‘So here I am, again.’ I think to myself while standing in the food market. A vegetarian on a low carb diet, wondering what I am supposed to do. (OK, ok…before everyone corrects me – I do eat some fish – so I guess I’m a pescatarian (sp?) ) You see, I also tried the other low carb diets (in the peak of their popularity). And I realised during that time that a protein-rich diet was not for the weak of self control nor the light of wallet. The diet didn’t last long, as my food servers budget was not enough to justify the expense. Healthy food is expensive! ( I am still trying to understand how a package of spaghetti noodles can cost more than 1 kg of wheat powder. I mean, not just the ingredients but the manufacturing process as well – and still less expensive? Can anyone explain this?!)
Let’s be honest here: Low carb diets are expensive! Not for everyone, sure. But for those of us who have to decide whether to eat steak and fish everyday OR keep the lights on (I hope you choose the lights!) navigating a low carb diet can be a delicate dance with your finances. I am currently on another low-carb diet (1 of many throughout the years), and this time I have learned a few tricks to stretch my money further. BTW – I’ve managed to drop 6 kgs…Yay! So here are some of my money-saving tricks:
- Establish a close friendship with eggs. I am not a huge egg fan, but I will tell you that this has been one of my biggest money savers. Eggs don’t cost so much, you can make them 100 different ways and they are filling. 1 3-egg veg omelet will carry me for most of the day without feeling very hungry.
- Swap out your mayo and crème frâiche for unflavoured yoghurt instead. Unflavoured yoghurt is the food equivalent of multi-functional furniture. You can use it for everything! Dips, salad topping, creme sauce, a base for crème salads, a topping for eggs, and an after food delight mixed with your favourite fruit! Being able to have 1 staple that you can use in multiple ways, will save you money, stress AND its much healthier for you!
- Try the canned options. I know, I sounds like a bit of a hypocrite here. But when you’re on a budget, eating fresh fish or lean cuts of meat just isn’t an option most of the time. Try canned tuna, or canned chicken if that’s your thing. Incorporating this into a salad is what I do, but there are also many different ways that these products can be incorporated into your daily diet. I mean, not every meal has to be instagram perfect…right?
- Use filler. I’m using these yoghurt based tuna salads as an example, but these can be used in many different ways. For my salads, I use frozen peas and chopped celery. Both of these items are affordable and they can turn a 1-meal salad into a 2-meal salad. Ultimately reducing the money you spend on food. Same goes for stir-fry. If you add chopped cabbage, carrots and onion – it will create a larger amount of food with a lesser price. (Ever wonder why some restaurants load their food with cabbage? My theory is – that it’s to save money on the food)
- Try surimi. This may depend on your location, but I have found that in many countries, surimi is very affordable. Not luxurious at all, but it will work as both a quick snack (you really can just eat them cold) as well as easily fried with a bit of lemon and sliced onion. Super easy, very affordable, a good option.
- Broccoli? Yes, broccoli! Broccoli contains protein, as well as many nutrients and antioxidants which are vital for your health. Toss a handful into your eggs or stirfry, or just steam some to go with your main protein of choice. Frozen or fresh, select the most affordable.
- Drink a lot of warm lemon water. The victorians used to drink tea to fill their stomachs in between meals. (Or at least that’s the working theory I have read.) But we’re talking super budget here. So forget the tea and grab a citrus fruit instead! 1 small slice can actually work well for a quite large teapot full of hot water. This combination is said to work well for the metabolism. It also keeps you feeling ‘full’ so you aren’t hungry constantly.
- Grab that bag of mandarin’s instead! Mandarin’s are affordable, and research has shown that the family of fruits (orange, mandarin, satsuma) when eaten will quieten the craving for sugar. So if you’re staring at that chocolate bar, grab some mandarin instead. It costs less and will last you days longer.
- Don’t feel pressured to purchase the specialty items. I have read everywhere that I need coconut oil, some kind of root powder, seed powder, special…. everything! Said items are also accompanied by a rather large price tag – one that could surely cover half your food shopping expenses. So just don’t do it. It really is not going to make such a big difference. You either lose the weight, or you don’t.
- Step away from the protein bars! Protein bars and shakes are just…marketing, really. Yet another big price tag for an item that really doesn’t help so much and contains tons of sugars & preservatives.
- Take it easy. You are not the only person trying to figure out how to make it all work. If you are stressing quite badly, just make yourself some popcorn, sit down, pig out and try to forget about the world for awhile!
I do hope at least some of these tips help you to save some money at the food market. If you have any suggestions of your own to add to this list, please share them!
Thank you for reading!