Healthy eating equals a healthy lifestyle, but due to the current lockdown situation, most South Africans do not have a fat purse that will ensure a grocery cupboard full of healthy food.
This tragic situation calls for a bit of help and ideas on how to save on grocery buying.
Prioritize. This is the key word in these trying times, and not something everyone wants to hear.
FOODS TO EAT DURING QUARANTINE
According to specialists in the food industry the most filling meals are the ones that contain starchy foods, such as pasta, maize meal, bread, samp or rice.
It is important to eat fruit and vegetables in a daily basis, and it is advised that people shop around. Pavement vendors are mostly cheaper than most supermarkets. Fruit and vegetables boost people’s immune systems and protect them from various illnesses such as colds and flu as they are rich in various vitamins and minerals. Due to the high content of fibre they also help to keep digestive systems regular. A high fibre diet can reduce the risk of bowel cancer.
Meat is usually too expensive for consumers with a limited income thus soya, split peas, lentils or dry beans can be used as an affordable substitute for chicken, fish or meat. Soya mince is an inexpensive alternative source of protein and is made from defatted soya flour. This is often flavoured to taste like beef or chicken.
Milk in sachets are cheaper than the ones in cartons or plastic bottles. Milk powder may be even cheaper, but make sure that the ingredients do not contain unhealthy plant fats such as palm kernel.
Milk powder is made from spray-dried non-fat skimmed milk, whey, buttermilk or whole milk.
It may be cheaper to buy a fruit and drink water than to buy sugary drinks. Not only is the latter expensive, but it is unhealthy too.
Fats should be used sparingly. If you need to buy margarine, buy the ones in tubs. It saves money in the long run as they margarine is softer than the ones bought in bricks, resulting in a thinner spread thereof. Use cooking oil when cooking as it is cheaper than margarine.
Salt is very unhealthy. If you use stock cubes or soup powders in food, it is not necessary to add salt as these already contain it.
MEALS ON A BUDGET
Food prices are continuously on the rise due to various reasons, and the sad thing is that cheaper food is usually filled with a lower nutrient value but a higher fat content. Below are some tips to stretch your money:
Buy no-name branded food as they are almost always cheaper than better-known brands, unless the better-know brands are on special and cheaper.
The cheapest breakfast cereal according to market research is Cornflakes.
CHEAPEST PROTEIN SOURCES
Eggs. The cheapest form of animal protein can be prepared in different ways, i.e. fried, boiled or scrambled, and can be added to dishes, or eaten on bread.
The cheapest form of red meat is minced meat. This can be ‘stretched’ by adding soya, lentils, or split peas to make it go further. This can be done by soaking and then boiling half a kilo of dried beans. Mince the cooked beans, add 2 grated carrots and 2 chopped onions and mix with 1kg of minced meat to yield double the amount. Another option of making the minced meat more is by adding vegetables such as beans, carrots or potatoes, or it can be made into meatballs after adding onions and breadcrumbs.
Pilchards is also a varied item that can be extended by adding chopped onions, mashed potatoes, breadcrumbs, and turning one tin into lots of fish cakes. Here is an easy fish cake recipe:
2 large tomatoes, cubed; 1 large chopped onion, 1.5 cups of cooking oil, 1 mashed tin of pilchards in tomato sauce, 4 table spoons of shopped spinach or parsley, 2 beaten eggs, salt and pepper to taste, 1 cup of cake flour, 3 slices of cubed brown bread with crusts removed.
Brown the onions until tender before adding the tomatoes. Simmer over a low heat before adding the pilchards, parsley/spinach, and flavour with salt and pepper to taste. Add the flower and eggs bit by bit. Mix well. Fry the cubed bread in oil until a golden-brown colour. Mix with the fish mixture before heating the rest of the oil in a frying pan. Scoop the mixture into the pan with a spoon and fry until golden brown on all sides and until cooked on the inside. Serve with mashed potatoes or a salad. This recipe is enough for 8 fish cakes.
Homemade soup from the 4-in-1 soup mix can be varied by adding meat or noodles, and one packet goes a long way.
Fish fingers are cheaper than frozen fish, but frozen fish is cheaper than fresh fish.
A tin of baked beans is another tinned item that can be added to food or become a meal on its own by eating it with bread or rice.
EAT YOUR VEGGIES
Try to buy vegetables such as gem squash, butternut, onions and potatoes in pockets, even if you share the cost and veggies with a neighbour. If the vegetables are in a good condition, you only need to scrub it with a nail brush or similar and cook it with the peel, and as a result you will consume more dietary fibre than normal. Make sure to store large quantities of vegetables in a cool place to avoid wastage.
Vegetables can perform wonders. One can turn them into something tasty.
ANOTHER EASY RECIPE
Try this easy recipe:
2 medium potatoes, 1 large onion, 2 medium carrots, 1 tablespoon flour, 1 beaten egg, pinch of salt, mixed herbs, ¼ cup of oil to fry the vegetable fritters in.
Grate all the vegetables with peels after washing them properly. Mix the vegetables and add the flour and beaten egg. Add the salt and herbs before heating the oil in a pan. Scoop the mixture into the pan with a spoon and fry until golden brown on all sides and until cooked on the inside.
HEALTHY EATING TIPS
- Avoid buying processed items as they are more expensive.
- Always check the sell-by date on items.
- Fresh whole chickens or fresh chicken portsions cost more than frozen chicken.
- Pasta is more expensive than rice, corn rice or samp.
- Try to stick to your shopping list, and never shop on an empty stomach. Get to know the prices of items you buy regularly. Get to know the marketing strategy of supermarkets. The cheaper items are usually not packed at eye level.
- Pre-packaged fruit and vegetables are often more expensive than ones customers get to pick by themselves.
- Try to shop once a week. One tends to spend more if you stop at the store every day.
- Plan meals so that you have leftovers that you can take to work for lunch the next day or freeze the leftovers to have as a quick meal on another day.
- Clean out your fridge and cupboards at least once a month to make sure that you use up what you bought before buying more.
- Organize your food cupboards and drawers to avoid buying duplicate and unnecessary items.
- If you can stock up, watch expiry dates.
And remember, even if it’s ‘on sale,’ it is only a good purchase if you will use it!