And so the blows keep coming – first it was “the prices of maize meal, pasta, etc will increase.” Then came the news of a chicken price increment and next we hear sugar prices are going up by 20 per cent. The cherry on top of the cake – or rather, the final nail in the coffin – was the news last week that petrol and diesel increases of record amounts are coming.
With that final bit of shocking fuel price news, you can be assured that just about everything is going to become more expensive! Fortunately, staying healthy doesn’t have to break the bank. Even better, some of the above-mentioned are things we can safely do better without, like sugar. With World Health Day coming up on Thursday, we turn the focus on how we can all make some small, affordable, or even free changes, to preserve our health. Yes, you can’t put a price on good health, but who wouldn’t say yes to saving some coins here and there?
This goes for grocery shopping, meal prep, and perhaps more, depending on what your priorities are. Besides meal prep at home, also think of what you plan on eating at lunchtime while at work so you do not end up having to splurge on an overpriced sandwich. You can start small by planning day by day, but once you feel up to it try to plan a week, or even a month, ahead.
Stick to your shopping list
This could be a big one. Sometimes we end up buying more than we need, only for some things such as that forgotten salad mix going slimy in the vegetable drawer and ending up in the rubbish bin. Meal planning will help here as well. Sure a sneaky treat once in a while when food shopping can’t do too much harm, but when it becomes a habit, it starts to add up.
Go canned or frozen
Yes, fresh fruit and veg are the best but sometimes you get double the product for less when you buy fresh or frozen. While some things just don’t taste the same, something like frozen corn is not too bad, is it? Frozen fruit and veg can be nutritious as the nutrients are sealed in during the freezing process.
Keep an eye out for bargains
Many shops nowadays share their weekly or monthly specials on social media or elsewhere on the internet. Browse through these pamphlets, perhaps you’ll find a few of your monthly necessities on sale at a discounted price and you can stock up.
Check your choice of shop (or vendor)
To go along with the above, perhaps you should look at changing your choice of the supermarket for the monthly shop? Even better, for certain things such as fresh produce why not support your local street vendor? Their fruit and veg tend to be cheaper than what you get in the big shops and while you save some money you’ll be supporting a local business.
Don’t go shopping while hungry
If you go grocery shopping hungry, you’re more likely to deviate from your shopping list and buy something impulsively. You’re also more likely to reach for processed foods, which contain fewer beneficial nutrients than whole foods. And, because these aren’t usually on your list, they’re not good for your budget either. Eat a piece of fruit, yogurt, or another nutritious snack before you go to the store so you aren’t hungry when you get there.
Put on your chef’s hat
Why not try making your favourite takeaway at home? Of course, it’s way easier to pick up the phone and put in that takeaway order, but many times making it at home works out cheaper and even healthier. The internet is full of copycat recipes for everything (even the finger-licking good chicken!), so get the recipe, get the ingredients and have fun in the kitchen.
Leftovers are your friend
Preparing large meals can help you save time and money. The leftovers can be used in other recipes or for lunches. Think stews, stir-fries, salads, and wraps. Roasting a whole chicken on a Sunday can cover two or even three days if you live alone, or have a small family. When you’re on a budget, having leftovers can help you avoid eating out on days when you don’t have time to prepare a meal from scratch. You can also freeze it in single-serving sizes to eat later.
Try your hand at gardening
Growing your own fruit and vegetables is a great way to save money and have fresh produce at your fingertips if you have the space. Many types of fruit and vegetables can be grown in pots on balconies if you don’t have a yard. Herbs can even do well on a window sill. Having a steady supply of fresh produce at home can help you save money at the grocery store.
Get out and walk
The gym is a very attractive option if you can afford it, but do you know what can be just as helpful? Walking. Thirty minutes (or more if you’re up to it!) on most days of the week is a great way to improve or maintain your health. Get a friend to join you, plan a nice route and enjoy the scenery.
We’re not talking about endless scrolling on Instagram or Twitter. This is the type of online that will get you off the couch and breaking a sweat. If you’re not the walking type and would gladly do with the previous tip, make your home your gym! Free online workouts are widely available and you can choose the type that best suits you. Or search for online dance workouts and have even more fun while working up a sweat. YouTube here we come!
Switch to water
Even though water has gotten more expensive, it’s still one of the more affordable options for something to drink throughout the day and of course, it’s healthy. If you are one of those who swear up and down that you just cannot drink water, try and make it more palatable. Some people add fruit or mint leaves, others find that just drinking it very cold or with ice helps. If you’re in a position to do so, buy a water filter jug or install a filter on your kitchen tap. Six to eight glasses a day should do it.
Rethink your workout gear
Yes, while the most expensive yoga pants make you look so, so good, perhaps you can shop around a bit more for other items? An undisputable must is good quality sneakers, but if they’re really good quality they can last you for a while so no need to always buy the latest, Also, if you’re going to be working out in your living room do you really need a name brand workout top?
Make rest a priority
Factoring in some time to just do nothing and rest your body and mind is an absolute must. Ever heard of ‘il dolce far niente’? The Italian term is loosely translated as pleasant idleness or the sweetness of doing nothing. How good does that sound? In our frantic lives of getting up early, rushing for school and work, rushing back home to cook, keeping in touch with friends (yes, even that is work), the list goes on, this is a must. Take an hour on the week, get comfy at home or elsewhere, and just… do nothing. The other type of rest we need is good quality sleep. Set a regular bedtime, try to avoid electronic gadgets an hour before that bedtime, make sure your bedding is clean and comfy, and snooze away. Your body and brain will thank you.
This one we do without thinking but have you ever stopped to notice how you breathe? Are your breaths short and shallow, do you take a few minutes every day to do some deep breathing? You can find all sorts of breathing exercises to help you fall asleep, relax your muscles, calm your mind… The list goes on. At the very least, do something simple like sitting comfortably, closing your eyes, and slowly breathing in. Notice your chest filling with air. When your lungs feel full, hold your breath for a beat or two, then slowly breathe out. If you want something more guided, feel free to do an online search for breathing exercises.