Healthy eating doesn't have to be expensive, but it does take a little know-how to keep your pantry (and your tummy) full of tasty, quick and nourishing meals when you're sticking to a budget. Read on for some handy tips and tricks:
Kellie Bilinski, spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, says the organic version of food is not necessarily the best, which is good news for your hip pocket as organic groceries can be expensive.
"If you buy your fresh fruit and vegies from a market it is just as nutritious and can save you a lot of money. Buy food that's in season it's often cheaper, and much more nutritious than a watermelon in winter, for example. Freeze portions if you can't eat it or cook it at once. Most fresh foods can be frozen," she says.
If you have a pantry, you can save oodles of money. "Keeping yourself well-stocked with staples such as pasta, rice and canned goods means you can whip up a healthy meal very quickly," advises Bilinski.
She also says buying things in bulk when they're on sale is another way to save. "If you have a freezer or a pantry you can save a lot of money", she adds. "If you're at a special baker they often have a two for one deal or similar even fresh bread can be frozen."
If you're unsure, ask the sellers food is their speciality. "Keep your pantry stocked with pasta, rice, canned legumes, canned tuna, tinned tomatoes or pasta sauces, long-life and or soy milks", suggests Bilinski. And quit those daily trips to the mini-mart where everything from milk to bread is marked-up significantly.
Grow or swap your own
If you live in a rural area, you may have the option to start your own vegetable garden or keep chickens (and free-range eggs). But even in the city, with the advent of farmers' markets and community gardens, there are more choices than before.
Bilinski says you can grow your own herbs relatively easily in the city if you have a windowsill or a ledge somewhere sunny. And jazzing up a salad or a curry with fresh coriander makes it infinitely more tasty!
Some city suburbs are also opening food 'swap meets', which are similar to a market but don't involve money. For example, if you have an apple tree in your garden, simply take your excess crop and trade apples for some pumpkins, lemons or eggs.
Fill the freezer
Bilinski says that if you're low on time, filling the freezer with healthy choices can be a godsend after a busy day. By making one big homemade dish such as a lasagne, soup or curry each weekend and freezing serving-size portions, you can cut out the $50 that you might have spent on take-away dinners during the week.
"Things such as ravioli or pizza bases if they're on special, you can buy them for less than $6 a pop. Ravioli takes about five minutes to boil and you simply add some fresh herbs or a tomato-based sauce. That's quicker than takeaway, and cheaper too," says Bilinski.