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Healthy Eating Without Breaking the Bank

Category: Healthy eating, healthy weight and dieting
Healthy eating, healthy weight and dieting

These days we’ve all become used to bargain hunting, but searching for a healthy diet is cheaper and easier than you think. Being a savvy grocery shopper is about getting organised and knowing what you need to buy.




  • Before you go shopping, think about the food you will need for the week ahead.
  • Consider breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks.Using the handy shopping planner below, decide what meals you will cook next week and write down the ingredients needed for each meal.
  • Check the cupboards to see what food you already have, and what you need to buy.
  • Make a list of the groceries you need.
  • Don’t go shopping while hungry! You will be tempted to buy food you don’t actually need.




  • Limit shopping trips to once or twice per week. This will help save you time, buy less and reduce buying on impulse.
  • Be prepared: Sometimes having your children with you while shopping can make sticking to your budget more difficult. If your children are with you, bring a healthy snack to avoid them pressuring you into buying treats. Some ideas include a piece of fruit, raw vegetable sticks, a box of raisins, a small sandwich or crackers.
  • Stick to the list! Try to avoid being tempted by the sight and smell of food, special offers and promotions.
  • Choose supermarket own brand products: these items often have the same nutritional content as bigger brands but are cheaper than well-known brands.
  • TOP TIP! You’ll usually find supermarket own brands on the bottom shelf; bend and stretch for better value!
  • Buy in bulk for foods with a long shelf life (pasta, cereals, tinned foods). This can save you some money in the long term. However, fresh food like fruit, vegetables, dairy food, cooked and raw meat as well as fresh bread need to be consumed by the use by date, so buying in bulk could result in extra waste.
  • Watch out for the following marketing techniques used by supermarkets:
  • “Special offers”, “2for1”, “Buy one get one free.” These are only good value if you need them.
  • Tempting food like cakes, biscuits and sweets will be at eye level. Supermarket often also pump the smell of freshly baked cakes at the entrance to encourage impulse buying (especially if you’re shopping while hungry) and make you hungry.
  • Essential items like milk may be furthest from the entrance to encourage shoppers to walk through the supermarket and buy other items which they may not need. Heavy items can be stored at the front of the shop to encourage you to get a trolley and thus fill it up!! Get to know your supermarket so you can avoid having to pass tempting items not on your shopping list!




Shopping Tips
Breads, cereals, potatoes, rice and pasta

• Base meals around starchy foods like bread, breakfast cereals, porridge, pasta, rice, and potatoes. These foods are good value for money and are nutritious.

• High fibre varieties from this group are even better as they are more filling and are good for your gut and heart.

• Lots of supermarkets have own brand versions of these foods.

Fruit and vegetables

• Buy fresh fruit and vegetables in season.

• Frozen are just as good as fresh. They are easy to store and are great when cooking for one.

•Tinned vegetables (peas, beans and sweet corn) are good cupboard essentials for making quick, nutritious meals

Milk, cheese and yoghurt

• Choose low fat varieties of milk, cheese and yoghurt. They have the same amount of calcium as the full fat varieties but are better for your heart.

• Check the use by dates before you buy. Choose those with the longest use by date.

Meat, fish, eggs, beans and peas

• Choose red meat (beef, lamb, pork) twice per week. Buy the leanest meat you can afford. Cheaper cuts of meat like beef (mince or round); lamb/mutton (shoulder, neck, gigot, chop); chicken (thigh) and pork (shoulder, gigot, chop) can be great options. They can be tenderised by

stewing, casseroling, marinating or using a steak hammer. Ask your butcher to trip away excess fat and for tips on how to prepare these cuts.

• Tinned fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna are cheap, tasty and nutritious. Use in sandwiches, on toast or pasta, in baked potatoes or salads.

• Eggs are good value and packed with protein.

• Chicken and turkey are good lean choices.

• You don’t have to be a vegetarian to take advantage of peas, beans, lentils and tofu. They are a cheap and delicious alternative to meat.

Spreads and oils • Choose low fat spreads and cooking oils which are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as olive, rapeseed (canola), sunflower and corn oil.
Foods and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt • Cakes, biscuits, chocolate, pastries, crisps, chips and alcohol should make up the smallest part of your trolley load.




  • Cook dinner regularly at home and save eating out for special occasions.
  • Bring a packed lunch to work, school or college. You can eat exactly what you like, avoid the canteen queue, and it may be healthier too.
  • Make large quantities of one meal and freeze it for times when you don’t feel like cooking. It also means less waste.
  • Remember there is no need to spend extra money buying organic. Organic foods are not in any way nutritional better than non-organic foods.



Updated by Eileen O Brien January 2016. Review date: January 2019.

© 2016 Irish Nutrition and Dietetics Institute, INDI. All rights reserved. May be reproduced in its entirety provided the source is acknowledged. This information is not meant to replace advice from your medical doctor or individual counselling with a dietitian.  It is intended for educational and informational purposes only.

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