I’m loving The Pineapple Project podcast. It’s about money… for people who don’t like talking about money. It got me thinking about food (of course). So here are 12 simple ways to eat healthy on a budget.

Don’t believe anyone who tells you healthy eating is too expensive!

Truth is that healthy eating is cheaper. By a long shot.

And like the Barefoot Investor, I don’t believe you have to compromise on your standard of living and eat beans and rice to save $$$$. Like you, I’m not willing to miss out on avocado.

Let me keep it real. Making a few simple changes to how you eat can help you save more without feeling the pinch. When you eat healthier, you naturally save money. #twobirdsonestone

Here are some non-sucky ways to save big AND eat healthily.

1. Create an ‘eat now’ tray for your fridge

Place any food that’s close to going bad in the tray (which lives in the fridge). Each time you open the fridge, use the food in the ‘eat now’ tray first. Make an omelette, salad or freeze it.

2. Idolise the ice-cube tray

Chop up (or blend) leftover herbs, combine with oil or stock and freeze in ice-cubes, perfectly portion sized for your next cook up. While you’re at it, add a little garlic. It’s a perfect way to save the remaining stock from going bad.

3. Don’t ‘let it go’ like Elsa. Get Frozen instead. 

Freeze almost everything including:

  • Milk in icecube tray for thicker smoothies and to prevent milk from going bad.

  • Overripe avocado for smoothies or avocado dressing.

  • Baby spinach leaves that are on their last legs. Throw in a smoothie.

  • Overripe tomatoes.

  • Breadcrumbs. Blitz your stale bread in a blender and freeze.

  • Grated ginger (because who really gets through the whole knob in one week?!)

  • The remaining tin of coconut cream/milk from that recipe you made.

4. Beans, beans the magical fruit…

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I think legumes (aka beans) are the bomb. Chances are you overestimate how good acai berries are for you and underestimate the benefits of legumes.

I eat beans about four times a week. You may be gassy when you start this habit, but your gut will adjust and the farting will subside. You’ll be left feeling much fuller, healthier and wealthier. Worth it. Beans are also a brilliant food to help prevent and manage constipation!

Click on the photo to get the recipe for my Teriyaki Salmon Bowl and sneak in some legumes.
Click on the photo to get the recipe for my Teriyaki Salmon Bowl and sneak in some legumes.

5. Grow plants than even you can’t kill (easily)

I accidentally kill almost every plant I have but rosemary and mint are resilient and hardy. Grow your own herbs and start with these in a little pot directly in the sun. Stop spending $5 on a bunch of herbs (only to have one half of the herbs get funky in your fridge).

TIP: To store herbs for a longer life, wrap in slightly damp paper towel. Store in the fridge.

I have the opposite of a green thumb. If I can grow herbs, so can you.

6. Cook more at home!!!

I can’t stress this one enough (thus the flamboyant use of exclamation points)! 

It takes just as long to cook your own food as it takes Uber Eats to deliver your food to your front door.

  • Order Pad Thai from local Thai restaurant: $10 per serve

  • Make gourmet, healthy Pad Thai at home: $4.85 per serve

Cook at home, and you’ll have a healthy lunch ready for the next day so you SAVE AGAIN the next day. Your colleagues will be jealous/impressed and you’ll skip the overpriced, average tasting sandwich. Hooha!

7. Adopt a healthier online shopping habit

The number one reason you turn to take away? You missed out on a decent grocery shop. It’s not really your fault. You’re so busy! Keep it real. Set up online delivery from your grocery shop and get it delivered once a week. It takes time to set it up the first time, but once you’re up and running, you’ll be a winner, winner, chicken dinner (served with salad and veg, of course).

8. Get a dreamy drink bottle

As a human, you get thirsty. It’s been known to happen! Get yourself a lovely drink bottle and get into the habit of carrying it around. I love a thermos style bottle because it keeps my water icy-cold for hours. Not only will you save money, but you can feel smug about helping the environment. You’ll ingest less BPAs and your skin, digestion and pretty much every cell in your body will thank you.

  • Cost of water from a tap: $0

  • Cost of bottled water from cafe: $3-5. Ridiculous, I know.

  • Cost of coconut water: $3-5 per serve

  • Cost of soft drink: $2-5 per serve

9. Squirrel healthy snacks (like Winter Is Coming)

The main reasons you lose control over food is because of a) cravings b) you’re hungry and c) you don’t have anything to eat. Starting today, keep healthy snacks with you like a smart squirrel before winter. That’s right – nuts are a great choice and so is a piece of fresh fruit, a tub of greek yoghurt and a few boiled eggs or tuna (if that’s your thang).

  • Cost of a chocolate bar: $2

  • Cost of a processed protein bar: $4

  • Cost of a banana: $0.78

  • Cost of binge eating your entire pantry: Priceless?

10. Become a meal prep ninja

It’s official. Soups are cool again (or are they ‘hot’ again)? Either way. Make big batches of soup, ideally on a Sunday. Come Manic Monday, you’ll have a cheap-and-cheerful meal that’ll be perfect for Meat-free Mondays, taking healthy lunches to work for the whole week and freezing for back up meals. Try this Quinoa Lentil Soup.

Try my Quinoa Lentil soup recipe. “It’s so hot right now”. And cheap! Click on the photo for the recipe.

11. Invest in a slow cooker

Yes, this is an investment. BUT slow cooking saves you heaps of time and money as you can use all the cheap cuts of meat and wonky/imperfect vegetables. I use about 400g of chuck steak when I make a batch that makes six meals. Eating less meat is good for your health, budget and the environment. Note: I always add legumes.

12. Buy in bulk

Who doesn’t love a sale? When there is a tray of fruit or a bundle of veggies, buy up big. Cook it up and freeze in portion-sized containers (so you don’t have to defrost the whole thing).

  • Juice limes and freeze the juice in ice-cube trays.

  • Buy luxe fruit when it’s in season like berries, mangoes, peaches etc. Feel like a queen as you enjoy the lush stuff in smoothies and ‘ice-creams’/sorbets year-round. A few months ago I bought a tray of strawberries (18 punnets) for $12 from Harris Farm. Crazy, I know!!! I’ve been enjoying strawberry smoothies ever since.

I clearly find buying in bulk is hilarious. You might not find a tray of fruit as comical and fun as I do but you will save lots of money. And that's fun, right?! Image: Lyndi Cohen
I clearly find buying in bulk is hilarious. You might not find a tray of fruit as comical and fun as I do but you will save lots of money. And that’s fun, right?!

What type of eater are you?

like an old school cosmo quiz