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Better health and a healthy budget

Eating healthy foods can actually save you money! It’s all about making the right choices when you do your shopping.

Most of us are in a culinary rut, eating the same old dishes again and again. It's time to become more creative and start preparing tasty, healthy meals that won’t overload your body with fats and kilojoules you don’t need.

Make your food from whole ingredients instead of buying packet foods. What you make yourself will be fresher, have more taste, and cost a lot less.

Stock up your fridge and pantry with inexpensive foods that are easy to cook and can be ‘mixed and matched’ to make up a variety of meals.

Pasta's a great place to begin and it can be used as the basis for a variety of dishes. Brown rice is another all-rounder that’s also high in fibre.

Beans and lentils may not sound exciting on their own, but they combine nicely with fresh vegetables and even leftover meats to make nutritious soups and stews.

Keep wholemeal or wholegrain bread on hand for sandwiches; it can be frozen and defrosts quickly when it’s needed. Replace butter with reduced fat margarine spreads, avocado, nut spreads or cottage or ricotta cheese.

Watch out for supermarket specials on all your staples including rice and pasta. They have a long shelf life so you can stock up on them when they’re cheap.

Buy fresh vegetables and fruits when they’re in season and prices are lowest. Purchase only what you’ll need in the next few days so your food’s always fresh and at its tastiest.

You'll never miss out on flavour if you keep a range of dried herbs, spices, curry powder, marinades and vinegars on hand. Add extra taste with tomato sauce, chili and soy sauce.

Learn the techniques of slow cooking. The crockpot is enjoying a big comeback as thrifty cooks discover the many economies of slow cooking, especially since it lets them use cheaper cuts of meat and puts lots of taste into soups and stews.

Make up extra quantities of whatever you cook and freeze the leftovers. This cuts down on waste and makes it easier for you to have a supply of healthy food on hand whenever you don’t have a lot of time to prepare a meal.

When choosing what to drink with your meals remember that fizzy soft drinks are an expensive way to consume extra kilojoules. Water’s free, and a lot better for you. Add the flavours of your choice – fresh lemon or honey, and drink away.