How To Eat Healthy On A Budget

We have good news. With a few simple tweaks to your regular shopping habits, you can eat healthy on a budget. We asked Johannesburg-based dietician, Abby Courtenay for her five wallet-friendly tips to stay on track…

eat healthy on a budget

Choose foods that are super (not superfoods)

If you want to eat healthy on a budget, it’s best to steer clear of superfoods claiming to help you lose weight, look younger, feel healthier etc. In fact, studies in the UK have shown that fresh strawberries have a similar antioxidant content to goji berries, but are half the price!

Foods that are high in nutrients but easy on your budget include:

  • Proteins such as eggs, chicken livers or sardines / pilchards
  • Starches such as beans, sweet potatoes, lentils, chickpeas, barley, brown rice or oats
  • Fats such as sunflower seeds or canola oil
  • Fruits and vegetables including any seasonal produce. In summer months, focus on berries and in winter, opt for the vitamin C rich citrus fruits and guavas. Also try to buy in bulk with another family or plant a vegetable garden. This is the simplest way to eat healthy on a budget.

Ditch juices and coldrinks

Not only are these items expensive, they’re also high in sugar and low in nutrients. Go easy on your budget and waistline by opting for water (hot/ cold, plain or sparkling) with a slice of lemon, cucumber or apple slices for taste.

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Skip the daily cuppa

There’s nothing like a morning coffee to get you going, but your daily trip to the coffee shop could be costing you a whopping R850 a month! Rather make your coffee at home in a pretty travel mug or start a new tea ritual every morning, says Abby. Herbal teas such as Rooibos are high in antioxidants and budget-friendly too. Just beware of added sugar and honey.

Cook in bulk and freeze

In a recent w&h survey, results showed that only 12% of readers do regular meal prepping, while over 50% of women don’t cook in bulk and freeze for later use. But the truth is, cooking and freezing foods not only saves you time, it saves loads of money too, says Abby.
Casseroles, soups and grains freeze well and are easily reheated on those busy days where you don’t manage to cook from scratch, says Abby. Cooking ahead and freezing foods will also help you to steer clear of eating out too often or relying on more expensive ready-made foods or take-out meals, which also tend to be higher in fat, sugar and preservatives.

Bulk up on veggies

They’re super-filling thanks to the high fibre content, low in fat and nutritious. Did we also mention that piling your trolley with a variety of vegetables is cost-effective too? Much cheaper than loading up on meat, fish and poultry. Take advantage of weekly specials at the supermarket too.

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Grocery cupboard must-haves

Take a fresh look at your grocery cupboard. A can of this, a jar of that – it can all contribute to time-saving and healthy cooking.

Tin tactics

Canned food is nutritious and can be a lifesaver to the busy cook when you’re stuck for what to make for supper on a cold night. A  good range of beans and pulses is a must to have on standby, as your portion counts to five-a-day and they’re a good source of protein and fibre. Try chickpeas, lentils, cannelini beans or kidney beans. They’re great in soups and salads.

Meat alternatives

When a recipe calls for minced beef or lamb, replace half of the meat with brown lentils to up your intake of vegetables, rather than animal protein. This is not only a budget-friendly move, it’s also great for your digestion as it contains more fibre and less fat.

Fishy facts

Canned fish such as pilchards, tuna and sardines will give you a healthy meal in minutes. Serve them on rye toast or a wholewheat muffin with a sprinkle of grated cheese. This will also provide you with essential fatty acids and much-needed calcium.

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These offer a great way to add flavour without kilojoules and are known for their healing properties. Try a teaspoon of turmeric powder in rice, or ground coriander in a stew. Buy whole seeds or pods and crush them yourself as they keep their flavour for longer.

Want to get in touch with Abby for more healthy tips and advice? Visit or call 011 023 8051

DISCLAIMER: Before starting any diet, you should speak to your doctor. You must not rely on the information on this website/newsletter as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.

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