One of the key ways I save money for travel is to swap eating out for cooking my own meals.
As a healthy, balanced diet is something that I am not prepared to compromise for anything, a key reason for sharing this post is to inspire you with practical ideas on how doable it is to eat healthily on a budget.
In an effort to ramp up my savings this month, I’ve tightened my budget, allocating 30€ a week for groceries. I’m not sure if that is conservative or generous compared to what you normally live off, but to put it in perspective with what I have previously been spending, 30€ is the cost of one weekend brunch at my favourite cafe in Helsinki. So while it seems a little tight for me, I’m also shocked at how frequently past Emma would splurge a weeks groceries in one sitting.
Here’s what 30€ bought for me at my local budget supermarket and the meals I made for the week.
3 red capsicums
Half a celery
Bunch of kale
Bag of onions- 500g
1.2kg wholemeal pasta
750g frozen broccoli
400g frozen berries- Finland has a range of amazingly nutrient dense berries!
500g plain yoghurt
400g can tomatoes
3x 160g tuna
10 eggs (Finland doesn’t do dozens?!)
I Already had:
Butter, Vegemite, Peanut butter, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, Herbs
7 dinners, 3 lunches, 2 weekend breakfasts & snacks
In my budget I’ve accounted for 4 days of buying lunch at the cafeteria at work (extremely healthy and filing for 6€). While I initially wanted to take my lunch to work more regularly to save extra money, I quickly realized that getting out of the office with my lovely work-mates was a huge boost to my mental health.
In terms of breakfast, I normally fast during weekday mornings (fairly easy as lunch in Finland is at 11.30am), but if I’m hungry I get free porridge at work as an incentive for walking or riding to work.
This means I need my groceries to stretch to a minimum of 10 dinner/lunch meals and 2 breakfasts, plus snacks. As you can see below I actually have many more serves than needed 🙂
Soup: 8x serves
I have a more detailed post on my favourite soup here. With these groceries I prepped around 8 soup serves by combining onion, carrot, celery, kale, chicken, canned tomato, tomato passata, vegemite, salt and pepper in containers. I froze three containers and made one pot. The frozen portions will be super easy meals, I’ll just add the whole frozen chunk to boiling water and cook for 1-2 hours. I normally add some pasta 10 minutes before it’s ready and serve with bread and butter. It’s freakin delicious.
Pasta: 3x serves
As I bought a LOT of chicken I had enough left over from soup to add to pasta. This is a version of a previous recipe I mention here, this time I’m switching tuna for chicken but still adding broccoli, carrot “miso” (Vegemite) and wholemeal pasta. This is perfect for Sunday night dinner and then taking for lunch on Monday.
Tuna Salad: 3x serves
Possibly the easiest healthy meal ever! Just combine 1 can of tuna, 1 chopped tomato, 1 chopped red capsicum, a third of a cucumber chopped and then season with olive oil, pepper, salt and basil if you have it. I don’t normally add eggs but since I have a few left over I’ll add 1 hard boiled egg per serve.
Weekend Breakfast: 2x serves
I love scrambled eggs for breakfast- so damn quick, delicious and filling! I either make them in the pan or microwave and add butter salt and pepper. You can also use cream instead of butter but NOT milk!! I eat them with buttered toast (is there anything better than butter?!) and usually also have some berries and yoghurt and a hot lemon water.
I chopped the celery left over from the soup and stored it in a jar for easy snacks with peanut butter. I had had a heap of left over carrot sticks.
I’m a bit addicted to persimmon at the moment and think they make the perfect snack.
Another favourite snack of mine is frozen berries with full fat plain yoghurt. In these groceries I have enough for 10+ serves.
I already some some tea bags at home but my all time favourite hot drink is sliced lemon in hot water. The chunky lemon I bought will make around 10 hot drinks.