Nutritionist shares top tips for staying healthy on a budget

Jessica is offering helpful advice to her followers (Picture: Jam Press/JSHealth)

A nutritionist has shared her top healthy eating tips when shopping on a budget.

With the cost of living continuing to rise at a rapid rate in the UK, clinical nutritionist Jessica Sepel has spoken on Instagram to offer helpful advice on food shopping.

Consumer prices were 6.2% higher in February compared to the year before. Meanwhile, energy costs and monthly bills are cutting holes in people’s pockets – which means every penny counts.

Now, Jessica, 33, is hoping to help others pay less for their shopping without losing out on nutritional value. Below are some of her top tips on everything from shopping for vegetables to canned food.


Jessica advises others to go for what’s in season as it’s often cheaper. Also, try the wonky veg and visit local farmer’s markets for staples like potatoes and eggs.

She said: ‘With savvy supermarket shopping, your food pounds can go further than you think.

‘When it comes to vegetables, go for what’s currently in season, on special and locally-grown or sourced, as these vegetables and fruits will have the best value in terms of price.

‘Another tip is to purchase the bulk bags of staples such as carrots or potatoes, which are usually more affordable and keep well when stored.

‘Most supermarkets have “imperfect picks.” These are fruits and vegetables that may be bruised or don’t present as well.

‘They are usually discounted but contain the same nutritional value.

‘There’s also a misconception that farmer’s markets are more expensive but very often the fruit and veggies are more affordable. And you can choose the amount you need/want to pay for, versus pre-packed supermarket selections.

‘Carbohydrates are essential for energy production, especially for young children.

‘Some good options to go for include pumpkin (when in season), peas, corn, sweet potato and white potato, as well as rice and pasta.’

Here are some suggestions of cost-effective veggie options based off UK supermarket prices.

  • Broccoli – 55.6p/kg (ASDA)
  • Carrots – 20.0p/kg (ASDA)
  • Garden Peas – 70.0p/kg (ASDA)
  • Cauliflower – 89p/each (Sainsbury’s)
  • Leeks – £2.00/kg (ASDA)
  • Parsnips – 84p/kg (Sainsbury’s)


Not all animal protein is equal in nutrition but it is essential for human bodies to get enough of it every day.

If you have the funds to do so, try to consume a variety of fish and meats, so you get fatty acids into your diet.

Avoid deli meats such as ham as these are often pricier, not as healthy and smaller in quantity.

Choose tofu if you are vegan or vegetarian, as it is both long-lasting and filling.

‘Protein is very important for adults and kids’ growing bodies alike, as it is used for so many functions within the body,’ Jessica explains.

‘Fish, such as salmon mackerel and sardines, are high in omega 3 fatty acids which are important for brain health, skin health and hormonal health.

‘Meat is a great source of B vitamins and iron. Depending on your personal relationship to eating particular forms of animal protein, I generally recommend having a combination of different sources.

‘You may also like to try tofu, which is really great as a protein source when you’re on a budget.

‘If you’re newer to tofu, you can think of it like chicken in terms of using sauces, spices and herbs to flavour its blander profile.

‘In terms of protein sources, you may like to remove/limit the highly-processed meats such as deli meats, bacon, sausages etc, as these are very high in sodium and contain chemicals that are not great for our health.

‘These can also be more expensive for a smaller amount when compared to fresh, non-processed meat.’

Suggestions of cost-effective protein options based off Tesco prices include:

  • Basa – £11.00/kg
  • Chicken Drumsticks – £1.65/kg
  • Chicken thighs – £2.00/kg
  • Beef mince 20% fat – £3.58/kg
  • Mackerel in olive oil – £0.91/100g
  • Beans £0.35- £0.83/kg

Jessica cooking in her kitchen

She says to avoid deli meats (Picture: Jam Press/JSHealth)

Cooking vegetables

If you are cooking vegetables, be careful not to over-boil, roast or steam them as this could lead to the water-soluble nutrients being destroyed.

Jessica says: ‘For example, steaming broccoli until it is completely mushy reduces the amount of water-soluble nutrients.

‘However, a great tip is to save the water after steaming/boiling as this now contains some of those nutrients lost from the cooking process.

‘You can add the saved liquid into your soups, bolognese sauce, baby purees or stews.

‘Ideally, go for a mix of raw and cooked vegetables in various meals throughout the week.’

Batch-cooking dishes, such as stews, will retain the nutrients but offer a “fuller” meal option that you can freeze and keep for longer.


Another nutritious meat-alternative are legumes. These are a great source of plant-based protein as well as fibres.

‘Many people do not consume the recommended amount of fibre per day and fibre is important for our gut health, bowel regularity and helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels,’ Jessica notes.

‘Legumes are a cost-effective and a quick-to-prepare way to boost your fibre intake and are a great addition to a nutritionally balanced diet.

‘To save the pounds, opt for canned chickpeas, black beans, white beans, lentils and kidney beans.’

Here are some suggestions of cost-effective fibre options based off UK supermarket prices:

  • Chickpeas – £1.12/kg (ASDA)
  • Black Beans – £1.50 / kg (ASDA)
  • Kidney Beans – £1.75 / kg (Sainsbury’s)
  • Scottish Porridge Oats – 12p / 100g (Sainsbury’s)
  • Almonds – £1.17 / 100g (Sainsbury’s)
  • Sweet Potato – 99.0p/kg (ASDA)

Are canned and frozen vegetables good for you?

While fresh vegetables may offer more in flavour, you will get the same level of nutrients from canned and frozen vegetables.

However, there are a few things to avoid.

‘Canned vegetables are also a great source of nutrients and can absolutely be used if this is more suitable for your budget,’ Jessica says.

‘The only thing to be wary of is to choose BPA-free cans and look out for added salt and sugar.

‘Canned tomatoes are known to be nutritious as the lycopene, a type of organic pigment called a carotenoid with many health benefits, is easy to absorb from them.

‘And frozen vegetables are also a great option if you can’t afford fresh.’

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