Healthy eating on a budget
Eating a healthy, varied diet does not mean that you need to buy the most expensive foods. There are plenty of cheap, nutritious and delicious foods available, that you can make healthy meals from. By planning your meals you will be able to cut down on waste and save money. Here are a few tips to help make your money go further:
Plan your meals, make a grocery list and shop wisely! This will help you avoid making impulse buys that add to your shopping bill. Remember that supermarkets may put the most expensive or popular items at eye level so scan the shelves for lower cost items. Economy ranges are usually great value and nutritionally there is often little difference to the standard or branded versions. Don’t be tempted to buy more by special offers if you think the extra may go to waste or it’s something that’s not on your list. Try heading to the supermarket near closing time when reductions will be at their highest.
Look for special offers on long shelf-life products like dried pasta, rice and noodles, dried or tinned beans and pulses, tinned tomatoes, passata, tomato concentrate and cereals. These can be used to bulk up your meals and make them go further. It is worth checking if there are any food co-ops in your area; these are run on a not-for-profit basis and may have cheap store cupboard ingredients.
Buy cheaper cuts of meat such as chicken thighs or drumsticks instead of chicken breast. A whole chicken can be good value, especially if you use it for more than one meal. Mince is also a popular ingredient, versatile and inexpensive – just remember to drain the fat off before adding other ingredients! Asking the butcher for cuts like shin of beef, lamb neck or pork chump can also save you money compared to the more expensive cuts. Cheaper cuts of meat tend to need longer cooking times but can also be the tastiest! If there are special offers on buying extra you could keep any meat that you are not going to use straight away in the freezer for another time.
Canned oily fish such as sardines and salmon can be cheaper than buying fresh fish. They are high in omega-3 fats which can help to keep the heart healthy, plus they are easy to prepare and have a long shelf life. Opt for ones in spring water to keep the salt content to a minimum. Frozen fish is often very good value and can be added to a range of dishes. If there are special offers on fresh fish you could also take advantage of these and freeze any that you are not going to use straight away. See our tips in the cooking ideas section.
Check the frozen and canned fruit and vegetable section for cheaper items. Frozen vegetables tend to be cheaper than fresh varieties, they count towards your 5 A DAY and freezing preserves nutrients so that some frozen vegetables provide more of certain nutrients than fresh versions. You can use them when you want without them going off, which cuts down on waste. Remember to check supermarket own brand and economy ranges – these are often cheaper than branded items.
|Top tip: Watch out for canned fruits and vegetables which have added sugar or salt, and opt for those in fruit juice or water instead.|
Fresh fruit and vegetables can be cheaper if you buy them from the local market rather than supermarkets. If you do buy from the supermarket, consider buying loose fruits and vegetables, which can be much cheaper than pre-packaged ones. Fresh fruit and vegetables in season are often cheaper as well and can taste great!
- © British Nutrition Foundation 2014