How to eat well for less

One of the easiest ways to improve your health and keep diseases away is through the food you eat. But healthy food is expensive, right? Wrong! Swapping out harmful foods for healthy ones can actually save you money.

Keep track of those till slips

To start off, see what you’re eating over one month and how much this costs you. Hint: keep all your grocery and takeout till slips. Look out for the ‘big ticket’ items – what foods are you eating that are eating a hole in your pocket?

Better choices mean better bargains

Now look at ways to swap out some of the unhealthy foods for the good stuff – and save money while you do. Here are some general guidelines:

Cut back on costly foods

Some foods come at a real cost to both your pocket and your health. So, learn how to substitute the bad for the good, the expensive for the affordable. Here are some tips: Cut back on:

Meats – processed ones especially, like viennas (hot dogs), polony, tinned meat, and fatty meat cuts.

Choose: Beans (all sorts), peas and lentils. Add these to a grain like rice, couscous, whole grain mielie meal or pasta, and you’ve got a super protein that’s as good as red meat. But it doesn’t come with all the cancer-causing nitrites, the added hormones, and the antibiotics.

Cut back on: Hydrogenated oils and trans fats – found in butter, margarine, and store-baked goods (biscuits, crackers, vetkoek, etc). These are oils and fats that are altered with harmful chemicals so they stay solid at room temperature.

Choose: Home-baked snacks – home bakes are cheaper. And if you’re a margarine addict, rather drizzle canola or sunflower oil over your bread or toast, or use peanut butter or humus (chickpea paté) as a base.

Cut back on: Crisps and chips – especially store-bought ones that have lots of fake flavours and colours added.

Choose: Home-made chips and crisps – thinly sliced potatoes seasoned with salt and baked in the oven are yummier and healthier. Or opt for store-bought ones that are just lightly salted. Avoid flavoured chips and crisps – they come with harmful substances.

Cut back on: Flavoured, sweetened yoghurt – the high sugar content kills off the good bacteria (probiotics) found in yoghurt. Choose: Plain yoghurt – and sweeten it with a banana and add some cinnamon.

Say ‘no’ to specials that might make you sick

Cheap foods are cheap for a reason – there aren’t quality ingredients in them. And it’s tempting to buy them because they’re within your budget – but you may pay the price later down with your health.

So, look out for bargains on fresh fruit and veg. Stock up on non-perishables (tinned food) when they’re on special.

Share with your stokvel

Educate your stokvel buyers on the best and healthiest deals, and look out for these each month. Buying bulk fresh fruit and veg and sharing these amongst your members is a good start.

Stay away from foods that could make you sick, and when you’re in doubt, chat to a nurse on the Unu app.