Nutritious Eating on a Budget

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget

When training for an IM or 70.3, daily fuel needs can end up taking up a significant part of the household budget. What are some handy ways of fueling your body with great quality fuel, whilst also not breaking the bank? Read on…

Choose In-Season Fruit and Vegetables

Prices often go up and down according to seasonal and environmental factors. When you go to buy your produce, choose what is on special, or in season. These foods are usually cheaper, and fresher too.

Eat at Home

This can be a great cost saver. Whilst that $12 steak night at your local may seem like a bargain, you can very likely cook a healthy, delicious meal at home for half that. And whilst you’re at it, cook in bulk, and freeze extra portions. This often costs less per meal, and is a great time saver. Soups, casseroles and pasta sauces all freeze really well (as do many of the choices in the link above!).

Buy Generic, Buy in Bulk

Buy generic brands, and buy in bulk: Often these are identical to the more expensive ‘name brands’, at a fraction of the cost. Foods that are often cheaper to buy in larger quantities include breakfast cereals, barley, quinoa, rice and pasta.

Featured photo via Visualhunt

Make the Most of Frozen and Canned Choices

These won’t go off if you don’t make it home for dinner, thus can be used whenever you need them. This isn’t limited to baked beans or chickpeas; it also includes canned fish. Fish is often thought of as pricey, however canned options can come in at a much lower cost. Choose those that are in spring water or olive oil for the healthiest option.

Cut Back on Meat

Whilst I’m not suggesting you become a vegetarian (unless you wish to), reducing intake of meat is good for both your health, your budget and the environment. Aiming for meat consumption to be less than 100g per day is recommended, particularly from a bowel health perspective. Swapping meat for legumes, nuts, seeds or tofu can be a cost effective way of meeting daily protein needs, whilst also doing good for the environment and your health as well. Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils or black beans are a particularly cost effective choice, with both dried and canned options significantly lower cost than similar quantities of meat.

Shop Smart

Check supermarket catalogues for what is on special to help you plan your meals, and avoid throwing extra items in the trolley whilst you’re there by making a list before you go. Also, avoid doing your food shopping when you’re hungry; this is a great way to come home with extra blocks of chocolate and ice cream. Also consider the packaging; do you really need the fancy jar? Or could you buy the same one in the paper sealed packet, and put in a jar you already own when you get home?

Buy What You Need

Finally, buy all the basic foods you need (those on that list you wrote), such as bread, milk, yoghurt, fruit, vegetables, cereals and meat before considering other extra foods, and if they fit into your budget or not.

Healthy Isn’t Necessarily More Expensive

Whilst the below prices are approximations in an Australian context, I’d love to hear some options from other parts of the globe too! Consider that:

  • Bananas are often $3/kg, whereas that slice of banana bread comes in at $12/kg.
  • 150g of potatoes is 60c, where the same amount of potato crisps is $2.90
  • 30g of rolled oats is only 15c, whereas the same quantity of a breakfast bar is 60c
  • 100g fresh chicken is 40c, whilst 100g of BBQ chicken is 55c, or 100g premade kebabs is $1.40
  • 100g apples is 60c, 100g of sultanas is $1.25, whilst a 100g fruit bar is $1.90, or a 100g chocolate bar is $4.30.
Chloe McLeod
Chloe McLeod
Chloe McLeod has had a keen interest in nutrition from a young age due to food intolerances as well as a realization about the important role food plays in an active lifestyle. She has a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition & Dietetics, a master’s degree in Public Health, has received Sports Dietetics training through the Australian Institute of Sport, and has earned qualifications for ISAK Level 1, and is a member of DAA, SDA, and PINES. She is a two-time marathoner, avid trail runner, and also enjoys staying active through snowboarding and Pilates.