Tips for a Balanced Diet on a Budget

Is it possible to eat healthily when money is tight? Given that about one in nine households in BC is considered to have food insecurity and inflation has been increasing, this is a common question that comes up. Having access to adequate amounts and a variety of foods can impact someone’s physical and mental health.

Here are some tips that can make choosing nutritious foods more accessible:

Grocery store tips:
● Grocery stores often have a section for products that are near their expiration date.
● Many grocery stores, such as Save-On, Superstore, Safeway, Pricesmart, No Frills and T&T, offer their weekly flyers online to view what items are on sale for the week.
● Store-brand items are often cheaper than popular name-brand items.
● Buy larger quantities of food and freeze the leftovers; keeping food safety in mind, be aware of recommended storage times.
● Buy in bulk for items that can be stored for a while (whole grain rice or pastas, canned beans, barley, quinoa).

● Buy what’s in season; check out what’s in season here from Buy BC.
● Frozen or canned fruits and veggies are often cheaper and are just as nutritious.
● Conventional is often cheaper than organic.
● “Ugly” produce is sometimes cheaper and it may actually be higher in nutrients than the perfect counterparts.

Protein-Rich Foods:
● Plant-based proteins like tofu, beans, peas and lentils are often much cheaper, especially in their dried form, compared to animal-based proteins.
● Buy nuts and seeds from stores that sell in wholesale or bulk.
● Buying whole chickens/meats can be cheaper than purchasing just their parts (Pro tip: Use the bones to make a protein-rich bone broth!).
● Choose frozen or canned fish, like salmon, tuna, and sardines instead of fresh.

Apps and resources:
● Check out a budget friendly recipe site like Budget Bytes.
● Apps like Too Good To Go or Flash connect you with local restaurants and stores that will provide you with free or low-cost food.
● Use the Flipp app to compare prices between stores and use price matching to your best advantage.
● Take advantage of programs, such as Food Stash, that recover foods and deliver low-cost groceries.
● Vancouver Coastal Health has a food asset map on their website that allows you to see where free and low-cost groceries and meals are available.

Written by Emily Voong, UBC Dietetics Student
Reviewed by Gina Almasan, RD