This post is a long time coming and I am surprised I have not written it sooner, especially given its a bit part of my weekly food shopping mantra. Healthy eating has an often unfair reputation as being expensive. It can be but then again I think its pretty expensive if you regularly eat takeaways or buy ready meals. Although from the outset cooking from scratch can feel expensive, once you have your store cupboard ingredients you’re pretty much good to go.
I am aware most people who like cooking are pretty good at these, but this post is for those wanting to change their lifestyle but feeling overwhelmed.
- Your freezer is your friend. I’ve been surprised by the frozen vegetables you can buy now (I keep thinking of growing up in the 90s when it was peas, carrots and corn). Frozen fish and fruit is also really useful to have in as it means you only have to defrost what you need and it tends to be cheaper to buy.
- You don’t have to completely steer clear of food trends but be aware that it does make your food shop more expensive. Be realistic. Can you justify spending the money on something you might not like, especially if you are prone to buying something, trying it once and then ignoring it while it takes up valuable cupboard space.
- Look at your protein alternatives and embrace vegetarian and vegan food. Quorn is our new household favourite. (Can I just say here the people who make Quorn should take a bow, it has improved so much). Not only is it generally lower in fat, it works out as less expensive too. Think about having beans and pulses and adding nuts or eggs to stir fries.
- Get your dried fruit from the baking aisle. Seriously, its cheaper buying the bigger packs from here than getting it from the fruit aisle.
- Buy your fruit and veg by weight where you can. Again, this stops you spending more than you need on vegetable that you might not finish and not only does it reduce food waste but you spend less.
- Plan your meals. Whether this is a vague plan of what you’ll eat or more detailed. Being aware of what you will eat on what night prevents you from buying more than necessary.
- Buy yourself some snacks. There will be some days where its just too long between meals. If you buy yourself stuff that you like it’ll prevent you overeating as you’ll feel satisfied. Plus buying more at once can work out cheaper unless you eat an entire multipack of crisps in one sitting (and that my friend is a lot of salt).
- Try new recipes. How are you going to enjoy your new healthy lifestyle if you don’t embrace the magic of variety?
Have you got any tips to enjoy healthy eating on a budget?
With Halloween coming up on Monday (and with the weekend fast approaching) I have a couple of easy and festive drink recipes you can try at home. They can be scaled up or scaled down really easily so would be perfect for smaller gatherings or larger groups (just make sure these are kept out of reach of little ones!) These won’t require lots of complicated spirits and a lot of ingredients you might already have in. I think mulled cider is a wonderful drink around Halloween and Bonfire night, while the vodka and grenadine looks pretty spooky. Perfect for all you vampire lovers.
To make mulled cider you will need
2 cans cloudy apple cider
2 shots spiced rum
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon demerara sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Heat the ingredients on a low heat until the sugar has fully dissolved and the spices have started to release aroma. Strain with a sieve and serve (Initially I forgot this and let me say, it is not pleasant! I call it witches brew at this stage).
Scale up or down depending on how thirsty for cider you are.
To make bloody vodka you will need
The vodka of your choice (we had vanilla)
The mixer of your choice – we had coke
The fun of this recipe is obviously that it looks a little bit like blood. However, unless you’re really trying to “get on it” you might want to add a mixer, otherwise you could end up falling asleep in a corner or something. Anyway all you need to do is mix 1 part grenadine syrup and 1 part vodka and serve over ice for the red effect. Then dilute a bit with something to make it more palatable.
While these are no means the most complicated cocktail recipes and you will probably not win any mixology awards with these, they were pretty fun to make and drink. The simplicity of these makes these great for any budding party host!
No word of a lie, toasties are still one of my favourite fast foods. During my university career I ate countless toasties due to my sheer love of cheese in all forms. My poison of choice: cheddar cheese, mushrooms and mayonnaise on brown bread. Anyway, here are a few suggestions of what you may have in your cupboards to liven up your mealtimes (a true toastie fan knows they can be eaten around the clock). Obviously ingredients can be substituted and I’ve tried to keep realistic with ingredients. I know student loans only stretch so far.
- Make your own tuna melt. I personally never use a full can of tuna in one go, so this is a great way to use up any leftovers. Mix your tuna with a bit of mayonnaise (I usually use light mayo) and season with salt and pepper. Add to any cheese you like.
- Use up leftover pasta sauce or enchilada sauce by adding it to a toastie with mozzarella or other mild cheese. A great way to save money and reduce food waste.
- If you have 1/2 avocado, sliced avocado, chilli sauce and cheese is dreamy.
- Cooked chicken, pesto and strong cheddar (or feta cheese). Mediterranean vibes, even when its raining, you’re sitting in your pyjamas and you have an essay to write.
- Try a dessert toastie. If you want to pretend to be healthy banana and Nutella (because of the fruit), otherwise marshmallow and chocolate button is the one. Especially handy to know if your flatmate has had a horrible day and needs cheering up.
If you’re a student returning to university soon, or you’re a Fresher this year have a great year. Even if you aren’t a student, you just love toasted sandwiches; I hope you enjoy these easy ideas to make one of the most simple snacks even more dreamy.