From frozen peas to eggs and even nuts, here are seven cheap and healthy foods to add to your weekly shop, according to dietitian Melissa Meier.
Do you find yourself more easily tempted to throw a block of chocolate into your trolley at the moment? Perhaps you can’t resist a sneaky tub of ice-cream, a bag of lollies at the checkout… or that extra bottle (or two) of vino from the bottle shop on your swift exit from the shopping centre.
Whatever it is, chances are you’re currently eating more treats than you normally would (or probably should…) right now. But rather than focusing on what you ‘can’t eat’ (theoretically speaking), I’d much prefer to focus on all of the foods you should be eating – especially during this incredibly trying time. Behold: my top seven healthy and budget-conscious foods to add to your weekly iso shop. The best bit? They all come in at under $2 a pop.
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1. Tinned legumes
80c per 400g can
Chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, black beans, baked beans – you name it, I want you eating it. Why? Legumes are packed with nutrients like gut-loving fibre and muscle-building protein, and they’re associated with a loooong list of health perks, like reduced risk of diabetes and some cancers. Plus, they’re an excellent source of low-GI carbs, so they’ll keep you feeling fuller for longer (read: away from the kitchen). New to legumes? Try adding chickpeas to salads, combining lentils with mincemeat or using black beans as a taco filling.
2. Canned tuna
$2 per 95g can
Let’s face it: fresh seafood can really break the bank. Tinned seafood, however, is far more economical and makes for an excellent protein-packed choice instead of beef, lamb and chicken. I love to use tuna in a toasted sambo WFH lunch, or you can add it to roasted veggie salads, pasta bakes and fish cakes for dinner. Delish!
My number one rule when it comes to fruit and veg is to buy what’s in season. Not only will it help to keep your grocery bill on budget, but it’ll mean you have a greater variety of nutrients in your diet because you’re eating a greater variety of food. At this time of year, mandarins are at their prime, which is a really good thing given they’re packed with Vitamin C to support your immune system – and that’s obviously atop everyone’s minds right now.
4. Frozen peas
$1.60 per 500g bag
Another option with legumes in mind, this high-protein freezer staple offers a quick n’ convenient veggie side with dinner. I like to add frozen peas to anything and everything from fried rice and casseroles to risottos and even fritters. Cheap – tick. Tasty – tick. Good-for-you – you bet.
48c per 30g serve (walnuts)
‘Nuts – budget friendly?!’ I hear you questioning me… I know a bag of nuts can add a hefty chunk to your grocery bill, but hear me out. The recommended serving size for nuts is just 30 grams, which is equivalent to a small handful. That means those huge kilogram bags contain over 30 serves, so they’re actually rather economical if you don’t demolish the whole bag in a day.
62c per couple
Eggs are like a real-food multivitamin, packed with eleven different nutrients to keep your body working it’s best. They’re also super versatile and excellent in any main meal or even as a snack. At this time (you know, going into winter and enduring a pandemic and all) eggs can come in handy because they’re particularly rich in Vitamin D, which plays a key role in your immune system. In fact, just two eggs contains 82 per cent of your entire day’s needs! #Winning.
7. Rolled oats
$1.40 per 750g bag
You can’t beat a warming bowl of porridge on a cold morning – and not only does it taste good, it’s exceptionally good for you, too. You see, rolled oats are a type of wholegrain, containing gut-loving fibre and micronutrients like energising iron and the antioxidant Vitamin E (as opposed to refined grains like white wheat flour which is far less nutrient-dense). In terms of iso eats, rolled oats provide slow-burning energy, so are another great option to prevent unnecessary trips to the kitchen every 15 minutes.
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can connect with her at www.honestnutrition.com.au or on Instagram @honest_nutrition.