Rising food prices in Malaysia are making it hard to eat healthily. Many Malaysians are feeling the pinch as the rising prices of essential goods and staples such as meat and vegetables are forcing them to re-evaluate their food budget. Although it may sound impossible, healthy eating on the cheap can be done but it takes a game plan and a little creativity. Here are a few tips to eat healthy without breaking the bank.
1. Eat Cheaper Cuts On Meat
Eating good quality protein is essential for losing fat and gaining muscle. However, protein sources can often be expensive. One way to reduce your cost is to purchase less expensive cuts of meat. For example, while a piece of beef rib-eye steak is selling for RM27.99 per kg at Tesco, a piece of beef sirloin is comparatively cheaper at RM14.99 per kg. You will need to be a little creative and tenderize the tougher cut of beef sirloin with a tenderizer. One way of doing that is by marinating the meat with a little mustard powder.
2. Eat Organ Meats
Alternatively, you can also consume other non-conventional types of protein such as liver or kidney. The liver is not only considerably cheaper (selling at RM9.99/kg at Tesco) but also an excellent source of high-quality protein. The liver was once regarded as a meal for the affluent and was even named one of the Eight Delicacies in the Li-Chi, a handbook of rituals published during China’s Han era. The liver contains an abundance of vitamin A and several B vitamins and is an excellent source of folic acid and iron.
3. Buy Local Produce
Local produce is often cheaper and probably fresher as it doesn’t have to travel halfway around the world to reach our shores. Instead of buying oranges, buy pineapple. Trade lemon for lime. Swap salmon for our local Indian mackarel (ikan kembung). This might surprise you, but ikan kembung is a good source of omega-3. Its omega-3 content may not be as high as salmon but at RM7.99 per kg, it definitely allows us to consume omega-3 fatty acids on a more regular basis.
4. Buy Eggs
There’s a reason eggs are usually a staple among bodybuilders: eggs are cheap yet are nutritionally dense sources of protein. A large egg contains only 77 calories with 5 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein with all 9 essential amino acids. You can scramble eggs, toss hard-boiled eggs in a salad or even do it the usual Malaysian-style – soft-boiled accompanied by soy sauce and pepper.
5. Freeze Unused Herbs And Spices
Although fresh herbs and spices can often turn a simple dish into a Michelin Star-worthy meal, these condiments can often be quite pricey as we usually use only a small amount and leave the rest to slowly shrivel away in the fridge. One way to stretch your money and reduce food wastage is by freezing your unused herbs and spices. Double bag your chilies, kaffir lime leaves (daun limau purut), and lemongrass (serai) in air-tight zip-lock bags and you can freeze them up to a few months.
6. Da Pao Leftovers
There is nothing wrong with packing leftover food at home. Eating leftover lunch during teatime is probably healthier than snacking on cookies and cakes during teatime. To top it off, you don’t have to spend any extra money! If you are afraid of contamination, portion out your food and pack a portion first before you start eating.
7. Cut Down On Frappuccinos
Many people claim that Omega-3 enriched eggs selling at RM5 per carton are too expensive for their pockets but by the same token, they willingly spend RM16 on a frappuccino or a slice of cake. Evaluate how much money you are spending on these unnecessary and unhealthy foods. If you must have your frappuccino fix, set yourself to a weekly or monthly limit and stick to it. Your wallet and body will thank you for it.