Research has proven that a healthy balanced diet can reduce the risk of heart diseases, cancers, obesity, diabetes type 2 and tooth decay.  However, during these austere times, we wanted to demonstrate that it is possible to eat healthily on a budget.  

Read on to find out why how you too could enjoying tasty, balanced meals without spending too much.

Take advantage of the supermarket price wars

UK shopper’s health should benefit this year.  From the continued supermarket price wars and the rise of discounters, there has never been a better time to eat a balanced diet and stick to a low budget.

With the cost of groceries falling 1.7% on average compared to the same period last year, this will save the average shopper £58 per year, according to Kantar Worldpanel.  

Food poverty and effects on health

In the UK, food poverty is a real problem.  In general, the less well-off people are, the worse their diet, and the more likely they are to suffer from diet related diseases.  This is food poverty, and poor diet is related to 30% of life lost years to early death and disability

Below we look at which foods you should be popping into your shopping basket, which are both nutritious and affordable. 

A nutrient dense shopping basket for under £12

To achieve a balanced diet, it’s important that you make sure you are getting enough complex carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, fruit and veg; which will also give you fibre, vitamins and minerals.  It may help if you consider, “How much nutrition are my family getting from this product?”

Here is our top 12 foods to add to your shopping basket*

Oats – 1kg for 75p

Oats are very low in sugar and are a great source of complex carbohydrates, which release energy slowly and keep you fuller for longer.   A supermarket own label cereal can cost more than 3 times more than oats, and contain more than 8 teaspoons of sugar per 100g.oats

Potatoes - 1kg for £1

Low in saturated fat, with skins that are high in fibre.  Potatoes can be added to soups and stews, baked, mashed or roasted in wedges.  In comparison, buying a 1kg bag of frozen chips will set you back twice the cost and also more than double your calorie intake.

Baking Potato side view

Wholegrain bread – 400g loaf for 50p

Not only does wholegrain bread have a longer shelf life, but it is higher in fibre, protein and B vitamins.  Brown bread, in contrast, is made from finely milled wheat, from which the bran has been extracted.  Look for the words “whole grain” or “100% whole wheat” on packaging and ensure the first ingredient listed is whole wheat, oats, whole rye, whole grain corn, barley, quinoa, buckwheat or brown rice.

wholegrain bread

Lentils – 500g for £1.09

Not only are they super cheap but they are a powerhouse of nutrients.  They are a good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K, but are particularly rich in dietary fibre, lean protein, folate and iron.  Lentils are also really filling and perfect for the winter season, as they are a great protein source for a warming pot of soup.


Eggs – 6pk for 87p

Eggs are an excellent inexpensive source of protein.  Eggs contain all the essential amino acids in the right ratios, as well as a host of vitamins and minerals.  They are a great alternative to meat, which can be pricey, and with recent research in the news suggesting that processed meats like bacon, ham and sausages rank alongside cigarettes as a major cause of cancer, eggs are a great cheaper and healthier choice. eggs

Tinned tuna in sunflower oil – 160g x 3 = £2.75

Save on butter by opting for tuna in sunflower oil.  Tuna is a great way get more fish into your diet due to its mild flavour.  The small amount of fat present in tuna is mostly healthy unsaturated fats, including omega-3-fatty acids.


Milk – 4pt for 89p

Milk is usually a staple for most households, with people adding it to their compulsory tea and coffee throughout the day.  But milk also provides a host of health benefits, especially if you enjoy hitting the gym.  One glass of milk provides all the right nutrients for the perfect post workout drink, which means you can save money on not buying protein shakes.milk

Bananas – 1kg – 68p

At less than 10p per banana, they are the ultimate snack on the go, as well as being a great way to start the day.  Bananas are a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of manganese, vitamin C, potassium, dietary fibre, biotin and copper. They are also great if you have a sweet tooth, as they provide natural sugar which won’t cause tooth decay compared to sweeties.


Carrots – 1kg = 75p

Raw carrot sticks are a great weight loss snack, as they are naturally sweet and low in calories.  They are also good cooked into soups and stews for extra flavour.  Carrots are a good source beta-carotene, fibre, vitamin K, potassium and antioxidants.


Onions – 1kg for 70p

Onions are great for adding flavour, without the need for adding too much salt or fat to your dish.  They are also really cheap and can be added to most savoury dishes.onions

Tinned tomatoes – 400g for 31p

These are a staple for your kitchen cupboard, particularly in Winter when fresh tomatoes are not in season.  They also require zero preparation, and can be added to soups, sauces and stews.  They are just as good as fresh with a good source of vitamin A and fibre and an excellent source of the antioxidant lycopene, shown to help lower the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and macular degeneration.tinned_tomatoes

Frozen spinach – 1kg for £1.35

Frozen food often gets a bad reputation but it contains the same nutritional value to just fresh and frozen spinach is 5 times cheaper to a bag of fresh spinach.  We’re not recommending that you sit down to a plate of spinach but simply by adding a small amount to your dishes can greatly help boost their nutrition without the expense.  Spinach is rich in iron which is great if you’re feeling run down or tired.frozen-spinach


*(prices and products based on on the 8th November 2015).

Balanced meals to make from your shopping basket

Here are some balanced meal ideas for the week:


  • Porridge with milk and chopped banana
  • Toast with banana
  • Banana milkshake


  • Lentil soup with wholegrain bread
  • Homemade tomato soup with wholegrain bread
  • Tuna sandwich


  • Spanish omelette
  • Dahl – lentils, spinach and potato
  • Baked potato with tuna

If you still think that eating healthy foods on a budget is virtually impossible, then check out Jack Monroe’s blog “Jack At A Pinch”.  When she lost her job and had a young child to support, she resorted to healthy savviness in the kitchen and prospered on a £10 weekly food shop.  It can be done!