Jul 27

How to manage a healthy diet on a budget

Written by:  The Gutsy Dietitians

First, we need to establish what a healthy diet is; a healthy diet is a diet rich in macro-and micronutrients, which play an essential role in supporting your bodily functions and immune system. Vitamins and minerals can be seen as building blocks to strengthen your immune system. These building blocks include vitamins A, C, and D and minerals such as magnesium and zinc.

Foods are a better way to get fibre in than supplements because most plant foods have both soluble and insoluble fibre. One can incorporate these nutrients into your diet with the help of whole foods – like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and legumes – which are foods without added fat, sugar, or sodium and retain their fibre as well as the entire portfolio of beneficial phytochemicals and nutrients that are often removed in processed foods. Whole foods have a superior fibre content compared to processed foods. Fibre helps your health in all sorts of ways, such as helping you feel full faster, and it is protective against heart disease and diabetes.

Dried fruit is often overlooked when we think of whole foods, but in fact, they form part of whole foods and have gotten a bad reputation recently, but unrightfully so. Dried fruit may be more calorie-dense per gram than fresh fruit, but nutritionally speaking, they are more or less the same when looking at vitamins and minerals compared to fresh fruit. When you compare dried fruit to other commercially prepared snacks- dried fruit often has fewer kilojoules, more vitamins, and minerals in natural form and is much cheaper.

Simple steps to add more whole foods to your diet:

  1. Choose whole grains products.
  2. Eat lots of fresh or frozen vegetables. Try to include them in almost every meal.
  3. Top tip: Eat fruit as treats instead of commercial treats. Eat lots of fresh, frozen, or dried fruits. Stick to portion sizes and add them to most meals and snacks.
  4. Include beans in your meals and snacks more often. They are a great source of plant protein, fibre, phytochemicals, and other nutrients.
  5. Limit convenience and processed foods. They are often loaded with added fat, sugar, salt, and additives.

Top tips to stay within a budget while eating healthy foods.

  1. Plan: When you plan your meals and make a grocery list in advance, you are more likely to eat home-cooked meals. Prepare and cook what you can over the weekend and use your fridge and freezer space wisely.
  2. Buy what you can in bulk and season.
  3. Swap cold drink and juice for water: Stop drinking your kilojoules. Nothing beats a big glass of water to quench your thirst. Not only does it hydrate you, but it is also much more affordable and healthier than a cool drink or juice.
  4. Be Grocery shopping savvy: Keep your eyes on the specials and compare different store prices with each other. Be on the watch out for items on ‘special’ as sometimes the price is not reduced. Do not shop when you are hungry, as you are more likely to buy things you do not need.
  5. Do not buy junk food: Not only is it pricier, it usually is not as nutritious as whole foods. By skipping processed foods, you can spend more of your budget on higher-quality, nutrient-rich whole foods.
  6. Think about shelf life and versatility: Buy foods that go with lots of different meals or and buy healthy foods with a longer shelf life to minimize food waste (this is where dried fruit is especially ideal).


Disclaimer: The following prices are based on average in-store prices; if you shop around or support local, this might be half of the commercial retailers- shop around to find the best price for your budget.