These practical money saving tips will ensure you can eat healthy on a budget.
- Storage – organise your fridge and pantry so older food and leftovers do not get lost in the back. Use see-through containers that stack on top of each other so it’s easy to see what you have. Anything potentially wilting or going off goes straight in the freezer.
Check out our top tips to organise your pantry >>
- Plan your meals for the week with a shopping list to stop spontaneous purchases. Also, avoid shopping when you’re hungry! If a full week of meals sounds overwhelming, start by just planning dinners and eventually add from there.
- Practice ‘root to stem’ and ‘nose to tail’ cooking. Using the whole vegetable with leftover stalks and stems for smoothies and stocks, cauliflower and broccoli stalks and stems are great in soups. Leftover bones from roasts are great for stocks and broths. Use stems of leafy greens. After you strip off the leaves of dark leafy greens like kale, Swiss chard or collards, chop up the stems for cooking, such as a quick stir fry with onion and garlic, or simply juice them.
- Buy whole foods, that is food as close as possible to its natural form, like rice, almonds, oats, whole vegetables, etc. Grind and chop these yourself to make flours. Any processing from suppliers just adds to your bill.
- Buy fruit and vegetables that are local and in season as it costs farmers less to grow and you’re not paying as much for travel and distribution. Farmers Markets are great to know what’s local and seasonal in your area.
- Check out online retailers – many offer produce at slightly lower rates and often have great loyalty reward programmes providing additional value.
- Dive into the bargain bins. Often, many fresh food grocers and supermarkets have a discount section for food that needs to sell fast or are imperfect. Chop and freeze what you don’t need.
- Dried beans and legumes are much cheaper (and cleaner) than your tinned variety. Just remember to soak these before using.
- Check on ‘price per unit’ – Manufacturers are smart when it comes to how they package and price their products. The cheapest item may not actually be the one with the lowest final price. So make sure to compare ‘price per unit’ or ‘price per 100g’ when comparing grocery items.
- Think bulk on regular purchases. It seems pricey upfront but saves a lot over time. If you don’t have much storage, but with friends and distribute. This is great for grains and legumes as well as pantry staples such as seasonings and oils.
- Buy fresh produce in bulk when on sale or at a farmers market such as a tray of strawberries or mangoes. Eat what you can then wash, chop, and freeze the rest. Your freezer is a BIG money saver!
- Often, frozen fruit and vegetables are cheaper than the fresh variety such as berries, plus they last a log longer so there’s less waste.
- If any fruit or vegetables are going bad, cut them up and freeze and use for smoothies or soups for another time. Waste nothing!
- Keep your vegetable scraps like onions, garlic, carrot ends, celery leaves, etc and store in a container or a bag in the freezer. Use these for homemade stocks and broths. Saves on the chopping up too!
- Freeze leftover chicken, beef, or fish bones to make your meat broths and stocks. Keep adding to these in your freezer stash until you have enough. For example, I use about 3 leftover chicken frames or the equivalent in legs to make chicken bone broth.
Here’s our chicken bone broth recipe >>
- Choose vegetables wisely as they vary greatly in price. Root vegetables like onions, carrots, and celery are inexpensive year round. Add these for extra nutrients, bulk, and flavour in savoury meat and vegetable dishes. Potatoes and cabbage are also inexpensive and filling. Snack on cheaper fruit like apples, bananas, and melons (they also last long!).
- Opt for homemade smoothies instead of juices, which are more filling by using up the whole fruit and vegetable.
- If juicing fruit and veg, make sure to save the pulp in the freezer for smoothies.
- If you’d like to buy organic but you’re on a budget, start with going organic only for the Dirty Dozen list (the 12 fruit and vegetables most heavily sprayed with pesticides). Or simply wash everything extremely well and peel.
Check out our latest Dirty Dozen list >>
- Review your recipes – lentil and legume based meals are very cost effective, so are using economic root vegetables. Examples are lentil dhals, curries, bean soups and stews. Add chickpeas, beans, potatoes, quinoa, and rice to bulk up salads.
Here’s a great Dhal recipe to start the inspiration >>
- Avoid the salad and spinach leaves that come in the clear plastic boxes and bags. Instead, buy whole bunches as you get more for your money and they last longer.
- Buy cheap cuts of meat, such as meat on the bone, brisket, chuck steak, whole chickens, chicken legs, wings and thighs, lamb shoulders, etc. These are much cheaper than fillet meat. They’re great to use in casseroles, soups, and stews. Make a big batch and have lots of leftovers. Same with fish, on the bone with skin intact.
Check out this brisket recipe >>
- Extend mince dishes like Spaghetti Bolognese and Chile Con Carne by adding a cup of dried red lentils to bulk up the dinner. This will increase nutrients and no one will know the difference.
- Stretch leftover dinners with clean carbs such as baked sweet potato and pumpkin, roast potatoes, and gluten free grains (rice and quinoa), beans and legumes. Make a double batch of rice so leftovers are always at hand to bulk up a meal.
- Try offal (organ meats) – since many don’t have a taste for it or know how to cook with them, these highly nutritious organs come at a bargain.
- Use dried herbs and spices instead of the fresh variety of many recipes. Herbs are pricey and often don’t last long. You can also freeze fresh herbs too in olive oil in ice cube trays. Or grow your own herbs – you don’t need much room or even a garden or green fingers. Herbs like parsley, rosemary, thyme, chives, and mint are all pretty resilient.
- Never buy coconut milk. Always choose coconut cream. If you need coconut milk, just use half cream and half water. You pay almost the same for both.
- Make your own almond, nut and seed milk and butter. They are so quick to make and cost so much less than store bought products.
Here’s our almond milk recipe >>
- Save almond pulp. If making your own almond milk, remember to save the almond pulp and dry them out by popping on a baking tray in the oven for 20 minutes on a low heat. You’ve just made ‘activated’ almond meal which you can use in gluten free baking recipes.
More details here >>
- Learn to preserve and ferment. Canning, fermenting, freezing, and dehydrating are just a few of the preservation methods that can help your food last longer and reduce food waste. Plus fermenting is an excellent way to boost gut health.
Find out more about fermenting here >>
See, you don’t have to break the bank to eat well. There are many ways to eat healthy on a tight budget. Also, keep in mind that junk food costs you twice, as bad health comes with medical costs and drugs. Do what you can, at the end of the day you really can’t put a price on good health.