Cheap Healthy Meals: Healthy Eating On A Budget

Healthy Diet / Financial Health

Healthy eating is about finding nutritious foods you enjoy that satisfy your appetite and your body’s needs. You might think that buying healthy food will be hard on your wallet, but, with a little creativity, eating healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive.  Here are a few ideas you can use to help you eat a healthy diet and reduce your food bill.

Be realistic and add variety 

Are you going to be satisfied with a bowl of soup for lunch? Will you eat a cold salad if the weather is miserable? Base your meal plan on what you like to eat. The best way to a healthy meal plan is to be realistic and to plan healthy meals that you’ll enjoy! 

You wouldn’t find it exciting to eat the same thing every day, so be sure to add variety to your meals. Look back on your eating habits in the last week or two. What foods did you crave? What foods did you enjoy? What can you add or take away to make meals healthier? Answering these questions will help you create a healthy meal plan. 

Healthy breakfasts on a budget

Classic breakfast foods can be full of carbs – like toast, pancakes or pastries – and leave your stomach rumbling long before lunchtime. To help you feel full all morning, try swapping some carbs for high-protein ingredients like eggs, baked beans, oats or tinned fish. Eating a high-protein breakfast will help you cut out mid-morning snacks. 

If you want to eat more fruits and vegetables at breakfast and need something easy to take to work, try a smoothie with your choice of frozen berries, frozen or tinned spinach, plain Greek yoghurt, bananas or oats. You could also try overnight oats for a bit of extra breakfast variety.

Healthy lunch and dinners on a budget

You can plan your shopping list to create a wide range of meals around a few cheap, filling and healthy ingredients such as: 

  • Wholegrain rice - remember, the bigger the pack, the cheaper the rice! Check the price per kg to make sure. The ‘world food’ aisle at the supermarket is a great place to bulk buy. 
  • Potatoes - boil ‘em, mash ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew! You can have these roasted, microwaved, as chips or mashed. Give sweet potatoes a go too, as they are packed with vitamins. 
  • Pulses and beans -  chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans can be made into hummus, falafel, chilli, veggie burgers, or added to a salad to make it more filling. 
  • Tinned tomatoes - these long-life cupboard staples form the basis for a massive range of meals, such as pasta sauce, ratatouille, bolognese, chilli, some curries, etc. 
  • Frozen or tinned fish - so many options! Grill, poach, roast or shallow fry a range of seafood. 
  • White meat - always using minced beef for family favourites? Try switching it with turkey mince. It’s a lot leaner and is just as delicious (especially when you add a range of herbs and spices). 
  • Lean red meat - beef mince or Quorn can be made in several ways, such as cottage pie, lasagne, burgers and meatballs. Love chilli con carne? Swap tinned beans for your usual minced beef, and you’ll slash the cost per serving while keeping the dish healthy. 

Healthy weekly meal plans on a budget 

On weekends, it can be nice to spend hours cooking up something new and interesting, but typically, after a long day at work, you want meals that are quick and easy to knock up. 

Writing a meal plan and only buying what you’ve planned to cook and eat are great ways to avoid impulse buys and save money. 

Build your shopping list around cheap ingredients 

Build your meals around cheap staples. Make bigger batches so that you can eat leftovers from dinner for lunch the next day or freeze portions for later in the week. Supermarket meal deals might seem like they’re only a few pounds each time, but costs can add up. Plan filling lunch options that you can enjoy cold, such as a pasta salad with leftover chicken from a weekend roast or a quiche that is cheap to buy. 

Fast food favourites

If you’re trying to enjoy a healthier diet as a family and want to save on takeaways, try remaking your favourite fast foods healthily and cheaply. For example, you can make a low cost batch of burgers with lean beef mince, turkey mince or kidney beans; onion, egg and dried herbs.

The same rule of thumb applies to pizza: buying pizza bases and adding cheap toppings can be delicious - top them with tomato puree, cheese, ham or tinned mushrooms. Plus, because it’s custom made you get to enjoy the pizza without picking off the toppings you don’t like

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