Evie's tip: Eating clean on a budget

This tip has come about as a result of a request from you guys getting in touch and saying how much of what I do is expensive and yes I guess a clean 100% British beef burger is going to be more expensive than a Findus beef & horse burger at 4 for £1, but you can do clean eating and getting your lean protein on a budget.

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My top tips are: 

Ask your fishmonger for trimmings or off-cuts, I do this whenever I make salmon and sweet potato fishcakes. There is no need to use fancy salmon so ask for the bits they keep out the back and would otherwise throw away. I've also got white fish trimmings and chucked it in a curry.

Quorn mince from the freezer is a cheaper alternative to beef mince. 

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Frozen prawns can be a real bargain too, I always have small and king prawns in my freezer, it’s a staple store cupboard ingredient for me (prawns with courgette pasta or courgette noodles - yum)

Also in my freezer is a selection of frozen, mainly green, veg. It’s often cheaper to buy than fresh and can contain more nutrients, as the veg starts to decay once it’s picked and freezing prevents this loss. Frozen veg that works well I find are broad beans, spinach, button sprouts and peas. I do on occasion have frozen broccoli and mushrooms but I find it doesn't taste as nice as fresh because they go soggy, however, I have it as a backup and it’s much cheaper than fresh. Mushrooms are fine if they are in a stew or stir-fry.  

While we're on the subject of veg, if you see fresh veg in the supermarket or greengrocer at a bargain price you can buy and freeze yourself, just Google how to freeze it. You could also make soups and freeze in single portion sizes. Get yourself to the £1 shop and buy a load of containers. My greengrocer God love him, had millions of tomatoes so I bought £12 worth, yes I know that's quite a lot but they were super cheap and I felt really sorry for him, surely he'd ordered too many? But I got home, made a load of passata and froze it which I now use with courgette pasta or over chicken, meat or fish. But when it comes to budget veg the toppest of all the tips has to be grown your own, it’s practically free!

Frozen fruit is fantastic in smoothies and also cheaper than fresh, so another great way to save those ££££££'s 
Buy seasonal - fruit and veg in season is always cheaper.
 
Going to the supermarket late at night is the students’ favourite, if you can avoid the cream cakes and bread on offer (I must admit I struggle - wow that éclair is only 20p and I do find the bargain hard to resist *red face* )  - you'll often find lovely fish, meat, chicken and veg at a knocked down price. Also check out the reduced section in your supermarket. 

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Markets: Who doesn’t love a farmers market, but goodness me they can be expensive but if you take your chances and go as they're packing up you can often make an offer to the farmers/sellers. They'd rather take a cut down price for the produce rather than take it home. Local markets are way cheaper than shops, they're not fancy like farmers markets and they do not have overheads like shops so costs are lower.

Tins: I don’t really use a lot of tinned stuff as I try to eat fresh but tins are a cost effective way of getting protei: fish, salmon, crab, sardines, beans, chickpeas etc. Read the labels and make sure nothing nasty, like sugar, is added and avoid tinned meat. it’s never going to be good so just avoid it, plus it reminds me of cat food - we are not dogs or cats (sexy kittens maybe but not cats or dogs). Beans are great for bulking out salads and stews. Remember that MSG is added to almost all tins so do be careful when detoxing and trying to be clean.

Swap costly foods for cheaper alternatives but as we love a bit of protein make sure you're not doing yourself out of it and other food groups. Meat and fish are generally the expensive ingredients in my dishes and leaving them out of meals might free up some cash but you need to make sure you're still getting enough protein in your diet. Pulses are a great way of getting a protein fix for very little money. Chickpeas work well in everything from salads to stir-fries, soaking up flavours from other ingredients and giving texture and creaminess to stews and sauces (I'll do a hummus recipe before the year is out, I love it!)

Texture  keeps you interested in what you're eating. If you're substituting costly prawns you can still get the satisfying juicy bite by adding water chestnuts or butterbeans to the recipe instead. Water chestnuts are AAAAAAMAZING in Asian dishes but be careful as some times they add sugar to tins of water chestnuts.

I've been doing a bit of research on swapping and found this on the net which I thought I'd like to share.
It's the big prawns that push your budget in this recipe, but the fresh, aromatic flavours of the curry work equally well with other foods swapped in. To keep the fishy theme, try using Pollock, a firm, white fish that's available in most supermarkets.

For a real budget swap that's mighty tasty, replace the prawns with chickpeas. Buy them tinned and you don't have to worry about soaking them overnight.

Swap and save (serves 4)

Tiger prawn curry = £25.46
Pollock curry = £22.62
Swap saving = £2.84 

Tiger prawn curry = £25.46
Chickpea curry= £18.28
Swap saving = £7.18

Other cost effective clean meal ideas could be: quinoa salads; curry; sweet potato fishcakes; sweet potato cottage pie; stuffed aubergine (look out for the MC&L eBook for the recipes).

“I've no money” is not an excuse for eating rubbish gang!! So I hope that helps our lovely lady who asked for budget tips and all you savvy savers out there. As always we'd be most happy to get back to you on any other requests.

Stay clean,

Love & light 
Evie xxxx