Eat well, spend less

Making the simple changes in this Food Fact Sheet will help you to save money, eat well and contribute towards a balanced diet and lifestyle.

In this fact sheet:

Ten money saving tips

  1. Plan ahead, write a shopping list and avoid impulse purchases.
  2. Cut food waste by eating leftovers from your evening meal for lunch or freezing for the following week.
  3. Look out for weekly fruit and vegetable deals at superstores, markets and local shops.
  4. Cut your meat – swap for pulses (beans, lentils and peas) and vegetables for example when making spaghetti Bolognese, replace the mince with tinned chickpeas, lentils or kidneys beans and add frozen vegetables.
  5. Use leftover vegetables from your evening meal to make soup for lunch the next day – simply pop in a pan with a stock-cube, cover with water and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes, then blend or eat it chunky with some wholemeal or seeded bread.
  6. Try superstore value brands, which often taste just as good for a lower price. 
  7. Try tinned or frozen fruit and vegetables – buy fruit in natural juices/water instead of in syrup when you can, to avoid extra calories from the added sugar.
  8. Rely less upon ‘ready’ or manufactured food like takeaways or processed meats and cook from scratch. Look at the resource list (turn over) for where to find easy, healthy low-cost recipes.
  9. Ask members of staff at local supermarkets for fresh food reduction times to grab a bargain. Use within date or freeze for later.
  10. Buy some dried herbs and spices, for example chilli powder, paprika and mixed Italian herbs – they are not expensive and they add great flavour to simple homemade dishes.

5-a-day for 50p

Look out for seasonal fruit and vegetables like strawberries in the summer or root vegetables (parsnips, beetroot or swede) in winter as they are widely available and less expensive when in season. When comparing prices of packaged and loose fruit and vegetables use unit pricing as it shows the price of a food for a specific unit of weight (or volume).

For example bananas cost 68p/kg. Unit pricing also helps you to compare the cost of one portion of fruit or vegetable to another. For example:

  1. Fresh carrots approximately 5p per 80g portion (unit price 59p/kg).
  2. Tinned garden peas approximately 5p per 80g portion (unit price 21p/300g tin).
  3. Frozen broccoli florets approximately 10p per 80g portion (unit price £1/907g bag).
  4. Small banana approximately 10p per 80g portion (unit price 68p/kg).
  5. Frozen fruit salad approximately 20p per 80g portion (unit price 90p/450g bag).

(One portion of fruit or vegetable is 80g. The above prices may vary from shop to shop and over time.)

Meal plan – feed a family of four for £5 a day

This menu offers meal and snack ideas for a family of four to eat for approximately £5 (£1.25 per person) and is colour coded to match the different sections of the eatwell plate.

Eat well spend less menu 1The menu is based on portion sizes given on the packets. It is important to follow these portion sizes as they prevent you eating extra food, helping you stay a healthy weight and save money. The menu has money saving tips, for example using supermarket value brands, soup made from leftover vegetables, and cooking simple low-cost meals from scratch.

It is only a two-day menu plan, it is important to eat a variety of different foods, have a couple of meat free days in a week and not rely upon processed foods – cooking from scratch is the best way. We have provided two recipe ideas for you to try at home below, they are quick and easy to make and are mentioned in the meal plan.

Eat well spend less menu 2


Homemade Apple Crumble


150g plain wholemeal flour

75g reduced-fat spread, cold, cut into small cubes

75g sugar, plus extra to sprinkle on the fruit

3 cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced pinch of cinnamon


1. Put flour, sugar and reduced-fat spread into a bowl; rub together using fingers until you have a mixture like breadcrumbs.

2. Preheat oven 180°C/gas mark 5. Put the apple into an oven proof dish, and add sugar to taste.

3. Sprinkle the crumble topping over the fruit and bake for approximately 30 minutes until golden brown.

Vegetable and Lentil Soup


1 medium diced onion

2 diced garlic gloves

2 tsp cooking oil

400g vegetables (for example potato, carrot, swede, broccoli - seasonal choices, frozen, tinned or leftovers)

1 vegetable stock cube made up with 750ml boiling water

400g tin of lentils (drained)

2 tsp dried ground cumin ½ tsp dried ground coriander


1. Fry onion and garlic in the oil in a large saucepan for 5 minutes until soft.

2. Add the spices and fry for a further 1 minute, stirring continuously.

3. Add the remainder of the ingredients, bring to the boil and then simmer for approximately 20 minutes (time may vary depending on vegetable type e.g. raw or pre-cooked).

4. The soup can be served chunky or blended with a pitta bread roll or wrap.

Useful resources

British Heart Foundation Healthy Eating on a Budget 

Love food hate waste

The Eatwell guide is a handy guide to show you how much you should eat from each food group for a healthy balanced diet. 

Information sources

Download this fact sheet as a PDF

This Food Factsheet is a public service of The British Dietetic Association (BDA) intended for information only. It is not a substitute for proper medical diagnosis or dietary advice given by a dietitian.

If you need to see a dietitian, visit your GP or a private dietitian.

Written by Alexandra Harper, Leanne Mc Dowell, Laura Hensley and Hannah Johnston, dietitians. Supervised by Dr Anne Coufopoulos, dietitian.

Reviewed by the BDA Communications and Marketing Board.

© BDA January 2015. Review date January 2018. Version 2.