Love for food always shows. Often where you don’t want it to. Resist too hard and your health goes for a toss. Give in and your wallet and belt both take a beating. Is it possible to eat well, stay healthy and spend less? Experiences of millions of mindful eaters across the world say it is.
Here are 5 ways that my family and I have learned to eat healthy and pay less:
1. Plan Your Eating:
Everybody knows the basics of eating healthy. Living food with lots of fibre. Ease up on meats, both processed and fresh. Avoid sugars, processed food and fried food. Yet, reviewing the last few grocery bills will reveal how much of the opposite we end up doing. The way out is to work out a balanced meal plan for the week or fortnight in advance, and then shop as it dictates. This will really slash your grocery bill while giving your pantry a healthy glow. This approach lets you calorie count, include all colours and ensure everybody’s individual cravings are taken care of.
2. Lean Towards Pulses:
Traditional diets have always included beans, dals and peas. Unfortunately, urban living has given dal a new meaning altogether – one associated with monotony, blandness and perhaps even poverty. Pulses are excellent sources of proteins essential for health and growth. They contain as much if not more goodness as comparable amounts of animal protein. Don’t be disheartened by high prices of certain lentils at certain times. In absence of rational food policies, heroes and villains, twists and turns are par for the course. At the end of the day, pulses still pack in the best value for food money. Also remember eat local for better health so indulge in local produce.
3. Buy In Bulk:
Most staples do not spoil for months. Buying in bulk not only lets you buy at lower prices, but is also kinder to the planet, with lesser packaging, less carbon, and less advertising per unit. Make sure what you buy is used before it goes southward. For expensive items or things that get used in small quantities, such as spices or gourmet ingredients, pool together with a few friends to buy in bulk. We pool our warehouse shopping trips with friends as well, adding a few more bucks to our savings.
4. Home Gourmet:
The crux of eating well and paying less is to bag your own sandwich and carry your own coffee, but like “ghar ka murgi,” after a while it gets boring. Those fancy dishes with ingredients that do not belong to your part of the world are an essential aspect of health for people like me. Plus, they should be plated to make for glamorous social media updates. Obviously, home cooking does not cut it, right? Wrong! Not only can you make those dishes look and taste equally good at home, but you also have control over quality, something money cannot always buy. Find recipes of your favorite unpronounceable dishes and master them. You will have a whale (or seaweed) of a time and save a tonne of money.
5. Table Of Contents:
How many times have you bought a food item only to come home and find you already had a box or bottle (or two) of it at home? Many homemakers are blissfully unaware of the back of their pantry shelves. The law of convenience keeps most frequently used ingredients on top of the mind and at hand’s reach. Go look right now; you’ll be surprised at how many exciting meals can pop out of the far reaches of your kitchen. One way to beat this (at least till smart refrigerators make shopping lists redundant) is to put up a table of contents, a list of what is in your cupboard, freezer, refrigerator or meatsafe. Pen and paper is fine, but a whiteboard or marker friendly plastic sheet is reusable and waterproof. Remember to jot down best before dates for perishables. You can categorize your inventory by cuisine and recipes as well.
The crux of eating healthier is to be to generous with attention to what you buy, prepare and eat. Eating better is not about denying yourself the pleasure of eating but to enhance it by aligning with what nature meant your body to eat. The good news is doing so automatically saves you money, not just today but for years to come.
Subhorup Dasgupta is a Hyderabad-based foodie. He writes about responsible eating at his blog, Subho’s Jejune Diet.