Budget tips

How I saved on food and became healthier

Cutting my food budget made me think more carefully about what I was eating. After some months I realized I was a little healthier. I realized that when I ran three flights of stairs with unusual ease. I had never been able to run up some stairs with that ease. I am sure the dietary changes were the explanation.

The upshot is that I was eating better, saved money and felt healthier. It is often said that frugality requires sacrifice. It took a few weeks to settle into my new dietary habits. I don’t see any sacrifice here. Do you?

I had been eating some meals at home, eating some fast food, getting snacks at the convenience store and snacks between meals. I ate when I was hungry. I figured I was spending a good deal more than I needed to spend. I had sickness and stooped work for a while. With no salary coming in I needed to cut expenses.

The changes

I started making all of my meals at home. At first I was buying some food I wasn’t eating. I wanted to stop wasting food so I put more thought into what I was buying, how I was using it and how I was storing it. My cooking skills are rather close to zero.

I figured a good diet would include plenty of vegetable and greens. I was also looking for fruit, cereals, grains, meat, fish and some nuts. Regular meals are important and do much to resist the temptations of junk food and convenience store snacks. I also find I am less tempted by the “sugar hits” obtained from fizzy drinks.

I settled into a routine of cheap, fast and easy to prepare meals that would provide adequate nutrition and quantity of food to keep me well fed. It would include all of the food groups needed to maintain health and get rid of the junk. This sets out what I did I stuck to it after a time to adjust to new eating habits.


I usually had rolled oats with a bit of milk to start my day. That takes but a minute to prepare and provides cereal. Sometimes I would have baked beans on toast. I looked up beans and found quite a range of nutrients. The bread provides grain. Other times I might have poached eggs on toast.


I would usually have a salad with a sliver of meat. That was usually tomato, lettuce, beetroot, cucumber, capsicum and meat. Sometimes I would have a generic tin of sardines, salmon or tuna instead of meat. That took care of the greens and fish. I would sometimes have a piece of fruit for dessert.


My usual dinner was simmered potato, pumpkin, brussel sprouts, broccoli and a sliver of meat. That took care of the vegetables. I would sometimes have a piece of fruit for dessert. Sometimes I would have grilled fish fingers and poached eggs. When I felt inspired to cook I would make a stew or a curry. I would sometimes have a piece of fruit for dessert. Sometimes I have rice and have cold leftover rice with milk for breakfast next day.

Snacks and nibbles

I would have fruit, nuts or sultanas for snacks and nibbles. These are healthy foods that can be eaten without preparation, and obtained at a good price.


To entertain one takes account of what finds favour with friends. Tea, coffee, cheese and crackers, biscuits, homemade scones, ice cream and strawberries are sufficient for my friends. My stock ingredients are usually sufficient for a meal. If a friend has a favourite tea I buy that. Tea has a shelf life long enough for a friend to drink all of the tea I bought for her consumption.

My shopping list.

I buy other things from time to time. This list accounts for almost everything I buy from the grocery store. I don’t plan my meals in advance. I make meals from this list of ingredients. Most of these ingredients have a long shelf life. The shelf life is maximized by the appropriate use of food storage jars, cling wrap, freezing and refrigeration. If something is approaching its expiry date I incorporate more of it into my meals to ensure I use it all. Food waste is very close to zero.

This diet covers all of five major food groups we should eat regularly. The overview of this diet is:

  • Cereals for breakfast
  • Greens for lunch
  • Vegetables for dinner
  • Meat, fish, chicken, fruit, grains and nuts added to the above basic meals

I gave thought to what I could do with a basic list of ingredients. You may care to think of the cheap and easy meals you could prepare with a similar list. That might also save you a lot of money and improve your health.

Vegetables.  potato, pumpkin, brussel sprouts, broccoli, onion, carrots, easonal vegetables

Greens. tomato, lettuce, tinned beetroot, cucumber, capsicum, cabbage, seasonal greens

Meat. The cheaper cuts, cooked cold meat, sometimes cooked chicken when on special

Fish. Tinned sardines, salmon or tuna.

Fruit. Bananas, pears, apples, oranges, strawberries and seasonal fruits.

Nuts. Usually peanuts

Other. Bread, sultanas, eggs, flour (for scones), milk, sugar, rice, tea, coffee, curry powder, baked beans

Junk. Fish fingers, tinned spaghetti, butter, jam, biscuits or cake for visitors

Food storage. Cling wrap, freezer bags and food storage containers

Treats. Ice cream, creamed rice

What could you do with a list of basic ingredients?

What could you do with the ingredients listed above? Think about it, you may surprise yourself when you apply your imagination. And you might save money and become a little healthier.

What are your thoughts?




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