“Being healthy is just so expensive”
I hear that phrase all the time.
There’s all sorts of advice on blogs, social media and in magazines about how to live healthily on a budget. But a lot of them of them pretty much say the same thing.
Buy in bulk. Meal prep. Have a food planner. Shop at markets half an hour before closing time.
I’m mean that’s all very well – and yes, it all makes sense. But a) you have to be pretty damn organised and in-the-know about your local markets and b) there’s just no denying the fact that sometimes healthy food is expensive, no matter how organised you are.
It’s frustrating, because there are loads of easy, healthy recipes that are absolutely delicious but completely useless if you can’t afford half the ingredients.
I’m not going to pretend I’m completely guilt free of this. A lot of the recipes on this blog call for some sort of protein powder, superfood or random spice that aren’t stock cupboard regulars and aren’t exactly cheap as chips.
Equally though, I’m pretty stingy with my money. Especially when I’m trying to save. No shame- I completely admit it.
Luckily, supermarkets have started to jump on the whole health food bandwagon – meaning you don’t have to blow your weekly budget in places like Whole Foods or super pricey independent health food stores.
I like to think that I have become pretty savvy at sourcing healthy ingredients whilst managing not to completely break the bank.
Here’s the lowdown of where I get my health food on the cheap in London.
TOP SHOP: Lidl
What: Smoked Salmon, Protein Powder, Superfood Seeds, Nuts, Fruit and Veg. Oh, and your odd piece of Fitness Equipment
Lidl really puts me off because of how it’s organised, and because you always seem to wait forever at the checkouts. HOWEVER, it’s pretty unbeatable price wise. The fruit and veg are normally good value (and I’ve heard the same of Aldi too, although there isn’t one close to me). You can get big packets of nuts for less than £2.20 for 200g – compared to other supermarkets where you’d normally spend almost double that amount. You can also get things like Linseeds, milled Chia seeds and healthy breakfast grains and toppings for between £1-£1.50 for 200-250g.
Top tip from one of my clients, apparently, the Smoked Salmon from Lidl is very cheap but of a much better quality than at other supermarkets. Direct quote “it’s not all veiny and gross”.
Oh, and they also do some brilliant fitness equipment too, such as yoga mats and resistance bands. Suspension ropes (TRX) for £11 anyone?
What: Yoghurt, Protein Cookies and Bars.
Before Aldi and Lidl came along, I knew of Asda as the ‘cheaper option’ supermarket. It’s still a pretty good option if you’re being tight with the purse strings, especially for bulk buying things such as whole-wheat pasta, lentils and grains. You can also usually get protein bars or cookies for a decent price (i.e. less than £1.50 per unit). However in particular, I go to Asda for yoghurt. They have a huge range of healthy, high protein yoghurts including my favourite brand, Fage, for £2 per 500g tub. Compared to the £2.95 that my nearest Sainsbury’s offers…well that’s a pretty big difference. They also include Skyr yoghurt (my second fave) in their 2 for £2 deal. Absolute winner.
What: On-the-go lunches, health bars, energy balls, snacks, protein shakes and healthy drinks
Boots is brilliant purely because of its meal deal. A main, a drink and a snack for £3.89 (give or take depending on the branch). The thing is, pretty much everything is included in the meal deal – unlike some other places which limit you to their basic selection. Which means you can get things such as Cold Press Juice, Protein Shakes, Trek Bars, Deliciously Ella Protein Balls, Graze Boxes and loads more as part of a lunch deal that costs less than £4. Given that other places often charge between £2-£4 for the one thing alone (I saw Cloud Press Juice for £3.29 for 250ml elsewhere) this works out as great value.
What: Peanut butter & Coconut Oil
Sainsbury’s always seems to have deals on their nut butters – and the bigger stores have a good selection of brands too. I usually buy my favourite Pip & Nut peanut butter for £1.70 for a 225g jar (normally around £2.20). Every now and then they’ll also have an offer on the 1kg tubs. I also discovered Sainbury’s £1 ginger shots a little while ago when I went through a huge ginger phase. These are normally minimum £2 so that was awesome.
Coconut Oil (for cooking) is another extraordinarily expensive habit of the health food community, HOWEVER in my nearest big Sainsbury’s (don’t even bother with the little local ones) I saw 600ml of Pure Cooking Coconut Oil in the foreign foods section for £2.49. I’ve seen half as much coconut oil go for £12 in Planet Organic once…so £2.49 is a steal!
Holland and Barratt
What: Superfood Powders & Alternative Baking Ingredients
Like Boots, Holland and Barratt run some amazing sales, even if the individual products themselves can be pricey. They run their Penny sale regularly, which is where you buy one item and get one of any other item for 1 pence. If you shop wisely, this can really work out in your favour, especially as they include quite a large majority of stock in the sale. You can pretty much get two high price items for the price of one. Last time I got around 500g of acai powder (which is stupidly expensive) for £8. For non-sale days, their alternative baking ingredients (such as high protein or gluten free flour) is usually quite a decent price.
What: Not very much…
I know, I know. You don’t exactly include the word ‘Waitrose’ and the word ‘budget’ in the same sentence. BUT, if you are conveniently close to a decent size store (rather than the smaller, local ones which charge you a small mortgage for a sandwich) they have some hidden gems amongst the £5 pot of apple slices. They always seem to have a good sale on to-go protein shakes, for example. Plus, (being Waitrose) they also have their own brand of things such as Matcha Shots, Ginger Shots and Coconut water, which makes them ever so slightly cheaper than when you buy such things from a café.
That being said, at £2.50 per 500ml, my favourite Fage yoghurt is actually cheaper in Waitrose than in Sainsbury’s. So that’s food for thought.
Do you have any thrifty tips or tricks when it comes to sourcing your health food on the cheap? Please share in the comments!