Nutritional Therapist, Fiona Hayers has some great ideas to help you continue to eat healthily while saving on food costs:

Food prices continue to rise and it is now harder to provide filling meals whilst keeping to a budget.

The sad fact is that despite supermarket food costs rising exponentially, the same is not true about the cost of fast food.  It is now even more appealing to your wallet to turn to fast food, but don’t be lured into this habit.

Fast food is certainly not healthy, despite the claims made by many fast food operators – it often contains high levels of sugar, salt and saturated fat, which hit all the right ‘feel good’ receptors and temporarily make you feel full but leave you craving more.  Yet none of this is good for your health and is especially poor for the health of your growing children.

I urge you to watch the documentary ‘Super Size Me’, which follows the detrimental effect on Morgan Spurlock’s physical and psychological well-being from eating fast food for only 30 days!

So how can you feed yourself and your family filling healthy food at a price which competes with the fast food giants?  Below are my golden rules and money-saving tips to help you achieve this and it starts with planning.

Rule 1:  Planning

You’ve probably heard the saying ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’. Without a weekly food plan, it will be pure luck if you end up with the right foods in the fridge or cupboard. And, without planning, you have no choice but to grab something processed on the way home or shop day by day which is much more expensive.

The thing about planning is that you need to actually plan to plan. It’s easy to get derailed by events, situations, relationships and tasks that insert themselves into our already busy lives.

Choose a time when you know you will be free every week to plan your meals – breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Ideally plan midweek for the following week. Put a reminder alarm on your phone.

Meal planning also depends upon several factors, like the number of people eating, meal times, special dietary concerns, budget, available foods, recipes on hand and likes and dislikes of everyone who will be eating. Begin by choosing foods and recipes that you like and know how to prepare well and that fit into everyone’s dietary plans.  If one or more people have special needs or tastes, plan ahead for substitutions.

Add variety, too. Have other family members jump in and prepare meals some nights and on weekends.

Rule 2: Calculate how much you are actually spending

Be honest with yourself about your spending and shopping habits. That starts with looking into how much you spend each week on take-out coffee, croissants and other breakfasts; lunchtime salads, soups and sandwiches; snacks and other food treats; and ready meals, takeaways or last-minute meals out. Make a note every time you buy something (not the main food shop) to eat out of the house. Do this for a week, then multiply by 4 to give you an approximate monthly total.

Log into your banking app and make a note of how much you spent over the last month on food in supermarkets or online shopping.

Add the two figures together. This gives you your total for how much you are spending on food each month. I suspect you will be shocked. Most people are.

Commit to saving a certain amount each week or month. Decide what that is. Commit to it and write it down. What will you do with that extra money? Where can you economise?

Rule 3: Audit what food you currently have

  • Turn these meal plans into a shopping list.
  • Also create a master list of what you already have in your freezer, fridge and cupboards.
  • Cross anything you already have off your shopping list.

Rule 4: Shop your plan

As an experiment, spend at least one week only allowing yourself to buy what is on your shopping list. No extras! The planning and shopping discipline may take a little time to get used to, but it is worth persevering.

Off-list shopping and impulse buys are the biggest enemy for anyone wanting to keep to a budget. Do not go to the supermarket hungry. You are more likely to shop off-list when you do.

Rule 5: Get used to being creative with leftovers

A huge amount of food is thrown away, because we’re not sure what to do with leftovers. Make a commitment to using yours and prepare to save money. There is a bank of resources online to help you find easy recipe suggestions for pretty much anything you may have lurking in the fridge.

This will feel uncomfortable at first. You will be making some meals you have definitely not tried before!

Try the following:

Tesco Meal Planner Left Over Tool (Clever ways to use up leftovers | Tesco Real Food)

Love Food Hate Waste (Foods and recipes | Love Food Hate Waste)

 Rule 6: Batch cook

This is an easy way of creating ‘healthy ready meals’ whilst saving on prep time and fuel costs.

Consider investing in a slow cooker or electric pressure cooker – I wouldn’t be without my Instant Pot for batch cooking healthy and filling meals.

Take note of seasonal food selections for extra savings. Create menus and meals based upon what’s on special that week or month. Hint: stock up and store or freeze special-priced items and family favourites when possible and when storage room and the budget allows.

Rule 7: Expand your family

No, I don’t mean have more children! Team up with friends or neighbours to buy some perishable items in bulk, eg onions, oats, potatoes.  It is often cheaper to buy in bulk but then becomes a challenge to eat it all before it goes off.  Splitting a large bag of vegetables or fruit can be a great way of getting fresh produce at a cheaper price.

Rule 8: Don’t be a food snob

Fresh is not always best but it is always the most expensive.  If freezer space allows, try buying frozen vegetables and fruit – it is often richer in nutrients than the ‘fresh’ items which have ripened in a warehouse rather than on the plant and you are likely to waste less.  Tinned food such as beans and lentils are also a great way to save money on your shopping without compromising on quality.

How can Nutritional Therapy help?

It can be overwhelming to plan a weekly menu to provide healthy, well balanced meals.

This is where seeing a Nutritional Therapist is very helpful as they can help assess nutrient content of current diet and ensure that meals are planned to provide sufficient nutrients to keep the whole family feeling fuller for longer and less likely to reach for the expensive add-ons to the shopping list.

I offer Health Review sessions at Luck’s Yard, Godalming, where I assess your current diet or food plan and provide you with tailored advice to help you create filling and tasty food which provides you with the nutrients you need for your particular health challenges.

As a qualified Nutritional Therapist and Health Coach I also recognise how difficult it can be to change your diet, so I can also provide regular support and encouragement whilst you establish new eating habits to improve your general wellbeing as part of a programme lasting from 6 weeks to 12 weeks.

If you are interested in working with me, please book a free 20 minute introductory call to start your health journey using this link –

photo: Kampus Production on