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By Nutrition Experts| with thanks to Tescodiets

Monday, September 15, 2014.

Thanks to cost-of living increases, healthy eating on a budget has become a major challenge for many families. The annual government Family Food Survey shows that low-income families are spending less on fresh produce, while the UK Faculty of Public Health claims that nutrition deficiencies like rickets are making a return to GP surgeries. If you are feeling the pinch and struggling to get healthy food on the table, check out this three-point plan to help you and your family eat well for less.


Eating healthy on a budget - the 3 point plan

Healthy eating on a budget can be challenging, but it's not rocket science. It boils down to doing 3 things well:

  • Plan ahead
  • Shop smart
  • Reduce waste


Plan ahead

Planning ahead is the best way to manage healthy eating on a budget. By taking a little time to decide what you are going to cook for the week ahead, you can assemble your list of meals, ingredients, and can compile a shopping list to ensure you can eat well for less.

  1. Plan your meals. By using your Food Diary, you can set out your whole week's meals in advance. If you are following a meal plan, you can fill your Shopping List with healthy, nutritious food at the click of a button. To keep your budget down, choose meals with similar ingredients so there will be no waste.
  2. Save recipes. This is another great tool in your planning arsenal. Got some food you need to use up? Then head to our Recipe Centre, enter a key ingredient and get a list of meal ideas.
  3. Make a list. Compiling a shopping list is one of the best ways to eat well for less. This way, you only buy the things you need. With your Tesco Health and Wellbeing Shopping List, you can order your food from Tesco Online and don’t have to set foot inside the store.
  4. Shop online. By shopping online, you can resist the pull of impulse-buying that can add pounds to your bill. Special offers may seem like a good deal, but a few impulsive items thrown in the trolley can deliver a nasty surprise at the checkout. Another advantage of shopping online is that you can see your total as you shop, making it far easier to stick to a budget.


Shop smart

If you really do prefer shopping in person, be smart about how you shop and what you buy. Here are some smart shopping tips to help you get the best value for money without skimping on nutrition.

  1. Eat before shopping. Our judgement can be clouded by hunger, making us buy more food than we need. So make sure that you're not hitting the supermarket on an empty stomach.
  2. Shop alone. Leave the kids and partner at home. This way, you can buy what the family needs without being pestered for unnecessary items.
  3. Consider own-brand options. Check out the own-brand goods in your supermarket: see what the nutritional value is like, and also how it tastes. If you find a product that's cheaper, just as tasty and just as nutritious, it's a big win-win.
  4. Take a calculator. As you make your way around the aisles, enter the price of each item you put in your trolley and keep a running total. If you find yourself going over budget, you can decide what to leave out.
  5. Shop in the evening. Many supermarkets mark down perishables like bread, fruit, veg, fish and meat at the end of the day. So, if you time it right, you can get some great deals. Be sure to consume these foods before they reach their use-by date or on the day of purchase.
  6. Buy in bulk. You'll need to be organised, and use products before they go out of date, but you can make quite a saving in the long run by buying larger quantities. Rather than buying a small box of cereal every week, check to see how much you'll save per portion if you buy the biggest one in stock. It may cost more, but you can leave it off your shopping list for a while.
  7. Use coupons and vouchers. If you have money-off coupons or vouchers, be sure to use them whenever you can. The same goes for Clubcard vouchers if you are a Tesco customer. Watch out for offers where you can ‘boost’ the value to save more money on food.
  8. Always take your loyalty card. Supermarket loyalty cards can save you pounds on your shopping. Be sure to always collect your points. Use these points regularly or save them up for when you need to do an extra-large shop, like at Christmas.


Reduce waste

According to the UK government’s 2011 Review of waste policy in England, we throw away 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink per year, 50% of which could have been eaten. On average, therefore, each household wastes between £470 and £700 per year - the figure is usually highest in households with children. Can you really afford this? Here are some tips to help you keep your food wastage to an absolute minimum.

  1. Use perishables first. When you plan your meals, make sure you are using the most perishable food first. Items like salad, fresh fruit and vegetables, milk, bread and cakes often need to be used within a few days of purchasing. If you leave it a little late and notice fruit or vegetables going soft, use them up in a curry, casserole or smoothie.
  2. Batch cook. Rather than leaving half a jar of pasta sauce in the fridge to grow fur or allowing that second courgette to go soft, make a big meal. You can save what’s left over for lunch the next day, or freeze it to use later in the week.
  3. Check use-by dates. This is important for food safety as well as for avoiding waste. Check your kitchen inventory regularly and move foods that are approaching their ‘use-by’ dates to a more prominent position. If you’re not sure what to do with them, check the Recipe Centre for inspiration.
  4. Be creative. Look at unique ways to use fruit and vegetables by learning how to dry, pickle, preserve, or make jams and chutneys.


We hope these tips will help you to get the best value possible so that you can continue eating healthy on a budget. If you have any other money-saving tips that help you eat well for less, share with your fellow members and post them in the comments below!


Healthy Eating on a Budget? Yes, it can be Done!

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