I think there is a common misconception that good nutrition or a protein rich diet can be overly expensive. However, it is entirely possible to eat an abundance of food that is both nutritious and tasty and be spoiled for choice.
I used to assume that a high protein diet would be really costly and for a long time I ruled out even considering it as an option because of that.
I don't have a lot of spare cash at the end of the month so I was determined when I started doing this a few months ago that I make savings somewhere so I sat down and had a good look at:
- what I was spending on my food bill each week
- how much was going to waste
- looking for ways that I could minimise costs and waste.
I started out by doing a tour of the various supermarkets and comparing the cost and the quality of each shop over a period of four weeks. I even looked at local shops and butchers to see what was available. In an ideal world I would have the time to go to different outlets for different items to maximise the cost savings, but working, training, and home life all add up and spending more than a couple of hours doing a weekly shop is the most amount of time I am willing to spend.
The four supermarkets I did a comparison between were: Lidl, Aldi, Asda and Tesco.
In terms of value and volume for money, Aldi and Lidl came out on top, with Asda and Tesco costing between £15-25 more per shop. I now switch between Lidl and Aldi most weeks, and then use Tesco to get some of the brand essentials that are not available at Lidl/Aldi.
There are some simple things that you can do to minimise the costs. Which I have detailed into some simple steps below.
1. Plan your proteinI don't sit down and spend hours planning what I am going to eat every meal throughout the week. Where's the fun in that! I basically plan which meats and produce I will need to make enough main meals for the week and be able to hit my protein goals, as well as have enough to feed both myself and my husband. My protein essentials usually include:
- 1 kg of raw chicken breast (about 5 good sized chicken fillets)
- Pack of either 4 Pork Medallions or Turkey breast steaks
- 500g of either turkey mince, pork mince or lean steak mince (5% or less fat on each)
- Pack of bacon medallions
- Lean frying Steak
- Bag of frozen king prawns or pack of 2 fresh tuna steaks
- Couple cans of tuna in brine
- Cooked marinated chicken - BBQ, Sweet chilli or cajun flavoured
- Dozen eggs
- Smooth peanut butter
- Skyr yoghurt or high protein fat free greek yoghurt
- Either a whole chicken or a beef joint for a Sunday roast
- Light Buffalo mozzarella balls
2. Store cupboard staples
I always make sure that my cupboards have a good selection of pastas, rices, condiments and spices that I can use to make whatever takes my fancy. Again, Aldi and Lidl do a great range of these store cupboard essentials which they are continually improving and expanding and at a great price too. These are the things that I don't buy on a weekly basis, maybe one or two items every couple of weeks to keep supplies topped up. You don't need to rush out and stock up on all of these, build up your own preferred supply of flavours and necessities. The bigger variety of options and flavours you have available to you the more you will experiment and enjoy your food. My own essentials are:
- Wholegrain pasta - fusilli and penne, and linguine if they have it
- Wholegrain microwave and dry rice
- Basmati microwave and dry rice
- Rice noodles
- Porridge oats
- Cajun/fajita seasoning
- Garlic granules
- Onion granules
- Dried parsley, basil, oregano and mixed herbs
- Tikka seasoning
- Chinese five spice/wok seasoning
- Soy sauce light & dark
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Olive Oil
- Fry light coconut or Olive oil
- Pickled Onions
- Pickled Gherkins
- Tomato sauce
- Yellow american mustard
- Light Mayo
- Chimichurri marinade
- Passatta and/or chopped tomatoes
- Bags of nuts - Almonds, walnuts, pecans
- Almond milk
3. Freezer love = convenience + less waste
4. Buy fresh and freeze excess!
The other stuff...That really only leaves the fresh salad veggies, things like fresh spinach, tomatoes, spring onions, avocado, brocolli, baby corns, asparagus, sugar snap peas as well as bread and milk.
Don't forget some some snack and treat options. I really like the variety of popcorns, pea snacks, and protein bars (check out the banana one - lovely - 49p each and great for on the go) that Aldi usually have located around the tills.
How much do I spend week to week?On average I spend between £50-£65 per week.
This is enough for me to buy enough food for myself and my husband to eat all week, including lunches to take to work. The only things not included in that figure is soft drinks and chocolate for my husband. We go to Tesco for those cos he's fussy like that :)