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Best cheap foods to meal prep for a detox week: Couscous, chickpeas and chicken

When it comes to food to help you hit the reset button, it’s all about getting back to the healthy (and affordable!) basics.

Still feeling a bit ‘blah’ after the silly season? You might be considering a detox – and if so, you’ve come to the right place. Thankfully, my kinda detox doesn’t involve endless skinny teas or litres of lemon water (hooray!). Instead, it’s just about getting back to basics with healthy eating habits. The best part? It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune, or take up too much time.

To give you a little inspo, here’s ten healthy foods that are cheap-as-chips and a cinch to meal prep, to help you feel healthier, lighter and more energised all week long.

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Wholemeal couscous = $2 per 500g

As a wholegrain, wholemeal couscous is an excellent source of fibre and a range of micronutrients. Whip up a batch at the start of the week to throw into salads or as a base for sauce as you would rice or pasta.

Baked veggies = price varies depending on type

It’s a no-brainer that veggies are good for you – and if you buy what’s in season, you’ll get bang for your buck, too. Not only is buying seasonal produce cheap, it’s also better for you, because it means you’ll get a range of disease-fighting antioxidants throughout the year.

At the start of the week, cut up a big batch of veggies, drizzle over olive oil and bake till soft and golden. They’re perfect to go with lunch and dinner when you’re in a hurry.

Hard-boiled eggs = $3.80 per dozen

Rich in high-quality protein and heart-healthy fats, eggs are a winner when it comes to nutrition. Boil a dozen at the start of the week and add them to wholegrain toast for breakfast, on a sandwich for lunch or as a snack on their own.

Crispy chickpeas = 80c per 400g can

Chickpeas are *seriously* good for you. As a legume, they provide plant-based protein to build lean muscle mass, slow-burning carbs to keep you feeling full and fibre to support a healthy gut. Buy a can of no-added-salt chickpeas, drain and pat them dry, then coat them in olive oil and dried herbs or spices before baking. These tasty little morsels are great for healthy snacking.

Long-grain brown rice = $4.50 per kg

Another wholegrain option to provide slow-burning carbs and fibre, long-grain brown rice makes for the perfect base for a healthy stir-fry or cold salad.

Whole chicken = $5.97

In case you’re wondering, one serve of meat is just 100 grams – so a one or two kilogram chicken can be very economical! Roast it up or poach and shred it for salads and sandwiches.

Stir-fry veggies = $1.95 per 500g

Did you know that frozen veggies are just a healthy as fresh? That’s because frozen veggies are often snap-frozen at their nutritional peak, so the nutrients are locked in. Stir fry a whole bag (or two) of frozen mixed veggies in a little olive oil for an easy veggie option to go with protein at main meals.

Rolled oats = $1.40 per 700g

Rolled oats are nutrition superstars, rich in low-GI carbs for long-lasting energy and fibre for a healthy gut. They actually contain a special type of fibre called beta-glucan, which works to lower cholesterol, so they’re good for your ticker, too. Make a batch of home-made muesli with rolled oats, nuts and seeds, or whip up some overnight oats with yoghurt and fresh fruit.

Fruit salad = price varies depending on type

Just like veggies, seasonal fruit is best. Buy a variety, chop it all up and throw it into an air-tight container in the fridge for snacking.

Homemade baked beans = $2.88 per batch

Last but not least, homemade baked beans are a real winner in my books. A can of mixed beans paired with chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, garlic and dried herbs makes for a super healthy breakfast to help you towards your five veg a day.

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can connect with her at www.honestnutrition.com.au or on Instagram @honest_nutrition.

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