New research shows that people want to eat healthily but feel recent rises in food prices (and other costs) are a major barrier to this. The Good Food Nation Survey 2023 saw an overwhelming number of respondents suggesting that eating healthily was still a priority, with 69% considering themselves 'healthy eaters' despite financial limitations. However, 28% of respondents found themselves eating less healthily due to increasing costs, putting into perspective the difficulty in finding and cooking well-rounded, nutritious meals cheaply and sustainably.


To help, we've selected our favourite nutritious ingredients that work with most budgets, to make healthy eating cheaper and easier.

Check out more articles from our health hub and read up on the healthiest grains, healthiest winter foods and cheap ways to get your 5-a-day.

What are the most nutritious cheap foods?

1. Canned tuna

Tuna, caper and chilli spaghetti on a plate

Canned tuna is a good value and versatile ingredient. Add to pasta bakes, salads, wraps, sandwiches and more. Tuna is also a great way of getting vital protein into your diet and is low in fat. Find out more in our top five health benefits of canned tuna.

Try this accessible storecupboard ingredient in our recipe for tuna, caper & chilli spaghetti, check out this budget-friendly storecupboard tuna bean salad or fix up a simple dinner for the whole family with our tuna & sweetcorn fish cakes.

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2. Frozen peas

Pea & feta pearl barley stew in 2 bowls

Frozen vegetables are incredibly convenient when it comes to boosting the nutrient content of your dinner. Peas are particularly useful: rich in fibre and plant-based protein, they'll go a long way in soups, stews, salads and tasty side dishes. Explore the top five health benefits of peas to find out more on why this veg is so good for you.

We've got recipes which cost so little to make but can become family favourites. Check out our pasta with ham & minty pea pesto, pea falafels with minty couscous salad or this pea & feta pearl barley stew, a hearty cold weather must-have.

3. Eggs

Egg wraps with black beans & rocket with tomatoes

Eggs are an invaluable, budget-friendly source of protein and contain almost every nutrient you need: read more in our top 10 health benefits of eggs. To reduce wastage and keep to budget, why not check out our recommended top 16 ways with leftover egg whites and yolks.

More cost-effective deliciousness is headed your way in our Turkish one-pan eggs & peppers (Menemen), egg wraps with black beans & rocket and these egg-fried noodles with beansprouts.

4. Oats

healthy porridge bowl with goji berries

This wholegrain has many benefits, from managing cholesterol levels, balancing blood sugar, helping weight management and helping you stay fuller for longer. Read more in our article 'Are oats good for you?'.

Porridge doesn't need to be boring with our healthy porridge bowl, customisable to your favourite toppings and ingredients. We recommend balancing flavours and adding fibre-rich fruits and seeds such as banana, raspberries, goji berries, chia seeds, with a side dollop of smooth peanut butter. For further inspiration, join the craze with these 10 ways with overnight oats.

Bulk out your breakfasts and snacks with these economical banana oat pancakes and budget porridge.

5. Apples

Waldorf salad served on a serving plate

Apples come in many varieties, are cheap, readily available and can make delicious additions to many dishes and desserts. For more nutritional information, find our top five health benefits of apples. To make fresh apples last longer, learn how to freeze apples, a cheap and cost-effective way of meal prepping.

Try a simple green apple salad or up the ante with an impressively nutritious Waldorf salad, made with toasted walnuts, Greek yogurt and more. This slow cooker spiced apples with barley is particularly healthy for your wallet.

6. Carrots

spiced carrot and lentil soup on a tray

Beta-carotene is a key nutrient in carrots. It's important for eyesight, immunity, healthy skin and ageing – meaning carrots are well worth adding to your shopping basket. Discover more about their nutrient content in our article, top five health benefits of carrots and get plenty more recipe inspiration with 20 ways with carrots.

For budget options, try this spiced carrot & lentil soup, carrot pilaf with coriander chutney or baked carrot & nigella seed bhajis with raita.

7. Cauliflower

Fennel-roasted cauliflower with quinoa

Cauliflower is an incredibly versatile vegetable, holding its own as a 'steak', as 'rice,' or mashed, roasted or part of a curry or pilaf. It's also surprisingly nutritious, as our article on the top five health benefits of cauliflower will show you. Get cooking with these delicious 10 ways with cauliflower recipes.

Budget-friendly cauliflower recipes are easy to find, including our cauliflower soup and our tasty warm cauliflower salad. This fennel roasted cauliflower with quinoa is super delicious and nutrient dense, including three of the recommended five-a-day.

8. Yogurt

Frozen tropical fruit yogurt

Yogurt is great for your gut – and makes it into our top 12 healthiest fermented foods. For the full low-down on this fridge staple, check out our top 10 health benefits of Greek yogurt. If you find yourself stumped for ideas on how to make a big tub of yogurt go further, find ideas on how to use up leftover yogurt.

Put those healthy alternative ideas to use in our fresh budget recipes, including these lemon & yogurt chicken flatbreads, frozen tropical fruit yogurt and strawberry frozen yogurt.

9. Tinned beans

Double bean & roasted pepper chilli

A classic storecupboard staple, beans go such a long way in providing vital nutrients to the whole family. Low-cost cans of beans can bulk up dishes like curries, chillis and flavourful salads packed full of flavour. This double bean & roasted pepper chilli is the definition of a perfect midweek meal, with plenty for leftovers on another day.Try out our white bean hummus with pickled beetroot & kale ideal for a buffet or as a starter or side dish. Find tasty inspiration in these 20 ways with kidney beans. A UK cupboard staple is the humble baked bean in a rich tomato sauce. But are baked beans healthy? Find out all relevant information in our useful guide.

See the versatility of this fibre-rich legume for yourself in this budget-friendly Mexican bean soup with guacamole and our fresh tuna, asparagus & white bean salad.

Which nutritious cheap foods do you most like? Share your thoughts below...


Want more on nutrition?

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Budget supermarket swap recipes
Top tips for healthy eating on a budget
Family budget meal plan
30 of the healthiest winter foods
Cheap ways to get your 5-a-day
What is the cheapest healthy diet?
Budget healthy recipes
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