How to eat healthily on a shoestring budget

Last post: Aug 16, 2018

The recent vogue for "clean eating" can come across as an expensive affair, all about costly, exotic ingredients. But you don't need £50 manuka honey to eat healthily, just follow these tips!

It would be easy to see healthy eating (especially trendy "clean eating") as the preserve of the well-off. Who else could afford to shell out £20 a month on goji berries for their organic superfood granola? But the truth is, there's a difference between healthy eating and faddy eating. In fact, eating simply but healthily could actually reduce your monthly food budget, thanks to its reliance on pleasingly low cost-high volume ingredients, including vegetables and pulses. 

On the flipside, there are many people with smaller budgets who believe that heavily processed frozen food and takeaways are simply a cheaper option for them and their families. These foods take very little effort or energy to prepare (often crucial for busy, hard-working people) and don't break the bank. However, not only are these foods often very bad for you over the long term, cooking up big batches of healthy food you can freeze and quickly reheat can be just as cost-effective and convenient. 

Want to give it a whirl? Here are three tips you use to spend less on eating healthily this week...

1. Focus on vegetables, reduce meat

Cutting down on the amount of fish and meat you consume will make a big difference to your bottom line. There are tens of thousands of really great vegetarian recipes to be found on line for free. Compared to high protein, high volume, low cost items (such as chickpeas and lentils), meat is disproportionately expensive. A more vegetable-packed diet is also much healthier for you, especially if you're used to consuming lots of red meat or processed meat.

2. Find your inspiration
There are so many brilliant cooks and bloggers out there who love sharing their low-cost, healthy recipes with readers. Add these awesome people to your bookmarks bar to get inspired to cook cheaper, healthier food. Some foodies even cost up their recipes, so you know exactly what you'll be spending per portion (Jack Monroe of Cooking on a Bootstrap is especially good at this!). Check out blogs like Skint Dad and even BBC Good Food for more ideas.

3. Batch cook & freeze
One not-so-cheap issue with healthy fresh fruit and vegetables is that they can go off quickly. It's often much cheaper to buy bunches and bulk portions of veg (rather than a single courgette per day, for example), but if they go mouldy before you can eat them - it's false economy! So, rather than letting your veg get past its best, stock up cheaply, cook big batches of good healthy stuff and then freeze everything ready for munching at a later date. Hey presto! Healthy, very low-cost ready meals whenever you want them.

No time to turn those blackening bananas into a smoothie, banana bread or banana pancakes? Just chuck them in the freezer! This is a brilliantly simple way to extend the shelf life of virtually any fruit or vegetable.

Do you have any favourite cheap healthy recipes? Share them with other readers below! Reached the bottom of your budget and need fast finance to cover an unexpected expense? Contact our experts today.