Eating healthy on a budget: Nurturing health amidst rising costs

In a world where expenses seem to rise faster than ever, the pursuit of a balanced and wholesome diet can appear to be an uphill battle. But don’t worry, achieving optimal health doesn’t need to be compromised by budget constraints.


Keep reading to learn practical money-saving strategies, highlighting the nutritional power of budget-friendly foods for your grocery list, and for a delicious ending, try a comforting and wallet-friendly recipe.

Mindful eating: A savvy approach in the face of escalating costs

With the recent surge in living expenses, preserving a nourishing diet might seem like an insurmountable challenge. Yet, through the practice of mindful eating, we can overcome financial pressures and continue to prioritise our health.

Clinical studies emphasise the remarkable impact of mindfulness, revealing that deliberate choices – such as planning meals and devising grocery lists in advance – yield substantial savings without compromising nutritional content (1).

Incorporating mindfulness into meal planning fosters creativity, enabling us to explore innovative ways to make the most of our ingredients, and surprise ourselves with delicious new homemade meals!

Strategic savings: Focusing on resourceful choices

When it comes to eating nutrient-dense foods on a budget, efficiency has to become your guiding principle. The concept of batch cooking emerges as a time-tested strategy. By preparing larger portions of meals and freezing leftovers for later consumption, you save time on your cooking process decreasing food waste.

Another approach is bulk buying – consider sourcing pantry staples like whole grains, legumes, and frozen vegetables in bulk, to achieve both economic and nutritional benefits. Exploring store brands and local produce markets can be helpful, you may find high-quality, budget-friendly options.

Store brands frequently offer high-quality alternatives at a fraction of the cost -   just make sure to read the ingredients on the label, steering away from any products that may have added sugars, high sodium content or E numbers. The NHS Food Scanner app has been created to help you make healthier choices when shopping. It’s free to use, and all you have to do is scan the barcode on the back of the product to quickly find out if it is high in sugar, salt, or fat or if it’s a balanced option.

Thriving on budget-friendly vegetables 

As we conscientiously manage our finances, directing our resources towards budget-friendly vegetables is a savvy move. These nutrient-dense foods can have a high nutritional value and also keep our wallets happy. Think of leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens – packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Carrots and sweet potatoes, rich in beta-carotene, support healthy vision and immune function. And how about the humble cabbage family, featuring members like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower? These are called cruciferous vegetables, and the compounds within them can be supportive of the body’s detoxification and hormonal health.

So, as you have just seen, these vegetables, celebrated for their cost-effectiveness, also contribute to overall health and disease prevention. Embracing vegetables as the cornerstone of our meals is supported by research, indicating that a diet rich in vegetables is associated with reduced risk of chronic diseases and enhanced well-being (2).

Smart shopping for budget vegetables: Where and why

When it comes to procuring budget vegetables, aim for seasonal and local vegetables and fruits. Local farmers' markets and supermarket sales are valuable avenues. These options often offer seasonal produce at affordable prices, enabling you to capitalise on freshness and savings simultaneously.

Remember that some supermarkets offer 'wonky' vegetables at cheaper prices, for the simple fact that they do not look 'perfect'. Get smart and aim for those. By incorporating a rainbow of vegetables into your diet, you'll benefit from a wide spectrum of nutrients, each contributing to a more resilient and vibrant version of you!

Also, remember that eating healthily on a budget is not only possible but also a transformative journey. By making mindful choices and engaging in savvy shopping practices, you're investing in your well-being and financial stability all in one.

As promised, here’s a budget-friendly recipe to get you started. A delicious meal providing plant-based protein, fibre, and more wholesome ingredients.

Budget-friendly delight: Flavourful lentil stew


  • 1 cup dried green or brown lentils, rinsed and drained.
  • 1 onion, chopped.
  • 2 carrots, diced.
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced.
  • 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes.
  • 4 cups vegetable broth.
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin.
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric.
  • 1 teaspoon paprika.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  • 1 big handful of fresh parsley – chopped.


  • In a generous pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Sauté for approximately 5 minutes, allowing the vegetables to soften.
  • Add lentils, diced tomatoes (and their juices), vegetable broth, cumin, turmeric, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir diligently to mix flavours.
  • Bring the stew to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to a comforting low. Cover and allow it to simmer for around 25-30 minutes, allowing the lentils time to reach tenderness. A couple of minutes before the end of cooking, add the fresh parsley and mix.
  • Taste and season accordingly. Serve the stew hot.


1. Wansink, B., & Sobal, J. (2007). Mindless eating: The 200 daily food decisions we overlook. Environment and Behavior, 39(1), 106-123. ↩

2. Hever J, Cronise RJ. Plant-based nutrition for healthcare professionals: implementing diet as a primary modality in the prevention and treatment of chronic disease. J Geriatr Cardiol. 2017 May;14(5):355-368. doi: 10.11909/j.issn.1671-5411.2017.05.012. PMID: 28630615; PMCID: PMC5466942.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, W13
Written by Valentina Cartago
London, W13

Valentina is a BANT Registered Practitioner, and a licensed practitioner for the Cytoplan Brain Health Programme. Her passion is educating the public on decreasing the risk for cognitive decline.
After years working with Functional Doctors, she now focuses on her own practice The Italian Nutritionist for 1-1 consultations and health talks.

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