One of the biggest concerns for my family is how to save money on food and eat healthy. We enjoy good food and eating a good diet, so my worry when we decided to start living more frugally was that our health would suffer. What I’ve learned, however, is that it’s definitely possible to enjoy a healthy diet on a budget.
There are a number of health-conscious budget-friendly grocery items that you should regularly have on your shopping list. These items will not only be good for you but will also save you money.
- Tinned tomatoes
- Dried lentils
- Tinned fish
- Pollack or similar frozen white fish
- Canned beans
- Turkey Mince/Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
- Turkey leg
- Stock cubes
With these items, I can already think of plenty of good meals:
- Chilli con Carne
- Roast Turkey, potatoes, and vegetables
- Spaghetti bolognese
- Lentil and meatloaf with potatoes and carrots
- Tuna/Salmon pasta bake
- Poached fish with potatoes and vegetables
- Lentil burgers and homemade chips
I also recommend checking out Cooking on a Bootstrap for loads of exceptional cheap and healthy meals. This site is also ideal for Vegans on a budget as the author follows a vegan diet.
Tips For Saving Money on Groceries
There are plenty of ways I save money on food. I don’t believe it’s too difficult to reduce the cost of your groceries. Here are some of my top tips.
Grocery shopping on a tight budget
- Reduce the frequency in which you go to the store. Try to aim for a minimum of once a week. If you have a decent sized freezer, you could reduce this to once a fortnight or even once a month.
- Try shopping in smaller discount supermarkets like Aldi or Lidl. Both have an excellent selection of low-cost foods. They also have organic and international options that would cost a fortune in the mainstream grocers.
- Take a shopping list and stick to it. It can be quite general (such as beans rather than kidney beans) to allow you to get the cheapest option.
- Avoid the crisps, sweets, and soda aisles. These products are unhealthy and unnecessary.
- Buy ingredients that can be used in a variety of meals. That way you’re not stuck with a rigid meal plan. Chilli and bolognese, for example, use very similar items.
- Try grey market stores such as Home Bargains or B&M for canned and dry goods. My local Home Bargains even sells fruit and vegetables too. You’ll get things at a fraction of the price of the supermarkets.
- Shop in the season for fruit and vegetables. There are some items that will always be the cheapest option, however, such as carrots and bananas.
- Avoid ready meals or fad items. Eat home cooked meals that you enjoy, not that you’ve seen on Buzzfeed.
- Check out Muscle Food for lean cut meat at low prices. I just got my first meat-hamper this week and it’s fantastic. It’s packaged to fit well in the freezer and the quality is exceptional.
7 Ways to Eat Healthy on a Low Budget
- Get rid of the unhealthy extras you don’t need. Soda can be replaced by water. Crisps can be replaced by homemade breadsticks. There are so many ways to cut back on junk eating.
- Plan your meal in the morning so you can ensure everything is out of the freezer ready to be cooked in the evening.
- Don’t be afraid to try canned or frozen alternatives that last longer and are just as healthy. If you don’t live near the coast then you should opt for frozen fish anyway, I assure you your fresh fish will not be as fresh as you’d like.
- Fill your freezer so you have food ready to be defrosted without needing to shop frequently. I freeze bread, fish, vegetables, milk, meat, and much more. Having a freezer makes saving money so convenient.
- In addition make up your own frozen ready meals, using plastic containers and a Sharpie to label them. You then have a selection of easy go-to meals ready for busy days.
- Learn how to make your own “take-away” meals. I make my own Chinese Lemon Chicken, KFC Style burgers, and pizza. All three meals are lower in fat and additives than the order-in versions. My family prefers my homemade pizza to a Domino’s.
- Cut back on booze. If you must drink keep it a weekend only thing and in moderation. Your liver and bank balance will thank you.
My Own Experience of Eating Healthy Food on a Budget
I’m really enjoying learning how to save money and eat healthy at the same time. It’s making me far more creative with my cooking and my shopping. I’m learning to make my favourite foods from scratch, discovering new places to shop, and alternatives to more expensive food items.
The biggest impact for me had been cutting back my alcohol consumption. I used to drink a couple of glasses of wine every night. Now I’ve cut back I feel more energetic, more motivated, and happier. Plus I’m saving so much money. I’ve started using the wine stock pots in my cooking when a wine is in the ingredients list. It takes away the temptation to drink the leftover wine and is far cheaper. You can get red and white wine stock pots from Tesco.