Is it possible to eat healthy and cheap?

Article written by Sara Silva, founder of the No Footprint Nomads project

Some people think that healthy eating is more expensive. This idea could not be further from the truth. Eating well and with pleasure is possible and does not have to cost more.

With a little knowledge, patience to prepare meals at home, and a shopping list, it is possible to eat healthier while saving.

 How to eat healthier?

Base yourself on the Food Wheel

The Food Wheel indicates the proportion and groups of foods that are part of a healthy diet. The Wheel helps to understand which foods should be eaten in greater quantity and the importance of varying. The ideal is to include daily portions of all groups and to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Eat fresh foods

Fresh food comes directly from nature and has not undergone any processing (eg, fruits and vegetables, eggs, or milk). Some products can be minimally processed, such as dry beans or beans, flours, or pasteurized milk.

Fresh and minimally processed foods should be the basis of a healthy diet.

 Mediterranean food pattern

The President of the Order of Nutritionists defends the Mediterranean diet as the healthiest and most adequate food standard for the Portuguese.

This diet favors fruits and vegetables, the low consumption of meat and processed foods, the use of olive oil, and the varied consumption of seasonal foods.

Consume less animal protein

In line with the recommendations of the General Health Directorate (DGS), it is important to consume red and processed meats in moderation and to eat more fruits and vegetables. Legumes, such as beans, lentils, and grains, are great substitutes for animal protein.

10 Economical shopping tips:

  1. plan the meals of the week taking into account what you already have at home and buy only what you need;
  2. buy natural, unprocessed foods;
  3. purchase in bulk whenever possible;
  4. replace meat with legumes or eggs;
  5. buy cheaper cuts of meat;
  6. cook food in the form of soups, stews, or casseroles;
  7. buy seasonal fruits and vegetables;
  8. store food properly;
  9. use leftovers to make new dishes;
  10. avoid buying convenience products such as sliced ​​cheese, pre-prepared meals, packaged juices, canned goods, etc.

Is it really cheaper to eat at home?

Let’s compare breakfast at home with the most common offer at the corner cafe.

At the cafe

Espresso and a bread with butter. *

An espresso costs € 0.65 and a wheat bread with butter € 0.70.

Total 1 meal: € 1.35

At home

Oatmeal porridge with cinnamon, banana, and peanuts. *

On Continente’s website, a 400g packet of thick oat flakes costs € 0.69; a banana costs € 0.20; 45g of ground cinnamon costs € 0.46; and 200g of roasted peanut kernels cost € 0.89.

Total: € 2.24

For 1 meal: 30g of oats cost € 0.05; half a banana costs € 0.10; a pinch of cinnamon costs less than € 0.01; and 25g of peanuts cost € 0.11.

Total 1 meal: € 0.26

* Quantity and prices for 1 person.

Daily breakfast at the café costs around € 40 a month. If you eat at home, you will not only save almost € 33 a month, but eat a more balanced meal.

To save money, you need to change some habits and cook more at home, but it is no longer expensive to eat nutritious and healthy foods.


For more information and tips, consult the free book ““ALIMENTAÇÃO INTELIGENTE coma melhor, poupe mais” from the Faculty of Nutrition and Food Sciences, University of Porto.

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