How can you save money through a budget meal plan in Australia?
Food is life. Both figuratively and literally. It is important from the very moment we are born, all the way through our entire lifetime. Put simply it is the fuel that keeps us running. But if you dig a little deeper you will see that food is much more than that, it is used for celebration, to aid sporting performance, and even in disease prevention, to name a few. It is indeed a key component of who we are. Therefore it makes sense that most people care about what they eat.
Most people want to be healthy
The majority of people find themselves wanting to eat ‘healthy’, they want to BE ‘healthy’. Whether it be for looks, performance or to just remain free from disease, being ‘healthy’ makes sense.
You’re being taken advantage of
Unfortunately, supermarkets and food companies are aware of our desire to be healthy and they use it to their advantage, using key marketing strategies to sell you their products. ‘Fat free’, ‘sugar free’, ‘high fiber’ the list of label jargon goes on. It is incredibly easy to get lost in what is, and what isn’t healthy in this day and age. Typically, food that is categorized as healthy also carries a heavier price tag, giving consumers the idea that healthy eating is only for those that can afford it, which is simply untrue. It is part of my role to help you understand what healthy eating actually is and how you can do it without the enormous cost.
What is healthy eating
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Therefore, healthy eating can be defined as a method of eating that aids physical, mental and social well-being without causing or contributing to disease and infirmity.
I like this definition as it does not place limitations or emphasis on diet specifics. Dieting is about principles, not methods. There are 1000’s of ways to eat healthily, each method just follows the same basic rules.
Rule 1: Do not overconsume calories/kilojoules.
If health is to include the absence of disease then obesity must be avoided. Obesity is caused by continuous overconsumption of energy. Obesity is then involved in a host of other diseases including heart disease, liver failure and ……
Rule 2: Consume essential macro- and micronutrients.
There are many vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids that our body cannot produce on its own, we must take them in through the diet. This is easily achieved by regularly consuming a highly variable diet.
Rule 3: Consume enough protein and fat.
As the WHO state, infirmity is to be avoided if we are to remain healthy. Whilst carbohydrates can be an optional part of the diet, protein and fat are not. Our body requires certain amounts of both to remain healthy.
Healthy eating and the health industry itself would have to have one of the highest ‘myth’ rates out there. There are so many theories that have been spread into the community on the back of false claims, misleading studies or findings taken out of context.
Myth 1: Eating fat makes you fat
Myth 2: Eating sugar makes you fat
Myth 3: Saturated fat causes heart attacks
Myth 4: Protein is bad for your kidneys
Myth 5: Carbs are bad for you
Myth 6: You need to eat small meals throughout the day
Myth 7: Meat causes cancer
Myth 8: All processed food is bad for you
Whilst I would love to go through and explain why each is a myth, that is not the point of this article. I will write a separate, in-depth article down the track. For now, just appreciate that this is my opinion based on all of the data I have been exposed to over the years.
- Healthy ingredients are cheap
- Preparing your meals
- Freeze your meals
- Make it routine
In summary, meal planning on a budget is achievable. You don’t have to break the bank to eat well.
Healthy ingredients ARE cheap
With consideration to the rules stated in part one and without the limitations outlined in part two, you may now start to see that healthy eating is not the jail cell you once thought it was. You have an extremely wide variety to pick from! You can stop looking for your ultimate budget meal plan Australia. The answer has been right in front of you the whole time.
Here is a list of my top 10 healthy, low-cost ingredients that I frequently use during meal preparations:
- Chicken breast
- Minced meat (low fat)
- Frozen vegetables
Rice, potatoes, pasta, and fruit are my carbohydrate staples. Along with vegetables, they provide the ‘bulk’ that fills you up and satisfies your belly. A major money saver is the use of frozen vegetables. The presumption that fresh vegetables are more nutritious than frozen vegetables is another dietary myth that needs to be taken down!
Don’t overcomplicate things
I never try to be fancy with protein intake. I will simply use low-cost, high-quality protein such as chicken breast, fish varieties, lean mince and steaks, high protein yogurt or even protein shakes when designing a meal plan. This is always the most expensive part of a diet, though I consider adequate protein intake to be the second most important component of the diet, closely following overall caloric intake.
A large portion of a persons fat intake will already be found in egg, fish and yoghurt consumption and therefore I will usually only add additional fats through cooking oils and spreads. Some people may prefer to add nuts, seeds, and avocado to their diet for additional nutrients, though they do come with a heftier price tag.
Preparing your meals
Reading my list of ingredients you’re probably sitting there thinking, how the hell do you convince yourself to live off chicken, rice, and vegetables every day? But that’s the thing, I don’t. Whilst 85-90% of my diet consists of the aforementioned ingredients or similar, 10-15% is reserved for ingredients you wouldn’t necessarily define as ‘healthy’. Sauce, marinades, flavouring packets, even chocolate pieces for my yoghurt are often on my shopping list to ensure that I can stick to my diet long term. These small additions do not put my calories over my limit, yet they help me build consistency through meal satisfaction. Trust me, you will never stick to a diet that you do not enjoy eating. Therefore you need to make small adjustments to ensure that you can maintain your diet for more than three days at a time.
I have included a sample recipe from our Clean 5 database as an example:
Having immediate access to your meals is just as important as the taste. Hunger is an incredibly strong feeling that can pretty easily convince you to eat anything and everything in sight if not satisfied immediately. Therefore, preparing multiple meals and freezing them for later is a fantastic way to ensure that you always have access to quality food. We recommend having 1-2 meals in the fridge and 3-4 meals in the freezer at all times to avoid panicked eating. Designating an hour, once or twice a week to preparing quality meals is the easiest way to ensure you never run low.
To conclude, healthy meal preparation does not need to be expensive nor does it have to be complex. Simply start with a whole food base, make sure it tastes good and then store it appropriately.
You really can’t go wrong with this formula! Budget meal planning in Australia is definitely possible.