Tips for eating well on a budget

Niamh Hennessy
Lead Dietitian, Cromwell Hospital
05 July 2023
Next review due July 2026

Eating well is key for good health. But with rising costs it can be hard to achieve a balanced diet without spending a lot. Here we look at some easy ways to eat a healthy diet while keeping costs low.

family having dinner together

How to eat cheaply and healthily

It can be hard to know where to begin when trying to eat well for less. But there’s lots of help available. You might like to start by going through your cupboards and freezer and making a list of what you already have.

It’s easy to forget about things hidden away at the back of shelves and you can end up buying things you don’t need.

Meal planning is another way to minimise any food waste. This is good for your budget but also the planet. You can print off a free meal planning template to stick on the fridge or try an online version to keep handy on your phone.

Remember to plan for healthy snacks and drinks as well as meals. This will prevent you running to the corner shop for overpriced and less healthy snacks when you’re already hungry.

How can I eat 5 a day on a budget?

Eating at least five portions of fruit and veg a day is essential. It helps you to prevent nutrient deficiencies, get enough fibre, and protects against a range of chronic diseases. But rising costs can make this a challenge.

Below are some affordable ways to reach your 5 a day:

  • use tinned and frozen veg
  • choose seasonal, locally grown fruit and veg
  • try markets and international food stores
  • bulk cook and freeze veggie stews
  • remember that beans and pulses count too

5 top tips to eat well on a budget

  • Try growing your own. If you have a balcony, garden, or even a windowsill you can try growing a range of fresh fruit and veg. You could try growing your favourite herbs, baby carrots, tomatoes, and strawberries. Most local supermarkets sell reasonably priced seeds, and there’s lots of free advice online to get you started.
  • Try excess food apps. There are some brilliant food share apps now, such as too good to go. Here you collect a range of surplus food from local shops. The options include daily groceries, fresh bread, and fruit and veg. You can feel good about preventing food waste, whilst also saving money.
  • Experiment with international cuisine. Many cultures use healthy everyday staples such as rice, lentils, beans, and veg. You can then add flavour to these meals with small amounts of spices. Try to experiment with Indian or Mediterranean recipes which can keep costs down and taste good.
  • Don’t fear frozen. The nutritional value of frozen food can be better than fresh. The vegetables and fruits used are often frozen immediately after picking to retain the nutrients. You can get a wide range of frozen veg and fruit which can be added straight into sauces and stews.
  • Bulk with beans. Beans are a versatile, cheap, and nutrient dense food choice. Many recipes can benefit from the addition of beans, from a minestrone soup to a chilli. You can also choose to reduce the amount of meat you consume by adding beans. The protein content will keep you full and you can save money by buying less meat too.

Other ideas include:

  • Try to recreate your favourite takeaway at home. Try using home brand products to make a tasty curry, a home-made pizza, or a Chinese dish you love. This can save you lots of money over time if you tend to eat a takeout once a week.
  • Take snacks with you. You can end up spending a lot on pre-prepared snacks at train stations or convenience stores. Instead, carry with you some fruit and nut mix, home-made energy balls, or boiled eggs.
  • Once a week use up the fruit and veg in your fridge. You could make some smoothies for breakfast, and some soups combining any leftover produce.

Infographic: 5 ways to eat well on a budget

The following infographic shares 5 helpful tips to eat well on a budget. Click on the image to open a larger PDF version of the infographic (PDF, 0.6 MB).

Bupa's infographic on 5 tips to eat well on a budget

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Niamh Hennessy
Niamh Hennessy
Lead Dietitian, Cromwell Hospital



Julia Ebbens, Health Content Editor at Bupa UK

    • Personal correspondence with Niamh Hennessy, Bupa Dietitian, June 2023
    • How to get your 5 a day. British association of dietitians., August 2020
    • Eat well and spend less. British association of dietitians., April 2021
    • Pulses. British heart foundation., accessed 30 June 2023.

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