Health & Wellbeing

How to eat healthy on a budget

As the cost of living soars, it's time to shop smarter.

Have you walked down the aisle of your local supermarket recently to find everything is more expensive than usual? You aren’t imagining it.

As the cost of living soars, research by Finder notes Aussie households are expected to spend an extra $18 billion on groceries in 2023.

Many people might think cheap and refined convenience foods are the only affordable way to eat these days, but according to Accredited Practising Dietitian Alicia Brown from the Master Menopause Australia program, eating healthily is still achievable.

Here, Alicia shares her top tips for keeping your diet and bank balance healthy:

WATCH: Six cheap ways to eat healthier. Article continues after video.

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Planning pays off

Nipping down to Coles or Woolies to grab a few things every night can be tempting, but it will cost more in the long run. The solution? Plan your meals.
“This will help you to create a shopping list of the foods you actually need, reducing impulse buying and helping to stretch ingredients further by using them across different meals,” she says.
Look to cookbooks and recipe websites to determine what you need for your weekly food shop, then only go to the supermarket once during the week.

WATCH: Woolworths Metro’s new feature. Article continues after video.

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Buy in bulk

“Paying a little more initially for some long-life or freezable items can really help stretch your money further,” Alicia says.

For example, one place you can really see savings is when buying nuts – a dietician-approved food. At Woolworths, a 150g bag of almonds might set you back $21 per kg and six 30g pre-portioned packs cost $16.67 per kg, whereas a 750g bag is $13.20 per kg.

“That is between $3 to $7 total savings, just by buying in bulk,” Alicia notes.

A simple way to compare is by looking at the price label, where the retailer notes price per kg or per 100g depending on the product.

Frozen and canned have the upper hand

Though we’re told fresh is best, Alicia says frozen produce is picked when it’s of the highest nutritional value.

“This means they are just as good or sometimes even better than the fresh fruit and veg alternatives, especially when they are a fraction of the price,” she explains.

“Canned vegetables and legumes may not always have the same taste or texture, but they can be super budget-friendly and really help to bulk out a meal, taking your spaghetti bolognese much further.”

If you are opting for canned goods, check the label to be sure there isn’t any added salt or sugar.

Buying canned goods really can save you (Credit: Getty)

Shop around

Though some people show allegiance to certain supermarkets (we all have that friend who is a bona fide “Woolies girl”), Alicia says brand loyalty doesn’t always pay off.

“It truly does pay to do your research and shop around. Start by looking at online weekly catalogues [for all your different local supermarkets] and compare your shopping list items,” Alicia suggests.

“You also pay a price for convenience, so fresh fruit and vegetables may be costing you more at your major supermarkets.”

Alicia also advises a great way to save money is to go to green grocers or local farmers’ markets to get direct discounts straight from the farm. Compare online supermarket catalogues weekly before you shop to get the best in-store bargains.

WATCH: Are you an ALDI, Woolies, or Coles shopper? Article continues after video.

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Ditch brand names

It might come as a surprise to some, but Alicia says home-brand items are just as good quality as their brand counterparts, without the fancy packaging and the hefty price tag.
Take oats, for example, where she says you can save close to $5 just by removing a name:
• Uncle Toby’s rolled oats: $6.50 per kg
• Woolworths rolled oats: $1.87 per kg

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