Eating healthy on a budget

Eating a varied and healthy diet every day can cost a lot of money, right? Whether you are cooking just for yourself, your partner or a family – before you know it, your budget is spent. Due to rising inflation, the prices of groceries have gone through the roof. In particular, healthy products seem to get less affordable by the day.

When the expenses keep rising while the spending limit stays mostly the same, it isn’t surprising that people feel limited in choosing healthy products in the supermarket. Especially when a lot of unhealthy products seem more affordable. A hamburger is simply often cheaper than a quinoa burger, for example. 

It can seem really out of reach to be able to cook a healthy meal every day, but we can assure you that it is achievable. Based on three pillars – buying, cooking and preserving – Swapmeals guides you through the possibilities to live a healthy life whilst staying within budget.


Preparing healthy meals starts with buying healthy products. While doing the groceries, here are some tips to save money:

  • Buy fruits and vegetables which are in season. These are mostly more affordable for the consumer, because when in season they are more readily available and can be sourced more locally. Respecting seasonality isn’t just beneficial for your budget, it also contributes to sustainability and often means you are getting more nutrient-rich produce.
  • Think beyond the supermarket. Making a visit to the local market can turn out to be surprisingly beneficial. Especially at the end of the day, when unsold products are often offered with a discount. By buying these, some food waste is also prevented; win-win!
  • Fill your pantry. Keep an eye out for special offers and fill up the kitchen cabinets with long lasting products like rice, pasta and nuts for a better price. Also, let the freezer function as a pantry. Deep-frozen fruits and vegetables are often more affordable than fresh ones. Another plus: they get frozen right after harvesting, which means they are packed full of nutrition – affordable ánd healthy.



After buying the groceries, preparing the meal is the next step. With these smart cooking tips, money can be saved:

  • Be aware of how much needs to be prepared. It sometimes can be difficult to estimate how much there is needed from certain products. Spinach shrinks as soon as it is heated, while pasta and rice increase in size. For that reason, one could make a wrong estimation. The result would be an unintended meal surplus. Food waste can be prevented easily by taking into account the number of table companions and the portion sizes. There are several tools and tricks for that, so not everything has to be weighed precisely on a kitchen scale. There are for example rice and pasta measuring cups, which – by the use of stripes – indicate how much is needed per person. Spaghetti measuring tools help with choosing the right portion by the use of indicating circles, which get bigger per person. Also, check the product packaging. When a dish for two people is going to be prepared and the package says the product contains four portions, simply use half of the product. 
  • Replace meat products with other protein sources. Meat products are often expensive so by replacing meat more often, your meals can become more budget friendly. Ready-made meat replacements are often equally – if not more – expensive than meat products, so choosing these isn’t going to provide a solution. However, legumes and eggs cán provide a cost effective and nutrient rich solution. Legumes include beans and lentils and are not only cheaper sources of protein, but they also  contain more fibres than meat products and are more beneficial for the environment. Similarly, eggs are full of vitamins, minerals and of course protein. 



In line with buying products and preparing meals, money can also be saved with smart preservation: 

  • Well begun is half done. In case of preservation, it is convenient to have freezer bags and containers that can be used as airtight, food safe storage. Bag clips are also handy to secure bread bags or pasta packages ensuring they are airtight. 
  • Reuse leftovers. Prepared too much? Be sure to avoid food waste and freeze the leftover portions. Or be a little creative and create a new meal with your leftovers the next day. Enjoy your leftover pasta for lunch or serve it with a soup or salad to create a new dinner dish. 
  • Buy family packages and divide them into multiple smaller packages. Buying in bulk is often cheaper than buying smaller packages. A bulk package of meat or vegetables can be divided into smaller portions and stored in the freezer for later use. Larger portions of bread can also be frozen in smaller portions – perfect for toasting straight from the freezer. Just be sure to always check before freezing any product, that it is indeed freezable. 
  • Check and understand expiry dates. In the UK, there are two types of expiration dates: the ‘use-by’ date and the ‘best before’ date. Both have a different meaning and it’s important to be aware of that. ‘Use-by’ is related to food safety. Products with a use-by expiration date can only be used until that specified date, and must be discarded thereafter because these products can be extremely taintable. The ‘Best before’ date is related to food quality. Products with a best before (BBE) date can be safe to eat after the expiration date, but the quality might not be optimal. In this case, you can use sensory cues – look, smell and taste – to examine if a product is edible. Being aware of the difference between the two expiration dates can reduce food waste and also unnecessary spending.

Healthy and varied eating doesn’t have to be expensive. With a little bit of creativity, a lot of money can be saved when buying, cooking and preserving food. If you are in need of inspiration for affordable, healthy meals then check out our seasonal dishes, meat free dishes and easy one-pot dishes on Swapmeals.

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