Healthy Recipes and more
Sometimes eating healthy while on a low-budget seems hard, but it’s actually not if you follow some simple rules.
Compare, Compare, Compare. Choose the cheapest supermarkets in your area and compare. After some time you will likely know the prices for most things so it doesn’t take much of an effort anymore. It can make a pretty big difference though. Like at one store (A) I have been to they sold Colgate toothpaste (125 ml) for 0,99 €. At the other store (B) they sold the same package for 2,69€. That’s a huge difference. But at store A they also sold 6 rolls of toiler paper for 1,49€ while at store B they sold 12 rolls of toilet paper for 1,59€. Again huge difference. I know this isn’t food but this is a general rule and if you safe money on other stuff you will have more left for food.
When comparing it’s crucial that you don’t compare the package price but the price per grams or oz. In many countries supermarkets are legally required to give you the price per 100g or 1 kilo additionally to the price per package. Take a close look at the price tags and take advantage of that law. Comparing doesn’t get any easier than that.
Go shopping with your friends so you can take advantage of all those buy 1 get one 1 for free offers. This is particularly important if you buy candies. Buying one bag of chocolate bars is fine every once in a while but if you get a second for free, you’re probably gonna eat it too.
By the way, the cheapest food is usually not around chest height. You will often find the cheapest products at the very bottom of the shelf, slightly more expensive products at the top and the most expensive ones in the middle. This is because most people look there first and are thus more likely to buy the products placed there. Make it a habit to skim the bottom of the shelf first before you look at the other products
Take advantage of special offers but don’t be fooled by them. At one store they had this buy 2 for 6 offer for different kinds of meat. Doesn’t sound too bad right? – Wrong.
You need to look closely. They offered 500 g of ground beef for 3€ (as part of the 2 for 6 offer) there but just a few meters aways they offered 800 g of ground beef for 2,67€. They also had 400 g of chicken breast for 3 € and a few meters away they had 1400g of chicken breast for 6€. Again the “special offer” leaves you spending more money. You will likely not be able to eat 800g of ground beef or almost 3 lb of chicken right away, but don’t worry, just freeze it. You will have enough meat for 2 weeks of dinners or more.
Now this special offer wasn’t total BS, they also had a whole chicken for 3€, that’s a good price. All the others I could find varied from 5€ – 8€.
If you’re a student you’re probably drowning in coupons and vouchers. Most of them are great. I have one that waives 0,50 € on a pot noodle. One pot noodles is 0,99€ so that’s a dinner for 0,49€. (just a note on pot noodles and other processed food you can eat it, but eat it as what it is.Pot noodles have 400 – 500 calories that’s barely a snack that’s a full lunch if not dinner) Often you will get a reduced price for a certain product of a certain label. That is only a good deal if there isn’t the same product from another label that is cheaper than your reduced price.
Many supermarkets offer you 10% – 20% student discount, that is often a good deal but don’t be fooled by it. Sometimes buying from a different store even without student discount is still cheaper. Generally you will get an awful amount of student discount at many fast food places. I wouldn’t recommend using them too often but if you do go out to eat fast food take advantage of your student discount
Don’t eat cereal. Seriously it’s just sugar and too expensive, it does make a decent dessert though. If you have to buy it, don’t buy the expensive version buy the cheap ones.
Oats (not oatmeal) on the other hand are super healthy, cheap and keep you full for ages. You can get 1,5 kilo oats for 1,49€. Just mix with some skimmed milk and fruit. Frozen or seasonal fruit will usually be the cheapest. But also watch out for special offers. Just yesterday I bought 6 Kiwis for 1 € . That’s a pretty good deal. Another good option would be low fat or non fat plain yoghurt. You can get 1 lb for less than 0,50 €. But be aware of the sugar. Normal plain yoghurt should contain 4g – 5g of carbs per 100g. If yours contains more it’s probably all sugar and you don’t need it. If you check out my “breakfast ideas” post you will find a lot of good, inexpensive breakfast ideas too.
Pack it yourself. There are very few healthy options to buy. Most people buy some kind of sandwich, wrap or burger for lunch and they are usually full of sugar and fat. If you have to buy one, go to sandwich shop were they make fresh ones right in front of you. Ask them to leave out butter or mayonnaise and avoid fatty topics like salami or cheese. Chicken and Tuna are usually good options but make sure they aren’t soaked in some kind of fatty sauce. Don’t order salad. Ordering salad is often ridiculously expensive and while it is still healthier than a burger it’s often not has healthy as people think. More often than not people but stuff like bacon, ham, cheese or crutons on their salad and pour some kind industrially produced dressing on top. So your salad is then full of chemicals, sugars and fats.
You can easily pack salad though. Iceberg salad is usually the cheapest and costs roughly 0.69€. You can get 6 – 7 big portions out of it. Simply wash some lecctue, chop them and store them in some container. Don’t buy dressing, make it yourself. It will be cheaper and much healthier. Take another container and mix vinegar, salt, pepper and either olive oil or plain yoghurt. You can add some herbs if you want. Take both containers with you and toss together before eating.
Making wraps or sandwiches yourself is also usually healthier than buying them. Take whole grain bread, use cream cheese, mustard or tomato paste instead of butter. Put lots of veggies on top along with some chicken or tuna. If you want it to be even cheaper you can make the bread yourself. If you have some time, I would highly recommend that. So much bread out there contains lots of chemicals and unnecessary sugars.
Take a look at the picture below. You probably already knew that McDonald’s and pop tarts aren’t particularly healthy, but what’s interesting is how much fat and sugars there is in food that is advertised as healthy. If we take the dairy queen smoothies for example. If you have ever seen them making it, you must be kinda naive to still believe they are actually healthy but the nutrition fact are just insane. One large cup that costs almost 1o $ contains almost half the calories a woman needs in a day and more sugar than a man needs in a day. Really don’t waste your money on stuff that is advertised as healthy without knowing the facts. For that smoothie you could eat 1 whole mango, 2 bananas, 1 lb of pineapple and would still not quite eat as much calories as are in that smoothie. It would keep you full longer and would only cost about 6 $
Having a healthy dinner is not that hard. A lot of healthy stuff is actually very cheap. Many people wrongly assume fast food is cheaper than real food, but that is only true if you eat out. Potatoes, Rice, Flour, Carrots, Apples, Pumpkins, Leek, Milk, Beans, Lentils, (Canned) tomatoes, Peas, Broccoli, Corn, (canned) Tuna, Eggs, Onions, Garlic, Salt, dried herbs, Salad, Nuts, Almonds, Beetroot, Melons, Celery, Squash …. are all very healthy and inexpensive, you just have to cook yourself. My low budget category should give you some ideas.
You really have to look for cheap meat, it can be very expensive but also very affordable as I outlined above you just need to compare. Tofu is a great meat substitute that is usually cheaper than meat. As are beans and lentils.
Frozen fruit and vegetables are your best friend. They are often much cheaper than the fresh ones but just as good. Be rather careful with canned food. Canned tomatoes, corn or tuna are usually very good, because they don’t have too many additives. But you’d be surprised of the amount of sugar that is in just one can baked beans. Read the nutritional facts and ingredients list.
If you are a student you will again have lots of other options. There is a service here that delivers you all ingredients plus recipes for 5 meals for only 10€. I haven’t actually tried it, but it seems like a good deal to me. You can probably do cheaper yourself but this way you don’t have to think about what to cook or go fetch food. Great if you’re busy.
With Snacks it’s probably easier to outline what not to eat. Stay away from Chocolate bars, Milkshake & Granola Bars (unless homemade), jelly beans, anything you can buy at McDonald’s, Burger King or any other fast food place and all processed food. I can see when people buy processed food for dinner because sometimes it’s cheaper and takes less time, but for snack that’s really redundant.
Instead eat nuts, almonds, homemade pudding, all kinds of fruit or veggies. Get a banana box so you can take you banana everywhere without it getting squishy. 1/2 a cucumber or pickles also make great inexpensive snack. Or 3 – 5 tbsp of plain yoghurt with some raisins.
Generally eating out is unhealthy and expensive. But particularly if you’re a college student there are great ways get free our at least very cheap dinners.So if you’re eating unhealthy at least make sure you’re not paying for it.
Join clubs or societies and watch out for pizza nights and stuff. They’re usually for free and if you join enough societies you can kinda get at least one free meal a week. When you’re there don’t stuff yourself though only eat until you’re satisfied. Don’t drink alcohol, it ruins your diet. I know it’s tempting when 1/2 l beer is 2€ and 1/2l water 5€, but just don’t.
Great societies to join also are cultural or international societies like French, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Hispanic, Arabic … society. They often have cooking nights where they show some traditional recipes of the relevant country for free. So you not only get a free dinner you also learn some cool new recipes that are usually not super unhealthy.
If your college offers cooking classes or workshops for free, do them. Even if you have been cooking for a 5 michelin star restaurant all your life, do the workshops, you’ll get free food.
Again college students you’re at an advantage here because often your tuition fee includes gym membership for your entire college career.It’s not for free, you are paying for it but you are paying for it if you want to or not, so take advantage of it. If you get a scholarship or grant it may actually even be for free. I don’t pay any kind of tuition or fees and still get membership of a big gym with pool, fields, sauna, steam sauna and all classes they offer for free. And you can even have long, free, hot showers
If you can’t or don’t want to join a gym there are plenty of good workout channels. Check out my Youtube Workout plan post. For most workouts you literally need nothing but yourself. You can even do them naked if you want. At home I only workout in bra and panties so I don’t have to do the laundry so often, saves money too.