Eating Healthy On a Low Budget – South Africa

Eating Healthy On a Low Budget – South Africa

When we counsel people to eat healthy, most times, people perceive healthy food choices as costly. Also, it is incorrectly viewed that healthy food choices are not delicious. People believe healthy food choices are tasteless kinds of stuff which must be endured. These perceptions are far from the truth, they are erroneous, and I want to help my readers understand and avail themselves. Let me quickly clarify here that there is no single food that can be termed healthy or unhealthy. The way in which foods are used (i.e. the choices we make) could be a healthy one or unhealthy.

Having said this, it is recognized that foods labelled healthy at various exclusive grocery outlets can be very costly. So also, celebrated “healthy” meals comprising carefully selected foods according to customer’s expectation could be costly. On top of these, the meals could taste awful and may have to be endured.

Nevertheless, it is possible to have healthy choices and delicious meals prepared at an affordable cost, and even on a budget.  I like to encourage having your meals prepared at home because you can control the ingredients that go into your meals. You definitely have no control over prepared ready to eat meals that are available at the various food outlets.

I will be showing you with practical examples, that eating healthy on a low budget is simple, doable and can be very delicious. The recipes described here are developed in the South African context; however, they are adaptable to other regions.

Pap with vegetables and fish

Ingredients

Materials Quantity
Mealie meal 4 cups
Water 4 cups
Tinned fish (pilchard) 1 tin; 400g
Sunflower oil 2 tablespoon
Onions 1 medium size (Grated or diced)
Butternut 1 medium size (cut into pieces)
Carrots 4 large sizes (cut into pieces)
String beans 1 cup (cut into pieces)
Salt ½ teaspoon (to taste)
Spices (such as mixed herbs,

curry, thyme, coriander, etc.)

 

Methods

Bring the water to boil, add the mealie meal and stir using a ladle. Cook the pap by allowing it to simmer for 10 minutes.

For the vegetables and fish, add the oil in a pot, add the onion and sauté for few minutes. Add the vegetables and stir fry for 3 minutes, afterwards sprinkle 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Add salt, the spices, the fish and water. Allow simmering for 20 minutes.

Additional tips: Vegetables could be varied or increased as desired and subject to seasonal availability. Use vegetable oil, and not block margarine.

Serves 4 adults

Serve the pap with the vegetable stew and enjoy. Yes, this is truly delicious, healthy and low on the pocket.

The meal can be enjoyed as lunch or supper.

Total cost: R36.00

Cost per person: R9.00

 

Potato pottage with vegetables

Ingredients

Materials Quantity
Potatoes 9 medium size
Water 2 cups
Carrots 4 large sizes (cut into pieces)
String beans 1 cup (cut into pieces)
Onions 1 medium size (grated or diced)
Tomatoes 2 medium size (grated or diced)
Tomato paste 1 small tin (75gm)
Vegetable oil 3 tablespoon
Bell pepper (Optional) 1 large (chopped)
Salt ½ teaspoon (to taste)
Spices (such as mixed herbs,

curry, thyme, coriander, etc.)

As desired

 

Methods

Peel the potatoes and cut them into small pieces. Chop the onion, tomatoes and pepper. Put the potatoes in a pot, add the water, tomato paste, chopped onion, tomatoes and pepper, salt and spices. Cook on low heat. In another pot, sauté the carrots and string beans in the oil until the vegetables are tender. Combine the sautéed vegetables with the potato bulk and mix together, allowing for partial mashing of the potatoes in a way that the cooking water is absorbed.

Serves 3 adults

The meal can be enjoyed as a breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Additional tips: Other varieties of vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, green peas can be used.

Total cost: R35

Cost per person: R8.8

 

Baked potatoes and vegetables with tomato sauce

Ingredients

Materials Quantity
Potatoes 6 medium size
Carrots 3 large sizes (cut into pieces)
Butternut 1 cup (cut into pieces)
Onions 1 medium size (cut into pieces)
Vegetable oil 3 tablespoon
Tomatoes 3 medium size
Corn flour or all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon
Water Half a cup
Bell pepper (Optional) 1 large (chopped)
Salt ½ teaspoon (to taste)
Spices; curry and thyme As desired

 

Methods

Peel the potatoes, wash them and allow them to drain in a strainer. To take advantage of increased fibre, thoroughly wash the potatoes with the skin on and drain in a strainer. Cut the potatoes either into wedges or thick chip slices according to your preference. Peel the carrots and butternut and cut into pieces. Combine the cut vegetables with the potatoes, add the oil, the spices and a little salt. Rub the mixture together and ensure the mixtures are well combined. Transfer the potato and vegetable mixture into the oven tray, spread out and bake at 1700C for about 20 minutes and the potatoes become golden brown.

Make your own tomato sauce

  1. Grate half medium size onion, sauté in a little oil, add chopped tomatoes and cook until soft, add 1 teaspoon of corn flour or all-purpose flour (as a thickener), a dash of chilli powder for a slight heat and spices as desired.Add salt to taste. Add water or stock and allow it to simmer for 6 minutes. For additional twist, you can add chicken or meat mince, chicken pieces or fish to the sauce.
  2. You can also make for yourself and family a nice tomato sauce with 100% tomatoes. It is best to use very ripe tomatoes. Get about 500gm of fresh ripe tomatoes, I like to use jam tomatoes. Cut them open and remove the seeds. Blanch the tomatoes by cooking in its own juice for few minutes until soft. Allow to cool, the tomato skin has now become lose. Peel off the skin and transfer the into a blender, add 100ml malt vinegar, salt to taste and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Blend the mixture into a smooth slurry. Transfer into the pot, allow simmering until desired thickness. Store your homemade tomato sauce in the fridge and enjoy. Take your tomato sauce to the next level by adding your very own cherished spices.

By making your own tomato sauce, you can avoid the intake of chemical preservatives and food additives that are pressent in shop-bought tomato sauces.

Serves 3 adults

Serve your baked potatoes and vegetables with tomato sauce and enjoy.

This dish could be served as a sumptuous lunch or dinner.

Total cost: R24.00

Cost per person: R8.00

 Braised vegetable dish

Ingredients

Materials Quantity
String beans 2 cups (cut into pieces; 2 cm long)
Carrots 4 medium sizes (cut into pieces)
Butternut 2 cups (cut into pieces)
Cabbage 1 cup (cut into pieces)
Onions 1 medium size (cut into pieces)
Vegetable oil 2 tablespoon
Bread crumb 3 tablespoon
Red or yellow bell pepper (Optional) 1 large (cut into pieces)
Salt ½ teaspoon (to taste)
Spices; curry, thyme and rosemary As desired

 

Methods

Wash the vegetables and cut them into pieces. Stir fry the onion in the oil until golden brown. In a large bowl, combine the vegetables; add the stir fried onion, the remaining oil, the spices, salt to taste and the bread crumb. Mix the mixture together nicely, place in a pot and cook at very low heat for about 20 minutes. You don’t need to add any fluid, the vegetable mixture cooks in its own juice. The bread crumb absorbs the juice that comes out of the vegetables as they are cooked. It as well adds to the starch content of the meal, thereby making the dish a complete meal. A tablespoon of bread crumb corresponds to 1 slice of bread.

Make your own bread crumb

You can make your own bread crumb by simply drying your leftover bread in the oven (1200C for 5 minutes), allow them to cool and grind in a processor or with the dry cup of a blender or with the rolling pin on a chopping board.

Serves 3 adults

Serve your mixed vegetables with a cut of meat, fish or chicken as desired.

This dish can be enjoyed as a sumptuous breakfast or dinner. It is very delicious and your body will thank you for it.

Total cost: R30.00 (Roast chicken; 3 pieces of drumstick inclusive)

Cost per person: R10.00

Conclusion

The recipes shared here have demonstrated the fact that eating healthy on a low budget is not far-fetched. As a matter of fact, it is possible to make healthy eating a lifestyle and not an occasional intake. I hope you will take these recipes to your kitchen and enjoy.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. I was thinking about going to south Africa to do volunteering for a few months this year or next. I’ve never actually tried any of these specific meals so it would be interesting to try them, seems to fit perfectly for me right now, i’m glad I stumbled across this post. I currently live a high protein and quite high carb diet, any recommendations on which of these meals is best for me?

    1. Hi Nick, thanks for visiting BW Family Nutrition and leaving a comment. Great to have you visiting South Africa soon. Am sure you will like to have a taste of SA foods; one of which is Pap with vegetables and fish described in the post.
      Regarding your question about which of the foods will I recommend to you who is on a high protein and a high carb diet. If you are not on a special diet because of a disease condition, I will advise you to enjoy a variety of foods and moderate your portion.

  2. These are 4 great recipes that seem so simple to make. I couldn’t agree more that eating healthy isn’t actually that expensive. I hear it all the time but if people actually wrote down how much they are spending on eating out or those Two starbucks coffee a day they would be surprised. thank you for organizing these healthy affordable options so they are not to overwhelming. Sometimes that turns me off but with these recipes I would definitely try the Baked Potatoes and vegetables with tomato sauce.

    1. Hi Bobby, thanks for visiting BW Family Nutrition and leaving a comment. Hoping to have you again.

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