Eating healthy, nutritious food doesn’t have to be expensive.

When we think about healthy food, it’s easy to imagine that it has to be expensive and that we can’t maintain healthy eating on a budget.

Well, that’s not exactly true – so we’ve shared our favourite tips to help you shop smarter and eat smarter.

It’s all about the planning

Plan meals before you shop and write a shopping list! We’re less likely to be tempted into buying unnecessary items and it helps us cut down on waste and save money. Also, remember to check the foods you already have at home and use them in your meal planning.

Look for special offers

We have so many choices nowadays for which supermarkets to use so use them all! Stock up on long-shelf-life products like dried pasta, rice, noodles, canned vegetables, and cereals when they are on offer. You may also find foods reduced in the supermarket later in the day (usually labelled with a yellow sticker). These foods are close to their sell-by date, but you can still put them in the freezer to defrost at a later date.

Is it really good value?

It can be hard to compare the prices of foods in different pack sizes to work out if the food on offer is good value. You can sometimes find the cost per 100g or 100ml in small print on the shelf label that will help you quickly check – use your phone’s calculator to help. Remember, sometimes the shelf label may not be updated to reflect special offers or promotions.

Try supermarket own-brand or value-brand products

Generally, these will be cheaper than branded products, but if you prefer branded products and they can be stored in a cupboard or freezer, try to stock up on these when they are on offer. Also, consider local, independent sellers in your area like greengrocers, butchers, markets, and fishmongers, where you may find some foods cheaper and you can buy the exact amount you need. Specialist food shops like Asian stores can have spices and chillies at a good value. Don’t forget, you can also grow your own herbs with very little space – like on a windowsill!

Make your meat go further – add beans and vegetables to dishes

Try adding chickpeas to a chicken curry, lentils to a meat-based pasta sauce, or tofu to a stir fry. A whole chicken can be good value, especially if you use it for more than one meal. There are many ways you can use up your leftovers. Frozen meat tends to be cheaper if you have storage space in your freezer.

The government advises us to keep the amount of red and processed meat we eat to no more than 500g (cooked weight) per week as eating a lot of these can increase our risk of bowel cancer.

Choose canned oily fish in oil or water

Canned fish like sardines and tuna is normally cheaper than buying fresh fish, it’s easy to prepare and has a long shelf-life. Canned oily fish, such as mackerel, sardines or salmon, is high in omega-3 fats, which can help to keep the heart healthy and is a source of vitamin D, an important nutrient for our bones and muscles. Frozen fish is also a good value choice and can be used in many dishes including fish pie. If there are special offers on fresh fish, you could also take advantage of these and freeze any for a later date.

Check the frozen and canned fruit and vegetable section

Frozen vegetables tend to be cheaper than fresh, and they still count towards your 5 A DAY. Freezing preserves nutrients, so some frozen vegetables can even give you more of certain nutrients than fresh versions. Using frozen fruit and vegetables also can help you reduce food waste as you can use the exact amount you want when you want it, avoiding wasting fruit and vegetables that are past their best. Canned fruit and vegetables are also good choices but watch out for canned fruits and vegetables that have added sugar (syrup) or salt and opt for those in fruit juice or water instead.

Cook smart

There are changes we can make when cooking to reduce energy costs. For example, cooking in bulk, keeping the lid on pots when boiling food and cooking several dishes at once and then keeping them in the fridge or freezer.