Eating healthily on a budget

It’s a topic I’ve discussed before – but one which I am really interested in – how much is it possible to eat a healthy diet when also saving money?

I suppose it does depend on your definition of ‘healthy’ and definition of ‘budget’.  I do believe it’s possible to eat well and healthily for less than what most people spend.  There’s no reason to live on ready meals and processed food, because cooking from scratch can be lots cheaper.

banana milkshake

For me, the most important thing in a healthy diet is to eat plenty of fruit and veg.  It’s the number one thing I’d never let my budget stop me from doing.  Even if you can’t afford fresh blueberries and sprouted seeds, you can get your five a day – a banana at breakfast, tinned fruit as a snack, carrot sticks with your lunch and peas and cabbage with your dinner are all really cheap and just as good for you.

But obviously eating fruit and veg isn’t the be all and end all of a healthy diet.  I’m not a dietician or a doctor and I think that everyone needs to make their own mind up about what constitutes a healthy diet, but I think we can all agree that most people in the UK eat too much.  Cutting portions sizes could help you lose weight and save money – suddenly your pack of pasta does six instead of five portions, a pack of mince makes extra pasta sauce for the freezer and that’s another dinner sorted.

apple salad

Cutting down on processed snacks like crisps, biscuits and chocolate is also a good way to save money and you don’t need me to tell you that they aren’t doing you any good.  Plus, if you drink fizzy drinks you could save a fortune by switching to tap water – healthy and free.

Talking about other aspects of diet gets tricky.  Should you cut down on meat, carbs or both?  Is dairy bad for you?  Wheat?  Or is it OK as long as you’re eating whole grains?

I try not to get too complicated with this and my general rule is that I’m happy to eat it as long as it’s homemade and not processed.  I don’t eat too much meat (and this saves me money), but that’s more down to personal preference than anything else.  I do try to make sure there’s a decent source of protein with each meal now, but that’s often beans and lentils, which are cheap, or nuts, which you only use in small quantities anyway.

ratatouille

Carbs like pasta, bread and rice are the cheapest way to fill up, much cheaper than meat and veg, which is one reason that eating better can cost more – it’s not very healthy to fill up on lots of carbs.  By cutting down on waste, mealplanning and dropping brands, you can have extra money leftover to allocate to good quality meat and fish and fresh veg.  If the pennies are really tight, think about using pulses and cheap veg like onions and carrots to bulk out meals instead of too many carbs.

So what do you do to make sure you’re eating healthily without breaking the bank? Leave any suggestions in the comments!

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5 thoughts on “Eating healthily on a budget

  1. Jen @ Blue Kitchen Bakes

    I’ve recently switched to buying an organic veg box, I haven’t done a full price comparison but we’re definitely eating a lot more veg now and a greater variety. I’d become stuck in a rut of buying the same few veggies every week so I think the increased variety must be a good thing for us. I’m also only buying meat if it’s in the reduced aisle of the supermarket, most of the time this means we get good quality meat from the organic or finest ranges for same price or cheaper than standard ranges. I also have large bags of lentils and chickpeas bought from the Asian foods aisle in the supermarket, these are much cheaper than buying them in the whole foods aisle and are a great way of bulking out meat dishes.

    Reply
    1. Jess Post author

      These are all great tips! Especially good point about buying reduced meat to get better quality/organic for lower prices. I buy most of our fish reduced and stash in the freezer for later. Veg boxes are great for some, especially at making you try new things, I did try one for a summer but I found I disliked not knowing what I was getting. But I would rule out getting them again as I loved the quality of the produce.

      Reply
  2. beckles23

    Veg box here too! I’ve started doing a meal plan based around the contents of my veg box to make sure that I don’t throw out too much produce at the end of the week. On the day before my veg box is due I cook as many meals as possible and fill my freezer with them for when I’m short on food.

    Reply
    1. Jess Post author

      Great idea – avoiding waste is a key way of getting more fruit/veg/protein into your body. After all you aren’t getting the benefits if you’re chucking it out every week instead of eating it! Since staring my grocery challenge I buy slightly less fruit & veg each week – but far, far more if it makes it’s way into our bodies instead of our bin!

      Reply
  3. Pingback: Help your mini develop a positive relationship with food | Thursday's Child

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