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Eat Well, Spend Less & Avoid the Ultra Processed Foods

Images of ultra processed fast food and some plates of healthy whole foods

There's been a lot of discussions in the media recently around the prevalence of Ultra Processed Food (UPF) and their effects. These have been slowly creeping into our shopping baskets and our food choices. But only now are we really hearing the impact these additives are having; influencing cravings, how we store fat, how we metabolise foods, health conditions like obesity, cardiovascular disease, dementia, digestive issues and the list goes on.

In the UK, approx. 50% of all food consumed is UPF.

So today I am reminding you, NO, I am actually encouraging you to eat real food. Let's all try and Eat Well, make healthier food choices and in doing so, you can also save money. I appreciate the cost of a weekly shop has gone up dramatically but this eating real food can actually support you in the long run and save money.

Eating food you have cooked or prepared at home is healthier for you and you control the ingredients. It is also considerably cheaper. You'll be shocked when you look at the ingredients list of some of your store cupboard essentials. The emulsifiers, the E numbers, the unheard of ingredients, and often the added sugar, these all make up a lot of the food you buy. I've recently been more conscious as I'm no longer eating dairy and when I look at the dairy alternatives, the sheer number of additives puts me off. The only one with the least and recognisable ingredients is Plenish.

I love food, so my mantra is food first but using whole foods, or minimally processed. I understand sometimes this isn't possible but I try and do as much as I can. At the same time, I realise that we shouldn't beat ourselves up if we do stray now and then.

Why don't you check the ingredient list of the things you buy, you'll be surprised at what they contain.

What can you do?

The key to this is planning. You’ve probably heard the saying ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’. Without a weekly food plan, it will be pure luck if you end up with the right foods in the fridge or cupboard. And, without planning your time, you won’t always make the time to enjoy breakfast or make that lunch. Not only do you make healthier food choices, but you could be saving a LOT of money each and every week by following these tips.

Exercise 1: Plan Your Planning

Become a planning pro, which means you actually need to plan to plan. It’s easy to put this off, so choose a time when you know you will be free every week to plan your meals – breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Ideally plan midweek for the following week. If this planning job doesn’t get done, you will have no choice but to shop on a day-to-day basis, or make poor food choices affecting both your health and your pocket.

Exercise 2: Audit What You Have

Turn these meal plans into a shopping list but tick off what you have. Which means create a master list of what you already have in your freezer, fridge and cupboards. Do you regularly check what you have? It's quite easy to buy things on impulse and they sit there and never get used and are thrown away. So regularly do an audit and check the use by dates, maybe even find a recipe to use up some of those ingredients at the back of your cupboard.

Exercise 3: Shop Your Plan

As an experiment, spend at least one week only allowing yourself to buy what is on your shopping list. No extras! The planning and shopping discipline may take a little time to get used to, but it is worth persevering. Off-list shopping and impulse buys are the biggest enemy for anyone wanting to eat well or stick to a budget. And remember, do not go to the supermarket hungry. You are more likely to shop off-list when you do.

Be careful of additives and emulsifiers, check the ingredients when you pick up any sauces, breads, cereals or pre-packaged foods. Ideally you want to be making your own but if you're starting out check the ingredients on foods, if you don't recognise them or there are countless ingredients, then think twice about buying them.

Exercise 4: Get Creative

A huge amount of food is thrown away, because we’re not sure what to do with leftovers. Find a way to use yours and prepare to save money. There are loads of resources online with easy recipe suggestions for pretty much anything you have in the fridge or just go with the flow. A quick recipe that I always use for leftover vegetables is a frittata, you can pretty much throw anything in to a frittata.

Or try the following:

Tesco Meal Planner Left Over Tool -

Love Food Hate Waste has great tips on how to store and keep foods as well as recipes -

Other Useful Resources

Economy Gastronomy by Allegra McEvedy & Paul Merrett

Save with Jamie by Jamie Oliver

Eat, Shop, Save by Dale Pinnock

Eat Well for Less (various different books) by Greg Wallace & Chris Bavin

If you are struggling with switching to whole foods, or are craving certain foods, or would like to understand what you should be eating for your body and your goals, then why not book in a free 30-min call with me. This could be the start of your transformation. Not only will I provide you a personalised nutrition and lifestyle plan, you could also receive meal plans and recipe guidance for your goals.

For your free 30-min call -

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