The simple ways you can eat well for less

Cooking with healthy ingredients doesn't always have to be expensive and involved. Here's how you can eat well without breaking the bank, or spending hours in the kitchen.

Nutritionist and chef, Zoe Bingley-Pullin is a big fan of eating well and using fresh ingredients but recognises that it can be tricky to have a nutritious diet on a budget.

Here, she busts the myth that eating healthily is more expensive and more time-consuming with her top tips that won't compromise your taste buds or your wallet.

Cut down your meat

Zoe suggests swapping meat for plants a few times per week. "Try replacing 50 per cent of meat with 50 per cent of legumes," she suggests.

For example, you could make a bolognese using half the mince you normally would, with the other half of the quantity made up from lentils.

"Many of us are used to consuming meat with a side of veg. Instead, try flipping the balance and use meat as your garnish and make sure to include a serve of complex carbs such as whole grains or sweet potato at main meals,' suggests Zoe. This will allow meat to be stretched further and you'll be making positive changes to your everyday health.

Boost flavours

Save money by avoiding those pre-packaged sauce bottles. "Flavour food using spices and herbs such as cumin, coriander, sumac and paprika," suggests Zoe. This will also help reduce the number of added preservatives, flavourings, colours and sugars in your diet, as well as helping the environment.

Don't waste

"Too many of us throw out large amounts of food at the end of the week," says Zoe. "Food which could be used to create meals from. and therefore save money!"

If you're purchasing ingredients which you know you will not use all of. for example, stock, Zoe suggests labelling and freezing the remainder so it can be used again. "Leftover vegetables at the end of the week can be turned into soup, dips or purees," she offers.

Shop smart

There are plenty of things you can do to keep your grocery bill down while not compromising on taste. "Eat seasonally and locally, you are bound to find some savings at the supermarket, farmer’s market and greengrocer when eating in season and local produce," explains Zoe.

With fresh food, it also pays to be prepared. "Do a crisper, fridge, freezer and pantry audit before shopping and write a list, so you have a handle on what you already have and can make meals from. This will also help reduce doubling up on ingredients," she suggests.

Try new things

"Many people rely on nicely presented and trimmed meats for their protein intake and forgot about cheaper cuts of meats such as chuck steak, chicken drumsticks or legs and turkey mince,' says Zoe. "This is a great way to not only save a few dollars but also increase the diversity of your diet."

Taste.com.au’s Eat Real cuts the confusion and guilt around food and helps you fall in love with what’s on your plate. With the new Eat Real Unwrapped podcasts, recipes and menu plans (including the budget-conscious Eat Real 14-day challenge), plus news stories and a Facebook support group, it’s the place to kickstart your new you.

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