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Healthy Eating on a budget

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. Use these tips below to make healthy choices while staying within your budget.

Check what food you already have

Look in your cabinets, fridge & freezer. What food do you already have? Use what you already have to save money. If you are not sure what you could make with the ingredients you have on hand  - go here. Enter your ingredients & it will provide you with some recipes!

Plan Meals

Get organised by writing up a meal plan for the week. After you have looked at what ingredients you already have think about what meals you want to make during the week. Think about Breakfast. Lunch, dinner & snacks. You can use this downloadable Weekly Meal Planner template.

Find  more information on meal planning by going to the Learn Cook Eat Meal Planning section.

Shopping list

Once you have planned out your weekly meal plan you can begin to create a shopping list. List ingredients you don’t already have that you will need to buy to make each recipe. There are a number of online tools & apps that you can use. Some suggestions are this & this.  Or try our template to make shopping quick & easy!

Buy Seasonal Fruits & Veg

Fruits & vegetables are cheapest when they are in season. Download the Fruit, Herb & Vegetable fact sheet to find out which foods are in season when planning your meals & shopping list. Also check out your local fresh food market such as Queen Vic Market as they can often be cheaper than the supermarket. Find out what local food markets are in your area.

Choose Home Brand Products

Home brand products are a range of household products & foods that are generally lower in cost than brand named products. They are often much cheaper and just as good quality.  The range includes dairy, meat, snacks, treats and staple ingredients (pasta, rice, flour etc) and cleaners.  The home brand name is packaged under the brand name of the supermarket.

For example:

You may not find everting you need under the home brand name but you can find many pantry staples.

Look at Unit Pricing

Some items might have a higher price but if you look at the unit price per serving you might see that it’s the best value per 100g. In the below example the second breakfast cereal seems cheaper but the actual unit price is higher making it a more expensive than the top option:


Buy Canned or Frozen Fruit & Vegetables

Frozen and canned fruit and vegetables can be a cheap and healthy alternative to fresh items. Also handy to have on hand as a pantry staple when you are low on ingredients and want to make up something quickly.

Cook at Home

You might be surprised to learn that often cooking at home ends up much cheaper than buying premade meals & takeaway. Cook more than you need, place in a container & freeze for another day. Try some healthy & affordable recipes here.

Other tips:

  • Look for markdowns towards the end of the day fresh produce such as bread are often marked down in price. Place bread in the freezer to keep it fresh & use as needed. Other bakery goods, deli goods and BBQ chickens are also often marked down near the end of the day.
  • Consider switching out meat for legumes or pulses — This can also help you to add more vegetables to your diet and will save you money, too. Check out these lentil recipes
  • Other protein swaps – swap meat in some recipes for tofu, tinned or frozen fish, lentils, chickpeas or eggs.
  • Buy meat to freeze — save money by buying meat when it’s on special or marked down. Place it in the freezer then thaw when ready to use.

Download Heathy Eating on a Budget factsheet

Pantry Staples

Having some basic staples in your pantry can save you time and money by always having something on hand to whip up a quick meal or snack.

Some good staples to have on hand include:

  • Tinned vegetables like tomatoes, corn and legumes are a great way to quickly add in extra veggies to your favourite meals like pasta sauces and soups. Having  a packet of vegetable or beef broth is an easy way to add flavour to your vegies or quickly whip up a veggie soup.
  • Legumes like chickpeas, beans and lentils are classified as a protein and a vegetable. They are an affordable option to have on hand and are full of fibre. Tinned legumes are already cooked, so they’re quick and easy to add to salads, pasta dishes and soups. Try this pasta salad or lentil bolognese.
  • Tinned fish including sardines, mackerel, salmon and tuna are an easy option, affordable and full of healthy fats. Stir through pasta sauces and salads, add to a sandwich, layer on top of a sweet baked potato with salad or a piece of toast as a quick snack.
  • Pasta makes up a quick addition to  add meals. Use other pantry staples like canned fish, tinned tomatoes with a touch of salt & pepper! Try out this pasta bake.
  • Herbs & spices are a simple way to add more flavour to your meals and make them taste extra delicious! Things like salt, pepper, soy sauce, smoked paprika (try the sweet potato wedges recipe)  and dried herbs like rosemary for roasted vegetables.
Check out this pantry staple checklist for a more detailed list of pantry staples to add to your pantry.

Useful resources

An all-in-one app for recipe saving, meal planning, grocery shopping, and recipe sharing! Join the Learn Cook Eat community!

No time, No Money
Weekly meal plans & shopping lists based on a $55 weekly budget including breakfast, lunch & dinner. You can download that here

Sanitarium - Healthy Eating on a Budget Cook Book

A cookbook with 5 vegetarian meals from 10 ingredients, plus tips on healthy eating.

Learn Cook Eat