Healthy eating on a budget


Look out for supermarket special offers.

Remember that prices change daily at supermarkets and can also fluctuate between stores.

Consider using a cheaper supermarket such as Aldi or Lidl.

Plan ahead, write out a shopping list so you know exactly what you need

Share - have you thought about sharing dried herbs and spices with a neighbour?  We often buy dried foods such as herbs and spices that we might not use regularly, swapping and sharing is a great way to increase your options of flavours without impacting on your finances.

Consider going down a brand

Why not try one of the supermarkets’ own brands?Lots of their own brands and value ranges are just as good as the leading brands.

Use cheaper cuts of meat

Try shin of beef, brisket and skirt cooked slowly, as it will be really tender and tasty. Use leftovers in pasta or with salad for lunch.

Consider cheaper alternatives

Vegetarian protein is cheaper than chicken, but it is tasty and easy to cook with. Look at substituting Quorn for chicken in your recipes or go half and half.

Be inventive – substitute expensive ingredients in recipes with a similar, but cheaper, alternative – eg tinned pilchards or mackerel in place of fresh mackerel.

Chicken thighs are cheaper than breasts and can be substituted in recipes. Thighs are cheapest with the skins on, but always remove the skins before cooking to reduce fat.

Bulk-out meals with cheaper products

Beans and pulses are good (especially red lentils as these take on the flavour of the foods they are mixed with)a healthy way to bulk out meals, and also provide a good source of protein for vegetarians.

Add grated vegetables to casseroles, chilli and curries

Buy products when they are on offer

Buy potatoes when you can get 2 packs for the price of 1 and store them in a sack in the shed or garage – they will keep for ages. Try not to be tempted to buy if something just because it is on offer, always ask yourself will use it and do you need it?

Use local markets

Shop at local markets for fresh fruit and vegetables – buy locally grown fruit and vegetables, which are environmentally friendly and cheaper than something which has been flown thousands of miles!

Shop just before they finish for the day when very often they will sell large amounts cheaply.

Why not take a look at your local Facebook/social media groups where you live, as often people have grown more than they can use and often give away their surplus or sell for very low prices.

Use foods in season

Again, being locally grown they are probably cheaper than something that has been flown thousands of miles.

If you know someone with an allotment, see if they will share their produce with you. Many allotment holders are proud of what they grow and happy to give some to people who will appreciate it.

Use the freezer

Fresh fruit, particularly berries, can be expensive but buy them frozen and the price goes right down. Defrost them and serve on your cereal or with low-fat yoghurt, or warm them and serve with frozen yoghurt for a quick, low-fat dessert.

Frozen vegetables are just as good as fresh, so buy in large quantities when on special offer. They’re always quick and easy to cook.

Try buying bags of assorted frozen fish as a cheaper alternative to fresh fish.

Get the most out of everything you have

Cut an assortment of root vegetables (whatever you have in the house) into large chunks, place a chicken breast/pork chop etc on top, cover with foil and roast for 40 minutes at Gas Mark 4. Remove foil and bake for a further 10 minutes to add a bit of colour and then serve. For meat-free alternatives roast the vegetables on their own for 20 mins, add your meat-free alternative, cover again and roast for a further 20 mins. Remove foil and bake for a further 10 minutes to add a bit of colour and then serve.

Cook a chicken, take all the meat off the bone and use for a roast dinner, pasta dishes, casserole etc and use the carcass to make stock for homemade soup. It’s easy, filling and cheap

Go back to basics

Low-fat sausages with mashed potatoes and vegetables make a great quick, easy and cheap low-fat meal. Baked beans on toast is a great low-fat lunch.

Casseroles, stews, Bolognese and chilli are all good comfort food, low fat and can be made relatively cheaply. Add extra vegetables to make them go further.

1 can of chopped tomatoes mixed with some dried herbs makes a great basis for a pasta sauce and is really cheap too!

Make the most of leftovers

Cook extra portions for your evening meal so you can have the leftovers for lunch the next day. Any leftovers can be frozen for another day. Eventually, you'll have a freezer full of homemade ready meals on tap

Budget meal suggestions

5 breakfasts

  • 50g any bran cereal served with milk from allowance and 1 portion of fruit
  • 35g uncooked porridge oats, cooked in water with 1 portion of dried fruit served with milk from allowance
  • Tomatoes and mushrooms on toast: boil 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes well to reduce to a thick consistency and season well with freshly ground black pepper. Spoon on to 1 large slice toasted wholegrain bread and serve  with 10 grilled mushrooms
  • 2 eggs scrambled with milk from allowance and served with 100g grilled tomatoes and unlimited grilled mushrooms
  • 100g low-fat natural yoghurt mixed with 140g frozen fruit

5 lunches

  • 1 pitta bread, split open, spread with very low-fat mayonnaise and filled with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and 100g cooked chicken or vegetarian alternative
  • Mixed bean salad: mix together 100g drained, canned chickpeas, 100g red kidney beans and 25g sweetcorn kernels. Add 2 sliced spring onions, 1 sliced tomato, unlimited chopped celery, peppers and cucumber, and mix well. Toss in a fat-free dressing of your choice and add freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Tuna or chicken pasta salad: 110g cooked pasta shapes mixed with either 50g drained canned tuna in brine or 30g chopped cooked chicken breast, plus unlimited chopped peppers, onion, cucumber, tomato and celery and 2 tsps reduced-fat extra Light Mayonnaise
  • Simple minestrone soup - click here for the recipe
  • Chicken and rice salad: 80g (cooked weight) boiled basmati rice mixed with 60g cooked chopped chicken breast (no skin), chopped peppers, onion, mushrooms, celery and 1 tbsp sweetcorn kernels. Season with freshly ground black pepper and soy sauce or fat-free dressing of your choice

5 dinners

  • Half and half spaghetti bolognese - click here for the recipe
  • 150g lean pork (all visible fat removed), grilled, served with 115g new potatoes (boiled in skins), 200g other vegetables of your choice, plus low-fat gravy and 1 tbsp apple sauce
  • Leftover chicken pasta - click here for the recipe
  • 1 x 200g oven-baked sweet potato topped with 200g baked beans and served with a side salad tossed in a low-fat dressing of your choice
  • Quorn sausages, grilled, served with 100g mashed potato, plus cooked green vegetables and low-fat gravy