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Eating well on a limited budget

School Of Nutrition Posted May 28, 2013 Future Fit Training

As we are aware, prices for most things have been going up and groceries are no exception. Here are a few tips on how you can eat healthily on a budget.

Eating well on a limited budget

Although it is possible to eat well on a budget, it’s not easy and requires some time and effort. The good news is that the more time you spend in planning, shopping and preparing your food, the more money you’re likely to save and the more you’ll enjoy the food. 

Start planning!

  • Set aside time each week to plan meals and snacks to a set budget
  • Check any leftovers in your kitchen and plan recipes around these
  • Use the internet or a cookbook to find recipes that you can double up for ingredients
  • Make a grocery list


  • Don’t shop on an empty stomach
  • Always shop with a list and stick to it unless you find nutritious items on sale that you know you’ll use
  • Shop alone so you can focus on finding the best deals
  • Buy supermarket brands instead of named brands which are usually just as good and less expensive
  • Find and compare unit prices listed on shelves
  • Fresh vegetables and fruit can be cheaper if you buy them from the local market and if you buy them in season. Frozen vegetables tend to be cheaper than fresh varieties but still count towards your five-a-day
  • Beans and lentils, whether canned or dried, are a relatively cheap source of protein and fibre and make nutritious, hearty soups, or can be eaten as a main course with the addition of fresh vegetables or rice
  • Rice, pasta, oatmeal and barley are a good source of starchy carbohydrates and can also boost the fibre content of your diet.  They are a great addition to leftover meat and veggies. Choose wholegrain options whenever possible
  • Shop for inexpensive cuts of meat that you can slow cook in stews and casseroles
  • Canned oily fish such as sardines and salmon can be cheaper than buying fresh fish and are a good source of omega-3 fats which can help to keep the heart healthy
  • Buying in bulk is almost always cheaper

Preparing meals

  • Use leftover fruits and vegetables to make soups, salads and smoothies
  • Double recipes, then freeze half or use later in the week for lunches or quick dinners
  • Bulk up meat dishes with vegetables and beans as they tend to cost less and are a good way of getting extra nutrients into meals
  • Enjoy meatless meals at least once a week. Use cannellini beans to bulk up a pasta dish, top your salads with kidney or black beans to add flavour and texture, and mix beans with brown rice and veggies and top with tomato-based sauce for an economical and delicious meal
  • Keep an eye on portion sizes and don’t cook more than you need. Measure out foods like pasta and rice before you cook rather than guessing portion sizes
  • For breakfast, oats are packed full of nutrients and fibre and help keep you fuller for longer. Even better, they’re really cheap

 Other tips

  • Buy your groceries online to avoid temptation and know exactly what you are spending
  • Sign up to your local stores via Twitter or Facebook so that you’re alerted to deals
  • Learn how to butcher a chicken so you can use the full chicken for various subsequent meals including sandwiches , curries and soup
  • Grow your own vegetables, even if it’s only a few vegetables or herbs on your porch!

Ailbhe Bhreathnach

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