Keeping healthy without breaking the bank

Written by Niall Davison on 2 March 2016

There’s no disputing that there are huge health benefits to be gained by eating well and living a healthy lifestyle – but what about the cost? It can often seem like the healthy options in life come with a heftier price tag.

Fresh fruit and veg, quality meat and fish, and even gym memberships – if you’re not careful, the costs can really mount up!

So, is it really possible to balance a healthy mind and body with a healthy bank balance?

“Yes, definitely!” says Rhianne Hall from PayPlan’s Communications Department. Here’s a list of small changes you can make to your daily life to put you on the path to health – without hurting your wallet.

Healthy Tip One: Carbohydrates

Carbs. Carbs. Lovely carbs! Carbohydrates are a vital part of a healthy diet. They enable us to keep going on long days – and give us that extra much-needed burst on an uphill jog. They are also extremely good value. Shop around a bit, and you can stock up on pasta, rice, oats – and even a bag of normal spuds – fairly cheaply. And they can go a long way.

Healthy Tip Two: Weigh it out

If you’ve got a pair of scales gathering dust in the cupboard next to the oven – why not dust them off and put them to work? Weighing out food is key to ensuring we have the right amount, and also putting that big bag of wholegrain rice to the ultimate test! If you’ve ever thrown away rice or pasta because you’ve cooked far too much, use the scales and give yourself the confidence that half a small cup of rice or a handful of pasta goes a long way.

Scales are especially useful if you’re watching your daily calorie intake – you can weigh out exactly how much you need, and you can even weigh out a few portions to save time next time.

Healthy Tip Three: The Frozen Aisle

Over the years, there’s been a lot of negative press about frozen foods – too many emulsifiers and E-numbers, less nutritional value, not as good as fresh… But the truth of the matter is that using frozen fruit and vegetables can really save you a packet! The amount of money spent on fresh produce can really stack up. And it isn’t just the cost that can be a downside – quite a lot of this food actually gets wasted, because it goes off before you get the chance to use it.

Frozen meat and fish are usually much cheaper than their butcher’s counter alternatives. You can buy in bulk, and of course it has a much longer shelf life. You can also look out for more reasonably priced cuts of meat. Shin, cheeks and oxtail are all fine to throw in the slow cooker and create a filling meal with lots of flavour. You can click here for a variety of recipes to whet your appetite.

Frozen vegetables can accompany many dishes. They can be used in pies, thrown into a stir-fry or even used as a very healthy snack.

Frozen fruit can garnish your cereal – and revolutionise your porridge. One of the unstoppable food fads of 2015 was “overnight oats”. You can defrost frozen fruit to include in this recipe. And the best thing is that you can make it at night, and just pop it in your bag in the morning – ready for a quick, filling brekkie!

Healthy Tip Four: Get ‘Appy’!

There are so many free Apps you can download straight to your mobile phone to help track your diet. Quite a lot of these apps also let you share your progress on social media – and you’re much more likely to stick to your healthy eating plan if people are watching!

Healthy Tip Five: Late Supermarket Trips

A lot of people stand by this one. If you go shopping later in the day, the bargains tend to come out! You may have seen a small section of an aisle dedicated to reduced items. These are usually foods that are going to go out of date in the next day or two, and they’re sold at a heavily marked down price to get them off the shelves.

You can do a few things with this: you could buy your working lunch for tomorrow, find an inexpensive evening meal for tonight, or even bulk buy and freeze for later. That final option provides you with a plethora of options – as meat, fish, fruit and vegetables all last for a long time when frozen. It also gives you an opportunity to pick up foods that may usually be on the pricier side of your budget, for less – and freezing them gives you the luxury of time to plan your meals in advance.

Healthy Tip Six: Free Workouts?

Yes, you read that correctly, a free workout! Right on your doorstep, too!

So much money is wasted on gym memberships. You may use it regularly when you first join, but many gyms usually have a minimum contract period, so if you do want to cancel it later, it can be very difficult. And unless you get a really great membership deal, the cost can be a bit of a stinger as well.

Dust off your trainers, walk more, look up free exercise videos on YouTube – you can do all of this at home, or you can hit the pavement.

  • Running is free
  • Walking is free, and you can save on travel costs too
  • You don’t need to be in an expensive gym to do sit-ups and press-ups
  • Doing a workout at home using an exercise video on YouTube is both free and convenient
  • If you want to tone your arms and you haven’t got any proper weights, use a couple of cans out of the cupboard and do some simple bicep curls – those kidney beans have never been so useful! And if you use old milk containers filled with water, they even come with useful handles!

Healthy Tip Seven: Drink Up

Drink up… on water! It is refreshing, free from the tap, and good for you! On average, most adults should be drinking around two litres of water per day – more if you do a lot of exercise.

Hopefully you find this small list of ideas helpful on your cash-conscious journey to a healthier lifestyle. Of course there are many more valuable tips and tricks out there.

Maybe you have a handy, low-cost suggestion to add? Let us know, share it with us!

Filed under Living in Debt

This article was checked and deemed to be correct as at the above publication date, but please be aware that some things may have changed between then and now. So please don't rely on any of this information as a statement of fact, especially if the article was published some time ago.

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