Must-have healthy foods if you’re on a budget

If the purse strings are tight, fill your trolley with these nourishing foods that won’t break the bank.

If you want to eat healthy foods without blowing the budget, stock up on these nutritional supermarket staples.

Tinned beans

Beans are an affordable source of protein, compared with animal sources, says dietitian Rebecca Gawthorne.

Rich in nutrients like iron, fibre and plant sterols, they’re also virtually saturated fat free.

At around $1 a tin, they can add texture and taste to soups, nachos, spaghetti bolognese and salads. Black beans can also be used in sweets like brownies.

Frozen green vegetables

“Often less than $2 a bag, frozen green veggies are a great source of vitamins C, B, E, K, and iron, magnesium, calcium, antioxidants and fibre,” says Rebecca.

They can be enjoyed as a side or added to stir-fries, soups, curries and smoothies.


“Like beans, lentils are also an affordable source of protein when compared with animal sources,” says Rebecca.

“Canned or dried, they’re budget friendly and a great source of healthy carbohydrates, fibre and iron.”

Lentils can be used in soups, curries, Buddha bowls and burgers.

Fibre-rich breakfast cereals

Starting the day with a fibre-packed breakfast cereal provides a great source of prebiotics, which aid gut health, says Rebecca.

Enjoyed with milk, yoghurt or added to smoothies, they are a cheap and healthy breakfast option.

Garlic and onion

“Often less than 50c a kilo, onions and garlic not only add loads of flavour to many dishes, they’re a great source of vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, sulfur compounds and phytochemicals,” says Rebecca.

Garlic and onion are extremely versatile and can be used to season almost any dish from roasts, stir-fries, pizzas, salads and risottos.


With a bag usually costing less than $2, carrots are a great source of beta carotene, fibre, vitamin C and K, says Rebecca.

Not just a dinner staple, they can be used in cakes, added into smoothies and used in baking.


The spud is not a dud. At less than $2 a kilo, the humble white potato should not be discounted as a way to load up on healthy carbs and fibre, says Rebecca.

“They can be baked, steamed and mashed or used in veggie juices, sweets and slices and soups,” she says.

Canned tomatoes

“At around $1 a can, we should always keep canned tomatoes handy,” says Rebecca. “They are a great source of vitamins A, B, C and K as well as potassium.”

Tinned tomatoes can be blitzed into pasta and pizza sauce and used in salsas, soups, pies and casseroles.

In-season fruit

Fruit is often more affordable when in season and can be frozen for later, says Rebecca.

She says in-season fruit often has a higher vitamin content as well as providing an excellent source of fibre, antioxidants and phytochemicals.

Fruit can be eaten fresh, added to cereal, smoothies, used to sweeten muffins and slices or poached.

Brown rice

Brown rice comes in at only a few dollars a kilo and provides a great source of wholegrains, rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals.

These slow-burning carbohydrates can be served with stir-fries and curries and in salads and risottos.

Written by Sally Heppleston.