We’ve all been there - it’s Friday night, the kids are starving, and so are you. And ordering a takeout is oh sooooo easy. So what’s it gonna be? How about a large pizza, garlic bread, wedges and a tub of coleslaw. Plus a tub of ice cream because, hey, it’s Friday right? That’ll set you back about £30. And the whole serving will contain around 5,000 calories.
Now think about that for a second… 5,000 calories. According to NHS experts, the typical man needs around 2,500 calories a day, and the typical woman needs around 2,000. That includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks. So that pizza is going to “eat up” almost your entire calorie-count for the day.
But if you plan ahead, you can buy a fresh 12-inch supermarket pizza for under £2 and with less than 1,200 calories. Serve with a crisp, fresh salad, swap the ice cream for a low-fat dessert, and you’ll not only save a fortune, you’ll save more than 3,000 calories too.
We all know it’s healthier and cheaper to prepare meals from scratch using wholesome ingredients, but it’s tough finding the time to cook every day. And microwave meals are so quick and convenient. But processed food is often packed with artificial preservatives, flavourings, too much salt and too much fat. So if you can grab an hour or two at the weekend, prepare a batch of healthy, homemade meals and pack your freezer full of delicious daily dinners.
Just imagine, instead of a mushy microwaved Madras, how about a homemade shepherd’s pie, a low-fat chilli con carne, sausage and bean hotpot, or a cheese and bacon lasagne? And if you’re home for lunch, cook up big pan of vegetable soup. It’s incredibly cheap to make and it’ll stay fresh in the fridge all week. Add a couple of slices of wholemeal bread and you’ve got a tasty, balanced meal that’s cheap as chips. Or even cheaper.
Waste not, want not
According to sustainability charity “WRAP”, the typical British family chucks out around £700 worth of food each year (www.lovefoodhatewaste.com, 08/12/2016). And across the country, that adds up to a jaw-dropping 7 million tonnes of food and drink. But if you shop smarter, you can reduce the amount of waste and make your budget go much further. So plan meals ahead, write a shopping list, and stick to it. And don’t be lured in by BOGOF deals on perishable items – because that “free” cucumber isn’t a bargain if it ends up a squishy mess at the bottom of your salad drawer.
Most of us could benefit from eating more veggies, yet fresh vegetables are one of the most commonly wasted items. So consider buying frozen. Research shows that frozen vegetables can actually be healthier than fresh veg. That’s because the nutritional value of fresh vegetables declines every day they sit in a warehouse or on the supermarket shelf. But modern flash-freezing methods lock in the goodness, so frozen veggies often contain higher levels of vitamins and anti-oxidants.