Published: 22/06/2022

Spend less but eat well

Healthy eating is important and doesn’t need to be expensive. Our tips will give you some ideas to help you spend less but eat well.

Top tips to save money when shopping

Make a meal plan, particularly for your main meals.

Check what food you already have at home to avoid buying things you don’t need and write a shopping list.

Select a time to shop when you’re not in a rush.

Avoid shopping on an empty stomach. It may affect what and how much you buy. Try shopping after you’ve eaten.

Special offers are not always the cheapest option.

Ask at your supermarket when fresh food is reduced and try to shop then.

Don’t purchase more than you need or can store. Use within the specified date or freeze for later.

Value brands often taste just as good for a lower price.

Local food markets offer locally-sourced foods which are usually good value for money.

Cheaper products are not always at eye level. Check out all the shelves.

Larger supermarkets have a bigger range of produce, often more cheaply, so do your main shop there if possible.

5-a-day on a budget

Choose seasonal fruits and vegetables which are less expensive and more plentiful. As example, strawberries in summer and parsnips in winter. Find out more here

Loose produce, such as loose apples are often cheaper than those packaged.

“Wonky” stuff usually costs less but is just as nutritious

Tinned fruits and vegetables are cheap and quick options to add to meals. A portion of baked beans is one of your 5-a-day and a source of protein. Choose fruit in natural juice rather than syrup and vegetables in water without added salt for a healthier choice.

Frozen fruit and vegetables are good value and highly nutritious as the nutrients are sealed in during the freezing process. Being pre-prepared makes cooking quicker and easier.

A small, cupped handful (30g) of dried fruit for example raisins or apricots, is a portion you can be add to your cereal or salad.

Local allotments or community gardens may have cheap fruits and vegetables for sale

How to read a label

Use the unit pricing to check the price of a food for a specific unit of weight when deciding which product to buy. It helps choose correctly when the sizes are different, or on a 'special offer'. Unit pricing can help you get better value for money, but remember to still only purchase what you need to avoid wasting your food and money.

As example:

Cornflakes Cereal 720g - £2.40 - £0.33/100g

Cornflakes Cereal 1kg - £3.00 - £0.30/100g

Cooking tips and reducing food waste

Make your favourite takeaway food at home, for example curry and rice or stir fry with noodles

Make homemade soups from leftover vegetables

Leave fruit and vegetable skins on wherever possible and suitable. If peeling is required, some peelings can be added to recipes like soups or stews

Reduce your meat portions and have a meat free meal or day at least once per week. Replace protein sources with alternatives, for example, add chickpeas to curry or baked beans to shepherd’s pie

Prepare a homemade packed lunch with leftovers from the night before or a sandwich

Have a stock of herbs and spices to add flavour to meals. Mixed herbs are good to add to most savoury dishes

Freeze excess food, such as bread and other perishables. Most foods can be frozen, so look at the packaging for guidance

Bulk or batch cook meals if you can. Freeze or refrigerate leftovers for convenience and save money

Budget meal ideas

These budget meal ideas are low cost and meet healthy eating guidelines.


Value cereals, milk and a portion of dried fruit

Porridge oats soaked overnight with yoghurt and frozen berries

Hot porridge topped with dried fruit

Eggs, baked beans or nut butter on brown toast

Cheese and vegetable omelette


Egg or cheese spread or cheese and cucumber sandwiches

Homemade or tinned soup with brown bread

Tinned fish on toast or in a sandwich served with salad

Baked potato with beans, cheese, cottage cheese or tinned fish with salad

Evening meal

Veggie burger with homemade potato wedges and frozen peas

Cottage pie served with peas and carrots

Chicken and vegetable stew with Jollof rice or couscous

Tuna and sweetcorn pasta bake

Vegetable curry and rice

Rice and peas with mackerel in tomato sauce


Tinned or seasonal fruit served with yoghurt

Homemade apple crumble and custard

Rice pudding with jam


Malt loaf with low fat spread

Carrot, cucumber or celery sticks with hummus

Cheese and crackers

Boiled egg

Sliced apple with peanut butter

Microwave popcorn