Healthy eating on a budget is achievable by eating food from the five food groups, following dietary guidelines, and probably most importantly, writing a shopping list and following it!!
Many people think that eating healthy is expensive and necessitates all the latest health foods. I think it is important to remember that to have a healthy diet, we don’t need to be filling our diets with loads of supplements and costly specialty foods. Instead, we should be prioritising the five food groups, following the dietary guidelines, and shopping with a grocery list and meal plan in mind. Completing a healthy grocery shop is one of the first steps to having a healthy and balanced diet. Grocery shopping can become expensive without a plan, especially if you are an impulse shopper or go to the store when you are hungry!
Below are some of my top tips for eating healthy on a budget:
Sit down and plan out yours and your family’s meals for the week
Setting a plan around what meals and snacks you are going to eat for the week can be a helpful way to plan out what you may need from the shops and what you already have. It also helps to provide you with some direction when you do go to do your grocery shopping.
Make a shopping list
From the meals that you have planned for the week, write down exactly what you will need for your dinners, lunches, breakfasts, and snacks. Have a look through your fridge, freezer, and pantry to see what you already have and what you don’t have. After looking at what ingredients you already have, write down exactly what you need from the supermarket. Having an action plan in place means it is less likely that you will wander aimlessly through the supermarket aisles unsure of what you need to buy.
As discussed in a previous blog, seasonal produce is generally more affordable due to less travel and being in abundance. Seasonal produce also has many other benefits which you can learn about here.
Opt for fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables
Frozen produce is generally just as healthy as the fresh version, however, it is generally a lot more affordable. It can also help to reduce food wastage and will last for a longer period of time making it a more budget-friendly option. You can learn more about fresh vs frozen produce here.
Buy in bulk/ cook in bulk
Buying certain products in bulk can make your meals more affordable. Generally, meat and grains are more affordable when you buy them in bulk. When buying meat, purchase this in bulk, portion it out, and place it in the freezer until you need it, or cook and prepare your favourite dishes enjoying them immediately or freezing them for later. This is both more affordable but also will save you time later in your week. Buying grains such as rice/ oats/ pasta in bulk can also be more affordable and these products are shelf-stable so will last for a period of time.
Look out for specials and shop around
Instead of only going to one supermarket, look at the prices at different supermarkets and what is on sale where. It may take extra time researching and going between supermarkets, however, it will help to save you money on your weekly shop.
Opt for plant-based options
Plant-based options such as legumes, lentils, and tofu have so many health and environmental benefits, while also being super affordable options to include in your weekly meals.
In order to have a healthy and balanced diet, you don’t need to be filling your baskets with “superfoods”. A lot of the time these foods are very well marketed with limited evidence backing them up. You are better off filling your diet with fruits, vegetables, lean meats, wholegrains, dairy products, and healthy fats which benefit our overall health and are also more affordable.
Opt to increase your water intake
Increasing your water intake rather than drinking soft drinks and juice can help to reduce the cost of your overall shop, while also benefiting your health and hydration.
Eat more meals from home
Takeaway food can be convenient, however can be very expensive especially if it contributes to multiple meals per week. Instead meal prep your own meals, which will be more affordable and also provide you with a more nutritious and balanced meal.
Opt for home brand options
Homebrand options are usually just as nutritious as other brands, while also being cheaper.
Compare products and read the labels-
Don’t feel bad for comparing different products and searching for the more affordable option.
Eating a healthy and nutritious diet doesn’t have to be expensive, especially if you are smart about your choices. Don’t fall for smart marketing. Instead, go to the supermarket with a plan and look for specials. Spending even 10 more minutes of your day planning your meals and researching the specials can save you so much money on your weekly shop.
I hope these tips provide you with some guidance on how to eat healthily whilst on a budget.
If you need help with your nutrition, are unsure of what to eat, are after nutrition advice, or more tailored advice on how to eat healthy on a budget, book an appointment with our dietitian Laura Goodridge today!
This blog post is an educational tool only. It is not a replacement for medical advice from a registered and qualified doctor or health professional.
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