Healthy eating on a budget

There’s a common misconception that healthy eating has to be expensive, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, in most cases, the foods that should be eaten most as part of a healthy balanced diet are some of the cheapest foods in the supermarket.

So how do you save your wallet and your health at the same time?

Here are some of our favourite tips

Make a list

Put simply, when you make a shopping list, it helps you to stop grabbing stuff you don’t need. To make a list, you also need to plan out your meals as well, so you only buy as much as you need, reducing the wasted food that just ends up getting thrown out. The average family in New Zealand throws out $563 worth of food a year, so something as simple as making a list can be a great money saver.

Shop seasonally

A healthy diet should be filled mostly with whole vegetables and fruits – they fill us up and are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre. But you need to pay attention to what’s in season to get the most bang for your buck. You don’t have to buy tomatoes when they’re $12 a kg, have a look around the fresh food section and keep an eye out for cheaper in-season produce.

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Be willing to do a little kitchen prep

Things like pre-cut fruits and vegetables or quick cook brown rice can be a great time saver in the kitchen, but they’re also significantly more expensive than their unprocessed counterparts. By being willing to do that bit of extra food prep yourself, you can see a significant saving on your weekly shop.

Health tip

Buying in bulk doesn’t always turn out to be better value - a 3 litre bottle of milk might cost less per litre than a 2 litre bottle, but if you only use 2 litres before it goes off, you would have been better off buying the smaller bottle. To save money, only buy what you need.

Our best budget buys

Dried beans and legumes

A fraction of the cost of canned beans and a great starting point for any healthy meal, whether you’re on a budget or not. Cook up a big batch all at once and freeze portions for a convenient grab and go ingredient for a mid week dinner.

Not so basic veg

Certain vegetables like carrots, cauliflower and broccoli tend to be great value all year round. Bring some variety to these great value veggies with a drizzle of honey or a sprinkle of dukkah. A little spice mix can go a long way in lifting a cheap and simple meal.

Fill up fruit

Processed snack foods can be some of the most expensive items in the supermarket. Instead of reaching for the chocolates or biscuits, check out what fruit is in season. It’s a ready to go snack that’s cheaper, much more filling and bursting with flavour and nutrition.