We are currently in the process of renovating our home. B owns the house – an old weatherboard number built in the early 1900s with an addition tacked on in the 1950s – with his parents, so we are buying his parents out and knocking down the back part of the house and opening it up a bit to make it more practical and liveable. We are adding on a brand new kitchen (which probably comes as no surprise that I am very excited about!), laundry and bathroom, and knocking down part of one of the interior walls to open up the space and let more light in.
It is at the same time fun and exciting as it is incredibly daunting and overwhelming. There have been many nights spent waking at 3am worrying about the overall scale of the project and its associated expenses. There have been just as many nights waking up at 3am in a state of panic that I have picked the wrong handles for the bathroom cabinets. Small details that I normally wouldn’t care too much about are suddenly blown out of proportion. I wonder at times if it would have been easier to just buy a place, complete with all of its fittings – cabinet handles included – so that I could get a decent nights rest! But, at the end of it we will have our home just the way we want it, and I’m sure that all of this will be worth it.
Along with a big reno unfortunately comes a big blow to the bank balance. B and I are both making a combined effort to cut back on any excesses and spend our money more sensibly so that we can put more money into the build over the next few months. We are both normally quite sensible when it comes to money, though one space I don’t really watch what I spend is food. Not that I go overboard, but it’s definitely an area that I could realistically cut back on.
So due to that, and also that fact that I am a strong believer and advocate for the fact that that healthy eating doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg, I thought I should put my money where my mouth is (metaphorically speaking – practically speaking, it will all be going into kitchen expenses and those bloody cabinet handles!) and start limiting my food budget.
So over the next few months, I’ll share with you some of my favorite low-cost recipes, but to start with I thought I’d share some of my top tips on easy ways to eat healthily without breaking the bank!
Healthy eating on a budget
Make your own milk. Nut milk can be expensive to buy fresh (or impossible, if you don’t have anywhere locally that buys and sells their own). Even the long life variety in cartons and cans are expensive and also often contain nasty additives and preservatives. Making your own is a far cheaper option. Coconut milk can be cheap to make, and of the nut and seed varieties almond, cashew and sunflower seed are usually the most economical.
Eat more veggies! Eating more vegetables is not only good for your health, it’s also great for your wallet too. Look for in-season vegetables which will be cheaper than buying imported vegetables and/or vegetables not in season (and they taste better too!)
Use dry beans and pulses, instead of using canned varieties. You’ll need to soak and cook them first, but the flavour is far superior, and you’ll end up with more which will last longer. Turn it into a bean casserole, salad, soup, stew, bean dip or falafels/bean patties.
Cook meals in bulk, and freeze small portions. That way if get home late from work and just can’t be bothered cooking, you’ll have a meal ready to go rather than having to get takeaway.
Grow your own herbs. Herbs are a great way of adding a flavour boost but store-bought fresh herbs can be expensive, average around $4 a bunch at my grocer. A much cheaper option is to grow them yourself – it’s also convenient as you can just wander outside to pick your flavourings rather than having to make a trip to the shop.
Make your own fermented foods – they can be super expensive to buy premade, but very economical when made at home. Think sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented vegetables and drinks such as kombucha and kefir.
Keep things simple – don’t go overboard with toppings or extra ingredients. You can make some really delicious meals with a few basic ingredients.
What are your top tips when it comes to eating healthily while sticking to a budget? Do you have anything you would add to this list?