Healthy Eating on a Budget

Picture of Liz Forsyth

Liz Forsyth

Sometimes it can seem like eating well when you are on a budget is a difficult task. All those lovely ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ products seem to come at a higher price. But there are some things you can do to try and reduce your spending without having to compromise on health and nutrition.

Plan what you’re going to eat

Before you head for the supermarket, plan your meals and snacks for the week. Review recipes for what ingredients are needed. Check to see what foods you already have and make a list of what you need to buy. When you shop with a list, you will be less likely to buy extra items that are not on it. It will be easier not to be tempted by end-of -aisle specials when you have a plan!

Decide how much to make

Making a large batch by doubling a recipe will save time in the kitchen later on. Extra portions can be used for lunches or meals later in the week, or freeze leftovers in individual containers for future use. Plus, foods purchased in bulk are almost always cheaper. On the nights when you don’t feel like cooking, you will have a healthy meal ready to defrost rather than spending money on takeaway or ready-meals.

Determine where to shop

Check the local newspaper, online and at the store for sales and coupons, especially when it comes to more expensive ingredients, such as meat and seafood. While at the supermarket, compare prices of different brands and different sizes of the same brand to see which has a lower unit price. The unit price is usually located on the shelf directly below the product.

Shop for foods that are in season

Fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season are usually easier to get and may be a lot less expensive. Your local farmer’s market is also a great source of seasonal produce. Just remember that some fresh fruits and vegetables don’t last long. Buy small amounts at a time to avoid having to throw away spoiled produce.

Try canned or frozen produce

At certain times of the year, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables may be less expensive than fresh. For canned items, choose fruit canned in 100% fruit juice and vegetables with “low sodium” or “no salt added” on the label.

Focus on nutritious, low-cost foods

Certain foods tend to be less expensive, so you can make the most of your food dollars by finding recipes that use the following ingredients: beans, peas, and lentils; sweet or white potatoes; eggs; peanut butter; canned salmon, tuna or crabmeat; grains such as oats, brown rice, barley or quinoa; and frozen or canned fruits and vegetables.

Watch portion sizes

Eating too much of even lower cost foods and beverages can add up to extra dollars and calories. Use smaller plates, bowls and glasses to help keep portions under control. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables and the other half with whole grains and lean meat, poultry, seafood or beans. This is an easy way to eat a balanced meal while controlling portions and cost.

Make your own healthy snacks

Convenience costs money, so many snacks, even healthy ones, usually cost more when

sold individually. Make your own snacks by purchasing large tubs of yogurt or cottage cheese and dividing them into one-cup containers. Buy a block of cheese and dice it into cubes for snacking or grate it yourself rather than buying the pre-grated cheese. For trail mix, combine nuts, dried fruit and whole grain pretzels; store small portions in airtight containers. Air-popped popcorn and whole fresh fruits in season also tend to cost less compared to pre-packaged items. A boiled egg is so much cheaper than a protein bar! Many ‘health foods’ cost extra so think about making your own protein bars, bliss bliss balls and smoothies rather than buying convenience versions.

You may save as much as $200 in a week for an average family just by sticking to a meal plan that allocates portion sizes and utilises leftovers to prevent food wastage. Many people think they can't afford to see a Dietitian without realising that it may actually help them SAVE money.

Liz Forsyth

Cook more, eat out less

Many foods prepared at home are cheaper and more nutritious. Also, convenience foods like frozen dinners, pre-cut vegetables and bagged salads and instant microwave rice cups or porridge sachets will cost you more than if you make them from scratch. Go back to basics and find a few simple and healthy recipes that your family enjoys. If you need help with meal planning for yourself and the family, while catering to specific food preferences our menu planning portal can help. Here you can not only build your meal plan for the week to fit your diet requirements, but you can batch cook meals, determine leftovers to reduce food waste, and also generate a shopping list so you can check it off as you go.

  • Looking at the unit pricing can help you find the best price for fruit and vegetables. Sometimes the same produce can be more expensive if it is packaged differently. Loose pears may cheaper in unit price that pears packaged in a packet with pretty cartoon pictures on it.
  • Always make a list and plan a few dinners ahead of time. You will save money buying in bulk rather than having to purchase individual serves of ingredients.
  • Cooking from scratch is almost always a better way to go. Ready meals and pre-packaged meals are expensive. If you learn to cook even just a few of your favourite dishes you will improve your nutrition and save money.
  • Don’t be afraid of ‘value brands’ they can be exactly the same but a power price. This is where learning to reading nutritional labels comes in handy.
  •  Have you considered an appointment with one of our nutrition professionals for your own individualised meal plan to help you achieve your goals? We can help you build your own super simple meal plan, and provide further inspiration and recipe ideas to save you a fortune on wasted or unnecessary food purchasing.
  • Book with us at

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