It’s not always easy to make healthier choices and save money at the same time. HFG dietitian Zoe Wilson has done the hard work for you and come up with a variety of simple swaps that will leave you feeling lighter, and your wallet feeling heavier!
Whether you’re on a concerted mission to lose weight or just want to avoid putting it on, most of us are always on the lookout for easy ways to cut kilojoules. And even if you’re willing to pay more for healthy products, most of us welcome any savings we can make when it comes to the weekly shop.
With a little planning, it’s possible to make some smart choices that, if you stick with them, will save you some serious kilojoules and cash over the long term. We’ve picked some foods that many of us buy on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to show that with a little motivation (in the form of rewards!), just how many opportunities there are in anyone’s average day, week or month to make some major savings! Of course, some healthy foods are worth spending a little extra on, so we have also created a guide to help you figure out when to save and when to splurge.
Note: Prices calculated per serve using supermarket prices, current at time of printing.
Foods you eat every day
Save each swap
Save in a year
1 cup Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Clusters
2 Sanitarium Weet-Bix
An mp3 player, so you can walk with all your favourite tunes
100g Peters Light and Creamy chocolate vanilla swirl ice-cream
A family trip to a sporting event, like the footy or cricket
A Carman’s classic fruit muesli bar
A Be Natural berry trail bar
A half-hour massage
Save each swap
Save in a year
A large full-fat latte
A small skim latte
A new pair of walking or running shoes
A slice of banana bread for breakfast on your way to work
Make 2 slices Tip Top raisin toast with reduced-fat table spread
A three-night family stay in Melbourne including musical or concert tickets
A café-bought chicken, avocado and mayo focaccia
A homemade chicken, low-fat mayonnaise and avocado multigrain sandwich
A five-night resort stay in Fiji for two
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Save in a year
Thai cashew nut chicken takeaway
Home-made cashew nut chicken stir-fry using Kan Tong Inspirations sauce
An XBOX 360 Kinect console bundle
A café big breakfast with bacon, 2 fried eggs, sausage, tomato, mushrooms, hash browns and toast
2 poached eggs on 2 slices sourdough with 1/4 avocado
A Kenwood Patissier Mixer to practice your healthy baking skills
4 slices of Domino’s Premium BBQ chicken and rasher bacon pizza
4 slices Domino’s Good Choice BBQ chicken and mushroom pizza
A Sunbeam or Kenwood 3.5L slow cooker to keep you going through winter
6 Jatz and 30g Castello Double Brie
6 Waterthin wafer crackers and 30g Bega So Light Vintage cheddar
A Healthy Food Guide one-year subscription (with $8.86 change leftover!)
Save each swap
Save in a year
A king-sized Mars bar
A fun-sized Mars bar
Your favourite musician’s new album
A large popcorn and large coke at the movies
1/2 packet Green’s Poppin Lite Butter microwave popcorn and 375ml can Diet Coke
A trip to the movies with the family
Chicken schnitzel, gravy and chips at the pub
$5 steak and vegies with pepper sauce
Dinner for two at a lovely restaurant
We know that you may not make every one of these swaps – so we thought we’d show you how quickly the savings can add up over a year if you choose to make just a few…
1 cup Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Clusters (daily), a slice of banana bread (on work days) and a king-sized Mars bar (monthly)
A large full-fat latte (on work days), a café big breakfast (weekly) and a chicken schnitzel & chips (monthly)
$1207.42 and 252,688kJ (which equates to almost 7kg)
A Nudie crushie (daily), a Carman’s classic fruit muesli bar (daily) and a café-bought chicken, avocado and mayo focaccia (on work days)
A small skim latte, 2 poached eggs and ¼ avocado on sourdough and a $5 steak and veg
$510.00 and 406,160kJ (roughly 10kg)
2 original Sanitarium Weet-Bix, 2 slices of Tip Top raisin toast and a fun-sized Mars bar
A medium orange, Be Natural berry trail bar and a home-made multigrain chicken sandwich
$2192.00 and 568,555kJ (about 15kg)
When is it worth spending extra money?
Of course, it’s not always possible to get the healthier option at a lower price. These are just some of the foods worth spending a little extra on...
Dairy is important for healthy bones and makes a nutrition-packed addition to any meal or snack.
While some reduced-fat milk, cheese and yoghurt (particularly probiotic yoghurts), can be more expensive, if you are trying to watch your weight and look after your health this is definitely the way to go.
Raw mixed nuts
High in protein and healthy fats, the price tag on these can sometimes look a little daunting, but if you’re clever they don’t have to be so expensive. Try buying in bulk and portioning nuts into 30g packs (a small handful) when you get home. This will not only help to make them last longer, but also stop you going overboard on the portion sizes.
Mixed grain bread (such as soy and linseed)
Breads packed with lots of seeds and grains can be more expensive than white bread, even though it is still a relatively cheap item. The higher protein and fibre content makes these breads a must because they will keep you fuller for longer and help to keep you regular. Remember, you can buy them on special and freeze them to save a little on the shopping bill.
With less fat, saturated fat and kilojoules, it’s always worth buying the leaner cuts of meat. Opt for cuts such as fillet steak, premium or heart-smart mince or skinless chicken breasts to get the most nutrients without adding extra kilojoules from saturated fat. Also, don’t forget that a portion is only 100g cooked meat, so being wise with portion sizes at each meal will make this purchase go a bit further.
Premium gourmet thin-based pizza
If you’re thinking about treating yourself to a takeaway meal, this is a much better option than the cheaper, thick-based fast-food chain variety as you can really bump up your vegetable intake, reduce the kJ from the thick crust and make it a more balanced meal. You can always ask for a little less cheese too, to reduce the saturated fat and kJ content.
10 cheap foods to always have on hand
The best way to save a few dollars from your shopping trolley is by being organised. Working out a weekly menu and writing a list before you go means you are less likely to waste food at the end of the week, and less likely to be sucked in by impulse buys. Also keep an eye out for things on special that freeze well, so you can buy a few to have on hand for the next week – when they might be more expensive. Try stocking your kitchen with these 10 nutritious foods that won’t break the budget.
Perfect for a base for any Italian dish without having to spend a motza on jarred sauces – just add a few of your favourite herbs and spices.
Great any time of year for breakfast as porridge, or mixed with a few sultanas and nuts to make muesli. You can also use them for baking high-fibre muffins or biscuits. Oats are high in a type of fibre called beta-glucan, which has also been shown to help reduce cholesterol absorption, so they make a good choice for heart health.
Wholemeal pasta or brown rice
Both are low-GI and filling. They make a great addition to a meal as your carbohydrate portion.
An easy way to get a hit of omega-3 fats without having to buy the more expensive fresh version. Throw some tinned tuna, salmon or sardines onto toast or into a salad or pasta with lots of veg for a quick, easy and balanced meal.
Long life skim milk
Great for when you get stuck without fresh milk, but also for adding to dishes to increase their protein content and creaminess. An even cheaper option that works just as well is skim milk powder. Throw a little into your mashed potato, or mix with a dollop of ricotta and toss into a pasta dish and voilà!
A great source of fibre, it’s also great because you can buy a few loaves when your favourite brand is on special and freeze them for later.
Dry chickpeas, beans or lentils
A great way to include protein if money is tight. You can base your whole meal on legumes or use them to bulk out a meat-based dish to make things go a little further.
Seasonal fruit and veg
The cheapest way to buy both fresh fruit and veg is to buy seasonally. You not only get the best deal, but you get the most nutrients from them as they haven’t had to travel as far and are therefore fresher when they get to you.
A quick, easy and cheap source of protein and other essential nutrients. Eggs on toast for breakfast will keep you going throughout the morning, a hardboiled egg for a snack or thrown into your salad at lunch is super convenient, and a vegie-packed omelette for dinner is perfect for using up whatever veg you have left in the fridge.
Perfect if you find that you end up throwing out half the contents of the vegie crisper at the end of the week. Just as nutritious as the fresh variety (and in some cases more so), these are a great way to boost your vegie intake for the day.
Converting kJ to kg: Saving 37,000kJ is roughly equivalent to 1kg of weight. However, this varies from person to person depending on things like weight, age and gender.