Over the past year food prices have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation in the UK and this is a trend that will continue over the long term if the western world’s diet preferences and production methods remain unchanged. An area growing in momentum in nutritional research is ‘sustainability’. We know that planet earth cannot sustain the current growth in demand for meat-based protein and research is increasing in areas such how animals can be reared at less cost, using less water and with less impact of the environment (cows omit a lot of CO2 gas!).
From this has come a strong lobbying group to promote plant-based diets – Veganuary (vegan for January) was particularly popular this year.
Whilst scientist have been saying this for some time we all know that often nothing changes unless big business is involved. Here is a quote from a blog Richard Branson wrote about Virgin’s investment in Memphis Meats, a start-up which develops meat from stem cells “one day we will look back and think how archaic our grandparents were in killing animals for food.” Bill Gates is also an investor in Memphis meats.
But let’s look shorter term, there are an estimated 8 million struggling to feed themselves due to financial hardship in the UK. This is a hard figure to measure as not everyone that is struggling will visit foodbanks or ask for assistance. But people with disability or illness are at risk of being food insecure due to inability to work. Here at Parkinsons.me we know that if you have recently had to stop work or have not been able to work for some time foods costs may be a concern. However we do believe that you can still eat healthy on a budget. This will not include the latest celebrity endorsed super food or powders promising to dramatically change your life, none of which are necessary. Eating well for less is about good, solid home cooked meals.
Here are Parkinsons.Me - Thrifty 5:
Planning meals ahead cuts down on waste and impulse buys.
2. Less is often more
Protein is the most expensive food group. Buying cheap processed meat may seem better value but is not always that much cheaper than a small cut of good quality meat, but best value is protein from beans, pulses and eggs. Below is a price comparison of cost per gram of protein in a selection of protein containing foods.
3. Use up leftovers
Cooking too much adds unnecessary cost but can also save money (and make future meals quick and easy). For example, leftovers from a roasted joint can served with salad for lunch the next day, added to a stirfry or made into a soup. Bubble and squeak topped with a poached egg is also a good way to use up veg.
4. Frozen vegetables
Frozen vegetables have come along way in the last few years. They are considerably cheaper than fresh vegetable and just as nutritious. As frozen vegetables tend to lose their crunch they can work better added to recipes rather than as a side dish. Particularly good are roasted Mediterranean vegetables added to pasta dishes. And here is a great curry recipe if you want to spice up your peas https://realfood.tesco.com/recipes/pepper-peas-curry.html (to save waste use frozen ginger and coriander
5. Embracing the bean
Beans and lentils are extremely cheap and if cooked well are really not dull. Beans are nutritious, they contain protein, complex carbohydrate, are high in B vitamins and iron. They count as one of your 5 a day, are proven to reduce cholesterol and are high in fibre which supports good gut bacteria and can help ease constipation.
Beans and lentils work well with chilli – try chilli con carne or dal, and in salads. A favourite of ours is a drained tin of chickpeas, mixed with 1 chopped red onion, 2 chopped tomatoes, a handful of chopped coriander, 1 chopped chilli (optional) and a squeeze of lime. If an all bean-based meal does not appeal then try this Bolognese which is tasty, cheap and nutritious.
Serves 4 (freezes)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
200g low fat beef mince
1 tin of tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tin kidney beans, drained
1 tin lentils, drained
5og frozen Mediterranean vegetables or mixed peppers
4 lumps frozen chopped spinach
Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add onions and cook over a low to medium heat for 5 minutes. Add garlic, cook for a further 2 minutes. Turn up the heat and add mince beef. Cook for 5 minutes stirring often. Add the tinned tomatoes, beans, lentils, stock, tomato puree, vegetables and chilli. Simmer for 45 minutes.
Serve on its own or with pasta, rice, quinoa, couscous, jacket potato or in a wrap.