Bump on a Budget: A guide to eating healthily without breaking the bank
By Annemarie Aburrow RD
By Annemarie Aburrow RD
Pregnancy can be an expensive time – you love the new buggy being advertised… and then there’s the new maternity wardrobe, baby clothes and the entourage of baby equipment! The good news is that healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive. Eating on a budget is easy to do with some careful planning and thought.
You’ve heard the message about basing your meals around starchy carbohydrates to keep your energy levels up. But how can you save money on this food group? Try these tips:
Including protein-rich foods twice a day will help you meet your protein and iron needs. However, good quality meat doesn’t have to break the bank. Cheaper cuts of meat tend to be the less tender ones, such as brisket, chuck steak and lamb shanks, but these are delicious done in the slow cooker. Chicken thighs are often cheaper than breast. Check the labels of cheap/value sausages and mince, as they are often higher in fat and cheaper sausages may contain less meat. Why not make meat go further by adding extra veggies?
Remember that meat is not the only good source of protein and iron. Consider going veggieat least once a week – replacing meat with beans, lentils, chickpeas, Quorn, soy and tofu will not only save you money, but also decrease your fat intake and increase your calcium intake.
You’ve heard all about the importance of eating oily fish once a week, but you find fresh salmon expensive – how about tinned fish? Tinned salmon, pilchards and mackerel in tomato sauce or spring water are a much cheaper option. Not only are these a great source of essential omega-3 fatty acid, but they’re also a great source of iron and calcium.
Value or smart-price milks and dairy foods are cheaper, nutritious and often have less sugar than their branded counterparts. Remember that the calcium content will be very similar across all brands.
Cooking homemade food is cheaper than buying ready-made foods – and not to mention healthier too! You can always cook in bulk, and put save the rest for another meal if you like the convenience of traditional ready-meals.
Instead of throwing away left-over meat or veggies, make these into a tasty soup for tomorrow’s lunch, or a wholesome casserole. Soups are very easy to make, and there is a wealth of easy recipes online. Leftover carrots and tomatoes can be blended to make a tasty vegetable juice drink. If fruits are on the turn, why not blitz these up with some diet yoghurt and milk to make a delicious fresh fruit smoothie? You could also make a tasty fruit salad, or stew and freeze fruits like apples and pears until needed.
Buying snacks like crisps, sweets, chocolate and biscuits will quickly ramp up the cost of your trolley. Snacks high in fat and sugar are often full of empty calories. Instead of buying these, choose some nutritious snacks, which will keep you fuller for longer. Good examples include:
Use theses shopping tips to help you save money at the supermarket:
Instead of buying lunch out or in the work canteen, bringing in your own packed lunch will save you lots of money. You will also know exactly what’s in your lunch, avoiding the hidden fats and sugars often found in canteen- and shop-bought meals. Planning your day’s snacks in advance and taking these with you will help. Portioning out snacks into pots will help keep things like nuts, seeds, fruit and veggie sticks fresh. Buying drinks from the canteen or vending machine is expensive; instead, drink more water or bring your own bottled drinks in from home.
The table below gives an example of how you could feed yourself for just over £2 a day, and still meet the calorie, protein, vitamin and mineral requirements for the third trimester of pregnancy. You can reduce the cost per person if you’re cooking for the whole family – it’s possible to feed a family of 4 for under £5 using value ranges and cooking from scratch.
|Meal / Snack||Food||Cost*|
|Breakfast||40g value oats
150ml semi-skimmed milk
|Mid-morning||Pear (value range, loose)||20p|
|Lunch||Value pitta bread (1 from pack of 6)
30g cheese (grated from value cheese block)
40g cucumber (sliced from whole cucumber)
Clementine (easy peeler from pack)
Value low fat fruit yoghurt
|Mid-afternoon||2 pieces of toast with value peanut butter||18p|
|Evening meal||Bean chilli (made from ½ onion, ½ tin of value tomatoes, ½ carrot, ½ value pepper, value tin of kidney beans)
Value custard (½ tin)
Banana – loose
|Evening snack||Handful (25g) of unsalted supermarket own-brand mixed nuts & raisins||9p|
Webster-Gandy J et al (2011). Oxford Handbook of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press.