eating healthy on a budget, cheap health foods.

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Ever get to the till and gulped when that basket of coconut oil and chia seeds ends up costing more than a mini break? Then, next time you enter the supermarket you pledge that you’re eating healthy on a budget but five days later you’re sulking aftter surviving on lackluster food and not much else?

Well, WH-ers, you can eat healthy on a budget if you follow the lead of the experts. Here nutritionist Lovisa Nilsson, leading expert at health and fitness app Lifesum, explains that you don’t need to only eat well around payday.

Follow her 10 affordable healthy eat tips and fuel right all month long.

How to take the stress out of eating healthy on a budget

1. Stop buying fancy drinks

The healthiest and cheapest alternative – make sure you are drinking two litres a day. It’s free and you can’t get anything better for your health.

2. Avoid impulse food shopping 

Always have a plan and make sure you bring (and stick to) your shopping list, whilst of course being open to special offers (that’s 2-for-1 on bok choy, not biscuits). This way you let your plan, not your cravings, guide you. Make sure you eat a snack before you go shopping, you are far more likely to stock up on things you don’t need if you shop with an empty stomach.

Ordering online can help. When you’re shopping via an app you’re more aware of the total cost of your shop as you can see it rising with everything you put in your virtual trolley. Plus, more major supermarkets have an intro offer and if you shop around, you can find delivery slots that are free. 

3. Cook in batches

Make meals like these Joe Wicks recipes, or stews, stir fries or soups for dinner and then bring in leftovers for lunch. Use half the amount of meat you usually eat and stretch the meals out with some beans or lentils.

4. Eat more plants

Meat is probably one of the most expensive things you can put in your shopping cart. It’s time to be more creative with your protein intake by using garbanzo beans, tofu, eggs and nuts, for example.

5. Eat with the seasons

Buy more than you need while in season. The largest share of your budget should be devoted to the green stuff so take your chances once they’re on sale. At the moment, you’ll want to stock up on apples, mandarins, carrots, cabbages, kale, broccoli, sweet potato, kiwi and brussels sprouts.

6. Sharpen your knife skills

It’s way cheaper to buy the vegetables and cut them yourself, instead of buying the pre-packaged chopped stuff. Sure, it’s nice that someone’s doing the job for you, but you’re paying for it as well. Have a prep day once a week where you cut up things that you know will take a lot of time and put in sealable bags to save them for longer.

7. Stock up and freeze

When your favourite healthy foods are on sale – stock up and freeze. You would be surprise of how many foods actually last in the freezer – milk, cheese and even bananas.

8. Be creative with your cooking 

Never throw away brown or bad looking bananas, mango or avocado for example. Freeze them – they’re amazing in a smoothie! But make sure to peel them before you freeze them to avoid an unpleasant surprise. Grapes are delicious as a frozen snack, almost as good as ice cream.

9. Bring a doggy bag

If there’s no way you can bring your own lunch and you have to hit the restaurant, keeping in mind that restaurant portions are usually equal to two normal portions. Put half of it in a box and save for your next meal.

10. Buy in bulk

A few good things to buy in bulk are nuts, seeds, dried beans, rice, pasta, oats, quinoa, couscous, cereal, dried fruits, nut butters, and frozen fruits and vegetables. If you are house-sharing, the best thing to do is go ‘family shopping’ with your friends and bulk up on larger packers of food, as it’s usually a lot cheaper. Make a schedule with your friends over who’s cooking dinner when and then split the cost.

eating healthy on a budget

Here’s your grocery list for eating healthy on a budget

A recent study highlighted that those products officially classified as ‘healthy’ cost three times more than less healthy options. But eating well doesn’t mean spending all your wages on food. Planning ahead and shopping smart by stocking up on staples that have a longer shelf life, such as tinned goods, will dramatically cut the cost of your monthly food bill.

TINNED CANNELLINI BEANS

What it costs:

55p for 400g, Tesco

Why it’s healthy:

All beans, including kidney, butter and borlotti types contain a high amount of fibre, but cannellini beans have the added benefit of having the lowest GI, which helps to reduce blood sugar.

How to cook with it:

Whizz them up with coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper, lemon juice and a bit of plain flour. Shape the paste into veggie burgers and lightly fry in olive oil.

SMOKED MACKEREL

What it costs:

£2 for 200g, Sainsbury’s

Why it’s healthy:

Experts recommend eating two portions of oily fish a week, which are rich in protein and the fatty acid omega-3, which is known to protect the heart.

How to cook with it:

Add smoked mackerel to salads or sauté with onion, fresh thyme and courgette, and finish with a sprinkle of parmesan.

ONIONS

What it costs:

69p for 1kg, Morrisons

Why it’s healthy:

Onions have a myriad of health benefits, from an anti-inflammatory to aiding digestion, but they are also known to boost immunity and resistance to coughs and colds.

How to cook with it:

A kitchen staple, onions can be used in tons of dishes but to appreciate it on its own, sweat them with sage and olive oil on a low heat. When they’re sweet and sticky, add vegetable stock to make soup.

KALE

What it costs:

88p for 100g, Asda

Why it’s healthy:

Kale is the queen of leafy greens – as well as vitamins, it is packed with iron, making it a good source of this valuable mineral for vegans. It is also rich in folic acid which is excellent for optimum heart health.

How to cook with it:

If baking kale into crisps isn’t your bag, try sautéing it in olive oil and garlic, then drain off any excess liquid before seasoning with a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.

TINNED TOMATOES

What it costs:

30p for 400g, Aldi

Why it’s healthy:

Tomatoes are the best source of lycopene, which studies suggest helps prevent prostate, lung and stomach cancer. They also contain bone-strengthening vitamin K and the antioxidant vitamins C and E, thought to lower the risk of heart disease.

How to cook with it:

The body is able to absorb lycopene better when it has been heated, making it an ideal base for soups, sauces, chilli and stews.

MUSHROOMS

What it costs:

99p for 380g, Aldi

Why it’s healthy:

Many varieties of mushroom contain good-for-your bladder selenium, but they are the only fruit or vegetable source of vitamin D, which we normally get from exposure to sunlight.

How to cook with it:

Stir fry with garlic, ginger, chilli flakes and chilli bean paste, then add soy sauce, chopped spring onions and diced tofu.

GARLIC

What it costs:

4 for £1, Ocado

Why it’s healthy:

Research suggests that eating garlic reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer and high cholesterol. It is also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals.

How to cook with it:

Like onions, garlic is very versatile – but there’s nothing better than roasting it in olive oil for 30 minutes and squidging it onto warm rye bread.

Feeling creative in the kitchen? Try these quorn recipes, tofu recipes or easy vegan recipes.