The latest news and ideas about healthy eating can be confusing – and those new superfoods are expensive. 

But you can balance your diet using simple ingredients you probably have at home already.

An apple a day used to be good enough. Now it has to be kiwi, blueberries and pomegranates. We all know about the benefits of oil-rich fish, but – the only problem is the salmon, mackerel and trout the food gurus recommend aren’t affordable. Neither are nuts, avocado and fancy seeds such as quinoa and flax.

The rules haven’t changed. Eat a variety, eat in moderation, have lots of veg and fruit. And when nutritionists say get back to basics, they mean cook as much of your own food as possible with as many fresh and natural ingredients as you can.

If you’re always running out of time, the key is preparation. "Have a plan in the morning of what you're going to eat that night, especially if you've got children," says Catherine Saxelby of Foodwatch (check out the Australian nutritionist’s site for recipes and handy info charts). "If you can use a combination of fresh ingredients and something you've made ahead then frozen, that's ideal.”

Compile a list of home-cooked meals you can make quickly and confidently. Think stir-fry, omelette, toasted sandwiches, pasta bake and spaghetti Bolognese for starters, she suggests.

“It is not about thinking what you can take out of your diet,” adds British nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert, "but more about thinking: what positive things can I add in? That approach is far more sustainable and maintainable.”

One egg contains 6 grams of protein also lots of vitamins and one per day won’t cause a cholesterol crisis. Grown men need 55 grams of protein per day, adult women need 46 grams. Poach one for a fat-free meat substitute.

You can have your two portions of around 130 g each of oil-rich fish per week without blowing the budget. Sardines and pilchards in tomato sauce are packed with protein, calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Oatmeal might still the ultimate breakfast food. The fibre in a hot bowl of oats will keep you full, can lower cholesterol and boost the immune system.

Popcorn is a low-calorie, fibre-rich snack. Buy kernels and make your own – oil-free and salt-free (or with a little added). Put a third of a cup of kernels in a brown paper bag (like the kind used for school lunches). Fold the top over twice and microwave on full for two minutes or until the pops are two seconds apart.

With about 7 grams of protein per serving, beans are a good substitute for meat. They are full of fibre, folate, potassium and magnesium. Save by buying dried beans and soaking them overnight. Rinse the brine off canned beans to get rid of excess salt.

Pasta in reasonable portions can be a healthy meal. Plain noodles are low in fat and salt. Whole-grain versions have twice the fibre and won’t push up blood sugar so much. Try spaghetti, penne, or macaroni with a homemade tomato sauce, or tossed with olive oil and sautéed vegetables.

Dairy supports the health of bones and muscle function. Just avoid sweetened or extra creamy versions. One cup of yoghurt has 13 grams of protein and lots of B vitamins, as well as 45 percent of your daily need for calcium, 35 percent for phosphorus and 15 percent for zinc. Natural yoghurt is a good replacement for cream. Low-fat yoghurt often contains more sugar to improve the taste, so rather go for plain full-cream.

Potatoes are not the enemy if steamed, boiled and mashed or roasted with a little oil. Just don’t drop a ton of butter or sour cream on them. They contain vitamin C, fibre and potassium and may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Sweet potatoes have more sugar but have fewer calories and carbs and even more fibre.

Leafy greens contain beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Eat raw or steamed and use the tough bits and stalks to cook a vegetable stock that you can freeze in ice cubes to flavour stews. You’ll get just as much nutrition from frozen as from fresh vegetables.

One cup of tomato has more than a third of your daily vitamin C needs. They also provide some B vitamins, vitamins A, E and K and trace minerals. The lycopene in tomatoes is an antioxidant that may reduce inflammation, protect cells from damage and lower the risk of disease. And the canned version is just as beneficial.

Sources:,,,,, (Catherine Saxelby’s site).
HEALTHY EATING ON A BUDGET HEALTHY EATING ON A BUDGET Reviewed by Jet Club on June 26, 2019 Rating: 5
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