When I'm speaking at gyms about nutrition, I often hear that it's expensive to eat more real food.

I get it, despite not having kids myself, I was one once, and I feel terrible for how hard my parents had to work to keep my bottomless stomach full....

But expense is also an excuse often used by people who have not properly understood the real food lifestyle.

“No way could I afford all that Wagyu, Kobe, organic, free range, grass fed, winter jacket wearing,  weekly coat brushed, bed time story every night meat…….”

Sure, if you want to compare it to the diet of a uni student (88% instant noodles, 10% beer and 2% canned tuna…..) then yes it’s a pricey way to live, but as far as healthy, varied eating goes,  real food does not have to be that expensive.

Buy in bulk

Last year we took delivery of a 1/4 beef animal.  Absolute bargain by ‘cowpooling’ with others, and we still have some of it in the freezer.  Of course you need the room to store it, so this may not be the best option for you.  But keep an eye out for specials and then buy as much as you can handle.  The new Countdown on Felton Matthew sometimes does rump steak for $9.99kg!  The boys at St Johns Butchers do great bones for making broth, and over at Avons in GI, they do award winning gluten and filler free sausages.

Scotch aint all that

You may have avoided fat at all costs previously, but now it’s a bonus!  You can usually get fattier cuts of meat for about half of what the prime cuts cost.  And they taste better!  Most meat is graded and priced on how tender it is, but I'd take a more flavourful cut any day.  As long as you choose the right cooking process to suit the meat, you'll take care of the tenderness too.

Same for chicken thighs versus breasts.  Skinless chicken breasts need to be eaten the moment they come out of the oven or they are tough as old boots.  A thigh with skin on, by comparison is an explosion on your tastebuds.

Also, did you know that a diet higher in fat and lower in carbs is protein sparing – ie you don’t need to eat as much meat to benefit!  Remember our standard recommendation is 1-2 palm sized servings of protein at main meals, this ain't no Flintstones brontosaurus steak diet we're espousing....

Buy seasonally

Do you even know when courgettes are in season?  With the ready supply of the modern food market, it’s easy to forget basic knowledge like this.  But essentially if it’s cheap, it’s in season!  See above point and buy in bulk…..  Seasonal food tends to taste better too.  The newly opened Grocer  in Kohimarama, has surprisingly reasonable produce, all sourced from the farm that supplies their cafes.

This little piggy…

Get to the farmers markets on the weekend and look for some sweet deals on fruit and veg, local dairy, homemade sauces, mustards, etc.

Darren Ellis