Eating on a budget is no easy task. You could eat at McDonald’s 3 times a day and probably stay under £10 but is that really want you want to do? You’d feel awful, your productivity would go way down and chances are your medical bills would go up.
I caught up with Greg Wallis from the short-term lender simplepayday.co.uk, together we decided the best way to eat on a budget, at £10 or so per day per person, was to employ a few “sneaky” strategies.
Our favourite tricks to save money when you got to shop
Shop the Perimeter of The Grocery Store
“The perimeter is where you’re going to find the healthiest foods. The interior part of the store is dedicated to most of the junk and condiments that are going to make you bloated, tired and fat.”
“Your best bets will be ground beef, eggs, bananas, tuna, apples, a whole chicken, spinach, broccoli, green pepper, celery and potatoes. Pricey things you should stay away from are fish, steak, red peppers, pre-cut fruit and avocados. By sticking with those raw ingredients, you’re already halfway there to staying on budget.’
My top tip
Don’t Waste Money on Sugary, Fattening Drinks
“A lot of people waste money on drinks when they go grocery shopping. If you’re buying soda, orange juice, vitamin water and some wine for the whole family, you’re going to add at least £20 – £40 onto your bill.”
“All three of these have no calories at all and aren’t loaded with sugar or any other ingredients that will make you fatter. I especially like tea. Tea packets cost next to nothing and will last you 2-3 months.”
Go on a diet
When I put a client on a fat loss plan, I recommend they stay away from most condiments. Things like creamy salad dressings are costly, and they pack on a bunch of unwanted calories.
When it comes to eating a salad, I recommend only one type of dressing – a mix of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It’s the healthiest dressing available but it is a bit pricey. Consider buying the ingredients separately and making it yourself. Above all, stay away from the sugary, creamy dressings!
If you work in a 9-5 job, you’re probably eating out 3-4 times per week. If you have a spouse doing the same thing, then it costs you even more. I’m not saying never eat out but if you’re trying to stick to a budget, eating out is very costly.
On top of that, when you eat out, you’re usually getting double the calories without even knowing it. Restaurant food usually isn’t prepared with nutrition in mind. They just want the food to taste good (can you blame them?). So that plate of food that looks “normal” to you actually probably has enough calories for two days!
“After you factor in the price of the meal, tip, gas to get you there, and parking or valet fees, that’s an expensive bill for a family of four. Rack up two of these per week for an entire month and you’ll start to see where all your money has gone.”
Some Final Tips
You don’t have to eat all organic foods to eat healthily. Yes, organic and free-range foods are better for you but if it’s not in your budget don’t beat yourself up over it. If you stick to lean meats, veggies, fruits, nuts and a lot of greens including some affordable herbs such as Wisconsin ginseng, you’ll be eating healthier than 99% of Americans.