The cost of living is rising faster than a loaf of (low-carb) bread. As real whole foods become scarce and more expensive, it can be tempting to look for cheaper alternatives.
But those cheaper alternatives come at a cost - they're often highly processed, and your health pays the price. Processed foods are usually carb-heavy and full of ingredients you won't recognise. Why is this an issue? Carbohydrates are made of sugar, namely glucose. Eating too many carbs can lead to insulin resistance and metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes.
So how do you maintain a healthy diet as prices rise in the supermarket? Follow these tips to discover how.
A frozen pizza can be a quick, cheap fix for dinner but one medium-sized pizza has around 40 grams of carbs - about 10 teaspoons of sugar.
Cheap cheat: Use a low-carb wrap such as Woolworths 65% Low Carb Wraps, which you can top with tomato paste, grated cheese and sliced ham. You'll be spending about $2.50 per "pizza" which contain only 5 grams of carbs.
In winter, soup is a great idea, but canned soups are often full of carbs, thickeners and added sugars. An average serving of canned soup (half a tin) contains up to 20g of carbs, equating to five teaspoons of sugar. They are also expensive, costing up to $7.00 per litre of soup.
Cheap cheat: Make your own. Use frozen veggies such as broccoli and cauliflower, cook them with stock cubes and water, throw in a bacon bone, season with salt and pepper and add some cream to thicken. A litre of homemade soup costs half the price and contains less than 5 grams of carb per serve.
Meat can be expensive, and a family-friendly option may feel out of reach. But you can skip the costly rib eyes and scotch fillets and go for a cheaper cut like chuck steak. A kilo of rib eye at the moment will set you back $30+, while chuck roast is more affordable at about half that.
Cheap cheat: Toss a kilo of a cheap-cut meat with some seasonal veg in a slow cooker with a couple of cups of stock and feed 4 to 6 for about $2 a serve.
Frozen lasagne may be a convenient supermarket choice, but it's exy and high in carbs. Twenty bucks will buy you a 1kg frozen lasagne at 40 grams carb per serve (about 10 teaspoons of sugar).
Cheap cheat: A homemade low-carb option uses beef mince with zucchini as the pasta (I like Woolies 'Odd Bunch', ugly veggies sold more cheaply) and grated cheese. Layer cooked mince, cheese and zucchini for a cheap lasagne. It's tasty and costs just $3.60 per serve for six people.
What about that sweet tooth? A family block of chocolate will set you back a whopping $6.50 for a 250g block; that's $1.60 per serving if you stick to the suggested serving size of 60g!
Cheap cheat: Hot chocolate made with cocoa powder and hot water, sweetener and a tablespoon of thick cream. It's a delicious no-carb treat and costs less than 50c per serve.
Frozen meals are easy but expensive. They may be convenient, but cost up to $7 per serving with more than 30g of carbs (around eight teaspoons of sugar).
Cheap cheat: My suggestion? Eggs! Yes, they have no carbs, are a great source of protein and are super affordable; some eggs can be less than 30c each. And they are incredibly versatile. They can simply and quickly be made into a limitless number of healthy recipes: cheese and tomato omelette; frittata (eggs, cream, any frozen non-starchy veggies, bacon bits, cheese, baked in an oven-proof dish); or scrambled eggs with tomatoes.
Finally, be wary of muesli bars and even low-carb bars. Regular muesli bars are super high in carbs and cost up to $2 each. Low-carb options are still highly processed.
Cheap cheat: JERF: Just eat real food! It's the best and cheapest option. Try raw nuts, hummus with veggie sticks, frozen berries with plain yoghurt, or a carrot stick wrapped in deli ham.
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