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Healthy eating on a budget

Having access to quality affordable food is important but when money gets tight one of the first places people try to save money is on food bills.

Using a food co-op is an ideal way of making money go that bit further. Co-ops are run by volunteers, open to everyone and provide a range of fresh fruit, vegetables and other basic food items at affordable prices. There are a small number of co-ops operating in neighbourhoods across South Lanarkshire.

Many organisations offer cooking on a budget groups bringing people together to learn or share skills. Community Learning and Home School Partnership Service often runs courses on healthy eating.

There is also a number of school and community-based food growing projects encouraging healthy eating.

Food banks

Food banks help individuals and families in an emergency. For many on a low income, a sudden crisis such as a delay in receiving benefits, changes in circumstances, redundancy or an unexpected bill may mean having to make impossible choices about money or even having to go hungry. Food banks are community-based organisations that collect food for free distribution to people facing crisis. They aim is to support individuals and families by providing them with emergency food parcels until their circumstances improve or their situation is resolved. Food banks also provide information and help to access other support and services. To access a food bank you may need a referral, from a frontline worker or care professional such as a support worker, health visitor, social worker, or someone from a voluntary organisation who offers support or advice.

  • Hamilton District Food Bank 07884451512
  • Clyde, Avon and Nethan Food Bank 07591104027
  • Rutherglen and Cambuslang Food Bank 07706052442
  • East Kilbride Community Food Bank 01355 247660
  • Loaves and Fishes East Kilbride 01355 224375

If you think you need to be referred to a food bank you can contact the following:

  • your local Citizens Advice Bureau
  • social work services
  • your local church
  • your doctor
  • Healthy Valleys 01555 662496
  • Hamilton Salvation Army 01698 282461

Keep a supply of frozen fruit and vegetables in the freezer. They tend to be cheaper than fresh fruit and vegetables but still count towards your five-a-day. Plus you can use them when you want which cuts down on waste.

Tinned oily fish like sardines and salmon can be cheaper than buying fresh fish. They still contain heart-friendly omega 3 fats, are simple to prepare and have a long shelf life. Opt for ones in spring water to keep the salt to a minimum.

Stock up on store cupboard staples such as canned tomatoes, beans and dried pulses which are cheap, nutritious and count towards your five-a-day. Beans on toast make a healthy lunch, but try to choose ones with less sugar and salt. There’s a whole variety of other beans and pulses to choose from too, all of which are great for adding bulk to casseroles, stews or salads.

Fresh fruit and veg in season taste great and are cheaper too. Leftovers can be turned into tasty homemade vegetable soups or fruit salads. Overripe soft fruits are also great combined with frozen berries to make delicious smoothies.

Make your own healthy packed lunch. Not only will you save pounds each week, you’ll be in control of what you eat. Leftovers also make delicious, cheap and healthy alternatives to high fat and salt laden microwave lunch meals.

Breakfast is an important start to the day and porridge is a great choice. It’s cheap, and has no added salt or sugar. If you don’t fancy hot cereal, try mixing oats with plain low fat yogurt and some grated apple and cinnamon.

Keep an eye on your portion sizes and try not to cook more than you need. Measure out foods like pasta and rice before you cook rather than guessing portions - not only good for saving money, but also better for your waistline.

Pasta is another store cupboard essential that is both filling and cheap. It can be used in lots of different dishes like spaghetti bolognaise, lasagne or minestrone soup. Go for wholegrain options if possible.

Vegetables tend to cost less than meat, so why not try adding more vegetables to your meat based meals. The meat will go further saving you money and it’ll help cut down on the saturated fat too.