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Eat Better

Eating on a Budget

Feeding your family healthily on a tight budget is possible. With some thought and planning it can quickly become a habit to be proud of.

There are lots of ways you can cut the costs of food whilst still having a healthy diet that you and your family can enjoy.

Dive Deeper

Shopping & Cooking on a Budget

It is often a lot cheaper and healthier to cook meals from scratch yourself than buying ready-made or take away meals.

Start by planning ahead – think what you will eat on each day and write a list.

When you go shopping, buy frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables – they are just as good for you, cheaper and last longer.

  • Use own brand products – they are cheaper and the same quality.
  • Try markets for fresh fruit and vegetables. It can be cheaper and you can buy the amount you need.
  • Look for wonky fruit and vegetables in some supermarkets. Food doesn’t look perfect but tastes the same and is usually cheaper.
  • Look for the bargain shelves. Prices are reduced on foods approaching sell by date. It is a good chance to stock up the cupboard and freezer.
  • 'Best Before’ dates are the date when foods are at their best - this does not mean they cannot be eaten after that date, just that they may not be as tasty. 
  • ‘Use by’ dates are the date by which foods should be eaten. Eat, cook or freeze before the date has passed.

What to Have in Your Cupboard

Having basic food items in your cupboard means you will have ingredients ready to turn your shopping into tasty meals. Here are some ideas – you may choose some other family favourites;

  • Stock cubes (low salt is best). These add flavour to meats, soups and sauces
  • Pepper, dried herbs and spices 
  • A big bag of rice or pasta. Wholemeal is better for you
  • A big bag of potatoes. You can bake, boil or mash
  • Flour. This thickens gravies and sauces
  • Tinned tomatoes and tomato puree
  • Onions
  • Garlic. Is a great flavour booster
  • Vegetable oil. To stop things sticking as you cook.

As time goes on you might add more items. Lentils, chick peas and chilli beans are good for adding to lots of different dishes. It can be a real relief to know you have food in your cupboard that you can turn into a quick, cheap and tasty meal.

Top Tips 

  • Batch cooking – make more than you need when cooking a meal. Freeze to use another day.
  • Remember small children only need small portions or food will be wasted.
  • Put any extra food into containers as you are serving up the meal, so you are not tempted to eat it that day.
  • Use leftovers for lunches the next day. Pasta can be turned into a pasta salad or chicken could go in a sandwich.
  • Make use of a freezer. A loaf of bread should stay fresh for 2 days, but even longer if you freeze it and then defrost only the number of slices you need each day.
  • ‘Best Before’ dates are the date when foods are at their best. This does not mean they cannot be eaten after that date, just that they may not be as tasty. ‘Use by’ dates are the date by which foods should be eaten. 
  • Limit the number of take away meals you have. Homemade foods are often faster to make, cheaper and more nutritious.
  • NHS have 20 tips to eat well for less.

Healthy Start Cards

Healthy Start is a national scheme to improve health. You could qualify if you're on low income or benefits and are at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under the age of four. You also qualify if you're under 18 years old and pregnant.

Your midwife, health visitor or other health professional can support you to sign up. You will be sent a pre-paid card for cow’s milk, fresh/frozen fruit and vegetables and first infant formula milk. These can be used in local shops or supermarkets. You will also receive vouchers to exchange in pharmacies for:

  • Women’s vitamins (contain Vitamin C, D and Folic Acid) - available from week 10 of pregnancy up to baby’s first birthday
  • Children’s Vitamins (contain Vitamin A, C and D) – from ages 6 months to 4 years.

For families who are not eligible for the scheme, all Norfolk Lloyds Pharmacies sell Healthy Start vitamins at a cheaper price than branded vitamins.

Find out more about Healthy Start

Foodbanks and Other Support

Anyone can find themselves and their family in need of help for lots of different reasons.

If you are struggling to feed your family, you can get help or support from a local foodbank or community fridge.

Find out more about support available

Recipe Ideas

Maybe you love to cook and are very confident, or maybe this is something new to you but you are keen to have a go. There are lots of recipes available online for learners and more experienced cooks.

You can also search for a recipe for the ingredients you have in your cupboard today.

Below are some ideas for recipes and check out these 3 websites which are full of useful ideas for making low cost meals.

Who can Help?

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it can be really hard to make ends meet. You shouldn’t feel bad about this and it is important that you ask for help. There are services especially for people in this difficult position. If you are worried that you do not have the money to feed yourself and your family visit our Food Poverty pages for more information.

If you are concerned about your child’s weight or eating habits and feel you need support, you can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.

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