Healthy eating has been the rave for the last two or three years. More and more people are becoming aware of the impact of unhealthy eating but complain that it is impossible to maintain this style of eating in Nigeria because its simply too expensive. Eating healthy on a budget can certainly seem impossible when organic and natural foods can seem scarce and more expensive. The good news is that eating healthy doesn’t mean that you have to break the bank. You can actually eat healthy real food on a budget in Nigeria!
I’ve been eating real organic food for years, and many of those years I was on a tight budget. When you have a tight budget, meal planning and grocery shopping has its challenges. When you have a tight budget and you’re dedicated to eating healthy, it’s even trickier. Along the way, I’ve discovered a few resources and money-saving tricks for stretching a budget while eating healthy foods, so I’ve compiled them in hopes that they can help you too!
Buy fresh produce when it’s in season and freeze
Fresh produce is always great, but the cost can add up fast. Fruits and vegetables can vary tremendously in price, depending on the time of year and the source especially if you are like me who loves strawberries, kale, mangoes. I typically buy whichever fruits and vegetables are in season, wash and freeze them. If you’re a fan of smoothies, this is a very useful tip. It also saves you a great amount of time as it cuts the preparation time in half.
Enjoy Nigerian Vegetables
When most people think vegetables, they think vegetables that are imported. Nigeria has a wide range of delicious and affordable healthy vegetables that with little research can be made into scrumptious nutritious meals. For example, pumpkin leaves which is locally known as Ugu is a leafy vegetable used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. It is rich in minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron and folic acid, vitamins A, C and, k and lots of minerals. Studies show that it improves blood count, helps manage diabetes and cholesterol levels. It is used for various meals including Eforiro soup, Okra soup, Edikaikong etc.
Another vegetable is Jute leaves also known as Ewedu. Once it is blended, it becomes slimy and has the same consistency as Okra. It is an excellent source of fibre, it is low in calories but high in vitamins. Research shows that in herbal medicine, it is used to control or prevent dysentery, worm infestation and constipation.
Plan and prep meals ahead
Whether it’s veggies for the week, or tomorrow’s breakfast, preparing your food in advance is a step in the right direction towards eating healthy. Plus, it’s also a good way to make sure you’re eating what’s in the fridge, to minimize waste. I typically spend some time every weekend planning my meals for the week. I don’t mind eating leftovers so I plan on eating the same thing several times. I try to at least get my lunch prepped on Sunday so I’m starting the week off right.
Order in bulk
Though there is more of a cost upfront, ordering in bulk can usually save money in the long run. For instance, buying a basket of tomatoes rather than having to buy everything you decide to make a soup or stew. If the bag is more than you need, you could easily find a friend who is willing to share. You can order non-perishables like cereals, plantain flour, coconut flour, olive oil, coconut oil etc.
Eliminate processed foods
While it may seem like some processed foods are cheaper, the real steal is on the nourishment they provide. Processed foods are usually empty calories and they still leave you hungry for real food. Spend money on real, whole, organic and fresh foods. It is essential that you shift your old ways of food shopping.
Old habits can be hard to break, but finding creative ways to make eating healthy convenient and affordable can make you feel good without breaking the bank.