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01 Aug 2017

There are three kids and two adults in my family and so if we don’t plan our meals well then we can easily blow the grocery budget!

Here are some things we do to keep our meals healthy and low-cost:

  • Buy real foods, not stuff in packets. There are fewer preservatives consumed this way and it’s so much better for you to eat wholefoods. This means that you can literally avoid some areas of the supermarket.

  • Get the kids drinking water - no fizzy or juices at all. They just don’t need that extra sugar - and you don’t need the extra cost in buying drinks either. If you start kids off on this habit then it’s something they will hopefully carry on in their grown years.

  • Have an area of the garden where you grow some of your own food. If you have a small place then you can always use hanging baskets on a deck and a few planter boxes. Fresh lettuce, silver beet and herbs are always handy and an affordable way to bump up some meals. Just plant what thrives well in your area.

  • Cook seasonal food. It’s fresh, better priced usually and nutritionally just so good for you.

  • Seek out a Farmers Market near you and buy your veggies, fruits and herbs for the week in one go. The produce will be beautifully fresh, there are usually some good deals to be had (because it doesn’t look perfect) and it’s great to support local growers. It can be a fun trip out with the kids also.

  • Trade veggies from the garden with a neighbour if you have an abundance of something. Your neighbour might grow a lot of something different and they will appreciate the goodwill too.

  • Roast veggies like potatoes, pumpkin and kumara in big batches. That way you save money on using the oven multiple times and it’s time-efficient too. I love making big batches of these and then putting them in salads one night, quinoa the next, or on their own with something like baked chicken or fish on another night. Sometimes my kids put roast kumara in their lunch boxes instead of sandwiches too, which is a great alternative to bread.

  • Buy things in bulk if you eat them a lot. For instance a big bag of brown rice can be much cheaper than lots of little bags in the long run. A handy tip is to portion it out into smaller bags when you get it home.

  • Buy meat when it’s on special and put it in the freezer in portions for future meals.

  • Eat vegetarian a couple of nights a week. Meat can be costly, and it’s also good to give the body a break from this sometimes. I interviewed a cardiologist once who says he personally eats vegetarian three to four nights weekly. He despairs at the amount of meat Kiwis tend to indulge in as too much is not good for optimal health.

  • Bump up mince dishes like Mexican tacos with grated carrot, silver beet and kidney beans. It can help the meat spread over a couple of meals and hides lots of great veggies and extra good nutrients for the kids.

  • Some people shop on-line - so they’re not tempted by all the specials and don’t end up coming home with lots of food they never intended to buy. However, there’s usually a charge for delivery and so weigh this up too. I guess, just ask yourself if you have self-control when it comes to grocery shopping? Or are you lured by flashy new products on the shelves.

  • Check out different markets and shops in your area for buying things like nuts and flour at more affordable prices. You can store nuts in the freezer so they retain the oils and flavours well too (and they last longer).

  • If you love yoghurt then learn how to make your own. I have a yoghurt maker and the cost of the packets to make a 1kg tub of yoghurt are less than half the price of buying some trendier brands on the shelves. The yoghurt maker paid for itself quickly in our house as the kids love yoghurt in their smoothies and sometimes with their breakfast.

Check out the Cigna Facebook page for more healthy tips.

Rachel is the director of inspiredhealth.co.nz and you can follow her on Facebook or Instagram.

Disclaimer: The health and wellness information on this page is for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a doctor or nurse. Cigna assumes no responsibility for any circumstances arising out of the use, misuse, interpretation or application of any information supplied in the content. For more information, please read our Community Guidelines.