Healthy Eating Need Not Be Expensive


Healthy eating need not be expensive when you have a variety of foods with the right portion sizes (amounts) to meet an individual’s energy, nutrient and financial needs. Healthy eating is a key component of a healthy lifestyle.

Many of us are under the impression that it is expensive to follow a healthy diet or that changing to a healthy lifestyle is all about financial expense, not knowing that we all can eat healthy on a tight budget. These budgets generally takes a little bit of forward planning which will leave you healthier as well as financially stable.

With the Value Added Tax (VAT) and the sugar tax, which is taking its toll on South Africans, we look at the long term positive effects it will have on obesity as a complex problem with many contributing factors. Obesity will continue to increase unless changes are made on a behavioral level. Whether or not obesity can be brought down dramatically is up for debate, but we can make a small difference in our homes by spending our budget wisely and in a manner beneficial to our health.

A list of foods that are not subjected to VAT include lentils, beans, low fat milk and low fat cultured milk, eggs and pilchards, legumes and dried beans just to name a few. These foods are not only very affordable, but have a high protein content and are great alternatives to meat. Some of these products (including soya mince) can also be added to meat dishes to “stretch” the dish quantity or can be added to starch dishes to increase the protein content (like samp and beans, brown rice with lentils). The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s website has various recipes using alternative foods such as Brown lentils and herbs (recipe) – simply visit

Many cheaper vegetables and fruits, such as pumpkin, cabbage, spinach, carrots, apples and oranges have just as many nutrients as more expensive varieties. If fruit becomes to expensive then stick to the vegetables as it is just as high in fibre, vitamins and minerals.

8 tips for a less expensive healthy eating plan:

  1. Consider meat free days during the week
  2. Plan the amount of money you have available for food
  3. Buy locally produced food, look out for specials
  4. Buy fruit and vegetables that are in season, these are usually cheaper
  5. Use leftovers for a second meal or for a lunch the next day
  6. Be smart from the start- Eat breakfast!
  7. Fresh fruits and fresh cut veggies can be used as healthy snacks instead of crisps, chocolate or biltong
  8. Rethink your drink, drink water!