat; unfortunately 4 in 10 men and 1 in 10 women eat more than 90g/day.

What does 70g look like?

Its pretty much what you get in a Big Mac  (my claim to fame being that I have never actually eaten one of these!)

Typical servings we might get when eating out often contain more than the recommended amount: I pinched this from the NHS Choices site (http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/red-meat.aspx)

  • A portion of Sunday roast (three thin-cut slices of roast lamb, beef or pork, each about the size of half a slice of sliced bread): 90g
  • A grilled 8oz beef steak: 163g
  • A cooked breakfast (two standard British sausages – often sold in packs of eight that weigh 1lb or 454g and two thin-cut rashers of bacon): 130g
  • A large doner kebab: 130g
  • A 5oz rump steak: 102g
  • A quarter pounder beefburger: 78g
  • A Peperami: 25g

What is the connection between red meat, processed meat and bowel cancer?

It is the iron content of these foods that has been linked to bowel cancer risk . This is because most dietary iron is not absorbed very well and so remains in the gut, to which the gut wall is exposed.  The iron damages the cells of the gut wall that could lead to cancerous changes taking place.  Meat, especially red and processed meat, is almost exclusively the source of this iron.

According to a report by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (in 2010) It is not yet possible to discern a clear  threshold level of intakes of red or processed meat associated with increased bowel cancer risk because it is actually very hard to consistently categorise and quantify red and processed meat intake.  I am now following the Gut Health and Food Safety Blog http://blogs.ifr.ac.uk/ghfs/2014/04/bowel-cancer-aware-njb/which talks about their interesting work on bowel cancer; they are also looking at other nutrition factors such as folic acid, vitamin D and selenium and bowel cancer, so watch that space.

I should add however that poultry and other white meats are perfectly fine (if we go for the lower fat, lean options still) and that reducing red meat intake to 70g should not increase your risk of becoming iron deficient or anaemic; it will improve your overall health though!

Tip No. 4 on its way tomorrow! 🙂