Five low-cost healthy foods

Five low-cost healthy foods

If you buy lots of ‘superfood’ powders and other packaged foods, healthy eating can be expensive. The truth is, you don’t need these to be healthy.

Getting back to basics and choosing wholefood options is the best way to save money while getting the most nutrition for your buck. If you’re on a budget, there are lots of low-cost healthy options out there for you.

Here are five low-cost foods that pack a real nutritional punch.


Omega-3 fatty acids from fish are important for our health, but fish can be expensive. Sardines are a low-cost fish and an excellent source of omega-3 fats. A 110g tin of sardines generally costs less than $2 and provides around 2500mg of omega-3 fats, depending on the variety – that’s five times the recommended daily amount (500mg) of omega-3 fatty acids in one humble tin of sardines!


Chia seeds are trendy at the moment but linseeds (also known as flaxseeds) have a similar nutritional profile. Chia seeds tend to be expensive but linseeds are quite affordable. Linseeds are a good source of plant-based omega-3 fats, magnesium, potassium and fibre but it’s recommended that you grind them (in a blender or pestle and mortar) as otherwise they mainly pass through the body undigested. Add to smoothies and baking or stir through oats or muesli.


Some people are still confused as to whether eggs are healthy or not. Well, they are! Eggs are nutrient rich and contain 11 essential vitamins and minerals, including selenium and vitamin D. They also provide a small but useful amount of omega-3 fatty acids and are a good source of protein.

Eggs contain cholesterol, but it’s now known that cholesterol in our diets does not have a big influence on our blood cholesterol. Omelettes packed with vegetables make a fantastic breakfast and one of my favourite options for a work lunch or quick dinner is a frittata. Try this recipe from Healthy Food Guide, but you can really just freestyle it and add whatever vegetables you like.

Kidney beans

The humble kidney bean has one of the highest antioxidant contents around. High in a particular type of fibre that helps to encourage the growth of good bacteria in your gut, kidney beans also provide protein and slow-digesting carbohydrates as well as a range of vitamins and minerals. You’ll find lots of tasty Healthy Food Guide recipes using kidney beans here.


Old-fashioned whole oats are a low cost, high fibre, low glycemic index carbohydrate that provide magnesium, iron (non-heam) and dietary fibre. Oats contain a type of fibre known as beta glucan which can help to reduce cholesterol levels in conjunction with a heart-healthy diet.

We normally think of fruits and vegetables as the foods that give us antioxidants, but other plant-based foods (such as oats) contain antioxidants called avenanthramides which deliver anti-inflammatory properties.

While lots of new, exotic sounding ingredients are promoted today, sometimes the old-fashioned options are just as good, if not better when it comes to nutrition.


Nicola Jackson is a NZ-registered nutritionist with a passion for helping people to develop a healthier relationship with food. Nicola’s blog Eat Well NZ tells you why you don’t need to quit foods, follow rules, or go to the extreme to be healthy. Her blog showcases a balanced approach to eating well, with plenty of healthy recipes and other tips on nutrition, fitness and wellness. You can also find Nicola on Facebook and Instagram.

First published: Oct 2015

, , , ,

Go to homepage*Subsequent months will be $2.75