Healthy Shopping on a Budget at Supermarkets

With so many confusing and tempting choices in supermarket food, can shopping be healthy and cheap? DESIblitz looks closer at bargain deals and healthy options to find out.

Healthy Shopping on a Budget at Supermarkets f

Savvy shoppers pick and mix across different supermarkets

When it comes to supermarket food shopping, we are all looking to be cost-conscious as well as buy the healthiest options.

With the endless choice available at supermarkets today, how do you decide what’s the best value-for-money? How healthy is cheap supermarket food?

Browse supermarket shelves carefully and be a step ahead of the endless choice by mixing and matching across different types of products, price ranges and supermarkets.

Bulk-buy stock cupboard and produce that can be frozen to make cooking and eating at home as convenient as possible.

Think fresh to be healthy.

How to Get a Real Deal

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Look carefully at supermarket deals to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

Supermarkets target shoppers by placing tempting goodies on ‘special offer’ at counters and entrances to stores.

If you’re the type that goes food shopping on a whim, aiming to buy a bag of pasta and some fruit but end up coming back with twelve doughnuts, avoid temptation by planning a list of what you need and don’t shop when you’re hungry.

Special Offers

Then take a look at special offers among ready meals. Say you go food shopping on a Wednesday evening; you’ve had a long day at work and you want a quick meal.

You aim to get some pasta and veg but on the way to the fresh produce aisles, you see a deal: 2 for 1 on healthy option vegetable pasta meals that will cost you £6. Sounds like a bargain and definitely a lot less hassle than running around to pick up different veg.

For £6 you could also buy a big bag of organic wholewheat pasta, three or four different vegetables and tinned tomatoes and make enough of the same to last you a few days.

Buying fresh ingredients means you’ll be able to control the amount of sugar, salt and oil because you are making a very simple but tasty meal for yourself.

This doesn’t mean ignore offers completely as sometimes there can be great ones. Try shopping towards the end of the day when supermarkets are getting rid of the last of their goods, such as fruit or fresh bread.

Also cross-shop, price comparing on salmon across pre-packed, frozen and deli counters to see where the best offer is. Shoppers miss bargains as they tend to stick with either the counter, frozen or pre-packed but never look at all of them.

Fresh is Best

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In the fresh produce section, the best way of measuring a good deal is comparing price by weight.

So that pre-pack of courgettes might be on offer for £1.50 but it would still be cheaper to get the same amount by weight of loose courgettes for say £1.20.

However, supermarkets don’t make it easy to price compare, marking some produce price per item, eg 12p per apple but then another similar item priced by the kilo.

Although focus groups have put pressure on supermarkets to make their pricing more transparent for customers, for now, you need to calculate carefully.

Pick and Mix

Generally speaking, it’s both cheaper and healthier to buy fresh rather than processed foods.

Savvy shoppers pick and mix across different supermarkets or price ranges e.g. premium, supermarket’s own and basic value brands.

For stock cupboard goods, like salt or oil, try looking at cheaper supermarkets or stepping down a price range for a particular good you regularly buy like tomato ketchup and see if it tastes any different.

Frozen foods can be a great bulk-buy cheap option. Particularly out of season, you can make a significant saving if you buy frozen mixed berries (which as were picked and frozen when fresh are still healthy and have not lost nutrients) rather than the fresh ones.

Having a ready supply of frozen vegetables also means not worrying about using up food quickly before it goes off, while also having a healthy option to bulk up pasta sauces, soups, and curries.

Buy South Asian

Healthy Shopping on a Budget at Supermarkets - south asian

Take inspiration from the cost-conscious older Desi generation that shop at stores selling South Asian or other ‘ethnic’ foods.

Bulk-buy fresh chillies, garlic and vegetables and freeze these to retain the freshness, meaning you’ve got a ready long-lasting stock available.

Also, bulk-buy powdered spices (which will be cheaper than buying the small individual pots in supermarkets) and uncooked pulses, which won’t have the added salt, and additives that some of the tinned varieties can carry.

Organic Choices

We’re also growing more conscious of making ethical and healthier choices. For many though, buying organic only is not going to be practical on a budget.

But you can still pick certain items to be organic in your trolley. Again, compare prices around the shelves.

There might just be a difference of 10p or 20p between the organic eggs and the non-organic ones, so it might not burst the bank too much if you’ve been shopping cheaply for other items.

The pick and mix approach to food shopping could extend beyond major supermarkets too.

Try visiting local markets for great deals on fruit, vegetables, eggs, fish, meat and other fresh produce or wholesalers to get bulk supplies of long-life items like tea, sugar, and oil.

So plan ahead, compare prices carefully, mix and match, bulk-buy where needed and think fresh as much as possible to make food shopping both cheap and healthy for you.

Reshma is keen to explore Desi culture through her writing, whether it’s Bollywood, literature, fashion, food, British Asian music or social issues affecting the community. To quote Buddha, ‘What we think we become’ is her motto.