Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Is fast food cheaper than home cooked meals? The ‘argument’ that junk food is cheaper than cooking with natural and nutritious ingredients has quickly become the justification for the rise of obesity and diabetes in both adults and children. In fact, it isn’t cheaper to eat highly processed food: for a family of four a typical order at McDonald’s for example, two Big Mac meals and two Cheeseburger Happy Meals costs £14.36, however you can feed your family a delicious low calorie meal of roast chicken with garlic and herb baby potatoes and salad for just £6.80 - and have leftovers for roast chicken sandwiches the following day.
Making changes to your family’s diet is the first step towards losing weight and saving money. To show you how, below are some simple money-saving techniques that you can use to ensure that you are eating a healthy diet and saving pennies:
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. The first step to cutting costs and keeping to your shopping budget is writing a shopping list. Draw up a weekly meal plan, write a shopping list and don’t diverge. Focus on only picking up the products on your list, don’t be swayed by impulse purchases of chocolate treats or special offers of ‘buy one get one half price’ cheeses. By sticking to your shopping list you will cut back the cost and avoid high-fat and sugary snacks.
Studies have found that the average family with children wastes £60 of food each month. To avoid waste, make sure that you only buy the ingredients that you know you’ll eat. Plan your meals in advance so you can mix and match ingredients between meals. Another great way to avoid wasting good food is by making large quantities and freezing the leftovers to serve as a meal later in the week.
Enjoy cooking at home. Preparing and cooking your own nutritious meals at home can be exciting, fun and a lot cheaper than eating out at restaurants or ordering takeaways. In addition, by cooking homemade meals you can control what goes into your dish and portion sizes making these meals healthier. For example, takeaways are often high in saturated fats and salt and low in fibre and vitamins.
Whole foods and unprocessed foods are cheaper, healthier and more vibrant than processed foods. Try to avoid anything that comes in a box and take control over the ingredients you purchase:
Carbs: pasta, brown rice, oats, potatoes, beans, fruit, broccoli, spinach
Fats: Olive oil, fish oils, seeds, butter, nuts
Protein: Chicken, beef, tuna, cottage cheese, eggs, milk
Frozen vegetables and fruit are undervalued. If you’re adverse to cooking at home or your talents lay elsewhere frozen vegetables are perfect; pre-washed, pre-chopped and ready to use, cooking couldn’t be simpler. Bags of frozen vegetables are often cheaper than their fresh varieties and as they are picked and frozen at the peak of freshness, frozen vegetables and fruit almost have all their goodness locked in. In addition, unfrozen vegetables lose their freshness quickly and this can add to the amount of food that you waste.
Visiting your local markets, green grocers, butchers or farmers you can source natural, nutritious and cheaper ingredients for your dishes. Try to haggle with your green grocer or butcher on the price of your products in order to get a bargain. Take advice from your local produce providers and find out which fruit and vegetables are in season and how to prepare cheaper cuts of meat.
In order to cut costs you must become price ‘savvy’. Pre-packaged fruit and vegetables, such as courgettes, peppers and onions, can sometimes cost more than buying them loose. Next time you go for a shop make sure to check the prices of both loose and pre-packaged fruit and veg, this way you will be able to select the best deal. Shopping online is also a great way to quickly compare prices from the most popular supermarkets so that you can choose the cheapest supplier.
For more advice and information about our healthcare services and the treatments that we provide, please talk to our dedicated GP, Dr Helen Webberley.