Prices of essential commodities are increasing every day instilling fear in the common man. As a society, we’ve always thought that eating nutritious food and staying healthy is a luxury enjoyed only by the rich. But, don’t statistics also prove so? Malnutrition and poverty rates are higher in under-developed or developing countries compared to the developed world. Broccoli and colored bell peppers might be exotic veggies, kiwi and cherries might be exotic fruits and skimmed milk is a luxury rather than a necessity, but I wonder are these the only kind of foods that help us stay healthy? Born in a country known for its diversity in cuisines, language and culture we are much strongly equipped in every aspect of life compared to the rest of the world. Our North Indian dhal, South Indian cuisine that uses turmeric for preparing dishes and the presence of numerous millet varieties nation-wide serve as an abstract to the main culinary content. Rich or poor, rural or urban-each of us living in this world have the right to eat healthy food. All that you need is meticulous planning and perfect execution.
Knowing which foods to eat to stay healthy is not enough when you are not equipped with the capacity to buy these foods. Planning your budget and getting to know how much can be allocated to buy food helps in buying your groceries and other essentials effectively. Once aware of the allocation, the three main steps include planning for your shopping, purchasing essentials at the best price possible and preparing healthy food that don’t cost more but replenish your energy requirements wisely. Take good note of the tips given below and practice them to eat good food on a minimal budget:
Plan beforehand: Utilize the weekend efficiently to plan for your entire week’s menu keeping in mind the ingredients you have. Missing ingredients should be noted down under the ‘purchase’ section. Expensive items that might be required for any of your recipes can be added in smaller portions. Remember to never go out for shopping on an empty stomach as you are sure to pick some high-calorie sugary food that is low in nutrition. This increases your budget too unnecessarily.
Choose reasonably: Rather than going for branded products it always helps to choose store brands that are less costly. Scan the shelves as these are not usually placed prominently but stored off somewhere in the top-most or bottom-most shelves. Use your taste buds to judge products and never be carried away by the shiny packaging of premium brands.
Buy in bulk: Getting foods in huge quantities is always cheaper. Getting family packs of different products such as large atta packets, bags of onions and canned oils are economical but before that, ensure to check whether you have enough storage space at home. If not, it is worthier to buy the required portions than letting them perish away.
Choose seasonal produce: Buying seasonal fruits and vegetables is always economical and fresh too! A kilogram of watermelon that costs Rs. 30 during winter is available at Rs. 7 during hot summer months. Juiciness and sweetness also vary greatly. So, what do you think is a good bargain?
Avoid packed foods: It’s tempting to pick a bowl of pre-cut veggies, grated cheese or sprouted pulses to save time. But this always comes at an extra cost and it serves your purpose to buy things and prepare them from scratch-every penny counts!
A list in hand helps: Having a list of the foods to be purchased helps you avoid succumbing to temptations. The colorful wafer packets, candies and other junks placed near the cash counters are more than inviting and the marketing guys do have their skills intact to lure consumers. Don’t fall a prey to these strategies. It saves you from shelling out more money and consuming empty calories.
Substitute: Proteins are proteins irrespective of their source. Meat and fish are a costly affair. Why not substitute them with veggies and pulses to replenish your protein requirements? Use your innovation skills to avoid thoughts of sacrifice. Go meatless on Mondays as an initiate to reduce carbon footprints, eat pulses every Thursday to stockpile your proteins. Cook with pulses often as these are some of the cheapest and nutrient-rich foods available to mankind. This helps you forego any negative thoughts.
Dress up leftovers: No house is left without any leftover foods. Its how each of us use them that counts! Rather than dumping the leftovers into the bin, refrigerate and use them the next day to add a new twist to the dish. Leftover chicken can be used in stir-fry and leftover aloo can be made into aloo parathas. Throwing out unused food is equivalent to simply throwing away paper money.
Eat in & not out: Eating out has become a costlier affair with prices of commodities increasing steadily. If you wish to eat out, look out for early bird or combo offers that are nowadays available in most restaurants. Try avoiding beverages and drink water to minimize bill amount.
Get membership: Many stores offer membership cards and the points accumulated help you save on your purchase. Ask about different offers available in different stores and choose the one that suits your requirement. Sometimes, the supermarkets offer goods at throw away prices one day in the week. Never miss out on these offers.
It is always the small things that add up finally and give us beneficial results. Rather than ignoring these, when you get the knack of utilizing them to your benefits, positive results are sure to occur. Good luck for your planning, shopping and eating.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.