Healthy eating on a budget
If you think it’s more expensive to eat healthy, you’re not alone. It’s a common myth and as a result many people turn to pre-packaged, highly processed foods. But if you look closely, you might find that the healthier options are actually better value. And even if some fresh produce might seem a little more costly, with the right plan and some discipline, you can eat well and come out ahead.
As simple as it seems, much of the cost confusion with fresh food comes because it is often priced per kilo rather than per serve, like processed or packaged food. To uncover the true cost of food, the best thing to do is compare the prices per kilogram. It’s easy now that supermarkets show the price of food per kilogram, or if they show it per 100g just multiply it by 10 to get the price per kilogram.
You’ll find that highly processed, packaged and advertised foods are more expensive than less processed and fresh foods. Just look at these comparisons:
- Fresh potatoes $3/kg
- Frozen chips $4.30 per kg
- Pre-made potato salad $10/kg
- Fast food chips $29.50/kg
- Rolled oats $1.30 per kg
- Wheat biscuits $5.50 per kg
- Cocoa puffs $14.70 per kg
- Sugary flakes of corn 12.30 per kg
- Fresh chicken breast fillets $9.00 per kg
- BBQ chicken breast $20.99 per kg
- Pre-made chicken kebabs $16.60 per kg
- Pre-crumbed chicken tenders $22.88 per kg
- Apple (approx. 180g) = 0.43c each
- Mangoes in juice (120g) = 1.27 each
- Chocolate bar (40-60g) $2.60
- Bag of chips (45g) = $2.60
*Please note prices are indicative only and subject to change
Other budget-wise options
If that’s not enough to convince you, here are some other tips and tricks to ensure your body and budget both come out healthy.
- When it comes to fruit and vegetables, frozen and canned are generally as healthy. Try to choose those produced without added salt or sugar.
- Frozen fish is also good source of lean meat and it can also be much cheaper than fresh fish.
- Fruit and vegetable prices fluctuate quite dramatically based on supply and demand so shop for fruit and vegetables that are in season, they will be significantly cheaper. Download our fruit and vegetable seasonality calendar to find out what’s in season.
- Only buy what you will eat. There’s no point buying six apples if you end up leaving three to rot in the bottom of the crisper. A Meal Planner is a great way to avoid waste when you’re shopping.
- Keep an eye on the catalogues and stock up on healthy staples, like canned beans and frozen peas, when the price is down.
- Add legumes to your meat dishes – you’ll find you don’t need as much meat.
- Make your own salad mix – buy the whole lettuce, or leaves by the scoop. You can save quite a bit compared to the pre-packaged, pre-washed ones.
- Freeze your leftovers and use them for lunch.
- Grow your own vegetables and salad leaves (check out the easiest health foods to grow in Queensland link)