Forget instant noodles and toast. Eating healthy on a budget is possible. There are plenty of ways to eat a nutritious diet all while saving money. You don’t need pricey (and cleverly marketed) products, just the basics. Don’t believe us? Here’s how to eat healthy on a budget, plus some cheap healthy meals and recipes.
What budget-friendly foods should I be eating
For optimum health it’s important to understand the main food groups you should be aiming to eat daily:
- Fruit – Enjoy pieces of whole fruit or throw the cheaper, frozen stuff into a smoothie.
- Vegetables – Eat as many different coloured vegetables as possible.
- Grains/cereals/starchy carbs – Aim for wholegrain and high-fibre options.
- Meat, eggs, and alternatives – Look for lean poultry, legumes and tofu
- Dairy and alternatives – But be mindful of added sugar content.
How to use budget-friendly ingredients
Choosing frozen fruit and veg can be very helpful in both lowering cost and preventing food waste if you tend to forget about options languishing in your crisper. In many cases, the nutrients are actually better preserved for when you’re ready to eat!
CANS ARE A-OKAY!
Canned vegetables and beans are a convenient way to get veg and protein into your diet. Choose varieties with no added salt.
Buying in-season produce has many benefits. The cost per kilogram is lower because there is an abundance of the product at specific times of the year. The flavour and nutrient profiles are better because they can be picked when they are actually ripe.
Don’t be afraid to buy home-brand products. Typically, you are paying for the brand, not the product when you buy name-brand items.
BUY IN BULK
While it feels like you’re laying out a lot of money at once, buying in bulk can really lower your bill in the long run.
When looking at the shelves for the pricing on your foods, take a look at what’s printed right underneath the price. You should see the price per 100g or price per kilogram. Often, larger quantities are cheaper than the smaller options.
Find budget-friendly recipes
Below are two nutritious, easy and, most importantly, affordable recipes that anyone can make!
Lentil bolognese – $2.05 per serve (serves 4)
1 tin lentils, drained and rinsed
1 jar passata or tomato sauce
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 bag pasta
- Add olive oil, mushrooms and zucchini to pot over medium heat until softened, 4-5 minutes.
- Add jar of passata, salt, pepper and Italian seasonings. Stir occasionally and cook until reduced by half or desired consistency.
- Cook pasta to packet instructions.
- Add pasta to a bowl and top with the lentil bolognese and enjoy with a side salad.
Burrito bowl – $4.80 per serve (serves 2-3)
1 cup basmati or Doongara rice, rinsed
1 medium-large sweet potato, diced
2 chicken breasts
2 cups spinach
1 tin sweet corn
1 avocado, sliced
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
- Cook rice on the stove to packet instructions.
- Preheat oven to 220℃.
- Season chicken breasts and sweet potato with the olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper.
- Add sweet potato to a sheet pan and put in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Stir potatoes halfway through cooking and add chicken to the pan for the remaining 15 minutes or until cooked through.
- Assemble the final ingredients in a bowl, top with salsa and enjoy!
Eating nutrient-rich, wholesome food doesn’t need to be expensive and we hope these tips have helped you learn how to eat healthy on a budget. Let us know if you make one of these recipes!