Life has become expensive. Very expensive. It is estimated that 69 per cent of us are concerned about money, and the cost of living is taking a toll on our wellbeing. Going to the supermarket is enough to raise your blood pressure and working out how to prioritise your spending can be really stressful.
The question is, how do we balance the compromises we need to make when it comes to spending with the importance of eating well and nourishing our bodies with good food?
Having a varied diet, primarily based on plants, with healthy fats and minimal amounts of highly processed foods is ideal to support mental and physical wellbeing. Having plenty of fruits and vegetables, for example, supports a healthy gut microbiome, reduces the risk of depression and protects against chronic diseases.
YOUR CHALLENGE: Try our 12 different tasks or ‘mini challenges’ which will open your eyes to new ways to eat well without overspending.
DOWNLOAD THIS PDF and tick off tasks off as you go. The goal is to complete all 12 mini challenges by the end of the month.
Task 1: Make a recipe with tofu
Tofu is a great source of protein and a surprisingly good way to get calcium too! It is really affordable and very versatile.
Task 2: Add pulses, eg, lentils, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans to a mince or meat dish
Pulses are super affordable and incredibly nutritious! They are packed with fibre, low GI and a good way to get protein without costing a fortune.
Check out these delicious ideas with pulses:
Task 3: Make a batch of homemade slaw for a week of healthy eating
Cabbage and carrots are often cheap to make the base for homemade slaw you can have with lunch and add to dinner all week! Store shredded cabbage and grated carrot separately in food bags or containers with a few sheets of paper towel in each to maximise the shelf life. Mix together before serving or packing your lunch for the day.
Task 4: Bring your own snacks to work, or take prepared snacks out with you at the weekend
Prepacked snacks are expensive and the packaging is often not the best for the planet either, so making your own for the weekdays and weekends is a great idea.
Task 5: Have oats for breakfast
Oats are only 20c for ½ cup – super cheap and very nutritious! If you like a hot breakfast, go for porridge, if you prefer cold, try overnight oats.
Check out these ideas with oats:
Task 6: Do a batch of baking
Time to get the wooden spoon out! Why not make a batch of healthy homemade muffins or a slice for morning snacks or lunch box fillers?
Task 7: Make extra dinner and take it for lunch
Commit to taking leftovers for lunch to save time and money.
Task 8: Make a meal using lentils
Task 9: Sort out your fridge and pantry
One way to save money is to reduce food waste!
Task 10: Have a meal with mussels
Mussels are incredibly nutritious; they’re a great way to get protein, iron, zinc, omega 3, selenium and more! (If you are vegetarian or don’t eat seafood, go for another egg, tofu or pulse-based meal.)
Task 11: Explore the frozen veggie section and try something you haven’t had before
Edamame beans? Frozen spinach? Mixed stir fry? There is a huge range of available.
Task 12: Have an egg-based meal for dinner!
As the saying goes, when there is an egg in the house, there is a meal in the house! They are so good for you and really versatile – omelettes, frittatas, tarts… the options are endless!
Keen for extra inspiration on how to save money on food?
Article sources and references
- Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission. Accessed October 2022.https://retirement.govt.nz/news/latest-news/financial-stress-impacts-mental-wellbeing
- Glabska D, Guzek D, Groele B, Gutkowska K. Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Mental Health in Adults: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2020 Jan 1;12(1):115.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7019743/
- de Vos WM, Tilg H, Van Hul M, et al. Gut microbiome and health: mechanistic insights. Gut 2022; 71:1020-1032.https://gut.bmj.com/content/71/5/1020