Friday 24th May 2024

How to shop sustainably on a budget

The food we eat has a big impact on our health, and the climate. Here are some ideas for healthier eating, for us and the planet.

From the energy used to grow food, to the time of year we eat and the way we prepare them – we affect the environment in many ways from our food consumption.

And with the recent COP26 summit, thinking of ways to cut down emissions to protect our planet is at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

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However, even if we want to shop greener, the extra cost can be a deterrent, especially as inflation and shopping prices continue to rise.

If you still want to purchase healthy and green food in this financial havoc, there are still some ways you shop sustainably without breaking the banks.

Shop seasonal food and locally

Visiting local farmers market instead of going to the nearest supermarket, can be a great health and environmental choice, as well as helping support your local community and independent producers.

Seasonal food is fresher, tastier, and more nutritious than food consumed out of season, which can frequently be shipped in from abroad.

To make your weekly shop even more fun, you can always visit local farmers outside of cities, and combine the visit with a hike or nature walks.

Mouthy Money contributor Kevin Coulter, a personal trainer and nutritionist, says: “As a personal trainer and nutritionist for the last eight years, I’ve tried to encourage people to eat more vegetables. So I’m like, yes, I’ve been telling you that for ages have been preaching that.

“I know that ‘plant based’ is becoming really big in regard to helping save the planet. If that then encourages people to eat more plant-based stuff, I think it is going to improve people’s diets getting the balance right.”

When asked what his favourite nutritious meal for autumn is, he says: “A very nutritious autumn meal is soup. It’s quite an easy one because there’s potatoes, and vegetable stock in there.

“And then if you do want to have a protein source, you can put a little bit of chicken or something in there alongside that. A vegan alternative such as lentils, is a great replacement if you’re going meat free.”

Plan lest cook (PLC)

Plan lest cook, or PLC is the order recommended by Coulter when buying food; so, you’d need to, plan in advance, prevent buying more food, and cook in bulk.

This is the advice he gives to his clients to avoid making food waste and maintain a healthy diet.

He says it’s never a good idea to go to the supermarket on an empty stomach as this can cause you to buy unessential items, that would only become waste in the future.

That’s why planning is so important in protecting yourself and the environment. By having a list of all the items, you need, you can steer clear of the unhealthy processed food sections. Thus, planning is a prevention to food waste.

Cooking in bulk, the third step of his plan, sounds daunting for those with limited time. However, you’d be surprised to know that planning a cooking afternoon can save you from being in the kitchen for the next three days – saving you more time than managing your meals every single day.

As long as you don’t mind not having a lot of variety for two or three days, PLC can become a great money-saving hack, while also maintaining your health.

Kevin Coulter, personal trainer and nutritionist

Meatless Mondays

Meat is a big contributor to climate change, unfortunately. It accounts for nearly 60% of all greenhouse gases from food production, according to a study published in the science journal Nature Food. That’s where Meatless Mondays come in handy.

Founded in 2003, Meatless Monday is a global movement that encourages people to reduce meat in their diet for their health and the health of the planet.

It’s a simple idea – every Monday you and your family opt for a 24 hour plant-based diet, which helps to protect the planet.

Coulter says: “Meat consumption in moderation isn’t necessarily bad from a health point of view. But what’s the question of sustainability? How could we cut that down a little bit?

“Meatless Mondays encourages for people to go meatless in a structured way. Stereotypically people would always set up the dinner plate to have a piece of meat, vegetables, and carbohydrates. It’s cultural, it’s traditional, typically, you’d always have a piece of meat.

“Whereas over the years, I think people are making having a vegetarian option more common. It’s about making small changes, as opposed try to go full vegetarian and never eating meat again, because people react the opposite way.

“Meatless Monday is just a really nice idea, because it’s something you can promote to your family, get your family involved, and it becomes part of a routine.”

Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash

Dana Raer


Dana is a former reporter at Mouthy Money, having previously worked for Times Money Mentor and the BBC.

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