Eating healthy is something that we were taught to do from young; less oil, less salt, less sugar, more vegetables, the list goes on. But the most important factor that’s deterring people from choosing healthy food is the cost. For example, a simple quinoa salad can cost you $15 in a cafe, and that adds up really quick if you’re trying to eat clean on a daily basis.
It’s incredibly ironic that healthy food costs so much, yet fast food is less than half the price of healthy dishes and more readily available. But it doesn’t have to be that way — you can save tons of money if you prepare healthy meals at home instead of dining out.
Here are four recipes that you can easily recreate in the comfort of your home.
1. Jar Salad
Let’s start with one of the most common healthy foods around, salads. Outside, you’ll pay anywhere from $8 to $20 depending on what’s in the salad, but why pay that much when you can pack your own salad at home with a greater variety of ingredients?
Chop up a head of romaine lettuce for the main bulk of your salad and slice up some cherry tomatoes and Japanese cucumbers. Pour the dressing of your choice at the bottom of the jar, then layer the ingredients starting with those with a higher water content like cherry tomatoes so the greens don’t turn soggy.
Throw in cucumbers, cheeses, nuts, meat, or anything else you’d like to add before topping off with the lettuce. The best part of jar salads is that they remain fresh for a few days when kept refrigerated, so you can prep a whole week’s worth of meals and you’ll be set.
I spent a total of $18 for a head of romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts and a balsamic dressing and it was enough to fill four jars. That’s $4.50 per jar or half the price of the cheapest salad you can find in cafes!
2. Healthy Char Kway Teow
Char kway teow is one of the most sinful, greasy local dishes around, but with just a bit of tweaking, you can make it easier on your stomach and waistline. Cook the flat rice noodles as instructed on the packaging, rinse with cool water and set aside. Heat up olive oil in a pan and saute garlic for a minute, add the prawns in followed by the noodles.
Add a dash of dark soya sauce and stir to combine. Break two eggs into the pan and stir them into the noodles before taking the pan off the heat. Throw in a handful of beansprouts and give the noodles a final toss before plating.
I paid a total of $10 for organic rice noodles, prawns, eggs and beansprouts, and it amounted to three plates of char kway teow. Granted, that makes it approximately $3 a plate, which is just slightly cheaper than what you can get in hawker centres, but it is infinitely healthier.
3. Salmon Don
I love Japanese cuisine, and whenever I’m in doubt, I go straight for the Salmon Don, but it does start to take a toll on my wallet, with cheaper ones going for around $16. So here’s a cheaper alternative; the only thing you need to ensure is that you must buy sashimi grade salmon for this, Fassler is a great choice.
Cook some Japanese brown rice, then leave it to cool and keep in the fridge while you prep the other ingredients. Slice up a Japanese cucumber into thin slices, chop up a few spring onions and cut wedges from a lemon to add some zest and freshness to the sashimi slices.
I paid a total of $28 for a 400g of brown rice, 400g of salmon, cucumbers, lemon and spring onions, which could serve three bowls. That makes it around $9 for a bowl; if you have this once a week, you’ll save $364 in a year! Now that’s good savings for such an easy dish to prep at home.
4. Avocado Toast
Another easy dish that is sold for insane prices (around $14) in cafes, this takes less than 10 minutes to prepare.
Start by toasting the bread while you get the avocados ready. Slice the avocado in half and remove the pit, then decide whether you want to make sliced avocado toast or smashed avocado toast. The trick to getting perfect avocado slices is to peel them because scooping them up will result in a mushier-looking exterior, which is great if you’re making mashed avocado.
Place the sliced avocados onto the toasted bread slices and squeeze a little lemon juice to stop the avocado from oxidising and turning brown, then sprinkle a little salt and pepper to taste. Plate and serve.
I paid $10 for a loaf of multigrain wholemeal bread and three avocados. So that’s a maximum of $3 per toast, which is excellent value for money and healthy to boot.
AIA Singapore recently held the AIA Vitality Healthy Cookout Showdown, and Seth himself was invited to be on the judging panel to taste and decide which team had the best healthy rendition of an iconic Singaporean dish.
Seth: The AIA Vitality Healthy Cookout Showdown truly exhibited how creative Singaporeans can get when it comes down to their favourite local foods. Having to prepare our own variation of healthy dishes made me appreciate just how much effort went into cooking healthy, yet delicious meals by the participants.
The possibilities are endless as demonstrated by this contest, and a healthy lifestyle can begin from your own kitchen. Why not try some of these recipes out yourself?
Before this, I struggled to maintain a healthy lifestyle because of the high cost until I found out about AIA Vitality, a science-backed wellness programme that works with you to make real changes to your health. For each step I take towards my health goal, I’ll be rewarded with grocery vouchers, travel and insurance premium rebates to give me extra motivation.
Apart from the grocery vouchers that I can redeem from AIA Vitality to further offset the cost of my meals, I feel so much more energised and alert in my daily life when I opt to eat healthy homecooked food. Share with us #WhatsYourWhy for wanting to eat healthily and get inspiration from David Beckham’s why at whatsyourwhy.aia.com.
*Check out www.AIAVitality.com.sg for more information
**This post was brought to you in partnership with AIA Singapore