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Fact File - Eat Well, Spend Less



Eating healthily does not have to cost more. This fact sheet focuses on simple changes that can help save money whilst still eating well. 


Planning Ahead - Balanced Meals

It is important to have a variety of foods from the main food groups in your diet to ensure that you have all the nutrients you need for health. Put pen to paper and begin by drawing up a weekly meal plan based on the four main food groups as listed below.  Aim for your meals to be based on vegetables/salad, starchy foods, preferably of the whole grain varieties and a source of protein, such as meat, fish, eggs and pulses. Try not to focus on snacks other than fruit, nuts and a small amount of dried fruit on your list; snacks can also be incorporated from your items on your meal plan. Remember to take a look in your food cupboards, you may be surprised how many ingredients you already have and avoid buying duplicate items.


The Food Groups

The Main Food Groups are as follows:

  • Vegetables, salads and fruit
  • Starchy foods (pasta, rice, cereal, grains, bread) – focus on the whole grain varieties
  • Meat, fish, pulses, eggs, nuts, seeds and meat alternatives
  • Diary foods and dairy alternatives


Highly Processed Foods

The fifth food group is highly processed foods - foods and drinks high in sugar and fats. These are often of little nutritional value and are frequently more expensive as they can require more packaging; examples are sugary drinks, crisps, cakes, readymade meals and snack bars. This also applies to takeaways, particularly hot food which is generally more expensive than making your own meal from scratch plus they tend to be high in fat, salt and low in fibre. Did you know that one in every six meals is eaten out of home according to a Public Health England Study, cutting back can save up to £800 a year!

When you go shopping try not to shop when hungry. Studies have shown that people who shop when hungry are more likely to spend more on less healthy foods.


Tips for Eating Well and Spending Less

Fruit and Vegetables

  • Go for seasonal – they are more widely available and less expensive when in season
  • Look out for weekly fruit and vegetable deals
  • Frozen are fine! They can be stored, are ready to use and often cheaper than fresh
  • Fruit, fresh and some dried are great for snacks and better for your waistline

Starchy Foods

  • Go for whole grain varieties, these have more fibre and nutrients and can help you feel fuller for long – less of a temptation to snack!
  • Bread is the most wasted household food. Leftovers can be put in a sealed bag and popped in the freezer when it is still fresh. Go for whole grain varieties.
  • Have a supply of whole grain foods to hand (whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa and other grains), these can make the basis of a meal with some frozen vegetables and leftovers if you are stuck for time.

Protein rich foods – meat, fish , pulses, nuts, seeds and dairy or dairy alternatives

  • Pulses, such as beans, lentils and peas are one of the cheapest foods on the shelves. They are packed with nutrients and count as one of your  5 A DAY. These can replace some or all your of meat and bulk out your meal, for example in a curry or chilli con carne.
  • Dairy foods, such as yoghurts are cheaper when bought in a larger quantities, plain supermarket brands are a great option and can be flavoured with some chopped fruit as a healthy dessert option.
  • Whole chicken is cheaper than cuts, you can get two breasts, two thighs, two drumsticks, plus wings and a carcass for making stock or a basis for soup. Free range is a healthier option.
  • Meat, fish and cheese  from the deli counter can be cheaper and less wasteful (as you can choose the amount) than pre-packaged ones.

And Finally…

  • If you are finding that there are left over’s from your meals, perhaps there is too much? Try smaller portions or save leftovers for your meal the next day. Alternatively most meals can be frozen for another day.
  • Compare prices by using the same weight or volume. Most shops have the prices of items per 100g so you can compare similar products.
  • Have a supply of herbs and spices in the cupboard, these are great ways to make your meal tasty and have a long shelf life.


Below is an example of a one day menu

Remember it is important to eat a variety of foods

Breakfast – Porridge oats (buy a box rather than sachets) with low-fat milk

Snack – piece of fruit

Lunch – Tuna with sweet corn and cucumber sandwich with whole grain or rye bread (add other vegetables or salad to enhance the taste). A plain yoghurt.

Snack – Chopped vegetables, such as peppers and carrots

Evening meal – Brown rice or whole wheat pasta cooked with frozen mixed vegetables and beans or chickpeas in passata (tomato sauce) with added herbs and spices

Fluid – water is best, but if you wish to flavour, try squeezing some fresh lemon or lime. Flavoured drinks can be expensive and tap water is free!

For recipe ideas take a look at the recipe section on our website - here.  Our recipes are all fully searchable.  Just pop the ingredient you are looking for into the key word search box in the middle of the screen or alternatively search using the search suggestions that you will find there.  

This factsheet is intended for adults as a general guide only and not a substitute for professional advice or a diagnosis. If you are on certain medication or suffer from a medical condition, seek individual advice from your health care professional. Date produced June 2015

Would you like to find out more about our Power Up & Motivate With Positive Nutrition Workplace Wellbeing Initiatives.  If so call Anna on 07778 218009 or email to arrange an informal chat.

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