Purchasing power: 9 tips for eating better, but cheaper

Your “shopping” budget is not extensible and yet: in this period of galloping inflation, the prices of food products do not stop increasing. Our advice for (still) eating well without breaking the bank.

You must have noticed: in supermarkets, prices are soaring. According to a survey published at the end of September 2022 by the analysis firm IRI France, inflation caused food prices to jump by around 10% between September 2021 and September 2022.

The increase particularly affects frozen foods and ice cream (+13.5%), pasta (+29% for the kilo of pasta shells), frozen meats (+30%), sunflower oil (+137%, yes you read that right)… In the space of just one year, a shopping cart worth 100 euros in 2021 has gone up to around 115 euros.

Homemade is (almost) always cheaper and healthier

For the most modest households, it therefore becomes complicated to eat healthy without blowing the monthly budget. And some of the most precarious French people are even forced to give up on certain foods that are nevertheless necessary for a good nutritional balance: meat, fish, fresh fruits and vegetables…

How to continue to have a balanced diet when prices keep rising? Several tips: firstly, in the supermarket, it is important to look at the prices per kilo. Secondly, do not hesitate to test the “first price” products which are often of good quality – for example for cheeses. Third, at home, it is essential to start cooking: “homemade” is almost always cheaper and better for your health!

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Meats: try your hand at casseroles
At the butcher, the pieces “to simmer” are often the least expensive. That’s good: beef bourguignon, lamb navarin, beef cheek, veal blanquette, beef stew or even pot-au-feu are so-called “family” dishes that can be prepared in advance and be eaten for several days – moreover, it is well known: these simmered dishes are best reheated… Bonus: they are often balanced and packed with health benefits.

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Meat: opt for turkey
In the poultry family, turkey is more economical than chicken. This lean meat (with approximately 124 Kcal per 100 g) can be cooked in 1001 ways: sautéed (with mustard or a cream/mushroom sauce, for example), simmered (blanquette style), baked (roasted turkey, delicious !), on skewers (top on the barbecue)… In addition, turkey is a good source of B vitamins, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium.

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Fish: turn to preserves
Canned fish is (on average) 2 to 3 times less expensive than fresh fish… while having exactly the same nutritional properties! To fill up with omega-3s and “good” fats, we turn to canned small fatty fish, preferably natural: mackerel, herring, sardines, tuna… Note: by eating 100 grams of canned fish (the equivalent of a can of tuna), we generally receive between 20 grams and 25 grams of protein.

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Seafood: buy frozen
They often have a bad reputation, and yet: frozen seafood has exactly the same nutritional characteristics as fresh seafood bought from the fishmonger. And they can be kept in the freezer for several months! To diversify your menus without blowing your “shopping” budget, consider shrimps, mussels or even frozen squid.

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Dairy products: back to simplicity
Swap flavored yogurts, dessert creams and other “pastry” dairy products for a healthier and much cheaper alternative: a small bowl of fromage blanc with 3% fat In terms of price, the 1 kilo jar is unbeatable at the supermarket. You can then flavor each serving with 1 tbsp. c. honey, lemon juice, jam, vanilla sugar, pieces of fruit, spread, chestnut purée… according to individual tastes.

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Vegetables: making soups
Vegetable soup is “the” economical meal par excellence. It is prepared with seasonal vegetables (they are generally less expensive in the supermarket) and we do not hesitate to cook a large quantity; the soup keeps well in the freezer (and can be portioned). Excellent for health, it is served at dinner with a slice of fresh cheese, a slice of ham, plain yogurt and fruit: here is an inexpensive and balanced meal.

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Sweet products: keep it simple and balanced
Say goodbye to cookies, cakes and other “snacks” intended for children which are generally stuffed with fat and sugar (in addition to being overpriced). For recreation, we go back to basics that are fun without emptying the wallet: a piece of dark chocolate in a slice of bread with fresh fruit. Better for the health and sufficiently adaptable to avoid frustrations – we replace dark chocolate with milk chocolate, puffed rice, white…

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Fats: choose the right cream, oil and butter
In terms of value for money, it is butter that remains the most interesting: if it is indeed more expensive than margarine, we generally consume less of it and it is better for your health. When it comes to oils, it is better to choose rapeseed oil, the cheapest on the market. Finally, for fresh cream, we prefer pots with 12% to 18% fat.

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