How to Eat Healthy On A Budget

how to eat healthy on a budget

Nutrition Tips For Improving Your Health from a Dietitian 

Healthy eating can be portrayed in the media as choosing the best quality, locally sourced organic produce, which can come with a significant cost burden. However, nutritious food does not have to be expensive. Whether you are looking to make cost savings on the weekly grocery shop, saving up for a big event or someone like me who is a student, here are some dietitian tips to be able to eat a healthily and have knowledge around different foods to look out for, while remaining on budget. 

Dietitian Tips for Eating Healthily Without Breaking the Bank

1. Building a Healthy Kitchen: Store Cupboard Essentials

Healthy Kitchen Basics

Mealtimes and snacks can’t always be planned. Hungry kids want food on demand, and this can lead to snacking on foods high in fat and sugar for convenience such as crisps, chocolate bars and biscuits. Having healthy store cupboard essentials stocked up in the cupboard and ready to hand can be a convenient way to ensure healthy options are available when time is precious. 

Some nutritious store cupboard essentials I recommend include: 

    • Pasta and rice 
    • Canned fish such as tuna and salmon 
    • Tinned sweetcorn, peas, beans and lentils 
    • Bread, pittas wraps and bagels 
    • Frozen fruit and vegetables
    • Tinned foods 

2. Navigating the Freezer Aisle: A Secret Weapon for Eating Well on a Budget

Frozen Fruits and Vegetables: A Budget-Friendly Way to Have a Balanced Diet

The freezer can be your best friend when it comes to eating a balanced diet while on a budget. Frozen fruits, vegetables and even meats are significantly cheaper than their fresh comparisons and are often just as nutritious, so become familiar with the freezer aisle!  Fruits and vegetables often have to be picked and packed within 4hrs so they retain a lot of their goodness. 

3. Maximising you Budget with Smart Grocery Shopping Tips

Tips for Eating Healthy and Saving Money

Meat Shopping Tips

  • Buy meat in bulk and freeze any that you can’t use now to avoid food waste. Larger packs of meat are often much lower cost than smaller packets. 
  • Meat that is pre-prepared such as diced chicken is more expensive than whole pieces. If you have the time, buy the cheaper version and prepare it yourself. 
  • Leaner cuts of meat are more expensive than fattier cuts of meat, but each will offer similar nutrients. If you can’t afford leaner cuts of meat, reduce the fat content by draining off the fat while browning the meat, a good example here is minced beef. 

Dairy Shopping Tips

  • Choose store brand dairy products over branded versions of milk, yoghurt and cheese. 
  • Buy plain yogurt and flavour them with your favourite fruits. 
  • Larger tubs of yoghurt are cheaper than smaller individual pots. Separate them into containers for handy grab and go snacks. 

Cereals, Bread, and Pasta Shopping Tips

  • Freeze sliced pan bread and use it as you need by defrosting in a toaster, to avoid food waste. 
  • Buy wholegrain cereals and breads as they are more nutritious than white versions. 
  • Plain pasta shapes may be cheaper than fancy shapes. Dry pasta is also just as nutritious as fresh pasta and much cheaper. Choose wholegrain pasta for a more nutrient dense option. 

Shopping Tips For Healthy Eating On a BudgetIn a Nutshell

Meal Planning & Making the Most of Your Ingredients

  1. Make a shopping list and plan your meals to avoid buying unnecessary items. 
  2. Avoid shopping on an empty stomach as you often buy more than you need. 
  3. Shop around the side aisles of the supermarket. These include all the supermarket essentials for a healthy diet. Luxury items such as chocolates, biscuits and convenience foods are normally in the middle aisles. 
  4. Higher priced items are usually placed at eye level. Remember to check out the top and bottom shelves for cheaper products. 
  5. Shop for loose fruit and vegetables. Pre-packaged items are usually more expensive. 
  6. Store brands are usually cheaper than branded products and just as nutritious, 
  7. Add bulk and extra nutrients to dishes buy adding vegetables, canned food like chickpeas and lentils to dishes like spaghetti bolognaise, chicken curry and shepherd’s pie. Check out Gillian’s slow cooker recipes here for some examples – https://insideoutnutrition.ie/product-category/books/ 
  8. Make use of leftover portions. Freeze leftovers and reheat them when needed. Please remember to follow food safety advice and only reheat foods once and never refreeze thawed foods (3). 
How to Eat Healthy Eating On A Budget – References 
  1. How to eat well on a budget. Temple Street Children’s Hospital. 
  2. Safe Food, how to eat well on a budget. https://www.safefood.net/how-to/eat-well-budget 

Safe Food to Go. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI). https://www.fsai.ie/publications_safe_food_to_go/