Can we afford to be healthy?

The cost of living crisis has already thrown a number of curveballs our way, and the likelihood is that it has not even yet reached maximum impact.

With many already starting to notice the weekly shopping totals rise, is it possible, amidst the changing tide, to stay healthy on a budget? Or should we throw in the towel and admit that the smarter move is to scrap the high-priced, low-cal options and buy more energy-dense foods for our money’s worth? The answer is, perhaps, that the two options are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

First of all, what are the parameters to work within? Hearing the same monotonous phrases of “the eatwell plate” and “remember your 5-a-day!” hardly concocts the highest levels of motivation.

It doesn’t particularly help either that, if you were to buy your five-a-day in fresh produce, most supermarkets would now charge you around a tenner for the basics. Protein sources, whether you’re a meat-eater or vegan, are consistently some of the most expensive purchases.

And how can anyone justify buying anything with a shred of nutrition when the confectionary aisle is screaming out at you with its never-ending selections of low-priced, taste-filled goods?!

A couple of things need to deviate, therefore, from the health-guru mantras of the past. Rules are made to be broken, and in order to make the necessary price cuts, opting for frozen over fresh is vital.

A common food myth is that frozen food is less nutritionally dense than its fresh counterparts, but evidence has shown that this may not be the case, with nutrients often being “locked in” during the freezing process.

Diversity is key, too. And, whilst cooking from bare ingredients may seem like a pricier way of eating, it’s actually likely cheaper than adding ready-made options to your basket. If flavour is a concern, then stock up on own-brand spices which are, again, better alternatives to pre-salted convenience foods.

Without being blasé, this may also be an opportunity to consider how to revamp your diet. For people with conditions like type 2 diabetes – or pre-diabetes – and high blood pressure, ensuring a low-fat, balanced diet is imperative to successful management of these conditions and delaying serious consequences.

Taking time to meal plan can both help you ensure you make the most of your money when undertaking your weekly shop, but also help you keep a food diary, ensuring that, if you are looking to monitor your diet for health reasons, you’re killing two birds with one stone.

Prices are on the rise, and eating well is definitely more of an uphill struggle than it used to be. However, nutrient-dense foods are not necessarily the most expensive ones. Forward planning and education is key, though, particularly if you do have a health condition that requires improving your diet.