A recent study, cheap as chips, found that healthy food in the UK is actually frequently cheaper than unhealthy food, and in general food is more affordable than it’s ever been.
The report found switching to healthier versions of products in the supermarket can save money and five portions of fruit and vegetables can be bought for as little as 30p.
So if healthier food can be, and often is, cheaper than unhealthy food, why do we still think that it is expensive or not worth the hassle?
In many cases it might be down to convenience or taste rather than actual cost.
Ready meals are often unhealthy due to high levels of salt and fat, but these are the flavours that we’re used to.
So when we try to replicate the same meal at home from scratch it can be a disappointment.
Takeaways and microwave meals don’t need preparation, are available to people who have limited cooking skills and free up our time.
So, is there a way that healthy meals can be as convenient as pre-prepared meals or a takeaway, and save money too?
It’s a difficult balance, but here are a few everyday tips to achieving a healthier, but still affordable, diet:
Save time by buying things pre-chopped. You don’t need to spend hours preparing ingredients. You can buy low fat grated cheese (which can be frozen) as well as ready chopped peppers, garlic and ginger that can be used to add flavour without needing salt.
Frozen veg can be cheaper and is just as nutritious as fresh. There’s a wide variety of choice available including ready chopped onions, peppers, sweet potatoes, peas and carrots. Just pop them straight in the oven or throw a handful into homemade curries and other meals.
A slow cooker can be your best friend. This lets you use cheaper cuts of meat and frozen veg and means you’ve got your own ready meal at the end of the day.
Use the local butcher or the butchers counter in the supermarket. They will chop and prepare your meat just how you want it for no extra cost.
Store the healthiest items at the front of the fridge and cupboards. If you’re hungry and want a snack, a crisp apple as soon as you open the fridge will become more appealing.
Grow your own seasonings. Fresh herbs are a great way to season food and add taste without resorting to salt, butter, or cheese.
Some convenience foods are already healthy. For tinned foods such as baked beans or pasta look for the reduced salt and sugar versions.
Start making changes one meal at a time. Start with breakfast - plain cereal is often cheaper than sugary versions and healthier too.
Derbyshire County Council has tips and information on healthy diets.