Lose weight and save money. I can't guarantee the weight loss, but a healthy diet costs less.
Changing your eating and behavioural habits to more healthy, home-cooked food (and I don't mean meal kits) can save heaps of money.
Your journey starts in the supermarket aisles. Take your time in the fruit and vegetable section. Work out what's in season and best value for money. Well-planned meals stuffed with vegetables are going to cost less than their meatier cousins.
As you move through the aisles avoid most sections. They're packed with unnecessary, unhealthy foods.
Other than oats, you can probably skip the cereal aisle. Chips, chocolate and biscuits are good to skip as well.
You can bypass the drinks aisles: both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. The healthiest and cheapest thing to drink is good old fashioned water. If you have lemons and mint in the garden, you can jazz it up. Or make it fizzy with a SodaStream machine.
Oddly enough I also recommend avoiding most of the processed foods aimed at vegetarians and vegans. Foods like fake cheese and beetroot burgers are eye-wateringly expensive compared to homemade alternatives, which Google can help you with. Tofu is the one thing from that shelf that is definitely worth buying and if you get creative can make some mighty tasty meals.
I get it that some people feel a meal isn't a meal without meat. But don't say it's because of protein. Have you ever met someone with a protein deficiency? The NZ Nutrition Foundation points out that soy protein such as soybeans, tofu and soy milk and quinoa provide all the necessary amino acids required by the body for good health. The foundation also points out that too much protein is bad for you.
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Growing up in the kilo-block-of-cheese era it honestly never occurred to me that cheese isn't an essential. That is until I was out running with an English friend who shocked me by saying she doesn't buy cheese as a staple for her household of six. That was an eye opener.
I noticed a desk-bound-by-day friend looking very svelte lately. The reason it turned out was that he'd gone vegan. If you need any help cutting down on animal products, watch what I call the "spiracy" movies such as Cowspiracy, What The Health, Vegucate or Seaspiracy, the latter of which I note was one of the most popular movies this week for New Zealanders on Netflix.
Our bodies weren't designed for the sheer quantity of animal products we ingest. What's more, all that meat, fish, eggs, cheese and milk costs eats a hole in your pocket.
You don't need to go the whole hog. The easy way for meat lovers is to carefully halve your use of these items in each meal, replacing them with vegetables and legumes. You'll be reducing your carbon footprint at the same time.
If you want to save money, you absolutely must eat your leftovers. Freeze leftovers and have leftover nights. Or make soups or stews before vegetables get too old. I belong to ShareWasteNZ and a whole bunch of people drop their compost in my bins. Those still-green whole broccoli heads and uneaten celery heads feeding my fat compost worms would have been turned into soup or stir fry had they been ours.
A friend once commented that vegetables are more expensive than white bread, pasta and rice. Most pulses such as chickpeas, kidney beans and so on are also unbelievably cheap if bought dried. The humble lentil is both a miracle of nutrition and super cheap.
A United States Department of Agriculture study called "Are Health Foods Really More Expensive?" compared the prices of healthy and less healthy foods. It found that when measured based on edible weight and average portion size, grains, vegetables, fruit and dairy foods are less expensive than most protein foods and those high in saturated fat, added sugars and/or sodium.