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How to eat well on a budget

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The price of food is rising as a result of supply and demand and healthy foods can pay a price. Fresh fruit and vegetables can be expensive and we need this food group to provide us with vitamins and minerals. Families may not be able to afford to eat healthy on a budget especially if they have more than one child to feed.

As a children’s healthy weight advisor I get asked many questions from parents with their struggles of not being able to afford to buy healthy foods as they have to feed a large family and no time to cook.

So how can you eat healthy if you are on a budget?

When it comes to buying fruit and vegetables remember frozen, dried and tinned is just as good and can work out cheaper. Supermarkets own brands and basic/value brands are much cheaper than manufacturer brands. Buying loose fruits and vegetables rather than packed ones can be cost effective. Cooking a big hearty vegetable soup/dish with a variety of vegetables can actually last you for a few days saving you going to the supermarket to top up your fruit and vegetables. Look out for offers on fruit and vegetables and sometimes when the use by date is near to expiry fruit and vegetables will be on offer. Going to a local market to buy fruit and vegetables and stores such as Aldi, Lidl’s and Asda may be more affordable.

Here are some tips to help you get the balance right don’t panic!

  • Cook large portions so you can freeze your meals and any left overs you can have it the next day.
  • Meals such as shepherd’s pie, casserole, stir fry, spaghetti bolognaise, rice and curry require a few basic ingredients and can feed a large number of people. They are also filling and nutritious if you add lots of vegetables.
  • Plan your meals for the week
  • Make a shopping list
  • Ready meals and frozen pizzas can be pricey
  • Make your own pizza, you can even buy a plain base and add your own toppings
  • Jacket potato with beans is a cost effective meal, add some salad on the side and your meal is complete
  • Make sure your store cupboard is packed with food supplies such as tinned tomato, rice, pasta, porridge oats, tinned pulses and tinned foods.
  • Fish and meat can be expensive- look out for offers, sometimes buying cheaper cuts of meat and a whole chicken can be cost effective and frozen fish fillets can work out cheaper.
  • Any fruit or vegetables that you think may be getting spoilt-don’t waste but make something out of it such as a soup, casserole, or crumble.
  • Buy what you need for the week
  • Opt for wholegrain foods which can keep you fuller for longer which mean smaller portions
  • Make your pasta sauce using tinned tomatoes instead of buying readymade sauces.
  • Porridge is a great cheap breakfast and you can make extra and use it for the next day
  • Freeze your bread
  • Cut back on your takeaway and fast foods and make your own from scratch-you know what ingredients are going into your food if you make your own meals
  • If you go out to eat share your food to cut back on costs as we know portion sizes can be larger at restaurants
  • Opt for tinned pulses which are cheap, quick to cook, packed with protein and incorporate them in your meals
  • Pasta, rice & cous cous- you only need a small portion and if you buy a larger quantity it can last you for longer.
  • Buying some foods in bulk can work out cheaper

Price differences between branded and supermarket own products

Heinz baked beans = £2.70 for four tins    Tesco own brand baked beans = £1 for four tins

24 pack of Weetabix = £2.00                         24 pack of Tesco wheat biscuits = £1.30

1kg Tesco Farmhouse frozen vegetables = £1.40

370g Tesco Carrot, Cauliflower & Broccoli fresh vegetables = £1.30

1.16kg Tesco Everyday Value Mixed Vegetables = 95p

Here are some websites that can help you to both eat healthily and save money:

British Heart Foundation – Healthy eating on a budget

NHS Choices – 20 tips to eat well for less

Tesco – On a budget recipes

BBC Good Food – Cheap and Healthy recipes

healthy food