Healthy eating tends to have a reputation for being expensive. The findings from our 2023 Good Food Nation Report – that surveyed 2,013 UK consumers (48 per cent male, 52 per cent female) aged 16 and over about their food shopping and eating habits – found that over a quarter of UK consumers (28 per cent) reported eating less healthily because it's too expensive to do so.


While healthy eating may involve using less coconut oil and kombucha, it is possible to create a balanced, nutritious and delicious diet on a budget. Below you'll find cheap and healthy foods as well as top tips from Good Food's health editor and nutritionist, Tracey Raye.

To find the best budget recipes, see our top 10 healthy budget dinners, budget-friendly smoothie recipes and seven days of healthy budget family meals.

Discover more ways to stay healthy while keeping costs low with 10 budget 'superfood' swaps and nutritious cheap foods, as well as our guide to cheap ways to get your five-a-day.

Orecchiette with butter beans parsley chilli and lemon in a bowl

Healthy budget foods

Start by identifying foods you enjoy eating, then choose the versions which happen to be cheap and healthy, too:

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• Protein: eggs, cheap cuts of meat, canned or frozen fish, dried or canned beans, peas and lentils, tofu

• Dairy: yogurt, milk, cottage cheese

• Grains: rice, pasta, oats, barley, couscous

• Fruits (choose seasonal): bananas, apples, pears, grapes, oranges, frozen berries

• Vegetables (choose seasonal): potatoes, carrots, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, canned tomatoes, frozen peas

Money-saving tips

As well as understanding which foods are healthy, filling and budget-friendly, it’s also helpful to follow a few of the tips below to ensure you’re stretching your budget as far as it will go:

1. Plan your meals

One of the best ways to keep costs low is to plan your meals around budget-friendly ingredients. When you plan ahead, you not only cut down on food waste, you also avoid impulse-buying when you’re hungry and have nothing planned.

2. Buy own brand products

Not only are they cheaper but all food manufacturers must follow the same food standards, so they’re just as nutritious and often a similar quality, too.

Cropped shot of young woman pushing a shopping cart, grocery shopping in supermarket. She is holding a tin can and reading the nutritional label

3. Buy in bulk, but only on the items you’ll use

Bulk buying can be a great way of stocking up for less, but be sure to avoid overspending on things you won’t use.

4. Shop for seasonal produce

Make a list of what season your favourite produce is at its best and then stock up. It’ll taste amazing and cost far less.

Young woman returned with purchases from grocery store takes fresh organic vegetables out of mesh bag putting on kitchen table at home close view

5. Bring your own lunch

Buying lunch out can rack up quickly when you’re trying to be careful with money. By simply planning ahead and bringing lunch with you, you’d be amazed at just how much you can save week to week.

6. Pack snacks

Snacking can really catch you out both in the health and cost department. Make a list of healthy snacks you enjoy such as veggie sticks and hummus, popcorn, energy bars, nuts etc and make sure you always have some to hand.

Ramekin of hummus with vegetable battons surrounding.

Our best healthy budget guides

1. Healthy budget recipes

Being healthy on a budget doesn't have to be hard. Try our easy recipes that are rich in nutritious ingredients and great flavour. Enjoy our lightly spiced chicken, leek & brown rice stir-fry, nourishing spinach falafel & hummus bowl and super smoky bacon & tomato spaghetti.

2. Top 10 healthy budget dinners

No need to break the bank with these budget-friendly dinner ideas for every taste. See our top-rated healthy recipes including vegan and veggie options such as double bean chilli and curried cod.

3. Top 10 healthy store cupboard recipes

Discover our nutritious, budget-friendly meals which make the most of simple storecupboard ingredients such as tinned tomatoes, cans of beans and dried pasta.

4. Top 10 storecupboard superfoods to try

If you're making a concerted effort to be healthier, stocking your cupboards with some health-boosting basics should be your first step. Add these items to your pantry and get creative with our nourishing recipe suggestions...

Try more budget-friendly ideas

Top 10 healthy budget dinners
Budget meals for one
Easy budget meals for two
Quick & budget family meals
10 budget family chicken recipes
10 easy budget family meals


Is there something else you'd like to know about eating healthy on a budget? Let us know your questions in the comments section below.

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