The cost and inaccessibility of healthier food choices are forcing the greater majority of South Africans into an unhealthy lifestyle. Take a walk down Bree Street in the Jozi CBD and you can buy a Kota and large chips for less than R20 right? But in that very same street you can also get a variety of fresh vegetables and fruit from any street vendor for the same amount.
Professional mom of three Amanda Xaba believes that preparing your own meals is much cheaper than buying ready-made meal options. She tells Health For Mzansi, “when going grocery shopping, I definitely compare prices to see what is on special and unfortunately with vegetables one cannot buy in bulk but for the other options I prefer to buy in bulk that also saves.”
Working with ingredients she already has in her pantry is a full proof method to cut down on costs. “We get trapped in the thought that we should always wait to have something bigger and better before we start, and it never arrives. So, you look at what you have and then you plan according to what you have, and you work from there.”
Meanwhile in Durban, health loving chef Jabu Ndimande believes that the notion that eating healthy needs to be expensive is a myth. “Eating healthy involves fueling your body with the nutrients it needs for every cell to carry out its daily functions,” she says.
Eating healthy also keeps you fuller for longer and can save you big bucks. “Nowadays the average cost of a family consuming one meal at a restaurant amounts to approximately R500.00 which is a budget good enough for healthy groceries of fruits, vegetables, and proteins for an entire week,” she explains.
Consider growing your own
According to Azhar Vadi, who is the director of Farming in the City, Covid-19 has made the entire world conscious of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Farm in the City is a social entrepreneurship project of the Salaam Foundation, a non-government organisation based in Johannesburg. The project aims to grow highly nutritious vegetables for food parcels that are distributed to over 2000 families monthly. To help sustain the project, the Farm in the City also sells some of the produce to people willing to purchase from it. “Our clients enjoy the freshness of our produce, and they are even allowed to come and pick it for themselves.”
Vadi often tells his beneficiaries that it is best to grow your own food. “At the Farm in the City we are firstly committed to uplifting communities,” he says. “It’s amazing how much one can produce even from a little space.”
Uncomplicate healthy eating
Ndimande says eating healthy shouldn’t be complicated when you set realistic expectations.
“Remember it’s a lifestyle not an event, take time to figure out what works for you,” she says. “You don’t have to convince yourself every time you have to eat. Healthy eating helps a lot in preventing disease, maintaining weight, improving mental health and it makes you automatically feel better.”
Try Ndimande’s Egg-fried cauliflower rice and chicken strips:
Egg-fried cauliflower rice and chicken strips
- 100g frozen sweet corn
- 100g frozen peas
- 1 tbsp oil
- 50g bacon bits
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 160g carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 200g small cauliflower florets
- 1 tbsp soy sauce (Can be omitted)
- 25ml plain yoghurt sauce (mix it with any hot sauce of your choice 1tsp)
- 50g chicken strips
1. Put the kettle on to boil. Put the sweet corn and peas in a large sieve then pour over the boiled water to defrost them. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat 1 tsp oil in a large, non-stick frying pan or wok. Add the bacon and fry for 2-3 mins. Add another 1 tsp oil and cook the onion and carrots for 1-2 mins until slightly softened, then push the veg and bacon to one side of the pan. Add the final 1 tsp oil, then pour in the egg, stirring constantly to scramble it.
3. Pulse the cauliflower in a food processor OR shred it on a grater until it resembles rice. Add the cauliflower and soy to the pan and stir together. Add the sweet corn and peas, and cook, stirring, for 1-2 mins until hot through.
4. Divide between two plates and serve with plain yoghurt sauce for drizzling. Break the prawn crackers into rough crumbs. In a nonstick pan add oil and pan fry chicken strips, add salt and pepper to season. Serve hot with the cauliflower rice.