Healthy living on a budget made easy, according to a nutritionist

The rising cost-of-living crisis, the pursuit of a nutritious diet remains a challenge for many South Africans. Picture: Supplied

The rising cost-of-living crisis, the pursuit of a nutritious diet remains a challenge for many South Africans. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 16, 2024


Amidst the rising cost-of-living crisis, the pursuit of a nutritious diet remains a challenge for many South Africans.

The importance of balanced nutrition in promoting overall well-being has prompted a need for practical strategies to incorporate healthy food choices without straining limited budgets.

According to respected nutritionist Mbali Mapholi, addressing the nutritional paradox in South Africa requires a concerted effort to promote balanced and nourishing food choices that are both affordable and accessible to all.

"Good nutrition should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their budget. By making smart choices and embracing simple cooking methods, we can all nourish our bodies without breaking the bank.

“It’s not about overhauling every aspect of life but rather creating small sustainable habits that you and your family can maintain long term," explains Mbali.

To assist individuals and families in achieving a healthy diet without financial strain, Mapholi has shared practical tips and strategies:

Planning is key

Planning meals for the week ahead allows for the creation of a shopping list, minimising impulse purchases and ensuring that only necessary items are bought.

Additionally, preparing homemade snacks, such as trail mix and freshly cut fruits and veggies, not only saves money but also provides greater control over ingredients.

Mindful shopping

While bulk buying may offer value for pantry staples, a mindful approach to purchasing fresh produce can save money and prevent food waste.

Taking advantage of discounts and rewards from various partners, such as Multiply, can further support healthy eating.

Local and seasonal

Opting for seasonal and locally sourced fruits and vegetables can provide freshness and affordability. Embracing practical ingredients and exploring versatile ancient grains like sorghum, which is gluten-free, is a cost-effective way to enhance cooking.

Cook at home

Cooking at home allows for control over ingredients and portion sizes while providing an opportunity to experiment with healthy recipes.

Incorporating creativity and making meal planning a fun challenge can foster sustainable habits.

Frozen and canned options

Using frozen or canned fruits and vegetables can be cost-effective and extend shelf life, reducing the risk of food waste. These options can also be nutritious and flavourful when paired with affordable ingredients.

Take advantage of discounts and rewards

Look for discounts and loyalty programs offered by grocery stores or partners that can help you save money on essential and healthy foods.

Minimise pre-packaged snacks

Prepare your own snacks, such as trail mix or freshly cut veggies and fruits, instead of buying pre-packaged snacks to save money and avoid hidden additives and preservatives.

Mapholi's tips aim to empower South Africans to make informed and sustainable choices in their pursuit of a healthy diet.

By embracing practical cooking methods and simple lifestyle adjustments, individuals and families can work towards nourishing their bodies without exceeding their budget.

Eating well is a personalised journey that requires time and practice, but the benefits it yields are immeasurable.

Through a holistic approach to health, encompassing nutrition, physical activity, and mindful lifestyle choices, South Africans can access the numerous benefits of balanced and affordable nutrition.