This is a post about how I found a healthy and cheap ways to eat in Japan on a daily basis. Eating quality food while keeping the price low in a foreign country can be pretty challenging so if you are interested, here we go:When I came to Japan I struggled with my diet. Food – real, healthy food is pretty expensive compared to my home country, so even if I cook myself and bring food to work I don’t save a lot. I didn’t give up though, partially since I am an ambitious frugal person who cares about spending money the right way (aka. something has to go into a savings amount every month or I am not happy) and partially because I have to do this or I will spend more money than I make.
So, first I ate a lot of junk food. Junk food meaning ready-made-curry in a bag for 100 Yen (aka undistinguishable brown stuff) and chocolates and other snacks, which is cheap compared to the high calories it has. That let me survive but it didn’t make me happy. I felt pretty deprived which made me go out for lunch, so again I spent more money than I should which resulted in a bad conscience. Happy belly but unhappy brain. Not ideal.
So I kept trying and finally (today!) I found something. A simple but healthy and cheap meal combination that I can repeat everyday without getting sick of it: Salad and noodle soup. Both homemade.
For my budget, I can make a pretty large salad for lunch. The size has already been commented on by my colleagues: “You’re gonna eat all of this?!” and some bread on the side if I really feel hungry. For dinner I can have noodle soup, with convenience broth (the “real” Ramen-stuff in a bag) with fresh vegetables and noodles.
Since both have similar ingredients, it makes shopping easier and lets me waste less food, because there are no leftovers. On the contrary, both dishes could be made entirely with leftovers. Also I can add whatever vegetable is in season and on sale and exchange it for something else to make it cheap and keep a variety.
For drinks I go for sugar-less tea and for snacks there are bananas and apples and Mikan when they are in season.
Calorie and nutrition-wise this also seems to be okay. Maybe a little bit high on the carbohydrate-part, but I can change that by leaving out the bread for lunch.
I just noticed that there is no meat in this diet, so maybe I will add some, but maybe not, depending on how I feel in a few a few days/weeks.
Fukushima-related stuff:There will be no fish. Due to the current circumstances here in Japan I am reluctant to eat fish on a regular basis. Sure, the occasional sushi, but not everyday. Also I am checking the labels in the supermarket for the location the food was grown in. Learning the Japanese characters for each region of Japan was a bitch, but worth it. Now I know where my food is from. Also I learned the characters for sugar, salt, food additives and so on, so now I can read the labels pretty fluently.
So, now here I am, eating mostly clean again after six months of Japanese-snack indulgence. My food is minimalistic, I don’t have to think about it too much every day. It is easy to make but still healthy and cheap. I am happy!
How is your diet? Does it make you happy? Is it convenient? What are the changes you could make towards this?