The rise in cost of living comes with its own challenges. However, this does not have to mean you start to compromise your health.

As the cost of fresh food rises, it can be hard to stick to a budget especially when you’ve had bariatric surgery and need to eat healthy. But don’t give in to unhealthy diet choices, just because they seem cheaper (they may not be!) or are more convenient. Plus, they’re unlikely to give you the nutrients you need, and could slow or reverse the weight loss you worked so hard for.

Here’s our tips to help you keep the cost lower, while keeping the nutrients higher.

Plan your meals

Sit down before you go to the supermarket and decide what you’re going to eat for the week. Note when you’ll be going out or have something on and will need a quicker-to-prepare option. Plan to use fresher foods near the start of the week, and rely more on packaged, canned or frozen options later in the week. By planning you can also avoid waste by only buying what you need.

Planning your meals also means it’s easier to meal prep when you have time, avoiding high-cost convenience foods (such as ready-to-eat meals). You can prepare meals in advance on the weekend and pop them in the freezer (in portion sizes suitable for you), ready for nights when you get home late or as easy lunches.

Shop your own pantry

Before you head to the shops, have a look at what’s in your pantry. Have something that’s nearing expiry? Incorporate it into your meal plan to avoid wastage. It can also help you avoid buying things you already have, which you can save for buying when they’re on special.

Don’t shop on an empty stomach

If you go to the shops while hungry, you’ll likely made (bad) impulse decisions. Not only does this impact your weight-loss goals, but it will also hurt your hip pocket, too.

Have a nutritious snack before you go or make your trip after eating a healthy meal.

Use seasonal produce

Seasonal produce is not only cheaper than out-of-season produce, it generally tastes better and has more nutrients too. Shop at the local markets (as well as Central Market, there are lots of other options in the suburbs for fresh produce), where you’ll likely only find in-season produce.

Consider if there are alternatives to what your recipe requires, such as using cabbage instead of lettuce or strawberries instead of raspberries.

If you just must have something in your recipe that is too expensive, see if there is a canned or frozen alternative available. Often, it’s just as nutritious as fresh but without the price tag. It also lasts longer, reducing waste!

Other swaps to help you save include:

  • Consider frozen options
  • Buy store brand foods instead of name brand
  • Get produce from local farmers’ market.

Compare sales

If you live near a number of stores, check out catalogues to see what’s on sale at each store. Shop between multiple stores (if you have the time) to maximise your savings. You could even look at the catalogues before making your meal plan, to plan your meal around items that are on sale!

Also remember to look at the unit cost of items, especially for items you can package into portion-controlled sizes yourself. While small bags of nuts may be easier, you’re paying for the convenience. Just make sure you pre-portion these when you get home, so that you aren’t tempted to overeat.

Lastly, remember that eating healthy, along with the cost of surgery itself, is an investment in you and your future.