Healthy food habits can sometimes be an elusive achievement in our day-to-day lives. In fact, for some of us a positive relationship with food can be a significant challenge, and making changes can seem impossible. Continuing on the journey of our series: Pursuing a Life of Happiness and Purpose, I wanted to find out how to establish healthier food habits and make my everyday choices more wisely. To do so, I sat down with science student Olivia, who has embarked on a positive journey with food and maintained a healthy, active lifestyle for the past three years.
So Olivia, tell me about your meal prep.
I’ll normally cook on a Sunday afternoon, as that’s my downtime. I like to cook three different meals to have as lunches and dinners throughout the week. That’s why I love meal prep; it’s one day of effort to eat what you’ll enjoy for the whole week, and it’s healthy. I always go to my nearest fruit shed and see what’s cheapest, and that is typically what’s in season. From there I’ll work out what to make.
How do you budget when grocery shopping?
I try not to restrict my budget on food so I can splash out when I want to on a better variety of fruit and vegetables. I also bulk buy as much as possible, as long as it won’t go off quickly. Some weeks will be more expensive than others, especially when I have to top up on the bulk items I won’t buy every week.
Do you think it’s possible for people on a budget to maintain healthy food habits without overspending?
Yes, and I have found it’s actually easier to eat healthily. I feel way better when I nourish my body properly, I have more energy to go out and get things done. To me it’s something to prioritise because it makes everything else easier. It does take a bit of planning, but over time it becomes quite easy to do. I know some people are reluctant to start as they don’t realise how achievable it truly is.
Do you have any tips for people starting out on this journey?
Be flexible when it comes to your food; buy what’s cheap and work your meals around that. It can be great to get creative with ingredients or experiment with what you have. I recommend bulk buying as much as possible.
Branching out from more than one grocery store will also help if you live in an area where this is possible. Fruit sheds are often cheaper for fresh fruit. For certain items, whole food shops are perfect to buy in bulk and also avoid single use plastic. For other items, chain grocery shops will be the cheapest. It is best to do some research for what shops you have access to. Putting in the extra time to research what the best prices and resources are for you will pay off in the long run.
What I learnt from Olivia
There are many ways to improve your habits and begin working towards a better relationship with food. A healthy lifestyle can be accessible to everyone, when provided with the right tools to initiate this change. The main tips I took away were:
- Do your research. If you have access to multiple food shops, some items may be cheaper to buy from different places.
- Bulk buy. Especially if you are working within a budget.
- Meal prep. Use the cheapest produce and get creative with the groceries you buy. Cooking in bulk will save time during the rest of your week.
Of course, changing habits around food can be challenging in more ways than one. Stay tuned for part two of nourishment – overcoming the obstacles you might face.
In the meantime, read our first article in the series: Living better with less. You can also subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest articles and digital health updates.