As most of us are looking for ways to cut down on spending at the moment, I wanted to share some of the ways I’ve managed to reduce the amount I spend on cholesterol-lowering meals.
1. Bulk up meals with cholesterol-lowering pulses
Pulses are one of the best foods for lowering cholesterol, and thankfully they’re relatively cheap. I’ve been trying to replace a third to a half of the meat in my recipes with beans, lentils and chickpeas. Not only does this save money, but I find they make me feel fuller for longer, so I tend to eat less for the rest of the day (which saves even more money).
I use the tinned varieties, which are easy to add to pretty much any recipe, as you can just chuck them in. I tend to add them near the end of the cooking process, so that they don’t go mushy.
Here are a few of my favourite substitutions:-
- Replacing some of the chicken in cholesterol-friendly curries (like this one) with butter beans.
- Replacing some of the beef mince in low fat spaghetti bolognese recipes (like this one) with lentils.
- Replacing some of the chicken in low fat pies (like this one) with pinto beans.
2. Eat more cholesterol-lowering oats
Oats are one of the top cholesterol-lowering foods, and also one of the cheapest foods you can buy.
You can make porridge really easily in the microwave for a filling and healthy breakfast, and add a bit of honey or jam (I love the ‘no added sugar’ St Dalfour varieties). Or if you’re not a fan of porridge, you could try overnight oats, oat pancakes or add oats to a smoothie.
For more cholesterol-friendly oat recipes, see this post.
3. Buy frozen fruit and veg
If you have spare freezer space, buying big bags of frozen fruit and vegetables can be a great way to save money. I buy these 500g bags of frozen black forest fruits, and have a small bowl of them every evening after dinner. The frozen grapes have a super sweet icy outer layer that makes them taste a lot better than non frozen grapes.
I also buy cheap fruit and veg from the market, like carrots, strawberries and bananas, to chop up and put in the freezer for smoothies. I find market fruit goes off pretty quickly, so I do this on the day I buy them.
4. Try one or two meat free days each week
If you’re a meat eater, you may be able to save money by reducing the amount of meals you eat that contain meat. You could use pulses or vegetables as the base of your meal instead, or better still, both.
Before starting out on low cholesterol eating I never ate any beans (apart from baked beans), and hated the idea of lentils. But I’ve realised that they just take on the flavours of the sauce they’re cooked in, so don’t actually end up tasting ‘beany’ at all. So I’ll happily eat bean-based meals, like this lentil curry or this black bean chill a couple of days a week, and really enjoy them. I also find them really filling, so don’t get as hungry in between meals.
5. Eat simple meals with minimal ingredients
There are lots of ways to make quick cholesterol-friendly and filling meals with only a few simple ingredients. I like a slice or two of high fibre toast with cholesterol-lowering toppings like avocado slices or peanut butter (making sure it’s the 100% nut version, with no added sugar or oil). Or low fat cottage cheese on oatcakes, with apple slices on the side.
Soup is another very simple and cheap meal that can make a great cholesterol-friendly lunch or dinner if it’s low in fat and contains lentils, beans or barley.