How to get your five a day on a budget 

We eat very cheaply here at Shoestring Cottage. However, not at the expense of our health, so we always eat our five a day. In fact, we eat a lot more than five portions of fruit and vegetables. I have around eight most days because I eat a lot of fruit. This has become easier since I gave up sugar. (Well, I have had the odd lapse but I have eaten very little, but that’s a post for another day!).

Check out your local market

It isn’t difficult to eat your five a day cheaply. There are so many ways to get some extra fruit and veg into your diet without breaking the bank. In the past when I was saving money I purchased from the greengrocer’s stall at the local market. If you have a good market and the time to get there this is still brilliant value. Now that I work so much I have little time to go into town, so I tend to get my fruit and veg from the discount supermarkets like Lidl and Aldi. Their specials are excellent. I also look out for yellow sticker reductions if I can get to a store later in the day. I always freeze these or use them up straight away. 

Canned, dried and frozen count towards your five a day. This includes canned tomatoes, sweet corn and pulses. We always have these in the larder. Canned veg such as peas, mushrooms and carrots are really inexpensive and quite good in casseroles.

Pulses can replace some of the more expensive meat in dishes like bolognese – who will notice a few lentils thickening the sauce? Or you can leave the meat out all together and have a mix of beans in a chilli sauce over your rice. How about a can of chick peas in with your chicken curry?

Canned fruit can be more expensive, but fruit cocktail and peaches are reasonable and make a nice dessert with a bit of custard. If they come in syrup I tend to wash this off -too much sugar!

Dried fruits are also worth considering in small quantities . A little pack of raisins in your lunchbox can be nice if you fancy something sweet and I have them on my porridge instead of sugar.

Another small treat I enjoy that count as one of my five a day is an Aldi Foodie Market Raw fruit bar. They consist of cold pressed squished fruit and are around 90 calories a bar. I love the black currant and cherry flavours particularly. They cost £1.49 for a box of five. Much cheaper than a chocolate bar and so much healthier!

It doesn’t take much to make me happy!

Really! It doesn’t. I was in the middle of a busy work day, craving chocolate but determined not to give in and spend 80p in the vending machine, when I suddenly remembered I had a Daim bar tucked away in my handbag. It had been in there for weeks. Like I said, it doesn’t take much 😀.

I don’t eat that much chocolate but could do with cutting down a bit. I am considering doing a sugar free March actually as I still haven’t lost the extra half a stone that makes my clothes a bit tight. It will be cheaper to lose it than buy new ones!

On the news yesterday they were reporting that we should all be aiming to eat TEN portions of fruit and veg every day, rather than the five we have been told to aim for. I am one of the few people I know who does manage five. I take three prices of fruit to snack on at work and have two lots of veg with my dinner. Sometimes I have more, but even I would be pushed to eat ten. Perhaps I will try this when I cut out the sugar. If I have a glass of juice and a banana on my porridge, take three pieces of fruit to work with vegetable soup or a salad for lunch that makes six, three portions of veg with dinner and more fruit for pudding I might make it but will never stop eating!

I think poorer families are likely to think eating ten portions a day is too expensive. I don’t think it needs to be. If you replace some meat  with cheaper pulses, eat more tinned and frozen and buy from the discount supermarkets or, even better, a real market stall it would be possible. Maybe we all need to go vegetarian? 

How about you? Are you seduced by chocolate or would you rather have an apple? Could you eat ten portions of fruit and veg a day?

Thanks for all the comments yesterday on my post about whether money can buy happiness, some really interesting ones I thought. 

Do you get your five a day?

imageThere was a bit of a kerfuffle in the media yesterday due to a new report recommending that the suggested amount of fruit and veg we consume daily is doubled from five to ten pieces a day. Listening to the varying views of the different health experts on the topic –  on top of last week’s revelations that saturated fat is not, after all, the evil it has been portrayed to be but instead  sugar is the problem – makes me wonder if we should listen to any of them at all!

As for eating ten pieces of fruit and veg a day, I confess I would struggle. Surely a balanced diet should also contain protein and carbohydrates? I’m not sure I could fit it all in.

At the moment I am making a big effort to be healthy. Yesterday’s diet consisted of a bowl of granola and a chopped banana, a Greek salad with a roll and a yogurt for lunch, and beef fajitas with onions, peppers and mushrooms and rocket for tea. I also ate a piece of melon and a handful of roasted sunflower seeds. The unhealthy things were a glass of white wine and two Jaffa cakes but I am not claiming to be perfect :-).

I think I had maybe 7 portions of the good stuff if I count the salad and dinner veg as two each. I am not sure I could have eaten much more of anything.

When I have less time I eat a sandwich rather than a salad for lunch, but tend to up my fruit intake to three pieces.

I heard a comment on one TV programme that people are not able to eat a lot of fruit and veg because it is expensive. I don’t find this to be the case. It is much less expensive than meat, for example, especially if you buy it from Aldi as I do or your local market.

How do you manage? Do you find it easy to get your five a day, and could you increase it to ten? How do you persuade your family to leave the crisps and eat healthy food? Is it affordable?