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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.

  • Before you go shopping;

    • Plan ahead – think what you will eat on each day and write a list.
    • Batch cooking – make more than you need when cooking a meal. Freeze to use another day.
    • 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.
    • *Click Here* for recipes on how to use leftovers. 

    Remember small children only need small portions or food will be wasted.


    At the shops;

    • 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.

  • 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.

    Remember while takeaways might feel like an easier way to feed the family, they are very expensive and contain unhealthy fats and salt. Try and only enjoy every now and again.

  • What is Healthy Start?

    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 pregnant and under 18.

    Your midwife, health visitor or other health professional can support you to sign up. You will be sent vouchers 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.

    *Click Here* for more information on the scheme and a list of shops accepting vouchers.

  • 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.

    *Click Here* to find out more. 


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 a couple of recipes that we think are great to get you started. You could also make these in bulk and freeze them.


    You will need: 

    • 1 tin of tomatoes
    • 1 clove of garlic (if you like it)
    • 1 heaped teaspoon of dried mixed herbs
    • A big splodge of tomato Puree 
    • 1 onion
    • 1 teaspoon of oil 

    1) Chop the onion into small pieces

    2) Chop the garlic into very small pieces

    3) Heat oil in saucepan on a medium heat

    4) Cook onion and garlic for 3 - 4  minutes. Stir as you go

    5) Add the tin of tomatoes, puree and herbs

    6) Keep on a low heat for about 20 minutes

    You could;

    • Mix into cooked pasta
    • Brown some minced beef – add to sauce and you have Bolognese
    • Add chilli beans and teaspoon of chilli powder to make chilli con carne
    • Add chicken, potatoes and vegetables for a tomato casserole or stew
    • Add curry powder and vegetables for a curry
    • Add lots of different vegetables and cook slowly until soft to make soup

    You will need:

    • About 1/3 of a medium pack of cheese
    • 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine
    • 1 tablespoons of plain flour
    • 1 pint of Milk
    • A pinch of black Pepper

    1) Grate the cheese

    2) Put flour, butter and milk into pan and keep stiring until it starts to thicken and begins to bubble

    3) Let it bubble for 2 minutes

    4) Add cheese and let it melt

    5) Add a pinch of pepper

    You could;

    • Pour over cooked cauliflower and / or broccoli
    • Mix in sweetcorn, peas and cooked macaroni. Sprinkle with cheese or breadcrumbs, then cook in oven for 20 minutes
    • Pour over defrosted fish fillets. Add vegetables and cook in the over for 20 minutes
  • Baked potatoes are easy, cheap and filling. You can find a topping to suit everyone!

    You will need: 

    • Potatoes - it can be cheaper to buy a big bag. Keep them somewhere dry and dark and they will last well
    • Toppings

    1) Prick the skin of each potato with a fork

    2) Cook in the oven for about an hour

    You could top with;

    • Grated cheese and baked beans
    • Tuna and sweetcorn
    • Chiili-con-carne

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 click here.

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 07520631590. 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 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

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

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