Right. Before I’m bombarded with abuse, I might as well say now – this post isn’t for my vegan or veggie friends, I’m afraid. I’ve posted plenty of veggie / vegan content in the past and totally support people who make these dietary choices. In fact, I applaud you for doing so! But this list might rain on your parade a little as lots of my herbivore friends use these ingredients, so I’ll say right from the off – I’m sorry!
As someone who doesn’t really have dietary restrictions myself, I find it exhausting when every “healthy” recipe I click on includes ingredients I’ve never even heard of. I find myself asking, “Where the hell can I get that? And, more importantly, can I afford it?” Surely my diet can be made cleaner without restocking my entire kitchen, right?!
There’s no reason that everyday ingredients can’t be health conscious. Ingredients that are affordable, stuff you can use again and again and can be found on during any supermarket shop. I’m totally up for trying new things, but I’m even more up for people who are on a limited budget, and with little cooking experience, being able to make nutritious food too.
Here are just a few of the most common ingredients I’ve come across in the search for healthy eating recipes that can easily be replaced by what we might consider more accessible, affordable, “everyday” products!
What is it? Nutritional yeast is a type of deactivated yeast that doesn’t rise when cooked, unlike the yeast we use for breads. Nutritional yeast is often used as a replacement for dairy as it gives a similar tangy flavour and can be used instead of cheese in many recipes.
What are the benefits? If you think you could do with laying off the cheese, nutritional yeast is a great dairy free option full of protein, iron and Vitamin B, as well as being low in fat content.
How much does it cost? I could only find nutritional yeast in two supermarkets online – ASDA for £2.59 (but it was out of stock!). The next best option was Ocado at £3 for 125g, or £4.89 if you want to go organic!
What can I use instead? Cheese, of course! (I told you this wasn’t for my vegan buddies – soz!) Of course cheese is notoriously bad for you but, in small doses, it’s fiiiiine; just like any food, everything in moderation! You can get low-fat cheese for half the price of the nutritional yeast I found as well.
What is it? Quinoa is a grain, often hailed as a “superfood”, that can be used as an alternative for carbs such as rice or cous cous as it has a fairly similar consistency. It provides a starchy base for meals without piling on those pesky carbohydrates.
What are the benefits? It’s low carb but packed with some great nutritional benefits such as fibre, protein, calcium and magnesium. It’s also a brilliant wheat-free option for those who are gluten intolerant or suffer from celiac disease.
How much does it cost? The lowest price I could find online was from ASDA, which sells 300g of quinoa for £1.29 – compared to 1KG of brown rice for £1.25!
What can I use instead? There are LOADS of ingredients that can be used as the base of a meal at a fraction of the price. Moving away from white carbs is a great healthy choice – try using brown rice, brown pasta, even sweet potatoes! These are all filling foods that can be prepped, cooked and served in a whole bunch of ways and are found on practically any supermarket shelf.
What is it? Jackfruit is a large, sweet tree fruit, not all too dissimilar from figs. It doesn’t really taste of much on its own but, when cooked, it has the same consistency of some meats. As a result, with the right flavouring jackfruit can pass as a veggie alternative to pulled pork or chicken.
What are the benefits? As it’s a fruit, there’s obviously much less fat using jackfruit instead of meat products. It also counts as one of your 5 A Day and is really rich in fibre.
How much does it cost? Jackfruit is hard to find in your usual supermarkets – the closest I could find was Ocado who sell a 400g tin of jackfruit for £2.99. You might have better luck at local grocery stores.
What can I use instead? If you’re sticking to meat then perhaps try some leaner alternatives; turkey is a great one, as is pork tenderloin. But if you wanted to really cut down the fat there are more readily available veggies you can try – the humble sweet potato can be cooked down and “pulled” with quite a fleshy consistency, while aubergine is a great chunky alternative and mushrooms have a rich, earthy taste that can replicate meat. You can most definitely find these on your doorstep!
* mySupermarket provided the prices and shopping options for all of the above!