From healthier habits to adopt in January to trying out new Co-op products that have just hit the shelves, Aoife – Co-op’s resident Assistant Diet and Health Manager – tells us about the changes she’s making to her diet and gives us some top tips for eating well on a budget.
What changes do you like to make to your lifestyle in January?
Generally, I have a healthy diet with the occasional treat, so my New Year’s resolutions are usually things like exercising more, being more organised, bringing a packed lunch to work or drinking less tea and replacing it with water. I would recommend making small changes that are realistic and easy to stick to throughout the whole year. It might be making time each morning for breakfast, having an extra piece of fruit each day or including an extra portion of veg with your dinner.
What are some of the things we might find in your shopping basket?
It’s usually full of fruit and veg, wholegrain pasta, brown rice, canned tomatoes, canned beans and pulses, milk, some meat and fish and the odd bar of chocolate or dessert as a treat. I like to cook from scratch where possible, so I’ll be looking out for new Co-op recipes this month and buying the ingredients as I go. I like to check out the new products in-store too, like Co-op’s Food to Go range and the new plant-based GRO range.
What advice would you give to people who are starting a vegan or vegetarian diet in January?
Ease into it. Do some research to find plant-based food sources of iron, protein, calcium etc to replace the meat and dairy that might have been your main sources. Ensure you eat a range of plant-based foods to help you get essential minerals and vitamins too. I recently added some dietary advice to the Co-op website, so give that a read!
What type of meals do you like to cook in the winter months?
I love porridge at this time of year – there’s so many different toppings you can add, so I never get bored of it. I bought a slow cooker a few years ago and I like to make casseroles and stews in it at weekends. The baked tomato rice recipe from the January issue of Co-op Food magazine looks delicious, so I’ll definitely make that one evening as a quick and easy dinner.
Do you have any tips for making healthier choices on a budget?
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be about buying expensive products. Stock up on canned and frozen fruit and veg for a longer use-by date and opt for seasonal produce too. Bulking out your meals with veg can help them go further. The government advises that we follow the Eatwell Guide for a healthy balanced diet – it recommends that the majority of our diet is fruit, veg and carbohydrates (bread, rice, pasta, potatoes), so aim to eat five portions of fruit and veg each day – you can look out for our Fresh 3 promotions at Co-op to see what’s on offer.
Where possible try to eat wholegrain versions of bread, pasta and rice as these contain more fibre. The new year is a great time to adopt new habits, so start to plan your meals and always write a shopping list, to avoid being tempted to pop extras into your basket. I also like to batch-cook and then freeze extra portions, so I always have a healthy meal ready to heat up after a busy day.
Inspired by Aoife’s ideas? Take a look at these tips for how to reduce food waste and save money.
Assistant Diet and Health Manager