Healthy eating on a budget isn’t actually that difficult. In this blog post I’m sharing my tips and tricks with you on how I spend less than £30 per week on groceries for 2 adults.
Let me start off by saying that what’s ‘healthy’ is different to different people. I won’t be sharing meal ideas but I will be sharing my tips on how to save money and eat food that’s better for your body.
The tips I’ll be sharing in this blog post are things I do on a weekly basis. I work full-time Mon-Fri and I have a fairly busy social life both during the week and on weekends. Read on and learn how to eat better but in a cheaper and easier way.
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Healthy eating on a budget:
1. General tips – how to save money
When you hear the word ‘healthy’ you probably think of lots of fruit and vegetables and you can see the £ signs adding up! Here’s a few ways how you can save money instantly:
- Buy frozen fruit and veg – Iceland has great prices!
- Save leftovers – freeze them or incorporate them into another meal (e.g – use leftover vegetables to make a soup and fruit to make a smoothie or sorbet)
- Buy reduced food – check out this article on Unilad that tells you when a supermarket is most likely to reduce their food and put a yellow sticker on them. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see my #yellowsticker finds!
2. Check what you already have
Most people don’t do this often enough. Spend some times going through your fridge, freezer and cupboards to see what food you already have. If anything is completely out of date or something you won’t eat then there’s absolutely no point in keeping it – either throw it out or give it away to someone who’ll use it. Likewise for unhealthy foods, if they’ve been in the cupboards for a while then you probably have no interest in consuming it so get rid.
Make a list of everything you have that can be used and yes, I mean everything.
It’s often cheaper (and healthier) to cook your meals from scratch so bear that in mind when making your list. Buying some things instead of making them really isn’t a big deal as long as you aren’t jeopardising the good nutrients your body needs.
3. Set a realistic budget
The budget I set for myself and my boyfriend’s groceries is £25-£30 per week (just over £100 per month). That includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I used to set it at strictly £25 per week but I found that some weeks I was within budget and sometimes I’d go a little over so give yourself some leeway.
I assume you’re reading this blog post because you want to cut your grocery spending? Firstly, realise what you normally spend each month on food then set yourself the challenge of spending less:
- If you normally spend £150 per month then set your new budget at £120
- If you normally spend £200 per month then set your new budget at £150
You can always decrease or increase the amount. Don’t let yourself go hungry over a few quid.
Also, check out my blog post on how to get free food to save yourself even more money!
4. Meal plan
From the list of things you already have at home, see what meals you can create. Don’t be too strict with this and think that you need every single ingredient for it to be on your ‘meals I can already make’ list – if you have some chicken (frozen or fresh), a tin of sweetcorn and a packet of pasta, you can easily make a pasta dish just by buying some pasta sauce (low calorie or no added sugar of course) for less than £1.
You can use this useful tool to help you come up with meal ideas if you’re stuck.
If your list of ‘meals I can already make’ covers your food for the week then you’ve nailed this already!
If not, then now you can create a list of meals that you’d like to eat and write out the ingredients needed for them. Try to use meal ideas and ingredients that you can use again later in the week. For example, a sack of potatoes can be used for homemade mash one day and jacket potatoes another.
I usually make our meal plan suited to 6 different main meals per week because we often bring lunch to work (to save money), we don’t mind having leftover dinner from last night or the night before, we end up missing a meal or two because we end up meeting friends at the pub or going out for a meal. I also tend to eat the same breakfast of hot overnight porridge oats with forest fruits on top mmm yum.
Here’s some tips for meal planning:
- Think about what you can make from scratch. For example, if you already have beef mince and spaghetti, make meatballs yourself for spaghetti and meatballs.
- Consider the week ahead and how much time you want to spend – be realistic. The last thing you want to do after a long day is to come home and cook an elaborate dish. Stick to easy-to-make meals or use things like a slow cooker to save a lot of time.
- Use leftovers – make a big dish with double portions and use it as lunch or dinner later in the week. This saves you time and effort because you don’t have to cook it again.
- Try new things! You might surprise yourself how easy it is to make a dish that you’ve been avoiding because it looked too difficult. There a loads of videos and blog posts online on how to make a ‘simple’ versions of dishes.
5. Find, refine & buy
Yes, you can buy healthy food at M&S but you won’t be saving much money by doing that. My favourite supermarkets are Asda, Lidl, Tesco and Sainsbury’s. You’ll learn what you do and don’t like from each supermarket (I’ve had bad experiences with Lidl’s fruit and veg being mushy or rotten inside so I stay well clear) although they’re great for pretty much everything else.
You don’t have to only shop at Lidl or Aldi to make a saving, just go to a supermarket already knowing the prices. Visit the website of the shop you want to go to and find out the prices of each item, add them up and compare to the budget you set. Obviously, buying own brand items will be cheaper so I recommend doing so when possible but I don’t let it affect the quality. To me, rice is rice so I always go for the own brand option if it’s the cheapest, however I tend to avoid the super cheap own brand option (does that make any sense? I mean the plain white packaging ones) because they are usually full of salt and preservatives, so for the sake of 20p more but still £2 less than the mainstream brand I’ll get the second cheapest option.
Now you have the prices of what you need to buy and your budget of what you want to spend. Do they roughly match or are they miles apart?
Refine your shopping list to suit your budget by adding extra treats or removing the items you can go without. If you’ve gotten rid of some things and you’re still over budget then consider your budget to be too low and after 4-5 weeks you’ll have an ideal realistic budget.
Buy in-store if your total is less than the online minimum amount but try not to give in to the special offers. It’s only an offer if the item was already on your list. Buy online if it’s above the minimum amount because you’ll be less tempted to buy things you don’t need.
6. Meal prep (if you want to/have to)
When heard ‘meal prep’ I thought that meant spending 5 hours in the kitchen preparing food for the whole week. I prefer to partially meal prep by looking at my meal plan and doing these things as I go:
- Cook a larger quantity of meat, vegetables or grains so I have them to hand for the next 1-2 days.
- Chop fruit and vegetables in advance. If tonight I’m having a stir fry and tomorrow I’m having fajitas, I’ll chop all the vegetables on stir fry night and leave them in the fridge ready to use for the next day to save me repeating that step again.
After reading this and doing your healthy food shop, make sure you keep your receipt(s)! Read my blog post on how you can extra make money from your old shopping receipts.