Batch cooking, own brands and airfryers – how slimmers are staying on track in the cost of living crisis
The rising cost of living is having a major impact on how people shop, cook and eat, and research shows that money worries are forcing people to make compromises on their weekly shop by choosing less healthy options.*
With 60% of adults in the UK already overweight or severely overweight, these choices – which include paying less attention to the nutritional content of products and buying less fresh produce – could see the current financial crisis leave the UK’s health worse than ever before.
Eating healthily doesn’t have to cost more though - in fact, evidence shows that members of the UK’s leading weight loss organisation Slimming World don’t spend any more on food than people who aren’t trying to lose weight**. And now Slimming World’s savvy members are turning to their weekly groups to share tried and tested tips on slimming down and shrinking their food bills.
Each week in community groups across the UK and Ireland, Slimming World members give and receive support to build healthy new habits and share strategies for staying on track with their weight loss whatever life throws at them.
Slimming World Consultant Lisa Maskell, from London, says: “Unsurprisingly, losing weight on a budget has been a hot topic in Slimming World communities in recent weeks. I’m always amazed by what a treasure trove of useful information our Slimming World group is. Members share low-cost recipes and top tips for saving money, as well as tracking down bargains and special offers, so it’s really easy to know where to go for the best deals locally. We often pop them on our closed Facebook group too.”
Slimming World asked its group and online members to share their money-saving ideas and hundreds gave their advice for following Slimming World’s Food Optimising eating plan on a budget***. The plan is based on the science of energy density (the number of calories per gram a food contains) and satiety (how filling a food is), so that slimmers can fill up for fewer calories without ever feeling hungry. These lower energy dense foods include basic everyday ingredients, from fruit and veg to pulses and lean meat to eggs and more, so there’s no need for expensive diet foods or special meals.
Here are Slimming World members’ eight top tips:
1. Prep ahead
Preparing and making meals for the days and weeks ahead was the most popular piece of advice from slimmers. From soups and sauces to ready-made roasted vegetables that can be stored in the freezer, critical to this money-saving tactic is ensuring no food is thrown away.
Michele Bradbury, a Slimming World Online member from central Queensland in Australia, says: “I find soups a lifesaver – I tend to fill them with whatever veg I have left in the fridge, so I don’t throw anything away, and freeze them. They’re great to take to work or on a picnic in a flask. Whenever I make a sauce for lasagne or pasta, I also add any veg looking a bit past its prime to bulk it out and freeze meal-sized portions for next time I need a quick dinner.”
2. Love your list
Hitting the supermarket armed with a shopping list also ranked highly as a cost-saving slimming strategy. Slimmers said they planned their meals, made a list and stuck to it. Not only did this enable them to stay on track with their weight loss, they also only bought what they needed and had budgeted for. Some Slimming World members also suggested committing to only visiting stores once a week, shopping online and paying in cash so you’re physically unable to go over an allocated budget.
Lynnette Maling, from Herne Bay who attends the St Bart’s Slimming World group, says: “I look out for the fruit and veg that’s on offer that week in the supermarket, then I search on the Slimming World members’ website or app for recipes featuring that ingredient and include it in my weekly menu. As well as being budget-friendly, it means I have a nice variety of dishes week to week and often end up trying meals I wouldn’t have thought of.”
3. Use your freezer
As well as stocking their freezers with batch cooked dishes, Slimming World members showed a depth of knowledge about the many foods that can be frozen, including milk, bread, eggs and more, to avoid food wastage.
Andria Walker, a Slimming World Online member from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, says: “I buy a huge box of chicken fillets from my local butcher. I dice half of it up and portion it into zip bags and then I portion the rest into zip bags of one or two breasts and freeze. That way I know when I’m cooking chicken I can just take out of the freezer what I need. It’s cheaper to buy in bulk and I don’t waste anything. Big bags of frozen fruit and veg are cheaper too.”
4. Buy own brand
A simple change many Slimming World members reported having made to reduce their food budget was swapping to supermarket own brand products, including ‘essentials’ ranges, for many grocery items.
Mary Cameron, from Sidlesham, West Sussex, who attends the Selsey Slimming World group, says: “I tend to buy supermarket own brands for canned foods like mackerel in sauce, chopped tomatoes, kidney beans and chickpeas. They’re much cheaper and often taste just as good.”
I always recommend people find out what time of day their local supermarket puts out the yellow stickered products.
5. Save energy
With rising energy bills, lots of slimmers have also been paying attention to which appliances in their home use the most power. From reading manuals to select the most economical settings to ensuring the oven is full when it’s on, slimmers are being super savvy with their cooking choices. Microwaves, slow cookers and airfryers are all popular ways for slimmers to prepare hot healthy meals without turning on the oven.
Kimberley Robinson, who attends a Slimming World group in Witham, Essex, says: “With the smart meter lighting up like a Belisha beacon every time the oven was on, I realised I needed to rethink how I cooked. I started researching energy saving ideas and found an airfryer uses a third of the energy consumption of your oven and is healthier too. I used it for all sorts now.”
6. Bulk out meals
With some foods costing more than others, slimmers are taking inspiration from times gone by and adding cheaper, more filling ingredients to meals to bulk them out.
Geraldine Roche, a Slimming World Target member in Banbridge, Co. Down, says: “I make my mince go further by adding red lentils and diced root veg to Bolognese sauce. You can also add mashed butternut squash or sweet potato to beef mince when you’re making homemade burgers – it’s cheaper and tastes great!”
7. Shop smarter
Opting for tinned and frozen veg, selecting seasonal fresh produce and looking out for wonky veg are all great ways to cut the cost without compromising on the healthfulness of your weekly shop, according to slimmers. Buying from local markets can also be more economical and websites like ‘Too Good to Go’ sell food that otherwise would be wasted at low prices.
Slimming World Consultant Julie Muirhead, from Andover, says: “I use our local fruit and veg stall on Andover market. They have great produce that is excellent value for money – much bigger than from supermarkets and lasts a lot longer.”
8. Bag the best offers
Lots of slimmers recommended shopping in the evening when lots of items are reduced, while others expounded the benefits of supermarket loyalty card discounts and cashback voucher schemes. Until 16th October, Slimming World members and Consultants can get 10% off their whole shop at Iceland and Food Warehouse when they show a valid Slimming World ID.
Dean Simpson-Humphreys, from Liverpool, has lost 4st. He says: “I gave up my job as an NHS manager to care for my husband and money was tight. So I began shopping for marked down or ‘yellow sticker’ food and started coming up with lots of different healthy recipes. You don’t know what you’ll be able to get so you have to be creative, and I love that challenge. I always recommend people find out what time of day their local supermarket puts out the yellow stickered products.”
*Taken from the Institute of Practitioners of Advertising Touchpoints 2022 data set, released June 2022 and carried out between January and March 2022.
**Whybrow, S., Pallister, C., Gibbs, M. and Stubbs, R.J. (2011). The financial costs of a healthy eating weight-loss diet. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 70: E170.
***Results based on tips submitted by 184 Slimming World group and online members via email, social media and online forums.
About Slimming World
Slimming World was founded by Margaret Miles-Bramwell OBE in Derbyshire in 1969 and has become the UK and Ireland’s leading weight loss organisation with more people choosing to attend a Slimming World group each week than any other weight loss programme. We support hundreds of thousands of people, both in our groups and online, to lose weight and to adopt new habits to stay slim for life.
Over the years our founding principles haven’t changed:
· Our unique programme is based on a powerfully motivating support system called IMAGE (Individual Motivation and Group Experience) Therapy. Underpinned by a deep understanding of the psychology of overweight people, and incorporating the most effective sustainable behaviour change techniques, IMAGE Therapy is designed to inspire and motivate slimmers to make positive changes and to develop new, healthier habits around food and activity.
· Food Optimising is our healthy eating plan, based on the liberating concept of Free Food. We encourage our members to fill up on those foods that are naturally lower in energy density (calories per gram) and also highly satisfying while limiting foods that are highest in fat and sugar and are less satisfying, so they lose weight without ever feeling hungry or deprived and without having to weigh, measure or count everything they eat.
· Our activity programme, Body Magic helps members to overcome any barriers around activity. Members choose when to start and they set the pace, finding activities they genuinely enjoy, until regular physical activity becomes an intrinsic part of their daily routine.
At the heart of everything we do lies our passion for treating every member with genuine care, empathy and respect.
We’re proud to work with the NHS, the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), The Royal College of Midwives and others to help shape the future of weight management in the UK and Ireland.
For more information about Slimming World’s approach visit slimmingworld.co.uk or slimmingworld.ie
Follow Slimming World on Twitter at twitter.com/slimmingworld or become a Slimming World fan on Facebook at facebook.com/slimmingworld
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