Healthy eating on a budget

Eat well and stay healthy for less

Eating healthily need not be expensive; eating healthily can easily be done on a budget. There are no special foods, drinks or diets needed to simply eat healthily, and it is important to give your body all the goodness it needs to function properly. All you need to do is eat sensibly — choose foods from the five different food groups and watch the portion sizes.

Potatoes are a great way to make sure that you get some protein and starchy carbohydrate in the same meal.

What are the five food groups?

  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Bread, other cereals, such as breakfast cereals and potatoes
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Meat, fish and alternatives
  • Foods containing fat and sugar 

Good value, healthy meal ideas

Beans on toast

Pulses such as baked beans are a cheap and filling source of protein. To be super-healthy, try not to add butter to the toast.

Eggs

Omelette and salad, scrambled eggs on toast or boiled eggs and toast ‘soldiers’; eggs are a great versatile and economical food.

Porridge

With semi-skimmed milk or skimmed milk, topped with honey or a little sugar, porridge is a great way to start the day.

Bread

Whether you like sandwiches, toast or bread and butter, go for wholemeal as it is more filling than white. A cheap and nutritious starchy food, wholemeal bread is also a good source of iron.

Baked potatoes

With cheese, tinned tuna or baked beans, potatoes are a great way to make sure that you get some protein and starchy carbohydrate in the same meal.

Desserts

Try these three desserts to ensure you have some calcium containing dairy produce and fruit in your diet.

  • Bananas and custard
  • Rice pudding and canned fruit in juice
  • Yoghurt and a piece of fruit

A little bit of effort before you hit the supermarket will help you enormously. Work out how much you're going to spend on food each week and plan your shopping list around it.

Be wary of special promotions

Just because it is 'buy one, get one free' doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to buy it! If the offer is for rice or pasta (or something healthy) take advantage, but if the offer is for chocolate, crisps or biscuits, try to resist.

Cook in bulk and freeze in portions

That way you will never be caught out, you will always have some ‘convenience’ food in that is healthy and quick to prepare (always make sure that the food is piping hot all the way through when served).

Invest in some basic cookbooks

Learn how to cook from scratch — convenience food (ready meals) is an expensive option; why pay someone else to do all the preparation for you when it’s much cheaper and easy to buy basic ingredients and make much healthier meals yourself?

Be healthy all year round

Use the seasons for the best tasting and best value produce — in winter you'll pay more for summer produce, so try leeks, parsnips, broccoli and winter vegetables instead of asparagus and other summer vegetables. However, in summer make the most of summer fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries while they last!

Frozen vegetables and fruit

These are an alternative to fresh, and due to long transportation or storage periods of some ‘fresh’ produce on offer in the supermarkets, frozen can be just as nutritious and very often they are cheaper. They are also very convenient to keep in the freezer for when you have little time for preparing fresh vegetables.

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