Health Eating on a Budget

  • Date: 30 March 2017
  • Category: HW Blog

1. Plan ahead

It’s true when they say that if you don’t plan ahead you are planning to fail. Doing your homework into the specials and sales at your local supermarkets and grocery shops can pay off. Checking the original price is important to know if you are getting an actual bargain, this is usually said in the pamphlet or under the savings tag on the shelf. Comparing the cost of the same products in different supermarkets is also a valuable first step.

2. Shop

Supermarkets versus convenience stores: When it comes to sticking to a budget it’s also worth realising that the big name supermarkets do have bigger buying power and are in constant competition with each other to get you
into their doors. Convenience stores or smaller, independent supermarkets do not have this buying power so prices can tend to be higher on some products.

No name or homebrand: Selecting the no name or home brand product means you are not paying for the brand name or fancy packaging, so can definitely save you money at the checkout.

Check the unit price: To identify the best value for your money (in terms of size), check out the per unit price (e.g. price per 100g). This can usually be found on the item’s price tag, or you may need to calculate the value of different sizes yourself.

Eat seasonally: Fresh produce that’s in season is cheaper and ensures more variety in your diet throughout the year,
which also benefits for your health.

Opt for the less processed option food: Often, the less processed the food, the cheaper it will be. For example, a whole block of cheese will be cheaper than shredded; uncooked pasta will be cheaper than prepared from the deli; or buying individual salad ingredients will cost less than a pre-packaged salad from the fresh food aisle.

Frozen is fine: Frozen vegetables can sometimes have more nutrients than fresh produce because of the way fresh produce is stored. Frozen can also mean you can buy larger bags but select only what you need and store the rest for a
longer time than the fresh option.

Protein options: Eggs are a much cheaper option to meat and are an incredibly healthy protein to base your meals around. They can be used in so many ways from boiled, to omelettes, to frittatas, to use in salads and sandwiches. Another savvy protein choice are legumes, which are also not only cheaper but recommended to reduce the risk of cancers that red and processed meats can increase your risk of (e.g. colorectal cancer). Try adding beans to make a minestrone soup, baked beans for breakfast or into pasta sauces.

Stick to the list! There’s no point preparing a well budgeted shopping list only to blow it on all the items that the
supermarkets want you to buy! This includes the sometimes (or junk) foods that may seem like good value, but won’t
actually provide your body with much value in terms of health.

3. Food preparation

Leftovers: Buy a large cut of meat or the whole animal like a whole chicken and use the leftovers the next day (e.g.
leftover roast chicken from dinner can be made into roast chicken sandwiches, stir fry or chicken salad).

Tap water over bottled: Tap water is not only free, but a good source of fluoride to keep your teeth healthy. It is possible to maintain a healthy bank balance while eating well. The trick to doing so lies in your forward planning and consistently choosing the most appropriate and cost-effective options.

Good luck!

Canada Do. Eating Well While Spending Less [handout]. Canada: Dietitians Association of Australia; 2009 [updated 04/05/2009; cited 2017 01/01/2017].

Ashleigh is the owner of Feed Your Future Dietetics. She has a Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics and a Bachelor of Human Nutrition and believes everyone deserves to live a life of health and wellness. Ashleigh is passionate about helping people achieve their highest quality of life through nutrition, mental health and exercise. To learn more about Ashleigh visit or