Skip to main content

Eating well on a budget

SA Health July19 Stills Print 131

Are you concerned about how you can afford healthy food and be able to look after yourself and your family? As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have recently found yourself in the situation where you need to stick to a tighter budget for your food shopping.

The good news is you can shop for healthy and delicious food whilst on a budget, whether you’re buying for one or for a whole family. In fact, shopping for healthy food can be cheaper than what most people think.

Putting your dollars towards healthy food, instead of ‘sometimes’ foods and drinks with very little nutrition, will help to keep you and your family eating well and feeling healthy and could even save you money in the long run.

In fact, Australian research shows that most households spend more on ‘sometimes’ food and drinks than on foods and drinks from the five food groups. Foods and drinks such as sugary drinks, takeaway foods and alcohol are common ‘sometimes’ foods and drinks that increase the food budget. Healthy diets in line with the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating would be 12–15% cheaper than unhealthy diets for a family of two adults and two children.

Smart shopping for tight budgets

  • Plan your healthy weekly menu ahead including meals and snacks for the week and then write your shopping list.
  • Shop around locally to find the best prices, and look for the lowest cost per kg or unit.
  • Look out for specials and buy everyday shelf-stable foods in bulk as they are usually cheaper (avoid buying fresh foods in bulk unless you can be sure to eat, cook or freeze them before they perish).
  • Cook in bulk and freeze for later use.
  • Go for fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season as they are often less expensive and better in quality and taste.
  • Buy cheaper cuts of meat, for example, chicken thighs and stewing beef or lamb, and trim the fat for cooking in casseroles and stews.
  • Try legumes such as tinned kidney beans, chickpeas, soya beans or lentils for a tasty and cheaper alternative.
  • Spend the least on ‘sometimes’ foods such as soft drinks, lollies, chocolates, cakes, biscuits, potato crisps and takeaway foods, which are not recommended for everyday healthy eating and are often expensive.
  • Frozen and canned fruit and vegetables can be a cheap and healthy alternative to fresh items. Choose canned vegetables with no added salt (or reduced salt), and canned fruit in natural juice or water.
  • Consider growing your own vegetables or get involved in your local community garden.
  • Check out your local food co-ops or farmers markets to see if they offer any of your usual items at cheaper prices.

Want more ideas for eating well on a budget?

Don’t have enough money for food?

For a whole range of reasons, there are times when our income may not stretch far enough to afford enough healthy food to meet our own or our family’s needs. Visit our assistance page for further information about support that may be available for your situation.

Was this page useful to you?