How to guide to eating healthy food and save money
Our healthy eating and food safety experts have developed this healthy food guide to help you save money on food while also helping to make sure you eat healthy meals.
As inflation rises it can be hard to keep to grocery budgets and make sure you are eating healthy food. Our key advice is to check what food you have and do a weekly meal plan, stick to your shopping lists, check "Use by" dates and make the best use of the food storage available to you.
Before the shops
Take time each week to make a meal plan for meals and snacks. When deciding on meals and recipes, check your cupboards, fridge and freezer to see what ingredients you have already. This can save money and reduce food waste.
When making your meal plan, try to pick recipes that use the same ingredients or leftover ingredients, for example leftovers from roast chicken could be used to make chicken stir fry or chicken fajitas the next day.
Try our 101 Square Meals cookbook for affordable and easy to cook recipes (the ebook can be downloaded to your device) and our three-week meal planner to help you get started.
Having a couple of meat-free dinners each week can also reduce food bills. Replace meat with beans, peas or lentils. These can be cheaper, are nutritious and often have a longer shelf life. Here are some recipe ideas to get you started.
At the shops
The best thing to do when you go food shopping is to stick to your shopping list.
This means you will avoid “special offers” you may not need. And compare prices for similar food items - often shop own brands are cheaper.
Do check nutrition labels and servings sizes to make sure that a cheaper item is the healthier choice. Here’s our guide to understanding nutrition labels.
If you have storage space, buying tinned and dried food in bulk can save money as they have long-shelf lives. They are “special offers” that save money!
Always check the "Use By" date on food labels to make sure you will use it before the food is unsafe to eat. Keep in mind this phrase: “Treat Best Before as a guideline and Use By as a deadline”.
Reduce the amount of prepared food you buy as it often cost more – items like carrot batons, chopped broccoli and grated cheese.
If you can, shop later in the day as supermarkets often reduce the price of fresh food.
Snacks on the go
It can be easy to spend extra money on snacks when you are out and about. When you go food shopping, buy portable healthy snacks like fruit, popcorn or nuts that you can keep at hand if you get hungry when you are on the go. Or you could make egg muffins or healthy oat bars to bring with you. And bring water for when you get thirsty – good for your pocket and the environment. Here’s advice on snacks for adults and for children.
When you’re cooking
Batch cooking is a great way to keep to your meal plans, save money and reduce food waste. Batch cooking means cooking larger portions of food to store / freeze meals for later.
This can mean doubling up on ingredients for whole meals to be eaten during the week or cooking grains or legumes to be reheated or incorporated into recipes later. Here’s our guide to batch cooking and what food is most suitable. It also includes hacks like remove packaging and storing in small freezer bags to help free up freezer space.
Storing food safely is another way to reduce food waste and food bills. It’s important not to over pack a fridge and to put meat raw meat, fish and poultry on the bottom shelf so that they don’t touch other food. Here’s our guide to get the best use out of your fridge.
Freezing is a great way to store food and helps you stick to your meal plans. As well as freezing batch cooked meals, you can also freeze a lot of food if it is near its use by date before it goes off. If food is properly frozen it will stay safe to eat indefinitely – although after a time the taste and texture may suffer. Here’s our guide to getting the most out of your freezer.
Remember most food needs to defrost in the fridge before you can cook, boil or reheat them – even berries and fruit. Here’s our guide to safely defrosting food including meat, vegetables and fruit.