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How to keep your grocery bill under $100 a week, according to a dietitian


Plus what should be in your trolley.

Photos: @honest_nutrition

You’ve heard time and time again that ‘healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive’, but with apple cider vinegar and organic kale prices hitting double digits, the health mantra isn’t that convincing.

You spend so much of your wage on your weekly shop, only to have an empty-looking fridge come Wednesday night. Soon comes the mid-week grocery store dash. Slippers and all.

But it can be easier (and cheaper!). For around $100 a head, you can have dietitian-approved, nutritionally-balanced meals for a whole week. That’s right. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks included. Here’s how.

Real food, first

It seems pretty simple, but sticking to the perimetre of the supermarket as much as you can means you’re less likely to put processed foods in your trolley. Not that all processed foods are bad or expensive (in fact, some are cheap and very nutritious) – but getting the basics right first is important.

Kale became a darling of the fruit and vegetable aisle thanks to a viral transformation. Now, publicity firms are helping to create trends around once uncommon produce, touting their nutritional superpowers. Photo: Andy Boy

We’re recommended to have at least five serves of vegies a day – and a good way to do this is to load up half of your plate at each meal with them. So, this is what your trolley should reflect, too.

Buy seasonal (read: cheap!) produce to ensure you’re getting a range of vitamins and minerals all year round, and you’ll save some coin at the same time. Don’t be afraid of the frozen veg section either – they’re just as nutritious. Same goes for frozen fruit, too.

Be savvy with protein

You’d probably be surprised to find out how much protein you actually need. While this can vary greatly from person to person, chances are you’re eating more than you need to, and might even be wasting money on expensive protein powders and bars.

For women aged between 19-50, only two and a half serves are recommended per day. You could get that from one egg, a cup of chickpeas and a tin of tuna. Seriously.

Being smart with protein can save big dollars. Tofu, eggs, canned legumes and canned fish are all super nutritious and economical sources of protein. Swap some of your expensive meat-filled dinners for these nutritional superstars and your wallet will thank you for it.

Don’t fall for fads

Sure, quinoa and buckwheat are the popular, tasty new kids in the grain world. But have you seen their price tag?

If you’re trying to be thrifty, stick with the old faithful. Oats, brown rice and wholemeal bread are all excellent wholegrain options that won’t break the bank. They’re brimming with fibre and b-group vitamins, too.

Remember to include a few sources of calcium

Having a few sources of calcium in your shopping trolley is key, as this mineral plays an important role in keeping your bones and teeth strong, as well as other bodily functions.

Plain old dairy is an inexpensive source of calcium that brings with it many health benefits. Unless you’re allergic or intolerant, you can skip the trendy expensive nut milks, and stick to dairy. Not only does cow’s milk contain calcium, it provides a range of other nutrients like protein and potassium, too.

Plain, low-fat yoghurt is a healthy addition as well. Some may think it’s a little costly, but compared to your afternoon vending machine run, the investment in your health is well worth it.

The recommendations in this article are based on the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. These are guidelines only, and for individualised advice you should see an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can follow her @honest_nutrition.

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