It can be difficult to eat healthily on a budget, BUT it’s not impossible. I set myself the challenge of eating healthily for one week one a budget and this is what happened…
- I could spend no more than £20 on food for the week
- I had to have a source of protein and veg or berries with every meal
- All of the food (apart from protein powder) had to come from one shop – I probably could have made it cheaper by shopping around, but who has time for that!
- I had to include the cost of full bag/container of food (apart from protein powder) – none of this ‘cost per head is £1.28’ providing you already have a million spices already in the cupboard
- I had shop for one person for one week (so there may be some economies of scale shopping for multiple people or buying in bulk for several weeks)
Protein is probably the most expensive part of my diet. Protein powder and eggs are some of the cheapest forms so on most days I used these during the day time and saved meat/fish for dinner (more on protein/protein powder here). I also cooked a whole chicken at the beginning of the week, which gives 4-5 good portions of protein. Vegetables can also add up so I prioritised frozen vegetables (which are also very convenient as they’re quick to cook and don’t waste).
How I got on
I DID IT!
I spent the grand total of £19.86 this was my Asda food receipt plus £1.64, which is the cost of 7 scoops of this protein powder (in reality it’s often on offer so can be even cheaper). This is what I managed to get for that.
The only things I used in addition were water, oil, salt and pepper. At the end of the week I had rice, oats and a little veg left.
I found I had to be organised so that I had my food prepared if I was going out. I cooked a whole chicken at the beginning of the week and made a batch of vegetable soup. I prefer to have 3 larger meals, but someone who likes snacking might prefer to have the protein shake/fruit/soup as a snack at another time of the day.
I made sure didn’t waste anything. For example, I used the chicken bones and carrot trimmings for stock (bone broth) and and turned them into a soup. I removed every last scrap of chicken from the bones (that as what went in my last soup). Planning my week in advance (and sticking to it!) was key. If you want to plan your meals then you can download my free meal planner on the right of this.
It showed me that, whilst I like adding to the flavour of my food with spices, herbs etc, with a bit of thought and planning that I could live on less than I currently do!
What I actually ate
I only drank water and the green tea with mint I bought as part of my shop. I almost always make my porridge (oatmeal) using just water, but if you wish to stretch your budget slightly you could add some milk.
Here are the recipes I used in the week:
- Chicken stock
- Eggs with tomato sauce
- Egg muffins (made with just eggs and spinach/grated carrot and no cases or yoghurt)
- Vegetable soup was a simple method – (carrots plus salt and pepper cooked in chicken stock, once almost cooked add frozen cauliflower and frozen spinach, cook for a further 10 mins and then blend)
- Roasted carrots and cauliflower using this method
- Veg fritatta using this method, without the feta and nutmeg
- Summer porridge
- Protein shakes were 1 scoop of protein powder, with water and frozen berries.
Caveats for those sticklers for detail amongst us
- I appreciate everyone’s idea of ‘budget’ is different and for some people this could still be out of reach. According to a quick Google search a basic shopping bill inc basic toiletries is £30 per person
- I’m not saying this is the healthiest diet possible – no it isn’t organic, yes things are packaged in plastic etc. However, for a budget it is pretty well balanced and better than eating processed foods.
- We all need different ratios of food, so whilst this suits me fairly well some people may, for example, need more/less carb or fat.
- Whilst I’m confident whole foods will always be better than packaged options, I haven’t worked out every last micro nutrient. If you were going to try and stick to this budget every week I would choosing different foods each week to increase the variety. For one week this does give a good balance of protein, fat and fibre.