UG3: Eating Healthily on a restricted budget

Eat well for less

[RETURN MAIN APP]

Introduction
(Click)
Eating healthily does not need to be expensive, and if you make a bit of effort it can readily be cheaper than your normal unplanned weekly spend. The key principles are to plan in advance and not buy ‘extras’, take advantage of the fact that there are many cheaper and cheaper options for healthy foods, build up an understanding of what are more healthy foods, and, if available, make effective use of your freezer.
'Have a meal plan'
(Click)
Have a meal plan, and plan your weekly shopping around your meal plan. See guidance under UG5 on Meal Plans. There are many benefits of getting into the habit of using meal plans and basing your food shopping on it, including reducing waste and saving money, helping to ensure a healthy diet, and reducing stress and saving time.
'Expensive does not = healthy'
(Click)
Don’t be seduced into believing more expensive foods are healthier. For example supermarket branded foods are for the most part as healthy as other more familiar brands, and almost certainly cheaper, though do check they are not loaded with extra sugar. And there are many types of food which are relatively cheap and are healthy, many types of fruits and vegetables for example, though the prices can vary significantly through the year, and also foods such as dried beans, peas, and whole grains such as brown rice are inexpensive, as are many tinned foods.
‘Buy when cheaper’
(Click)
Pay attention to which foods are cheaper at a given time, such as when they are in season. The price of many fresh foods such as vegetables and fruits change significantly through the year. Don’t be a slave to certain foods no matter what their costs. Adapt your meal plans through different parts of the year to align with the differing costs. Tinned foods or dried fruit and vegetables are often available cheaper than the same foods when not in season. Also some supermarkets reduce the price of fresh items towards the end of the day: but you’ll probably need to learn the best time to go, and also ensure you will use them within their use by date.
‘Reduce your food waste’
(Click)
Learn not to waste food, for example having food in your fridge or cupboards which goes out of date before you use it. Don’t buy big portions of food with limited use by dates unless you are sure you are going to use it as part of your meal plans. In particular be wary of ‘offers’ which encourage you to buy more than you will typically eat and you will be left either wasting it, or consuming more than you would rather.
‘Use your freezer’
(Click)
If you have a freezer then use it for cheaper bulk buys that you won’t eat within the use by date, and also to store meal portions when it is more economical in time and money to cook for more than one meal.
‘Shop around’
(Click)
Do be aware that the price of many items vary from shop to shop, sometimes quite considerably. There are stores which are generally cheaper for most things, though some of them don’t have the same variety of products. Online supermarket price comparisons can let you select a basket of products and then identify the cheapest supplier. And different stores often have promotions of different things at different times. It is generally a false economy spending a significant amount of time continually looking to buy everything as cheap as possible, but be aware there are differences and take advantage of them albeit within limits and as opportunity allows.
'Coupons and vouchers’
(Click)
Many stores offer coupons and vouchers, in order to attempt to create loyalty. Collect them and be disciplined about their use, they can save money, but don’t believe their use outweighs otherwise good buying habits. Be very wary about being seduced into buying things you don’t want just to qualify for a coupon, since the savings from the coupon probably don’t outweigh the costs of buying what you don’t want or you waste.
'Miscellaneous’
(Click)
Have a shopping list and stick to it: don’t browse. Don’t go shopping when you’re feeling hungry.
Links
(Click)