10 Top Tips for Healthy Eating on a Budget
As Dietitians and Nutritionists, we commonly get asked for our ’10 top tips for healthy eating on a budget’ for blogs and news articles. Below is a list of our top 10 that we live by as health professionals and encourage our clients to follow.
A common misconception of healthy eating is that it must be expensive. Healthy eating habits which follow the Dietary Guidelines are cheaper than current (less healthy) diets consumed by the Australian population. Families spend a lot less each week on fruit ($9.60) and vegetables ($13.70) compared to fast food ($30.50) and confectionary ($11.77). Shifting this spending towards more nutritious options will not only improve our health but will lower grocery bills.
Following a healthy diet with limited funds can still be challenging. These handy tips will help to ensure that your diet is full of healthy food and drinks without blowing your budget.
1. Plan you and your family’s meals and snacks.
Having an idea of what’s going to be eaten and what’s already in the kitchen will make it easier to write a shopping list. This will prevent you from buying unnecessary things at the supermarket.
2. Bulk buy and cook.
Bulk buy foods which you eat a lot of and last a long time (grains, nuts and seeds, canned vegetables) when they are on special. Cook large quantities of recipes which can easily be used for lunches (salads or casseroles), in other recipes (steamed vegetables and grilled meats) or frozen (soups and lasagna). This will not only save money and time, but will reduce food waste.
3. Eat more plant-based foods.
Instead of meat and seafood, make vegetables and grains the base of your meal. Although there are cheaper options (chicken thighs, lean mince, lamb shoulder, tinned fish), meat and seafood are generally more expensive than plant-based foods. If you still want extra protein, dried or canned legumes (chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans) are very cheap and add bulk to meals.
4. Be supermarket savvy.
When deciding between similar food and drink products, use cost per 100g to compare the price. Buy generic or ‘no name’ products of staple foods (oats, pasta, rice, milk, canned fruit and vegetables) where possible. They are often similar in quality and nutrition to branded products but much more affordable.
5. Shop seasonally.
Seasonal fruit and vegetables are better in taste and quality and often less expensive. Shopping seasonally will also encourage you to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables throughout the year.
6. Consider buying frozen fruit and vegetables.
Contrary to popular belief, frozen fruit and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh. They save time in the kitchen and often go on special in supermarkets, so keep a look out.
7. Get creative with recipes – check out our top 10 fast food recipes
When shopping for recipes, replace expensive ingredients with others that suit your budget and taste preferences. Use up the vegetables you have in the fridge before buying different types when making soups or curries, even if they are not in the recipe.
8. Skip the “superfoods”.
A healthy diet doesn’t have to include fancy ingredients, like acai, bee pollen and maca powder. These products are expensive. Stick to eating regular wholefoods (oats, brown rice, fruit, vegetables, lean meat and low-fat dairy).
9. Drink more water.
Besides keeping you hydrated and reducing your sugar intake, drinking water over soft drinks, juices and cordials will save you a lot of money.
10. Eat more food from home.
It may seem easier to buy takeaway food or dine out every day, but your health and bank account will end up paying for this convenience. Eating at home or making your own packed lunch will save you money and give you more control of portion sizes.
- Lee AJ, Kane S, Ramsey R, Good E, Dick M. Testing the price and affordability of healthy and current (unhealthy) diets and the potential impacts of policy change in Australia. CMD Public Health. April 2016; 16: 315.
- In Pursuit of 2 & 5 – Fruit and vegetable consumption in Australia. Canberra: ABS; 2012. Available from; http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/1301.0Main+Features2362012
10 top tips for healthy eating on a budget,
Posted by Genna Vlitas, BSc, undertaking MDiet.
Nutritionist & Student Dietitian from Daley Nutrition
Daley Nutrition is a community nutrition team based in Melbourne Victoria, we run a range of nutrition based programs such as cooking demonstrations in Australia to raise people’s awareness of what they are eating and empower them to change certain eating habits.
To find out more about our Nutrition Services below images