Eating well for less

Published 27 June, 2016

So far we have given you plenty of advice on eating well, but we know people often worry about how to do this on a limited budget.

Eating well doesn’t mean buying everything organic or finding rare ingredients, it can be as simple as making a few changes to your shopping basket. The best advice is to plan ahead, stick to your shopping list, and avoid impulse buying; especially as sugary drinks and treats are often expensive, and the sugar rush can leave you feeling more hungry afterwards!

So here are some top tips for putting together your meals and helping to make your pounds go that little bit further. Remember, aim for a diet based around complex carbohydrates, low fat protein, and plenty of vegetables.


  • Meat can often be the most expensive part of our weekly shop, so perhaps try just veggie meals a couple of times a week
  • Use pulses, lentils and beans in place of meat to reduce the quantity of meat and make dishes go further. For example, when making chilli use half mince and half kidney beans (beans are low GI so slow digestion and have a minimal impact on blood glucose levels)!
  • Use cheaper cuts of meat. Examples are pork fillet, chicken thighs, lean beef or turkey mince (remember to remove any visible fat or chicken skin)
  • Eggs and tinned fish can be quite cheap but good protein sources, though with tinned fish make sure you choose brine rather than oil to keep fat levels down

Fruit and veg

  • Tinned in natural juice (drained) or frozen are just as good
  • Visit your local fruit and veg stall as they can often be cheaper than you’d think, especially for seasonal veg
  • Buy loose rather than pre-packed
  • Pack out meals with frozen veg
  • Don’t bin leftover veg at meals, use them to make a soup or add them to the next meal
  • Shop smartly by buying fruit and veg in season when it is much cheaper


  • Supermarket economy brands usually taste just as good as premium brands!
  • Bakeries can be a great place for different and inexpensive breads
  • Reduce the portion of carbs at meals, do not exceed a quarter plate – measure this out before cooking to reduce wastage and help the packets last longer
  • Larger packets / sizes are often cheaper to buy per pound

Make use of your freezer

  • Freeze leftovers
  • Freeze bread as soon as you buy it. And if it’s uncut, slice it first so you only take out what you need rather than a whole loaf
  • Use frozen fruit and veg – it can be even better for you than fresh as freezing it saves some of the vitamins and minerals

Quick and cheap meal and snack ideas that are low in GI and fat


  • Omelet and salad
  • Beans on granary toast – add Worcester Sauce or chilli flakes to the beans if you like it spicy
  • Egg on granary toast – no need for butter or low fat spread
  • Jacket sweet potato with tuna or beans
  • Homemade vegetable or lentil soup – use a low-salt stock cube dissolved in water, or tinned tomatoes, as a base

Healthy inexpensive snacks

  • Buy nuts from local stores or go to the ‘around the world’ section in supermarkets where other items may also be cheaper.
  • Cut down on treats – buying crisps, chocolates and sweets will add pounds at the till AND at the scales
  • Carrot sticks – 1kg of carrots can often be found for £1 in supermarkets so this snack works out at less than 10p a portion
  • Make your own popcorn in the microwave using plain popping corn kernels. Try adding cinnamon for a sweet treat
  • Boiled eggs

A quick reminder on the recommended diet for people with type 2 diabetes

Aim for meals based around complex, starchy, high fibre carbohydrates (e.g. vegetables and salad, beans and pulses), and include low-fat meat, fish and dairy products.

Why is this recommended? It helps provide a steady release of sugar throughout the day and can make it easier to maintain a healthy weight. Combined these benefits help stabilise diabetes over the long term.