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Eating Healthy on a Budget

By Donna Aston

Have you discovered the cost of a delicious iceberg lettuce is now north of $10? And one banana can set you back nearly $2? But Sydneysiders, relax: healthy eating is not beyond your grasp. With a bit of smart shopping and preparation, you can still serve healthy meals at home on any budget.

Here are my top 6 tips for reigning in the cost while feeding your family with nourishing, tasty meals.

Observe the season

Selecting ingredients in season saves you money. Seasonal, local produce will be front and centre at your local greengrocer and is normally the cheaper option. In winter, look for apples, kiwi fruit, leeks, silver beet, cauliflower, broccoli and pumpkin. Heading into summer, enjoy berries, cherries, stone fruits, melons, capsicum, cucumber, celery, asparagus, cabbage, peas, fennel, spinach, rhubarb, snow peas and tomatoes - just to name a few!

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Protein that won’t break the bank

Some of the more affordable sources of protein are readily available at your local supermarket. Tinned tuna is great for lunches, or whipping up some tasty fish-cakes with mashed pumpkin or cauliflower. Chicken Maryland can cost as little as $6-$7 a kilo. Roasted in the oven with some Harissa or Cajun spice and you’ll feed a family of 4 for less than $10! Other inexpensive sources of protein include the ever-versatile egg, yogurt, cheese and minced beef.

Fresh flavour on tap

Growing your own herbs and spices is an economical, fresh option. If you don’t have a garden, you can grow a wide variety of fresh herbs in a pot, including basil, coriander, parsley, chilli, rosemary, mint, etc. If you have a bit more space, you can try your hand at seasonal foods, such as vine tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, etc.

Make friends with your freezer

Stock up your freezer with homemade soups, bone broth, casseroles and bolognaise sauce for a quick, nourishing last-minute meal. Frozen peas are a great ‘filler’ for soups and stews and add an extra shot of fibre to boot!

Visit your local market

Or better still, arrange a drive with your friends to a rural area to source some fresh, local produce. Keep your eye out for scheduled farmers markets in your area, where you will find fresh, local free-range eggs and poultry, seasonal and locally grown fruit and vegetables and local pastured-raised meats and dairy produce.

Shop in bulk

Even if you’re not a fan of freezing food, join forces with a neighbour, friend or family member to purchase the more expensive staples in bulk. This way you gain the advantage of the bulk pricing, and you can divvy up the fresh supplies amongst a few families.

Donna Aston is one of Australia's top nutritionists and is passionate about improving the health of Australians. She developed the online program AstonRX, which focuses on improving metabolic function and gut health. See Donna at


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