It is a common conception that a healthy diet is one that comes with a high price tag, whilst ‘cheap eats’ trigger thoughts of unhealthy low-cost foods.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Image courtesy of Pixabay

But that is simply not the case. A healthy and nutritious diet, with a little bit of forward planning, can be more cost effective than you think, especially when you can rely on some good old kitchen staples!

So, to help set the record straight and reveal the best ways to eat well without breaking the bank, Nichola Ludlam-Raine, aka Nic’s Nutrition, reveals her favourite low-cost healthy ingredients that everyone should keep in their cupboards, fridges and freezers.

Oats – Oats are a budget-friendly staple, and a rich source of beta-glucan, which is a type of dietary fibre. You can use oats in baking, for porridge, overnight oats, within a smoothie or even use as a substitute for ready-made breadcrumbs to coat chicken or fish. It is amazing how versatile they are!

Lentils – Tinned or dried, lentils are a great source of plant-based protein, fibre and 3 tbsp also count as 1 of your 5-a-day! You can add lentils to a stew, home-made soups or a salad or even make a delicious dhal with some Indian spices!

Long-life soya milk - Although often snubbed for its fresh counterpart, long-life milk, also known as ultra-heat treated (UHT) is still a source of calcium, protein, and some B vitamins such as B12 - ensure you opt for a fortified option. Soya is an ideal option for both vegetarians and vegan diets and can also contribute towards heart health too.

Quorn Mince - Ideal to use when batch cooking; simply mix Quorn mince together with kidney beans for a delicious veggie chilli, or you could even try a home-made shepherd’s pie! In comparison to beef mince, mycoprotein, which is the unique ingredient found in Quorn products, is higher in fibre and lower in saturated fat too, making it a heart healthy choice for all the family.

Frozen Fruit & Veg - Although ‘frozen food’ often gets a bad rep - there is no reason why it should! Frozen fruits and vegetables are super cost-effective and because they are frozen at their peak ripeness, they can also retain more vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C! Frozen vegetables are great for adding bulk to home-made curries, stir-fries, stews and soups.

Bananas - Perfect for a quick ‘grab & go’ snack, bananas are an ideal source of energy, fibre as well as potassium and vitamin B6, which helps us to use and store the energy from the foods that we consume. To make bananas last longer, buy the slightly green ones, or if you have a riper bunch, you can always use them to make a lockdown favourite... Banana bread!

Eggs - Eggs are an incredibly versatile source of complete protein, particularly if you’re vegetarian. Ideal for breakfasts, whether that’s scrambled or poached egg on toast, or a boiled egg as a healthy addition to a salad or a quick high-protein snack that will keep you going until your next meal.

Tinned Beans and Pulses - Whether it’s beans on toast, home-made hummus or even adding some black beans to a Mexican style dinner, beans are a perfect store-cupboard staple due to their long-shelf life.

Chopped Tomatoes - A delicious base for any pasta sauce, stew, soup or curry and a great source of Vitamin C too! To make your tin go further, fill the empty can with water (or a low-salt stock) to add more volume so you can add more ingredients and make extra portions to freeze.

Pasta - Because what is life without carbs? Let’s stop carb-shaming and remember that pasta is a great source of energy, as well as fibre (if you opt for the whole-wheat version!). A student’s favourite, it is a quick and easy way to bulk up your meals on a budget. Fill approximately one third of your plate with pasta, a third with veg and a third with your chosen protein either meat, fish, plant-based or fungal protein!

Nic’s Nutrition is working with Quorn as part of its latest nutrition drive to raise awareness of the many health benefits of mycoprotein – a source of protein that is high in fibre and low in saturated fat ( the main type of fat that you want in a diet).Mycoprotein is made out of a nutritious fungus that grows in the soil and its production uses 90% less land and water than producing some animal protein sources.