Healthy eating can seem so expensive, especially since you can grab a cheap cheeseburger for less than it costs to buy ONE avocado. When you're making a whole foods switch to my FIT meal plan, the cost of a fridge and pantry overhaul might have you sweating more than one of my workouts. But with a bit of planning and some clever changes, you can slash that fresh food budget. How? By wasting less and making food go further and last longer!
Healthy eating can be more affordable than you think. Just hack your food planning with these 9 tips – you can thank me later.
1. Start with a clean slate
I love the idea that a clear environment means a clear head. De-clutter your fridge and pantry and just get rid of anything you don’t need, like things that are out of date, things you don’t use anymore, and move all unhealthy foods out of sight and mind. Then, move all the things you should be eating first – the fresh and healthy foods – to the front of the fridge and pantry so they don’t go bad. Sorting through your fridge lets you see just what you need, and what you already have, before buying more.
2. Plan your meals
It’s good to have a plan for every ingredient you buy. Following a meal plan like the one on my FIT app is a great way to stay on track and monitor what you’re eating through the week. You know what you are going to eat each day, and so you know what exact ingredients you’ll need to buy. In fact, my app even generates a shopping list for you, and you can adjust the quantities of each recipe if you're batching or doubling up for leftover-lunches.
3. Use lists
List out your list of ingredients after you have your meals planned for the week. When you’re shopping, stick to only what’s on that list, and you’ll avoid having things you won’t use before they go bad. Luckily, my FIT program has a shopping list for you to take the stress out of it all!
Also keep a list during the week of everything you’re wasting, like a bag of spinach leaves getting soggy, or a tub of yogurt going bad. Seeing how much you waste will make you re-evaluate how much you need each shop.
4. Store food properly
We tend to focus on keeping fresh food fresher by storing it properly in the fridge, but it’s also just as important to store dry food properly so it doesn’t go stale. Get yourself some good airtight containers to keep your essentials in, and label them so you know what’s inside. Arrange a rack for your herbs and spices. A clean and clearly viewable pantry is so appealing and uncluttered, it will make cooking seem easier, meaning yummy and more interesting home-cooked food to keep you satisfied.
5. Reduce the amount of food that goes bad
To avoid having your food go bad before you even get around to eating it, make sure you think about when you will most likely eat them, and store them appropriately. For example, if you buy avocados, put them in the fridge as soon as they are ripe and they can last a little longer. If your bananas are ripening too fast for you to get through eating them all, then peel your bananas, chop them up, and freeze them in a sealed bag. These are great for making smoothies! If you have leftovers from your meals and you’re not sure if you’ll eat it the next day, then freeze it!
6. Save your scraps
If you like making soups or dishes that require broth or stock, why not make your own with the food scraps from previous meals? Vegetable cuttings and scraps can be frozen in a bag. Add to it each time you have more scraps. Once full, use this to make a delicious stock by boiling in water. You can even freeze the stock for later. You can also use up scraps with some clever snack hacks: whip up some Ham, Cheese & Tomato Mini Frittatas, and instead of tomato, just use any suitable veg you have left over. Bell pepper? Sweet potato? Mushroom? Go for it!
7. Get more out of your food
Get creative with the bits of food you’d usually throw out, and include them in your cooking. If you don’t necessarily need to peel or cut something off, then leave it. Potatoes just need a quick wash and the skins can be left on. Cauliflower and broccoli stems are great to chop up and use in a stir-fry or soup as they’re still full of flavor and nutrition. You can also make cauliflower rice and freeze it or use it in a pizza base! Plus, leftover veg make great snacks.
8. Portion control
Don’t over-serve food, as you’ll end up having leftovers that get scraped off the plate and straight into the bin. Start with a smaller portion on your plate. If you are satisfied with the smaller amount, then you’ll have untouched leftovers to save (or freeze) for later. Luckily, my meal plan is perfectly portioned and balanced, so you never have to worry about serving sizes again.
9. Frozen is fine
Keep throwing away fruit and veg that’s gone bad? Just opt for frozen: berries, when frozen fresh, will still make a morning smoothie packed with nutrients, and frozen spinach can easily be thawed and cooked into soups and veg bakes.
Emily Skye is a strength training expert and the face of FIT, the digital fitness app that helps women worldwide build strength and confidence, stay active through pregnancy and rebuild post-pregnancy. Emily holds a Certificate IV in Fitness and Master Trainer qualification from the Australian Institute of Fitness. She is also co-founder of James Cosmetics and a mother of two.
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