Diet plan hacks: How to eat healthy on a budget – ‘quality is key’

Household budgets are increasing with soaring energy and food prices, which is having a knock-on effect with everything else bought on a daily basis. People are having to cut back on many things, including the weekly supermarket shop, but Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer from Alive! has shared some many tips to eat well for less.

Adopt the flexitarian approach

Suzie revealed that switching between eating plant-based and animal-based meals is becoming “increasingly popular” for both health and environmental reason.

“Meat, poultry, and fish can be pricey but protein is a must-have in your diet, and non-animal sources like lentils, chickpeas and beans are less expensive and are even cheaper bought dry and then soaked before using,” she said.

“They’re high in powerful antioxidants, also protective of the ageing process.”

She recommended “starting small” by opting for one meat-less day a week.

“This could reap many health benefits including keeping your cholesterol levels and blood pressure in check, protection against type 2 diabetes, maintaining good digestive health and supporting your immune system,” Suzie explained.

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Get more bang for your buck

As food prices continue to soar, Suzie warned it’s more important than ever to get the most from each meal in terms of energy and nutrients.

“As an example, whole grain foods including brown rice, pasta, and bread score on both fronts,” she said.

“These foods are non-refined, therefore contain many more nutrients than refined grains, especially B-vitamins.

“Importantly, they contain loads of fibre which is going to keep you feeling fuller for longer, so you’ll not need to keep topping up and you’ll end up eating less. Quality, not quantity is key.”

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Suzie also offered a handy tip when it comes to fans of jacket potatoes.

“Why not try baked sweet potatoes with some tinned tuna? Sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene, which is turned into immune-boosting vitamin A,” she explained.

“Plus, they’re better than white potatoes at keeping blood sugar in balance, so you’ll feel fuller for longer.”

Making these small changes can have big benefits to both people’s pockets and their health, and can help to top up those essential nutrients.

Plug nutrient gaps

It is common for many people to miss out on nutrients that play a big role in their day-to-day health.

The body needs around 45 different vitamins and minerals daily and can be tough with a limited budget.

Suzie warned: “If you follow a meat-free diet, it’s good to be especially mindful of avoiding deficiencies of some essential nutrients, particularly B vitamins, vitamin D, omega-3, zinc, and iron.

“Plus, on-going stress of worrying about household budgeting can deplete nutrients, particularly vitamins C, B5 and magnesium.

“Therefore, supplementing with a high-quality multivitamin and mineral is advisable.”