You don’t need to spend a fortune to eat well. Getting your recommended five-a-day can be affordable if you make the right choices. There are plenty of clever ways you can boost your intake of fruit and vegetables while keeping costs down, like stocking kitchen cupboards with tinned fruit, filling the fridge with whatever's in season and getting familiar with your freezer. Below, you'll find plenty of tips on how to eat your five-a-day on a budget, plus a range of delicious recipes to try.

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Have a read, then check out our budget pages: we have budget healthy recipes, energy efficient microwave recipes and a budget family meal plan for seven days of meals.

20 affordable ways to get your 5-a-day

1. Tinned tomatoes

This popular ingredient is a nutritional powerhouse. It only takes two plum tomatoes to make up one of your five-a-day. What’s more, tomatoes release more nutrients as they cook because the cell walls break down, which is good news as we often use tinned tomatoes for sauces.

You can buy cans cheaply and there’s often little difference between budget and premium – even expensive brands may contain preservatives to help the tomatoes stay firm.

Read our guide on the health benefits of tomatoes. And check out our review of the best flasks and thermal cups for drinks and soup.

Try these recipes

Tomato & basil soup
Tomato & chickpea curry
More canned tomato recipes

2. Frozen berries

It's a common misconception that frozen fruit isn't as healthy as fresh. Commercially frozen fruit is flash-frozen within just a few hours of picking, helping it to retain most of its nutrients and colour.

We’re huge fans of using frozen berries – like strawberries and raspberries – all year round to make smoothies, compotes or frozen yogurt. It saves on the cost and environmental implications of eating out-of-season imported produce.

More like this

To find out more, read our guide on the health benefits of frozen fruit and vegetables. Plus, read our review of the 10 best blenders.

Try these recipes

Instant frozen berry yogurt
Berry bircher
Super berry smoothie

3. Frozen vegetables

The same benefits apply to frozen vegetables and supermarket basic ranges offer brilliant value for money here. Frozen cauliflower, spinach, sweetcorn and green beans are ideal for cooking with. Be aware that some of the original texture can be lost in the defrosting process, but they work well added by the handful to curries, casseroles and sauces for a guaranteed nutrient boost.

You can also freeze your own veg to minimise food waste. For practical tips, read our how to freeze guide. And check out our review of the best food storage containers for your kitchen.

Try these recipes

One-pot chicken pilaf
Chorizo & pea risotto
Minestrone soup

4. Lentils

Lentils are one of our favourite ingredients. Cheap and nutritious, they hold up in many hearty dishes and can taste sensational when cooked the right way. Many types don’t need to be soaked before use, even the dried ones. Split red lentils are fairly inexpensive and best used for soups and sauces. Firm Puy lentils are a good addition to salads, although slightly more costly. Amazingly, three tablespoons of cooked lentils constitutes one of your five-a-day, plus they’re packed with fibre, protein and carbohydrate.

To find out more, read our guide on the health benefits of lentils. And check out our review of the best pan sets for boiling and simmering.

Try these recipes

Lentil ragu
Lentil kofta with orzo & feta
Sausage, roasted veg & Puy lentil one-pot

5. Chickpeas

Chickpea, tomato and spinach curry in a silver pan

Chickpeas are another storecupboard favourite. The dried ones offer the best value for money but they require soaking, so canned versions win on convenience. Again, you only need three tablespoons of cooked chickpeas to get one of your five-a-day. We like them roasted as a snack or heavily spiced in a curry. You can even use the water from the can (known as aquafaba) as a substitute for egg whites when making vegan meringue.

Check out our guide on how to cook chickpeas. Plus, read our review of the 10 best non-stick baking trays for roasting.

Try these recipes

Chickpea, tomato & spinach curry
Chickpea & coriander burgers
Chickpea fajitas

6. Canned fruit

A single canned peach or pear provides one of your five-a-day – this means buying one can could be enough to give around four people a serving. Be aware that canned fruit does usually comes in sugary syrup – even the varieties in juice contain a lot of sugar. That said, if eaten occasionally, it’s a good way to sneak fruit into desserts and puddings.

Read our guide on the health benefits of canned fruit to find out more. And check out our review of the best can openers to make life easier in the kitchen.

Try these recipes

Peach crumble
Peach melba smoothie
Coconut & mango sponge

7. Sweet potato

Regular white potatoes don’t count as one of your five-a-day, but sweet potatoes do. They may be slightly more expensive than traditional spuds but, as a source of complex carbohydrate, they’re fantastic value for money. And, like other orange fruit and veg, they contain beta-carotene. You need a whole potato to get a full portion, so use it as you would a regular potato – baked, mashed, as chips... the possibilities are endless.

Learn more about the health benefits of sweet potato. Plus, have a look at the best chopping boards for all your food prep needs.

Try these recipes

Baked sweet potatoes with lentils & red cabbage slaw
Spinach, sweet potato & lentil dhal
More ideas for cooking with sweet potato

8. Dried fruit

You might be surprised to learn that dried raisins, currants and sultanas count towards your five-a-day. Just one tablespoon equates to a portion, so think about incorporating some next time you’re pouring out your breakfast cereal, making porridge or garnishing a salad.

Check out our guide to find out why raisins are good for you. Then have a look at the best healthy cereals available to buy.

Try these recipes

Apple & sultana porridge
Chicken biryani
Gremolata couscous-stuffed pepeprs

9. Eat seasonal

Asparagus risotto

This might sound obvious, but eating what’s in season can – but not always – be cheaper. Consult our seasonal calendar before shopping or speak to your local market stallholder or greengrocer to find out what’s in abundance. Often a glut of produce means a marked-down price. We have healthy recipes for spring, summer, autumn and winter to inspire your cooking.

For more tips, read our latest guide on how to eat healthy on a budget. Plus, be inspired by our review of the best healthy cookbooks.

Try these recipes

Rustic vegetable soup
Asparagus risotto
Super-veg pasta

10. Eat local

Food that has travelled only a few miles down the road will inevitably be cheaper than something that’s been flown around the world (and if this isn’t the case, ask yourself why). Markets and greengrocers can be the best means by which to eat local produce, but supermarket packaging features place of origin, so take time to read labels. Even if the cost-saving is small, it’s an eco-friendlier way to shop. There's plenty of fantastic British produce to cook with, such as beetroot, carrots, cabbage and apples.

To keep costs down, try our vegetarian budget meal plan. And read our guide on energy-efficient cooking.

Try these recipes

Creamy carrot soup
Lemon & cabbage pasta with garlic crumbs
Beetroot hummus

11. Boost your breakfasts

Overnight oats in a glass jar topped with fruit and honey

Kickstart your day with a healthy portion of fruit or veg and you'll be well on your way to five-a-day before lunchtime. Whizz fruit into smoothies, add it to muesli or bake it into oats. If you prefer a savoury breakfast, make your own baked beans, serve grilled mushrooms alongside scrambled eggs or enjoy a warming shakshuka.

For more inspiration, check out our healthy breakfast recipes. And read our review of the 15 best toasters for making breakfast quickly.

Try these recipes

Overnight oats
Healthy porridge bowl
Saucy bean baked eggs

12. Healthy snacks

Instead of reaching for sugary, artificial foods when hunger strikes, take snack time as an opportunity to top up your intake of nutrient-dense fruit, veg and pulses. Whip up your own hummus using a tin of chickpeas or try roasting them with spices you have in your kitchen cupboard. If you're short on time or need to pack something to go, you can always enjoy a fresh piece of fruit.

For more ideas, check out our healthy snack recipes. And read our review of the best lunchboxes for transporting your snacks.

Try these recipes

Spicy roasted chickpeas
Carrot & hummus roll-ups
Pitta pocket

13. Go veggie

Following a plant-based diet is considered to be better for you and the planet, as well as being less expensive. While some meat alternatives are pricey, meals made with vegetables, grains and pulses are considerably cheaper than their meaty counterparts. A curry made with root veg, for example, is cheaper than using chicken or lamb. Not to mention you'll find it easy to consume your five-a-day. Go vegetarian full-time or for the same day every week.

Need meat-free ideas? Read up on the benefits of the vegetarian diet and check out our top vegetarian recipes.

Try these recipes

Sweet potato & peanut curry
Slow cooker vegetable lasagne
Vegetarian enchiladas

14. Serve a salad

Egg Niçoise salad

One good way to get your greens is by opting for a salad for lunch or dinner. Have a few dressed leaves on the side of your meal, or enjoy a heartier salad for the main event. Just be sure to add protein, plenty of veggies and grains to make it filling. You could even add dried or fresh fruit, if you like a little sweet with your savoury.

We have plenty of enticing salads to get you started, have a look at our green salads, chicken salads and storecupboard salad recipes. Then check out the best salad spinners for quickly washing leaves.

Try these recipes

Egg niçoise salad
10-minute couscous salad
Warm cauliflower salad

15. Try something new

It's easy to get stuck in a rut and cook the same meals every week, especially when you're on a tight budget. The problem is this means you're eating the same fruits and vegetables, over and over again, and not giving your body the diversity it needs to thrive.

Why not switch things up and add a new recipe to your repertoire? Browse our budget recipes for inspiration, we have cheap and healthy recipes, budget meals for two, budget batch-cooking recipes and lots more. If you're new to cooking, check out our picks of the best cookbooks for beginners.

Try these recipes

Carrot pilaf with coriander chutney
Creamy pesto & kale pasta
Miso mushroom & tofu noodle soup

16. Add to omelettes

Masala frittata in a frying pan with a slice taken

Eggs are an excellent budget-friendly base from which to build a meal, and you can add any ingredients you have in the fridge. If you usually enjoy an omelette for breakfast, lunch or dinner, try adding a portion of chopped veg to the whisked eggs before cooking or tuck inside the folded omelette. For a heartier meal, make a thicker frittata with cherry tomatoes and avocado salsa on the side. Or try adding a handful of spinach to a chunky Spanish-style tortilla.

For more ideas, check out our top omelette recipes. And make sure you read our review of the best non-stick frying pans for omelettes, pancakes and more.

Try these recipes

Microwave omelette
From-the-fridge omelette
Healthy pepper, tomato & ham omelette

17. Tasty traybakes

Oregano chicken & squash traybake

This is a nifty way to get your daily dose of goodness on a budget. Fill a tray with seasonal veg, toss with garlic, olive oil, herbs and spices, and bake until you have a healthy, wholesome dinner. You can add fish or meat, if you'd like. And even serve alongside a green salad for an extra nutritious hit. If you make enough, the leftovers will be delicious eaten cold or reheated in the microwave another day.

We have lots of traybake dinner recipes, including vegetarian traybakes, vegan traybakes and family traybake recipes. Make sure you have the right kit: check out our review of the best baking trays and best casserole dishes.

Try these recipes

Italian aubergine traybake
Roasted root veg traybake
Oregano chicken & squash traybake

18. Include the kids

Macaroni cheese with veg

Make sure the whole family is getting their five-a-day with our hidden veg recipes. We've crammed extra vegetables into pasta sauce and macaroni cheese, peppers into burgers and broccoli into fritters. Our dishes are hearty and delicious enough to be enjoyed by the whole family, so serve up a portion and know you're getting a good dose of your five-a-day.

You could even get the kids into the kitchen with you, doing so will help them learn basic skills and nutrition. Turn them into little chefs with our easy and fun kids' cooking recipes. Plus, discover our list of the best cookbooks for kids.

Try these recipes

Spaghetti & meatballs with hidden veg sauce
Hidden veg ragu
Macaroni cheese with veg

19. Swap chocolate for fruit

If you often have a few squares of chocolate after a meal, or you enjoy the occasional chocolate dessert, consider switching to a cheap and cheerful fruity pud instead. Dollop homemade blackcurrant compote onto yogurt, bake apples and blackberries into crumble or enjoy a fresh, seasonal fruit salad. All are relatively inexpensive ways to make the shift.

Try these recipes

Plum crumble
Date & apple squares
Berry bake with passion fruit drizzle

20. Add veg to smoothies

Kale smoothie with nuts and avocado

Mix up your morning routine and add a portion of greens to your smoothie. Both spinach and kale work well, although spinach has a more neutral flavour, and they both boast powerful health benefits as well as contributing to your five-a-day.

If you prefer a sweet start to the day, try adding banana, honey or rice milk as it has a naturally sweet flavour. For creaminess, give avocado a go. It's also bursting with healthy fats.

Read up on the health benefits of spinach, kale and avocado then check out our vegetable smoothie recipes. Then have a look at our round-up of the best smoothie makers for blitzing healthy drinks.

Try these recipes

Kale smoothie
Avocado smoothie
Sunshine smoothie

More on healthy eating

12 ways to get your five-a-day
What counts as five-a-day?
How to eat more fruit and veg
How to sneak more veg into kids' diets
How to eat a balanced diet
Cheap and healthy recipes

Do you eat five portions of fruit and veg a day? Leave a comment below...


A qualified nutritionist (MBANT), Kerry Torrens is a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food magazine. Kerry is a member of the The Royal Society of Medicine, Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT).

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All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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