Eating a nutritious diet is a priority for many, but the misconception that it's expensive often deters people from making healthy choices.
Fear not, budget-conscious food enthusiasts! Eating a nutritious diet doesn’t necessarily have to be boring or expensive.
As a self-proclaimed foodie on a budget, I've embarked on a culinary adventure to discover how I can nourish my taste buds and my wallet simultaneously. Join me in this article as I share my personal guide–backed by research–on how to eat a healthy diet without breaking the bank.
1. Plan your meals
Planning my meals in advance is a game-changer- I start by planning my meals for the week ahead.
By taking the time to create a weekly meal plan, I can make a shopping list based on what I need. This helps me to avoid the likelihood of impulse purchases, and ensure I have nutritious options available throughout the week.
According to an article published by Michigan State University, individuals who engaged in meal planning were more likely to consume a healthier diet, reduce food waste, and experience financial savings .
2. Embrace Budget-Friendly Staples I've found that incorporating affordable staples into my diet not only saves money but also provides essential nutrients.
Items like brown rice, oats, beans, and whole grains are versatile, filling, and packed with protein and fibre, making them excellent choices for my budget-friendly meals.
3. Cook at home
During weekends, I would try to make an effort to cook some of my meals at home. Cooking my own meals allows me to have full control over the ingredients while saving a significant amount of money.
Plus, cooking at home means I can make larger portions and have leftovers for future meals. A study found that individuals who cooked meals at home consumed fewer calories, less saturated fat, and had lower food expenses compared to those who frequently dined out or relied on pre-packaged meals .
4. Opt for Plant-Based Proteins Animal proteins can be pricey. I've made a conscious effort to incorporate more plant-based proteins into my diet.
Foods like legumes, tofu, tempeh, and quinoa are not only cost-effective but also provide a wide range of nutrients while reducing my environmental footprint.
Research suggests that plant-based proteins are often cheaper than animal proteins and provide essential nutrients, including fibre and antioxidants .
5. Shop Smart While I may not be an expert at hunting for sales and discounts to save money on food, I make an effort to compare prices between stores and brands.
I have been using grocery store apps and online platforms such as RedMart, GrabMart, Shopee and Fairprice Online to help me find the best deals and save on my grocery purchases. By being savvy shoppers, we can find coupons, utilise loyalty programs, and make informed choices to stretch our budgets.
6. Embrace Batch Cooking Are you familiar with the term "batch cooking"? Batch cooking involves setting aside a specific time each week, usually on weekends, to prepare larger quantities of meals that you can portion and freeze for later use.
One personal tip when it comes to batch cooking is to choose recipes that are easy to scale up!
By embracing batch cooking, you can avoid the stress of daily meal preparation, minimise food waste, and always have a nutritious meal ready to enjoy. It's a game-changer for those seeking convenience, cost-effectiveness, and healthier eating habits.
7. Drink water
I stick to water as my main beverage of choice. Sugary drinks can add up both in terms of cost and calories. By opting for water from the tap of dispenser, I save money and ensure that I'm properly hydrated without any added sugars.
8. Practise Mindful Eating Lastly, research supports that mindful eating could be a powerful tool to eat nutritiously without breaking the bank . Mindful eating emphasises tuning in to our body's hunger and fullness cues.
By practising portion control, and paying attention to my body’s hunger cues, I tend to avoid overeating and wasting food. This mindful approach serves as a reminder to appreciate the taste and nourishment of each meal, and make the most of our budget by consuming appropriate portions that satisfy our nutritional needs without excess.
Eating a nutritious diet on a budget doesn't have to be a dull or expensive affair. By following these eight personalised tips, I've managed to strike a balance between my health and my budget. With careful planning, smart shopping, and a dash of creativity in the kitchen, I can enjoy delicious, nutrient-packed meals while keeping my financial goals intact.
At the end of the day, it's about finding what works for you, and embracing the joy of nourishing yourself on a budget-friendly journey towards better health!
About the Writer
Jeannette Qhek is the Wellbeing Lead at Actxa Wellness, where she curates the wellness curriculum with relevant science-backed content. Extremely passionate about the psychology behind human behaviour, she is now pursuing her Master's in Counselling with Monash University. Her other passion is content creation, and she is part of Tiktok's team of Youth for Good Wellness Education. As part of this exciting journey, she created "Chill By Nette", an online wellness space to share her resources and learnings. Through sharing her voice and creativity, she hopes to make psychological concepts and wellness research knowledge more accessible and fun to the public.
 Mills, S., Brown, H., Wrieden, W., White, M., & Adams, J. (2017). Frequency of eating home cooked meals and potential benefits for diet and health: cross-sectional analysis of a population-based cohort study. The international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity, 14(1), 109. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12966-017-0567-y
 Langyan, S., Yadava, P., Khan, F. N., Dar, Z. A., Singh, R., & Kumar, A. (2022). Sustaining Protein Nutrition Through Plant-Based Foods. Frontiers in nutrition, 8, 772573. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2021.772573