Updated: Jan 26
Are you looking to improve your nutrition to compliment your workouts, but you are not sure where to start and don’t have the cash to splash on the latest ‘superfoods’?
It is often thought that eating healthily is more expensive and yes, depending on where you live globally, that may be the case. However, its not just about what you buy but also how you structure your weekly food intake to make sure that you don’t waste any foods!
These 5 tips will help reduce your weekly budget, as well as increasing your time efficiency spent in the kitchen (and who doesn’t want to gain more hours back!):
As the saying goes ‘fail to prepare and prepare to fail’! If you want to avoid both spending too much and then wasting food you have bought, then you need to plan ahead. Check your cupboards first and then write a shopping list going through your cupboards, fridge and freezer to avoid buying what you don’t need.
Write a list so you know what you are buying and don’t deviate by adding anything else from the offers section unless it’s on your ‘store cupboard essentials’ list!
How many times have the offers seemed so good; that you’ve filled your trolley with produce and not actually bought the items you went to the shops to get in the first place!
Buy foods that you know can be cooked/used in a variety of ways to provide you with a varied weekly meal plan.
2. Buy Fresh/Frozen
Often frozen fruit and veg' gets a bad rap in comparison to its fresh counterparts. However, foods that are frozen can often be deemed as ‘fresher’ as frozen at source!
Buying a fresh avocado is nice but unless you’re sharing it, then it may not be as efficient as buying it pre-cut and frozen (which lasts longer, as you only use what you need).
When buying fresh, always check the dates and pick from the back of the shelve. This will sometimes result in giving you a few more ‘use by’ days!
3. Buy in bulk/ BOGOF deals
Yes, buying in bulk or BOGOF deals (buy one get one free) are only great if they ARE what you actually need! Obviously only buy items that have a long store cupboard life (otherwise they will likely end up in the bin negating the offer in the first place?!)
4. Food Prep - batch cook
Whilst I’m not personally a fan of batch cooking a whole set of meals for the week (as I prefer having more choice on a daily basis). It does ensure that you not only reduce the temptation of eating processed/junk food when rushed or busy (as you have your prepped food staring you in the face the moment you open the fridge!) But you have also saved time in cooking/making a meal! It's a win/win :)
I much prefer to cook more when making my dinners (especially as I’m the only member of the family that is plant-based!). So, I can either freeze a portion(s) or have the leftovers for lunch the next day. (It’s definitely worth buying some plastic food containers - you can usually get these in packs of 5 or 10).
5. Get creative - experiment
Ensure that each meal includes a protein source (meat/fish/poultry/dairy/beans/pulses or legumes). Use oil sparely (if at all!) Why not try ‘dry-frying’ or using a little water. Watch your portion sizes though! Use your hand as a guide - a palm-sized portion of protein, a fist -sized serving of vegetables, a cupped hand of carbs and a thumb size amount of fats.
If you are looking to build muscle, then you may wish to double up of the protein and carbs! (Remember you only need to be around 300-400 calories in a surplus to lean bulk).
Don’t be afraid to try different foods together. Aim to use all the fresh produce bought for the week in different ways. If you need inspiration, then just type in your ingredients into Google and search for a recipe that incorporates them! It could end up being a new favourite meal of yours!
Having a well-stocked store cupboard is the first step towards being able to cook tasty and healthy meals on a budget. Here’s a guide to some simple essentials that will have you ready to improve your culinary skills in less time than it would take to complete 10 push-ups!
Protein Powder (vanilla will be most versatile)
Brown Rice/Quinoa/Buckwheat/Bulgar Wheat
Flour - plain/buckwheat
Nuts & Nut butters (sugar & palm oil free)
Unsaturated Oil - Olive/Sunflower/Rapseed/Coconut Oil
Pickles in jars - Beetroot/Gherkins/Sauerkraut/Onions
Tinned fruit in juice
Herbs & Spices
Mixed Herbs, Oregano, Coriander, Rosemary,
Turmeric, Cumin, Paprika, Ginger
Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Vanilla extract
Fresh Fruit & Veg
Leafy Greens - Spinach, Cabbage, Lettuce
Meat & Poultry
Avocados/ Berries / Peas/Bread/Frozen mince
Remember that your body is most insulin sensitive after a workout, take this opportunity to replenish your glycogen stores and energy levels with a simple snack that includes both carbs and protein (especially if resistance training) e.g. 'proats' (oats with a scoop of protein powder) with berries and a small amount of seeds/nuts or a tsp of nut butter.
This blog post is based on my own experience knowledge and research on nutrition as a Personal Trainer/ Fitness Coach/ Mum. Whist I have completed a CPD in Fitness Nutrition Specialist (FNS). I am not a qualified Nutritionist or Dietician therefore, the information provided is not to be used in place of proper medical advice. It is your responsibility to know your own health and nutritional needs.