A guide to cheap and healthy cooking

Feeling the pinch? Eating well doesn't need to cost the earth - use our top tips along with storecupboard staples for quick, healthy and affordable favourites.

Bowls of chilli

Storecupboard staples:


Simple spuds are an essential source of energy and are packed full of vitamins B6 and C while their skins are high in fibre.
Try...vegan chilli


Cheap, low-fat and packed with protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, adding your favourite pulses to meals will immediately give their healthy credentials a boost. Three heaped tablespoons of lentils, beans or peas counts as one of your five a day.
Try...vegetable & bean chilli

Whole grain pasta and bread

White pasta and bread are made from refined grains, which, although light and airy, are nutritionally lacking compared to their raw ancestors. Whole grains retain their goodness and are therefore considered a quality carbohydrate, having a positive effect most notably on digestive health.
Try...wholewheat pasta with broccoli & almonds

Garlic and onions

Great in soups, salads and stir-fries, these simple staples are packed with anti-bacterial properties and nutrients. Both are at their nutritional peak when consumed raw but are still a worthy addition to a warm dishes - just don't cook for too long or at too high a heat in order to preserve nutrients.
Try...broccoli with fried onion and garlic

Tinned fish

Fishcakes on white plate
Tinned fish such as tuna and sardines have many of the health properties of their fresh counterparts at a fraction of the price. Make sure you always have a good stock in your cupboard for a hit of protein, iron and omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital for healthy skin, hair and nails.
Try... feelgood fish cakes


A bag of oats goes a long way and is just the thing to start the day. Enjoy as porridge, in bircher pots and healthy breakfast muffins.
Try... banana & blueberry muffins

Remember to...

Two bowls of celery soup
Shop local

Get your fruit and veg from the market for bags of bargains and a wide variety of home-grown grub. Pick up overripe fruit for healthy smoothies and cheap veg for satisfying soups and stews.

Be veggie friendly

Vegetables generally cost less than meat, so save your pennies and cook up vegetarian soups, curries and one-pots, many of which can be frozen for convenient midweek meals.

Enjoy seasonal splendour

In season fruit and veg is often cheaper than imported groceries. In January, make the most of forced rhubarb and root veggies like carrots, turnips and swede.

Use your leftovers

If you're guilty of throwing away food, get in the habit of having your leftovers for lunch or reusing in another dish the next day. See our guide to using your leftovers safely and get great ideas for waste-free food.

What are your top tips for healthy eating on a budget?

This page was last updated on 25 January 2019.

Kerry Torrens is a qualified Nutritionist (MBANT) with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.

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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