Whether you’re saving up for a holiday, spent all of your money for the week on a pair of shoes, or are doing some good and taking part in the Live Below the Line challenge, you’re just one of many who are trying to feed themselves on two dollars a day.
Whatever your reason for eating cheap, we’ve got a few tips for you to read up on before your next shop.
As a good starting point, there are three main food groups you should be shopping from:
- Be Not Afraid of Carbs
The first food group that pops into everyone’s mind when they’re a little short on change for something to eat is carbohydrates. They’re the cheapest way to an excellent source of energy that fills you up and fills you up quickly. The most obvious sources are bread, pasta, and rice. The white varieties are usually the cheapest, but if you’re willing to spend the extra bit on the brown, they’ll fill you up better and offer more flavour. The easiest way to make these more palatable is to raid the cupboard for a salty or spicy sauce. Get creative with peanut butter if you want, but we don’t recommend it.
- It’s All About the Protein
Sources of protein don’t often appear as cheap as carbs, but are ultimately more cost-effective. This is because they give you more sustained, slow-releasing energy and keep you feeling fuller for longer, so you don’t need as much. It’s also the best food group for snacking, which tends to be the area where people spend the most money throughout the week. The cheapest buys here are oats, lentils and beans – which as a nice bonus all offer great health benefits. Eggs, canned tuna, and nuts are also great sources of protein and sustenance if you have just that little bit extra to spend.
- Get Your Five-a-Day
Shopping for fruit and vegetables, if you don’t do it right, is where most of your money can disappear. For the cheapest option, shop in season. The prices fluctuate with produce, so don’t just buy what you usually do – have a look around. It will depend on where you live, but here’s a quick general guide to shopping cheaply and seasonally for produce;
Spring; carrots, bananas, rockmelon, broccoli, cabbage, cucumber, spinach
Summer; watermelon, tomatoes, nectarines, grapes, leeks, kiwi fruit, capsicum, zucchini
Autumn; apples, mandarins, peaches, pears, beans, celery, eggplant, pumpkin,
Winter; mandarins, oranges, potatoes, rhubarb, cabbage, peas, pumpkin
Tinned and frozen veggies, if they prove to be cheaper, usually don’t have any less nutrients in them than the fresh variety. So if you absolutely must shop out of season, these are a good option.
Yes, water. A lot of the time our brains are telling us we’re thirsty and we mistake it for hunger. If you’re living on the cheap, then you should be increasing your water intake to at least the recommended amount of two litres per day. Plus, if you drink a glass or two half an hour before a meal, you can trick your brain into feeling fuller as you’re eating. Also, this one goes without saying, but if you’re trying to save money – don’t buy bottled water.