Fru­gal healthy eat­ing

You can eat healthily with­out break­ing the bank

Owner Driver - - Diabetes Nsw & Act - Katie Al­li­son

YOU ARE NOT ALONE if you think healthy eat­ing comes with a hefty price tag. Many Aus­tralians be­lieve that healthy foods cost more than pack­aged, con­ve­nient, or fast food. How­ever, this is not nec­es­sar­ily the case. Healthy eat­ing on a bud­get re­ally comes down to be­ing savvy and plan­ning ahead. This is es­pe­cially the case when on the road.

Try these cost-sav­ing ideas to help you make health­ier food choices with­out break­ing the bank.


Foods that are pro­moted as be­ing a ‘su­per­food’ tend to cost more and may be over­rated. For ex­am­ple, a protein ball costs around $3 per ball com­pared to about $1.21 for grain crack­ers with a small can of tuna. Tuna and crack­ers are not only cheaper but they have just as much, if not more, protein and make for a great travel snack!

Other op­tions could in­clude a small hand­ful of un­salted nuts for around 40 cents or a hard-boiled egg for 50 cents – this even al­lows for it be­ing a free-range, jumbo egg.

Don’t buy into the hype, you are of­ten pay­ing more for pack­ag­ing or con­ve­nience.


Some­times pay­ing a lit­tle more up­front can help save you more in the long run. For ex­am­ple, if you in­vest in a cooler or esky you can pur­chase food when it’s on sale and take it with you. This will re­duce the need to stop for fast food, which can end up cost­ing you a lot more – and we are not just talk­ing about money but, over time, your health.

Hav­ing a cooler bag for the car also means you can buy in bulk. This is es­pe­cially true for meat prod­ucts. Buy lean cuts of qual­ity meat when they are on spe­cial and freeze un­til later in the week or month when you may need it.


Fresh food is packed with nu­tri­tion and lower in added salt, sugar, or fat. Not only this, but it can also end up cheaper.

The Di­eti­tians As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia (DAA) high­lighted the dif­fer­ence be­tween some com­monly eaten fresh ver­sus pro­cessed food. For ex­am­ple:

• A serve of raw chicken is 100g (raw weight)

• Raw whole chicken = 66 cents per 100g

• BBQ chicken = 80 cents per 100g

• Pre-made chicken ke­babs = $1.70 per 100g.

Al­though buy­ing a whole raw chook might seem more ex­pen­sive at first glance, once you work out the cost per 100g, you will see you get the most serves and more bang for your buck from the fresh raw chook.

Fresh lean meats, poul­try, fish, dairy, nuts, seeds, fruits, and veg­eta­bles are great choices. If you find that you are throw­ing out veg­eta­bles reg­u­larly, and tech­ni­cally throw­ing away dol­lars, try frozen va­ri­eties. They are snap frozen af­ter har­vest and still hold a lot of nu­tri­tion. They can be a healthy, longer last­ing op­tion.

Don’t just con­sider what you are eat­ing but also what you are drink­ing. Tap wa­ter is read­ily avail­able, cheap, kilo­joule free, and the best op­tion. Try to carry a re­us­able drink bot­tle with you when on the road that you can re­fill along the way.


Be­fore pur­chas­ing your food, con­sider where you will pur­chase it from. You can of­ten find value for money at farm­ers’ mar­kets, gro­cers, butch­ers, and fish mar­kets.

Your lo­cal su­per­mar­ket may also have spe­cials. Scope out their cat­a­logue ahead of time to iden­tify deals and when you are scal­ing the su­per­mar­ket shelves do not for­get to look on the high and low shelves as they can hold some of the cheaper items.

Be care­ful of foods you don’t need or want, es­pe­cially ‘two for one’ deals – of­ten it’s still cheaper if you only buy one of the items. Dis­cre­tionary or ‘junk’ foods make up about a third of the av­er­age Aus­tralian adult’s in­take. Re­duc­ing your in­take of junk foods will save money as well as ben­e­fit your health and waist cir­cum­fer­ence.

Fi­nally, when it comes to fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles, buy in sea­son to save dol­lars (see the ta­ble be­low for some ideas).

These cost sav­ing ideas can help you eat healthily on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. Eat­ing healthy can also help re­duce your risk of many health prob­lems, in­clud­ing type 2 di­a­betes, or if you al­ready have di­a­betes, can help you to man­age it well and re­duce your risk of com­pli­ca­tions – ul­ti­mately sav­ing you money on med­i­cal bills.

For more help with shop­ping head to di­a­ and pur­chase a copy of the Healthy Shop­ping Guide ($7.50).

“Re­duc­ing your in­take of junk foods will save money as well as ben­e­fit your health.”

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