Including protein in your diet helps to keep you fuller for longer, and also helps you to maintain healthy hair, skin and nails. It’s also really important for exercise recovery and muscle repair.
Meat tends to be the most expensive ingredient on a dinner plate, therefore a great way to include protein in your diet; but for a much lower price, you can include beans and pulses. These include: baked beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, butterbeans, cannellini beans, black beans and so on - you get the idea! These meat free alternatives are much cheaper and packed with protein, carbohydrate, fibre, iron, calcium, folate, zinc and more.
All of these nutrients make pulses great for digestive health, providing energy, supporting immune health, and cell production and repair. You can find these ingredients tinned, dried or in tetra pack in all supermarkets.
Not ready to go fully veggie with your favourite meals? Try adding half meat, half pulses instead. Adding pulses alongside meat; for example, adding lentils alongside beef mince into a Bolognese adds extra nutrients to the meal and makes the meal go further, without removing the meat altogether.
Price comparison example:
British 12% Fat Beef Mince – 52p per 100g
Dried Red lentils – 23p per 100g
As with meat, fish can be at the pricier end of the scale when it comes to putting food on the table. The UK government recommendation is that we all eat fish at least twice a week, but when looking for budget friendly meals this can sometimes seem impossible. A good way around this is to look for fish in the tinned or the frozen aisle, equally as delicious and nutritious as the fresh versions but often much cheaper. Tinned salmon and tuna work brilliantly in pasta dishes, noodles and risottos, where frozen fish works brilliantly in curries, fish pies or simply as an oven baked fillet.
Price comparison example:
Responsibly sourced Fresh Salmon fillets – £1.63 per portion
Responsibly sourced Tinned salmon – £1.15 per portion
Responsibly sourced Frozen salmon fillets – £1.00 per portion
Carbohydrates provide a source of energy for all cells, including muscles, within the body. This helps us to maintain concentration, stave off tiredness and feel more alert for longer. Starchy carbohydrates include pasta, rice, noodles and bread.
Having struggled to get hold of certain store cupboard ingredients myself recently, I appreciate there is sometimes an element of “just get whatever you can find”. But as the supermarkets start to get their stock levels back to normal, there are a few wallet friendly swaps that you can make when it comes to buying the carbohydrate items on your shopping list.
Choosing dried rather than fresh pasta can make a huge difference, as you’ll end up with more portions for less cost:
A packet of fresh pasta provides 4 portions at 43p per portion
A packet of dried pasta provides roughly 11 portions at 10p per portion.
Added bonus, there is very little nutritional difference between dried and fresh pasta!
Similarly, buying bags of dried rice rather than the microwave pouches is also a much cheaper option and provides a lot more portions per pack.
Microwave white basmati rice provides 2 portions at 32.5p per portion
Dried white basmati rice provides roughly 17 portions at 10p per portion
Fruit & Vegetables
It’s vitally important that we include as many portions of fruit and veg in our diets as possible. These colourful ingredients provide a rainbow of nutrients that are needed for every function within the body, from supporting the immune system, to keeping our eyes healthy, to helping the brain function properly. And you’ll be pleased to hear that loading up your trolley with fruit and vegetables needn’t break the bank.
Opting for seasonal and British fruits and veggies often means they will be the most reasonably priced options on the shelves. In my humble opinion they also taste better! These fruits and veggies have had less distance to travel (compared with those strawberries all the way from Egypt!) making them fresher on your plate and cheaper on your wallet.
Fruit and veg isn’t limited to those two fresh aisles in the supermarket, you can also find great options in the tinned, frozen and dried food aisles. For more hints and tips for getting cheap and nutritious alternatives to fresh fruit and vegetables have a look at my other article “Making the most of your store cupboard and freezer ingredients”.
Check out some of our recipes below