Healthy Eating Week: Low Cost healthy Eating for All

12th-16th June is Healthy Eating Week! Healthy Eating Week is all about supporting and promoting healthier lifestyles and this years’ theme is “Healthy Eating Week – For Everyone”.

The cost-of-living crisis continues to have an impact on the affordability of healthier diets for so many of us. With this in mind, for Healthy Eating Week 2023 we’re sharing advice and support for everyone who wants to find their way to eat a healthier diet regardless of these barriers.

Low-cost healthy snacks:

If snacks are part of your diet (or your family’s), try to choose fruit, plain low-fat yoghurt and unsalted nuts for a more filling and nutritious choice. Bananas, satsumas and apples make good-value snacks and don’t need any preparation, or if you have a little more time, making carrot and celery sticks can be even cheaper per portion, and any leftovers can be used in soups or stews.

Making your own popcorn instead of buying it ready-made, or as an alternative to crisps, can save money and can also be healthier, if you have it plain or flavoured with herbs and spices instead of salt, sugar or butter.

Lower-cost protein options:

Plant proteins – like beans, lentils and tofu – are generally the cheapest way to get protein, and because they’re lower in saturated fat than meat, they’re a great choice for your heart health too.

If you want to include meat in your diet, extra-lean mince is the healthiest way to buy mince, but it does cost more. The cheapest mince contains around four times as much unhealthy (saturated) fat, compared to extra-lean. If you need to buy the cheapest mince, you can reduce the fat if you cook it the day before, allow it to cool, refrigerate, and then remove the fat from the top the next day. Or you might be able to use less meat in dishes like shepherd’s pie, Bolognese sauce, stews and curries, by adding beans and vegetables. This will reduce the fat content, and if you don’t need to buy as much meat, leaner options might become more affordable.

Tinned fish is cheaper than fresh, and doesn’t even need cooking. Tinned salmon, sardines, mackerel and pilchards are oily fish, which we’re recommended to eat once a week for our heart health. Frozen fish can also be cheaper than fresh – frozen fish fillets or pieces without added sauces or coatings are usually healthier than fish fingers or other breaded or battered fish, which contain added fat and salt.

Reduce food waste to reduce your costs:

It’s estimated that between a fifth and a quarter of food that we buy is wasted. Planning what you’ll eat will help you make sure you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet, and reduce waste. Writing a meal plan doesn’t have to be complicated, and helps you plan for days when you might not have time to cook, and so avoid buying food you might not get around to cooking.

Almost any leftover vegetables can be made into soup, perhaps with a tin of cannellini or butter beans to make it more substantial. This can be healthier than buying soup, as you can make it without adding salt, and add herbs or spices instead of salty stock. You can freeze soup in portions for another day. Sliced bread, muffins, crumpets and buns won’t go mouldy or stale if you store them in the freezer and just take out what you need. Freezing is also a good way to take advantage of end-of-the-day offers on whole-grain bread.

Take a look at My Meals for inspirational recipes for your meal planning!

Energy-efficient cooking:

Microwaves and pressure cookers tend to be the most energy-efficient ways of cooking, so can save you money on your energy bills. When it comes to slow cookers, it depends on what temperature setting you’re using, but it may work out cheaper than using the oven. If you are thinking of buying one of these appliances, charity shops often sell preloved models, which have been tested to make sure they work and are safe to use, and are cheaper than buying new.

If you are using the oven, you can reduce the energy cost per dish by batch cooking. If you are baking fish for dinner, for example, serve it with roasted veg that you can cook alongside and homemade potato wedges cooked in the oven. You can cook double portions so that you have leftovers for the next day.

Our Health & Wellbeing app, HealthNav, offers a vast array of nutritional resources. Find out more here!

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