Eating healthily on a tight budget is possible, according to celebrity chef Michael Deane.
The proprietor of four restaurants in Belfast and Banbridge hit the headlines this week after claiming that working class people find it more difficult to lose weight than the middle classes.
In an interview with Fate magazine, Michael — who comes from a working class background — said people on lower incomes tend to eat more takeways and therefore find it harder to diet.
So we’ve asked the award-winning chef — who has managed to lose five stone with the help of a personal trainer and healthy eating plan — to outline his tips for a balanced diet on a tight budget.
Michael said: “As the credit crunch bites, more and more of us are looking at ways to cut back on our outgoings.
“One major expense is the weekly shop and this can often be the first victim of cost cutting exercises, with thrifty shoppers on the lookout for supermarket bargains.
“While retailers have been quick to slash prices and promote new discount brands in their stores it’s worth noting, however, that quality doesn’t |always have to be compromised when grocery shopping.
“It is possible to shop economically and healthily — it just takes a little bit of time, preparation and knowledge!
“Admittedly, not many of us have time to cruise the supermarket aisles comparing prices and scouring nutritional labels to get the best from our weekly shop, but with a few useful tips, we can kick start a healthy diet even on a shoestring budget.”
Michael added: “Bad diet is a bad habit. I hope these simple tips help you to kick the habit and take a different approach to preparing tasty, nutritious meals without breaking the bank.”
Michael Deane's tips for eating on a budget
1 Be prepared — Plan meals for the week ahead and buy multi-functional foods that work well in various dishes to minimise waste. Supermarket promotions can give great bargains. If you’re easily tempted, make a list and stick to it. Never shop on an empty stomach, or you may indulge in unhealthy snacks.
2 Home is where the heart is. Where possible eat local, seasonal food. This is often cheaper, fresher and healthier and helps support local business. Try Irish pork loin or Fermanagh beef.
3 Fresh is best? Fresh is nearly always best, but some frozen vegetables like peas have the same nutritional value at a fraction of the cost. Check the reduced shelves in the supermarket, which can offer real bargains.
4 Ask your butcher about cheaper cuts of meat. Your local butcher is a great source of information and can even give you tips on how best to cook your meat! Experiment with slow cooking, which retains the flavour when cooking cheaper cuts — casseroles can be a great warming, comfort food at this time of year.
5 Buy in bulk — where possible, take advantage of special offers or bulk buying discounts on staple foods you know your family will use. It’s best to focus on non-perishable items and bear in mind your storage capabilities and of course the shelf life of the items.
6 Control your portion size — Eating less costs less. Reduce the portion size of your meals, paying particular attention to the amount of carbohydrate on your plate. We tend to rely far too heavily on carbs in this society, which contributes to obesity-related diseases like diabetes and heart disease. I kickstarted my weight loss by cutting carbs drastically — eating none after midday and replacing these with smaller, regular meals high in protein & fibre which filled me up and kept me energised throughout the day.
7 Don’t forget the most important meal of the day! Never skip breakfast as this sets you up for the day, kick starts your metabolism and helps beat cravings. Avoid high sugar cereals and opt for porridge or muesli with fresh fruit.
8 Ditch dessert — Opt for fresh fruit instead. Although it tastes good, don’t sprinkle sugar on strawberries! Your taste buds will quickly adapt when you cut out unnecessary sugar.