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There is no denying. The lockdown period has a significant effect on our shopping habits – especially when it comes to food.
Weekly grocery trips take a bit more planning and many shops might not even have everything you need for tonight’s dinner. And don’t even get us started on the overindulgence during this time. With all members of the family at home and constantly snacking, you might not be sticking to your monthly food budget as well as you would like to.
Local dietician and Geneway practitioner Bernice Venter shares ten ways to help you eat n budget during lockdown:
- Replace a meal by having a protein shake for lunch.
Not only are some protein shakes balanced and nutritious, but they also keep you full for longer compared to refined carb-driven meals. They will also help with calorie control. If you struggle to “drink” your meal, you can have a few starch-free vegetables such as peppers, cucumber, lettuce or tomato with it (a small salad). Your protein shake meal should be the meal you tend to overeat on or struggle to control your calorie intake.
- Find some plant-based meals that you enjoy
Have these instead of meat one or two days a week. Plant-based proteins like chickpeas, lentils or beans can be kept in storage containers for quite a long time and often come in tins or packets. Plant-based meals also have many great health benefits (these have anti-inflammatory properties, reduced calories, are a good protein source) and they are more delicious than you think.
A good compromise would be to have half the meat portion you usually do and add a portion of plant-based proteins to make up your protein quota for that meal i.e. instead of a full chicken breast with your salad add half a chicken breast and add some chickpeas to make up the other half of the protein. The same concept can be applied in pastas, stews or curries.
- Include more vegetables in your meals.
This one is really simple. Instead of having two vegetable servings, have three, and a smaller portion of meat. Vegetables are very affordable (you can even opt for the frozen ones) and offer wonderful health benefits as they are packed with anti-oxidants, vitamins and fibre. Vegetarian cooking is all the rage at the moment so there are plenty of vegetarian recipes online.
- Pre-cut mixed vegetable packs are usually cheaper than buying each vegetable individually.
The stir-fry and soup packs that are available give great variety with plenty of nutrients, plus they are a huge time saver with everything already cut. Check the prices and you will be surprised. This will especially be beneficial for small families, couples or if you live alone.
- Avoid buying cold drinks and sugary drinks.
These are unnecessary sugar, and adds empty calories to your diet. Rather make your own ice teas – create your own water flavours with ice, lemon, apple slices or even herbs. Water is key!
- Don’t buy things that you would never have bought before.
Try and stick to your normal habits as much as possible. Don’t buy any unnecessary food or snacks. Remember, if you don’t have it, you can’t eat it.
- Make full, nutritious meals so that you don’t constantly feel hungry and want to snack all the time.
Rather spend time making a proper, nutrient-dense meal that is high in protein, vegetables and even fibre. High protein and high fibre meals will improve your satiety and help you feel fuller for longer. Don’t spend too much time on making interesting snacks as these can easily become a full meal and lead to over-eating.
- Make your own breakfast cereals
An easy option is by soaking oats and grated apple in milk over-night. Overnight oats is a great alternative and requires no cooking.
You can also make your own muesli by mixing together some bran flakes, raw oats, cranberries, nuts and seeds and a hint of granola. Cranberries offer fibre and that hint of sugar to your cereal so you don’t need to add honey or sugar.
- Make use of left overs
Depending on the size of your family, making use of leftovers can minimize wastage. Use leftover proteins for lunch, blend fruits into a smoothie for breakfast or as a snack drink. Freeze over-ripened fruit and bake with it (eg banana bread). You can treat this one as a MasterChef mystery box challenge.
- Food choices are always important
Remember to ask yourself am I making the most of this meal? Does this give me all the nutrients I need? How can I prevent myself from over-eating? Is there a variety of foods on my plate? Think before you eat, always.