Tammy Gee

Eating well for menopause on a budget: Nourishing your body and your wallet

Choosing the right nutritious diet to support your body through menopause may seem like a luxury that is at the bottom of the list during a cost of living crisis. It may be no surprise that research published ahead of World Menopause Day in October 2022 from The British Nutrition Foundation found that 37% of women experiencing the menopause were more stressed about finances, which had a negative impact on their symptoms.[1]

The misconception that eating well requires a hefty budget often discourages people from making nutritious choices that help to balance hormone health.  Here are my recommendations for nourishing your body whilst being budget friendly.

Mix up your protein choices

Protein is an essential component of a balanced diet for women, and is essential as our bodies are changing through menopause. Along with healthy sources of fats, protein provides the building blocks for our hormones and so adequate protein is needed for health as our hormones change and as we age. Women who consume higher amounts of protein have lower body fat mass and have better physical function as they age. [2]

Instead of relying solely on expensive meat or fish, explore alternative protein sources such as beans, pulses like chick peas or lentils or tofu, eggs and Greek yoghurt.  Canned fish like tuna, sardines or salmon can be an inexpensive way to incorporate lean protein into your diet.

Now, if you are thinking that lentils or tofu seem to be complicated to prepare, there are simple pre-prepared products in the supermarkets such as tinned lentils that you can easily add to a home made curry or bolognaise and marinated tofu pieces that you can use with stir fry vegetables or add to noodles.

Aim to eat protein with every meal

Take advantage of seasonal colourful plant foods

Being open to eating a variety of colourful fruit and vegetables is great for your body, mind, tastebuds and pocket.  Often supermarkets have the best offers on the produce that is in season, if the crop is abundant the supply is more abundant and in theory, cheaper.

Eating a diverse range of fruit of veg is great for our gut microbiome, increases our fibre intake which helps to balance our blood sugar and a variety of colourful plant foods provides a range of antioxidants including Vitamin C and E which help to reduce hot flushes and protect bones post menopause.[3] [4] [5]

Frozen fruit and vegetables are a great cost-effective alternative, my favourites include soft fruits that can be added from the freezer to a smoothie or spinach which can be stirred into smoothies, pasta dishes or scrambled eggs.

Aim to include three different colourful veggies on your dinner plate

Keep it simple

Simplifying great food choices might involve a little extra forethought; something like meal planning for the week, using a slow cooker or batch cooking if you have a freezer.  This keeps your evening meal decision simple and helps you to make better choices.

A weekly meal plan with recipes that use affordable nutrient-rich ingredients like beans, lentils, whole grains and seasonal veg saves your brainspace throughout the week and saves money.  By planning ahead, creating a shopping list to guide you and sticking to a budget, you can avoid impulse buys and reduce food waste. Few things are more infuriating than spending your money on food and then throwing it in the bin.

Batch cooking meals, either by taking time out at the weekend or making extra to be stored in the freezer when cooking through the week, means that on the days when the energy is low you can give yourself a break.  This may reduce the temptation to reach for the take away menu.

Using a slow cooker or recipes for one pot or bake tray cooking, keeps things super simple whilst still being able to include a diverse range of nutritious protein and colourful plant foods.

Reduce your food waste with a little planning and batch cooking or storing leftovers

Making healthy eating a priority

Eating well on a budget is certainly attainable, if you’re able to prioritise spending a little time rather than money on planning your meals. It presents an opportunity to get the household involved in choosing recipes and helping with the cooking.

Menopause is an important time to prioritise your health & wellbeing and hopefully I’ve inspired you to think that it is possible to nourish your body without breaking the bank.

Planning is key! A well-balanced diet doesn’t mean you have to compromise your budget or your health.

Tammy Gee

Tammy Gee is a BANT registered Nutritional Therapist (DipION, mBANT, CNHC) on a mission to increase conversation and education around nutrition support for hormone health.

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[1] British Nutrition Foundation. ‘Women report heightened menopause symptoms due to cost-of-living crisis’ 2022 https://www.nutrition.org.uk/news/2022/women-report-heightened-menopause-symptoms-due-to-cost-of-living-crisis/

[2] Gregorio, L., Brindisi, J., Kleppinger, A., Sullivan, R., et al. (2014) ‘Adequate dietary protein is associated with better physical performance among post-menopausal women 60-90 years’ Nutrition, health and aging 18, 2, 155-160

[3] Doshi, S.B. and Agarwal, A. (2014) ‘The role of oxidative stress in menopause’ Midlife Health 4, 3, 140-146

[4] Satija, A., Bhupathiraju, S.N., Rimm, E.B., Spiegelman, D. et al. (2016) ‘Plant-based dietary patterns and incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in US men and women: results from three prospective cohort studies’ PLoS Medicine 13, 6, e1002039

[5] Cronin, P., Joyce, S.A., O’Toole, P.W. et al. (2021) ‘Dietary fibre modulates the gut microbiota.’ Nutrients Journal 13, 5, 1655.

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